With school districts across the country dealing with financial shortfalls and pressures to make reforms under Obama's program, the strike quickly gained national attention.
Education analysts said the strike in the nation's third-largest school district could have lasting implications in the growing national debate on teacher and school performance, which has been an issue in legislatures and contract negotiations from coast to coast.
The strike soon turned into something of a boxing match, with Emanuel bluntly accusing teachers of valuing their pocketbooks over the futures of thousands of schoolchildren, and union leaders blasting the mayor as a bully trying to intimidate them into a bad deal.
On Sunday, after negotiators reached a tentative deal but union leaders declined to suspend the strike, Emanuel went before reporters to vow court action to force teachers back to work.
Union teachers, however, dug in, accusing the mayor of trying to limit their rights to read the newly settled contract. A judge refused to immediately hear Emanuel's request for a court order, setting the stage for Tuesday's vote.
While not all Chicago teachers were happy with the deal, Lewis predicted it would pass when rank-and-file teachers vote in a few weeks.
"There is no such thing as a contract that will make all of us happy, and we're realistic about that," she said Tuesday.
For now, she said, they're just glad to be back in class.
Parents were also relieved.
"I'm just glad that everyone got what they wanted, but I just wanted the children to be first," Lisa Russell, a parent, told CNN affiliate WLS-TV. "And I believe they are first."