Sara Ray Stoelinga

Sara Liston Spurlark Director
University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
Clinical Professor
University of Chicago Committee on Education

Sara Ray Stoelinga is the Sara Liston Spurlark Director of the Urban Education Institute (UEI), as well as a clinical professor on the Committee on Education. She also chairs the board of directors of UChicago Impact. 

Stoelinga leads all aspects of the Urban Education Institute, overseeing the Institute's operations, development of teachers, rigorous applied research, operation of schools, and the distribution of models to improve schools nationally. She participates in local and national engagement to discuss and disseminate UEI’s work.

Stoelinga is also a faculty member at the University of Chicago, engaging in the teaching and advising of undergraduate and graduate students. She teaches in the Foundations Year of the University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program and also offers courses in the College and in the Graham School of Continuing Studies. She created a set of courses on education for the UChicago Careers in Education Professions program in the College and also developed and taught one of the University’s first massive open online courses, a free MOOC focused on the history of American education reform and policy for participants from around the globe. In addition to her local and national leadership and teaching, Stoelinga writes on teacher effectiveness, urban school reform, and teacher leadership. 

Stoelinga first joined UEI as an intern in 1995. In her early years at UEI, Stoelinga served in a variety of roles, contributing to the development and validation of the STEP assessment, volunteering as a classroom assistant in the inaugural years of the University of Chicago Charter School North Kenwood/Oakland Campus and working as a graduate research assistant. In 2007, Stoelinga began leading research at the Consortium on Chicago School Research as a senior research analyst. Stoelinga became senior director of UEI in 2010 and was appointed the Sara Liston Spurlark Director in 2015.

Stoelinga has written extensively on teacher and principal leadership as well as teacher effectiveness. In 2008, Stoelinga published her first book, titled Effective Teacher Leadership: Using Research to Inform and Reform, with Teachers College Press. Her second book on the subject, Examining Effective Teacher Leadership: A Case Study Approach, was published in 2010.

Stoelinga sits on several commissions, committees, and boards devoted to school improvement. These include the UChicago Impact Board of Directors, the UChicago Charter Governing Board, the Board of Trustees for High Jump, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education Faculty Advisory Committee.

In the spring of 2015, Stoelinga received the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award, the University of Chicago's most prestigious teaching award and believed to be the nation’s oldest prize for undergraduate teaching. Also in 2015, Stoelinga received the Don York Award for Faculty Initiative from the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement for her work with undergraduates and her contributions to the community across her career.

Stoelinga received her BA and PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago. Her areas of expertise include school reform policy and history, organizational change in schools, leadership, and teacher effectiveness.