Englewood Gets First Early College STEM School

Construction for Englewood’s new state-of-the-art high school — an early college STEM school — is still underway, but newly appointed Principal Conrad Timbers-Ausar has already been actively recruiting future students.

Following a recommendation from the Englewood Steering Committee, CPS selected the former Urban Prep Academy-Bronzeville principal to serve as the founding principal of the Englewood STEM High School. Timbers-Ausar said he’s been on a mission ever since.

“It’s to continue to get out to the feeder schools and surrounding schools to dispel a lot of myths and misconceptions about the school being a selective enrollment school,” he said. “I don’t know where that began or how, but it’s out there.”

The open enrollment neighborhood high school will open in fall 2019, which Timbers-Ausar said is “exciting.”


Before becoming principal, and way before he even considered a career in education, Timbers-Ausar was far from the professional track he’s on today. He said he was always in trouble at school and wasn’t at the top of his class. He attended three different high schools in four years. He also shared that his family grew up in poverty and by 16, he was a teen father.

After graduating high school, Timbers-Ausar attended Indiana State University for a semester. He decided to take some time off, while figuring out his life, he said. Later, he enrolled in a few courses at City Colleges before eventually transferring to DePaul University. While there, he left again, but ready to finish what he started, he returned through the School for Learning program.

It was at DePaul the second time around that Timbers-Ausar said he made the decision to change his life. Initially, he wanted to major in chemistry.

“I wanted to be a chemical engineer,” he said, adding that he also saw himself one day working for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

One evening, all of his plans changed after a discussion with friends in his college dorm room.

“We were just talking about the absence of black male teachers and we started counting how many we’ve had in our lifetime, one, maybe two,” he said, adding that he knew what he needed to do with his life in that moment.

“It was one of those things that you could either talk about or do something about,” he explained.

He ended up becoming an 8th grade social science teacher at Alain Locke Charter School.

“I still have relationships with those students who are now adults and who have graduated from college,” Timbers-Ausar said.

Building relationships with students is a necessity he said, adding that he wishes he had that as a student.

“Just having somebody students can relate to is important because a lot of times there’s this myth about what a college grad is, or what you’re supposed to be, or even as a black man, what you can attain to and what you shouldn’t attain to,” Timbers-Ausar said. “There’s this myth and all these misconceptions that our students are fed and the majority of them lead down a path of destruction.”

His goal is to remove the mask and be transparent with students about who he is and where he came from. It’s worked in the past and he says he will continue reaching them through his honesty.

As he explained it, the work he does is his “call and duty.”

“I want to help students like myself,” he said. “I really want them to know there’s somebody in the building that they can go to, multiple people. We’re creating life long partnerships and it’s going to be very intentional and systematic, not by chance. No student will get lost in the shuffle. We can’t have that.”

Timbers-Ausar holds a B.A. in History from DePaul University and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the American College of Education. He was a member of the second cohort of the Chicago Principal’s Fellowship at the Center for Nonprofit Management at Kellogg and the School for Education and School Policy, at Northwestern University. In 2018, Timbers-Ausar was selected to be part of the inaugural cohort for the Chicago Public Schools Great Expectations Mentoring program (GEM).


Beginning next fall, Englewood STEM High School will add one grade each school year until it serves grades 9-12 in school year 2022-2023. There will be world-class multipurpose educational spaces, a modern outdoor sports facility, and a school-based medical center for use by both students as well as community residents.

The three-story $75 million high school will merge four Englewood schools–Robeson High School, TEAM Englewood High School, Harper High School, and John Hope Academy– into a new building at the former site of Robeson.

With declining enrollment because students have been leaving their neighborhood for other schools, this was the solution said Timbers-Ausar. He’s been on a mission to make Englewood’s new high school a first choice for students in the neighborhood.

“About 93 percent of the students from the community of Englewood, according to the data I’ve seen, go to schools outside of Englewood and they’re traveling anywhere between 4-6 miles,” he said.

The new school will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, while offering students the opportunity to earn college credit and work toward an associate degree.

“We are thrilled to bring together Englewood students in the state-of-the-art high school they deserve with world-class academic programming that will ensure the new school rivals the city’s best,” said CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “CPS is committed to providing high quality academic programs to every neighborhood, and we can’t wait to welcome Englewood families to their brand new, 21st Century high school next fall.”

Kennedy-King College will provide students an option to earn the college credit through an associate degree, an advanced certificate, or basic certificate.

They will also be able to receive hands-on career experience and earn certifications through Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathways in Information Technology (IT) and Health Sciences.

While serving as principal of Urban Prep Academy-Bronzeville for two years, Timbers-Ausar saw 100 percent of graduating seniors admitted to four-year colleges and universities.

He says he will bring that model of success to the new school, combined with best practices of schools such as Michele Clark and Sarah Goode STEM Academy. The new Englewood school will be the city’s ninth Early College Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) High School.

“People talk about rigor, rigor, rigor, but students need to go into a vigorous classroom,” Timbers-Ausar said. “The curriculum should be rigorous and challenging, but the classroom is exciting.”

It first starts with relationship building, he said.

“Teachers are facilitators so we must make sure we set an environment that is conducive to learning for students,” he said. “It has to be culturally relevant pedagogy in order to be relevant to the students we serve in this community.”

In order to fully connect with students and help develop well-rounded future leaders, Timbers-Ausar said, he’s also bringing in external partners to provide mentoring programs, internships and other work-based experiences.