RECAP | Resilience: A Night of School Leader Stories

Leading your school community while taking care of your aging mother. Being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and finding strength and inspiration from a student battling the same disease. Navigating the education system as an undocumented student and then fighting to give opportunity to students systematically denied opportunity. Coming together as an education community after the death of a parent. 

These were among the stories told during Resilience: A Night of School Leader Stories, sponsored by WBEZ, William Blair and Fifth Third Bank. Participants included Principal Patricia Brekke from Back of the Yards College Prep, Principal Emily Mason from Muchin College Prep, Assistant Principal Homero Peñuelas from Curie High School and Principal Alene Mason from Scott Joplin Elementary School.



The event also featured remarks by Esther Lee, a Fund program manager, and was expertly moderated by local writer, storyteller and educator, Jacoby Cochran. The Fund’s CEO, Heather Anichini, closed the night by thanking our principals and sponsors, and inviting all attendees to join Principal Appreciation Month celebrations. 

You can find the four educators’ stories below, along with quotes from some of the most powerful moments:

Watch Patricia Brekke’s story here: 

“I think about her every day—there is always a Lupe-ism or a story to tell—and it brings a smile to my face.”


Watch Emily Mason’s story here: 

“Lupus will never define or limit Melissa, nor will it define me.” 


Watch Homero Peñuelas’ story here: 

“I decided to leave the classrooms I loved to expand on the commitment that I had made as an undergrad; The decision led to me becoming an assistant principal at Curie, and led me to return to UIC—this time as a doctoral student in the urban education leaders program. No longer a dreamer, but a dreamkeeper.”


Watch Alene Mason’s story here: 

“We all said it together: “We made it! We made it! We made it!” And as my voice and their voices began to echo in that screen, inside, a voice was echoing in my soul: “I made it! I made it. I made it!”



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