“Public schools should be places where, first of all, young people feel safe. Places that promote the development of human beings as a whole. That care about the different areas of their lives. Academics is one part of it, but making sure that they feel supported and that they feel loved. And that they are perfect as they are.”

Rossana Rodriguez
rossana and koko

In our second episode of Our Stories, Our World, we focus again on public education–this time with a distinctly different perspective. This episode features teen story-gatherer Kaylen Brandt in conversation with Chicago Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez (pictured at left), a teacher and community organizer by training. Running as a Democratic Socialist, she won her first political campaign in 2019, when she was elected to represent the city’s 33rd Ward on the Chicago City Council. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez studied and taught drama there until government cut-backs sparked her move to Albany Park in Chicago, where she became a resident director at the Albany Park Theater Project. In this episode, Rodriguez shares a photograph she took when she was a teacher at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School in Humboldt Park. The photo shows Koko (pictured at right), a Black trans woman in Rodriguez’s integrated arts class, on a very good day. Koko is smiling as she shows off a sock puppet she made as part of the class. 

Click here to listen to episode 2 of our new podcast, Our Stories, Our World, featuring Rossana Rodriguez, Alderwoman of Chicago’s 33rd Ward.

What does public education mean to you? We’d love to hear your perspective. Tell us what you think about public education and the podcast by commenting on social media, or by leaving us a review on Apple podcasts. Scroll to the bottom of this page to find us on social media or sign up for our newsletter.

Our Stories, Our World is a youth-led series featuring Chicagoans’ perspectives on public safety, public health and public education. This six-episode podcast is a first-ever collaboration between Public Narrative and A Picture’s Worth, an Ohio-based nonprofit focused on strengths-based storytelling for community change. The series combines audio stories and photography to create a set of citizen-centered podcasts that flip the script on traditional media narratives–uplifting community perspectives rather than focusing on conflict.

Episodes are released every two weeks. Other interviewees include educator Shohn Williams, retired Chicago police officer Vanessa Westley, organizer Tynetta Hill-Muhammad, immigrant rights activist Taneka Jennings, and health researcher Dr. Shyam Prabhakaran.

The podcast is available on all platforms. Click here to listen or subscribe, and click here to learn more about the podcast.