Chicago’s charter schools perks have repeatedly been compared to the turnaround of Chicago Public Schools.

(Photo Courtesy of Marilyn Rhames)

(Photo Courtesy of Marilyn Rhames)

Some bonuses of charter schools, according to Stand, include an 80 percent high school student graduation rate compared to 60 percent of open-enrollment CPS high school students; 69 percent charter students versus 59 percent of CPS students enrolled in college; and the one-year dropout rate for charter schools averaged 5 percent versus 10 percent of open-enrollment schools.

Even transferring from a charter elementary school (5.6 percent) is lower than other Chicago schools (13.2 percent).

For education blogger and charter school Alumni Relations Manager Marilyn Rhames, the goal is to make sure all 123 alumni students from her charter school graduate from 45 different high schools.

“Teaching is the absolute hardest job there is,” said Rhames.” Schools are a microcosm of society. Everything that’s wrong with society and everything that’s good with society is in every single classroom, especially in an urban environment.”

But that hasn’t stopped her from guiding her students “mama style.” Rhames didn’t start off in education. She used her bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing and a master’s degree in journalism to become a professional journalist. After completing college internships with Time and People magazine and becoming a professional beat reporter for the Journal News, she started questioning her bigger purpose on September 11, 2001.

“I was used to being an educator but felt like it was a leap to go from journalism to education,” said Rhames, who volunteered to teach at a storefront church in East Harlem. After 9/11, Rhames, her husband and their baby left their New York home and returned to Illinois.

She pursued a second master’s degree in teaching in 2004. Since then, she’s been a content editor for Tootelage, Inc., a managing editor for Diversity Recruitment Partners in Education, the founder and president of Teachers Who Pray, and a 10-year teacher of Chicago students ranging from third to eighth grade.

No matter the location, Rhames has a few tips for aspiring teachers to succeed in the education field.

“Teach the content, but do it in a way that meets everybody’s learning style. If you’re looking to work in an inner-city, make sure you’re exposed to people of different nationalities. Understand and appreciate multiculturalism. Be ready to learn on the job. Be humble. Take advice from veteran teachers.”

Shamontiel L. Vaughn is a professional journalist who has work featured in AXS, Yahoo!, Chicago Defender and Chicago Tribune. She’s been an Examiner since 2009 and currently writes about 10 categories on