Dr. Sandra Maria Fontánez-Phelan

Title: Principal, Special Education Director, Consultant
Company: Kelvyn Park High School
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Dr. Sandra Maria Fontánez-Phelan, Principal, Special Education Director and Consultant at Kelvyn Park High School, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in education.

Dr. Fontánez-Phelan came to the United States at the age of three from Puerto Rico. Her father was recruited to work in the Steel Mill in the United States, and he bought his family over shortly after. She is a graduate from Chicago Public School and in her senior year, she won a scholarship competition, out of 23 children. This allowed her to go to the University of Puerto Rico for one year and then attended the University of Chicago on Scholarship. She has had very inspirational teachers that inspired her to pursue her teaching career. Dr. Fontánez-Phelan matriculated at the University of Illinois at Chicago earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1973 and a Master of Arts in Education in 1980. From there she took postgraduate course work at Southern Illinois University before receiving a Doctor of Education from Illinois State University in 1999.

Dr. Fontánez-Phelan’s most accomplished highlight is going back to her original assignment at Kelvyn Park and being able to work with a talented group of teachers, parents, students and her Elderman, who rolled up their sleeves to transform the school for students that were deserving and worked right along with them to make the changes to an inner-city school. She had community organizations, like the Logan Square Neighbors, that were instrumental in helping to build the designs and programs for the school. She also received help from politicians, alumni, and most importantly the community. Dr. Fontánez-Phelan began her career at Kelvyn Park High School in 1973 as a teacher of ESL before moving on to the Chicago Public Schools in 1974. She remained with the Chicago Public Schools until 1985, holding the positions of  Spanish teacher, counselor of behavior disorders, resource teacher for bilingual learning disabilities, master teacher of bilingual special education, and educational diagnostician. She moved on to hold positions of teacher of communications at Fermi Laboratory Science and Engineering Program and facilitator at Chicago Public School Compliance and Due Process, before returning to Chicago Public Schools in 1991. She became the director of special education for five years and then 2001 took on the role of director of high school and middle school design. Dr. Fontánez-Phelan returned to Kelvyn Park High School in 2002 as the principal, remaining until she retired in 2009. Since 2009, she has been a consultant. As a testament to her success, she has been inducted as a member of various esteemed organizations including but not limited to, the National Conference of Puerto Rico Women, where she has been the president since 1990, Illinois Council of Administrators for Special Education and the Council for Exceptional Children for the Chicago’s Principal Association.

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