transforming and innovating

In an exciting development for the Chicago education landscape, Distinctive Schools has been named the school management organization for four additional Chicago International Charter School (CICS) network campuses! With the support from Chicago Public Schools, CICS announced that CICS Lloyd Bond, CICS Loomis, CICS Longwood Elementary, and CICS Longwood High School will join the Distinctive Schools network in the 2023-24 schools year.  As part of the innovative CICS portfolio model, CICS partners with school management organizations to manage and lead the day to day school operations and employment, academic model, and school oversight. 

This unique and impactful school choice model provides families with access to a school that fits their needs and interests in a personalized way across the CICS portfolio and the city of Chicago.

This dynamic collaboration aims to redefine public education, elevating opportunities for students on the South Side of Chicago. "We’re thrilled to welcome these schools into the Distinctive Schools network, and to expand our collaboration with CICS. We are grateful for our continued partnership and commitment to doing great work together,” shared Scott Frauenheim, CEO of Distinctive Schools, "Our shared vision for the growth and development of all learners will create lasting change in the educational landscape and for students and families. Our focus on culture, equity, and innovation will continue to allow us to partner with our staff, students, families and communities to co-construct the most personalized learning experience.”

It is with great enthusiasm that we announce the appointment of Marcell Kirk, JoeAnn Nash, Melinda Jean-Baptiste and Dr. Maria Freeman, as the leaders of the schools. 

Marcell Kirk will continue to serve as Principal of CICS Lloyd Bond. Mr. Kirk has been a dedicated member of the CICS Lloyd Bond community for 14 years. Having served as a PTO leader, School Wide Culture and Discipline Consultant, Behavior Interventionist, Dean of Students, and Director of Climate and Culture, Mr. Kirk’s visionary leadership is deeply valued. 

JoeAnn Nash has been named the Principal of CICS Loomis. Previously serving as Assistant Principal of CICS Loomis, Mrs. Nash earned a Masters in Educational Leadership at Lewis University and has served as Instructional Coach, Dean of Instruction, Instructional Coach, and an elementary classroom teacher. Bringing a shared commitment to educational excellence and creating welcoming communities for the CICS Loomis community, Mrs. Nash will lead CICS Loomis into the future. 

Melinda Jean-Baptiste joins CICS Longwood Elementary after more than 4 years serving as principal at Jovita Idár Elementary School. She previously served as an Assistant Principal and Resident Principal in Chicago Public Schools and was a member of the CICS network as an Instructional Coach. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, she holds a Master of Arts in Secondary Education and a Master of Arts in School Leadership. Mrs. Jean-Baptiste brings a wealth of experience to CICS Longwood Elementary, and her leadership having successfully fostered an environment of continual growth and achievement will make an impact in the CICS Longwood Elementary community.  

Dr. Maria Freeman, Principal of CICS Longwood High School has been named Mentor Principal for the 2023-24 school year. Dr. Freeman earned her doctorate in Administration and Educational Leadership from the University of St. Francis, and has served as an Academy Director, Instructional Leader, Culture and Climate Specialist, and Assistant Principal prior to taking on the role of Principal of CICS Longwood High School. She has consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to the success of CICS Longwood High School students and the community, increasing school ratings, implementing research-based interventions, and implementing strong professional development. 

"For 25 years, CICS has been committed to launching and operating schools with diverse academic models throughout the different neighborhoods we serve,” Kris Cheung, Chief Executive Officer for Chicago International Charter School shared, “We are confident that in our partnership with Distinctive Schools, we will see sustainable growth and improvement, and look forward to exceeding academic outcomes for the CICS Loomis, CICS Longwood, and CICS Lloyd Bond communities."  

The expanded partnership with CICS coupled with the South Side development of a state of the art facility at Art In Motion Creative Arts School, marks a significant investment for the Distinctive network on the South Side of Chicago.  Principal of Art In Motion, Dion Steele is energized by the opportunities the new school year will bring, “I’m excited about the access our students have at Art In Motion — as an artist myself, I never really had the culture around me to encourage me to pursue those gifts or talents, but as principal, I am able to make that way for the students here.” The Art In Motion expansion, launching with the start of the 23-24 school year will bring over 110,000SF of innovative academic and arts space to the community. 

Our outstanding track record of success is evident in their work over the past 12 years.   In partnership with families, Distinctive Schools intends to reclaim the educator narrative across the country, fostering collaboration between educators and families to further enhance academic outcomes,  build strong culture and joyful school environments, and generate new opportunities for students. Their Community Hub model focuses on academic achievement, social emotional learning, joy, engagement, and respect, encouraging all learners to reach their full potential. There is still time to join the Distinctive Schools network for the 23-24 school year!