Position: History/Law/Social Studies Teacher
School: Infinity Math, Science and Technology High School
School District: Chicago Public Schools
City, State: Chicago, Illinois
About the Nominee: Dennis Kass is a Social Studies teacher at Infinity Math, Science and Technology High School. He is highly esteemed and appreciated by students, families, and staff in the Little Village community. Soon after Mr. Kass started teaching, he used his legal degree to start a legal clinic at Infinity to distribute free legal advice to students and families. In 2010, he established and founded the Chicago Law and Education Foundation to provide accessible legal services to thousands of low-income families and students. Mr. Kass expanded his legal clinic to 17 Chicago Public High Schools after realizing that so many families and students need legal resources. He personally handles hundreds of cases each year at Infinity alone, and he helps thousands of people by educating them about their legal rights ranging from domestic violence to immigration. He has worked on student legal problems that range from homelessness, immigration, domestic violence and family problems to sexual assault, prostitution, and more. In addition, he engages his students to become free thinkers and active learners. His teaching method motivates students to be better people and inspires them to publish research articles to learn more about social problems that affect them, which enables them to become agents of social change. Mr. Kass goes above and beyond on a daily basis in his role as teacher/attorney. He has a fun, yet effective, take-charge attitude. He excels at any task he faces and has become a vital contributor to the improvement and betterment of the Infinity High School community.
Mr. Kass is incredibly compassionate and conscientious, and his passion for social justice is unquestionable. Hundreds of students have sought both legal and educational advice from him. Many of them do not think they would have made it where they are today without his help and constant motivation. He provided his students with the tools and resources necessary to transform their lives for the better. He never gives up on his students. For example, Mr. Kass is very involved in his students’ academic futures even after graduating high school. He reviews college assignments and constantly asks his students how they're doing to see their progress and ensure that they graduate. In addition, he takes time from his already busy schedule to work on the legal clinics to help students and families with any hardship they struggle with. He is accessible and always willing to provide guidance, support and both legal and educational counseling to students and families.