LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Dr. Jake Chung

Position: Assistant Superintendent for Personnel & Planning
School: Arlington Heights SD25
School District: Arlington Heights SD25
City, State: Arlington Heights, IL

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Dr. Jake Chung was nominated by a colleague who wishes to remain anonymous.

Dr. Chung is truly a LifeChanger. In addition to excelling in his important district-level position, he has worked to dramatically improve the life experiences of his students. 

Arlington Heights is a suburban area of middle class families and students, and Arlington Heights SD25 is a destination district. Many families move to this area so their children can attend school there. Overall, it is a safe place to live and a very vibrant community.  Families have access to great schools, an excellent park district, a top-rated library, and social service agencies that provide for any need they may have.

Dr. Chung, though, recognized that K-8th grade students who lived in one area of the school district were not getting the same access to all that the community has to offer.  Students living in the Dryden Place Apartment community were held back by invisible, but strong barriers, including language barriers, a lack of transportation, low income, food insecurity, run-down apartment buildings that lacked appropriate fire safety devices or working windows and doors, and a lack of knowledge on how to access the park district, library, or social services.

Dr. Chung took the initiative to change the situation for these students and their families. He organized a large group of community organizations and volunteers. Now, because of his dedication, most families in the Dryden Place community have new apartment appliances and safety devices. The library's bookmobile stops at Dryden Place, and a community garden has been created where families can grow their own food. Additionally, a family liaison has been hired to help Spanish speaking families access the services available to them, and children have been enrolled in park district programs at no cost. Finally, breakfast and lunch are served to the students for free throughout the summer months, and academic and enrichment programs are offered at the apartment property throughout the summer.

An onsite job fair was held recently, and some parents are now applying to work in the school district's food service department.  

"Dr. Chung has changed these students' and families' lives.  Moreover, his leadership has resulted in a significant drop in 911 calls from this community that police were responding to in previous years," his nominator said. "Our students are getting access to food, education, support services, and recreational activities that they never had before.  Dr. Jake Chung is a Life Changer for many students and families!  He has tranformed the conditions and reputation of this community for the better throughout the Village of Arlington Heights."