It is Our Mission to Produce Lifelong Learners

McNair School of Excellence strives to create a community of diverse learners. Our staff is dedicated to providing a safe, positive, and engaging learning environment to empower our students to maximize their potential. We build our students’ independence and encourage them to expand their horizons, becoming leaders in their community and world.

Our vision is to create a lifelong learners through total development - academics, social and emotional. We strive for a safe, supportive, and structured environment where staff, families, students, and our larger community collaborates.

Pre K-8

McNair School of Excellence

4820 W. Walton Street.
Chicago, IL 60651

Enrollment: 397
A CPS Neighborhood School

Principal's Message


Greetings and Welcome to McNair School of Excellence

As the principal of McNair School of Excellence, it is with great humility and honor that I embrace the opportunity to serve the students and families in the Austin community. I am committed to working with the staff, students and their families to foster a collaborative school community to best serve our McNair scholars. Our dedication to excellence will be unwavering as we establish high expectations that promote academic achievement and character development. We will confidently embrace the challenges of the future while we continue to honor the successes of the past. Together, we will take the magnificent McNair School of Excellence to the next level!

Benetrice Whitfield-Lucas,  Principal


Our Growth In

Steady, positive improvements in academic achievement, student engagement, and parent satisfaction are hallmarks of all AUSL-managed CPS schools. As a result of the performance goals, MCNAIR SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE IS NOW AN LEVEL 1 SCHOOL.

Our History

Building on Our History to
Create a Culture of Excellence


McNair School of Excellence is named in honor of Ronald Ervin McNair (1950-1986). McNair was a physicist and NASA astronaut who died in the launch of Space Shuttle Challenger. He was the second African American to fly in space in 1984.

McNair School of Excellence opened in its current building in 2003 and originally contained 37 classrooms; library; art, science, computer labs; a gymnasium; and a cafeteria.

McNair opened in 1998, leasing space from Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic church at 849 N. Leamington Ave. to serve students from the church’s former school, which had closed earlier that year.

Today the building contains 44 classrooms and serves 400 students.

“We Work Hard- We Work Smart- We Work Consistently…... We are MCNAIR!!”


AUSL (Academy for Urban School Leadership) is a Chicago nonprofit school management organization that creates schools of excellence by developing highly effective teachers and transforming educational outcomes for students in the lowest performing schools.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) turned over management of McNair School of Excellence to AUSL in 2014 as a turnaround school. Turning around a school is one approach that CPS uses to improve neighborhood schools that have been failing for many years. The transformation begins with the new leadership and teachers in the building to deliver effective instruction and the right climate and culture to the same neighborhood students.

AUSL is committed to to providing all AUSL students with a quality education to prepare them for college and career.

Staff List

Questions for Our Staff?

If you have any questions, the McNair School of Excellence staff will be happy to assist you.

Phone: 773-534-8980

Fax: 773-535-0668


Benetrice Whitfield-Lucas

Courtnie Scharf-Nides
Assistant Principal
773-534-8980 Ext 4-8973


Jina Lee

Alastair Clements

Leticia Hernandez

Natalie Kinsey
1st Grade

Brianne Henrichs
2nd Grade

Abigail Regan
2nd Grade

Debinise McField
3rd Grade Math/Science

Abigale Noble
3rd Grade ELA/SS

Kellen Blankenship
4th Grade Math/Science

Teirra Scott
4th Grade ELA/SS

Kelsey Arsenault
5th Grade Math/Science

Bryan Pope
5th Grade ELA/SS

Audrey Sanders
6th Grade ELA

Jacob Johnson
6th Grade Math

Terina Woolridge
7th/8th ELA

LaTonya Ward
7th/8th Grade/Algebra

Moriah O'Malley
6th-8th Science

Rachel Miller
LBS1 - SPH (Primary)

Rebecca Johnson
LBS1 - Mod/Aut (Int)

Kelley Guastella
LBS1 - Upper

Sally Tabatsalis
LBS1 - Mod/Aut (Primary)

Epiphany Acevedo
LBS1 - (Int/Upper)

Jean Wilkinson
LBS1 (Upper)

Juman Kehkia
LBS1 (Pri/Int)

Irene Kim
LBS1 - Mod/Aut (Upper)

Kaitlin Donelon
Art Instructor

Megan Kerwin
Physical Education/ Health Instructor

Support Staff

Aaron Griffin
School Counselor

Lawrence Lyons
Dean of Students

Darice Dorsey
Assist. Dean of Students

Sarah Burton
Literacy Interventionist

Phelecia Slaughter
School Clerk

Jalisa Coleman

Awura Bekoe

Shontell Littlejohn

Shalamar Southward

Rockkeya Gaston

Mica Woods

Lybia Hollins

Ella Coffey

Juanita Harvey

Teemeka Loper

Douglas Morrow

Milandria Watts

Kamaria Patterson

Donnesha Sweezer

Michelle Williams

Shirley Towns

Aisha Thomas

Tavonja Salley

Marissa Feldman
School Social Service Attendant

Kimberly Twilley
School Social Service Attendant

Sibyl Mendenhall
Part-time Aide

Nana Bekoe

Tyrone Davis

Officer Ignacio