Northern Illinois teachers and administrators travel to Puerto Rico, provide training and technology for educators

LAKE VILLA – Eighteen teachers along with administrators will travel to Puerto Rico to provide professional development training to more than 100 Puerto Rican educators. These Illinois teachers represent elementary, middle and high schools from six different school districts including: Community High School District 117 (Lake Villa), Lake Zurich Community District 95 (Lake Zurich),  Antioch School District 34 (Antioch), Leyden High School District 212 (Franklin Park), North Shore School District 112 (Highland Park), and Lake County Technology Campus (Grayslake). The Illinois teachers, many who are members of the Illinois Education Association (IEA), will train their Puerto Rican colleagues from all areas of Puerto Rico, on open source instructional technologies using donated Chromebooks. They will also focus on service projects involving classroom painting and cleaning of the school Eduardo Garcia Carillo in Canóvanas, PR.

“This weeklong trip through Relief Leadership Opportunity is an opportunity for us to share our resources and expertise with fellow educators,” said Lakes High School teacher Jennifer Harrington. “We are looking forward to learning from our colleagues in Puerto Rico, as well.”

The teachers will be flying to Puerto Rico on Sunday, June 23, and returning to Illinois on June 29. Their weeklong trip is being coordinated by Relief Through Leadership, a program that started last year in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s devastation across the island. That’s when teams of educators from Community High School District 117 travelled to Rio Grande, PR, to assist in clean up at Rafael de Jesús Elementary School, bringing with them more than 100 computing devices and three tractor trailers loaded with classroom furniture.

“The goal of this project is to simply help our colleagues in areas of need,” said District 117 Superintendent Jim McKay. “In our district, we have access to technology and educators that want to help by sharing their expertise, resources and time. We plan to return for several years providing technology, teaching and learning strategies with interested educators in Puerto Rico.”

This year, educators will return to the island with more than 500 computers and technology devices for area Rio Grande schools including:

  • 230 Chromebooks for participating teachers;
  • 98 Chromebooks for Rafael de Jesús to develop a computer lab;
  • 40 Chromebooks for San Juan School for the Deaf for a computer lab;
  • 108 Chromebooks for Edward García Carillo for classroom use;
  • 7 Dell desktop computers and monitors for a computer lab at Edward García Carillo;
  • 20 Dell desktop computers and monitors for Rio Grande’s municipal library;
  • 6 Cisco switches and 20 Cisco access points to improve internet speeds;
  • 14 Epson projectors;
  • 6 Belkin charging stations;
  • 1 solar battery pack.

While in Puerto Rico, Illinois teachers will lead a three-day professional development training on open source instructional technologies and related strategies. Additionally, they will assist in upgrading the internet infrastructure at Rafael de Jesús.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to work with educators in Puerto Rico,” said Lakes High School teacher Amber Cornelius. “In our district, we are fortunate to have access to numerous resources and advanced technology. We look forward to sharing our knowledge and dedicating our time to improving the educational opportunities for the students of Puerto Rico.”

Several businesses and community groups have donated funds to make this trip possible, including the Illinois Education Association. You can learn more about Relief Through Leadership here.


The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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