Tanika Island is the director of the Urban Teacher Education Program and a managing director of UEI. Island oversees program design, curriculum, and program operations, as well as the recruitment of students, staff, faculty, and clinical instructors. She meets regularly with staff to help guide admissions, advising, and teaching across the program.
Prior to assuming her leadership role with UChicago UTEP, Island was the UChicago Charter School's chief academic officer and served for six years as the director of the UChicago Charter North Kenwood/Oakland (NKO) Campus. During her tenure as director, Island was recognized with a Community School Leadership Award in 2012 from the Federation of Community Schools and a Principal Achievement Award from the district in 2013. Island previously served as NKO's intermediate/upper grades literacy coordinator and as a 5th grade literacy instructor, providing professional development and creating literacy tools with researchers from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Before joining NKO, Island was an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University's Teaching Practicum and Field Experience Seminar and facilitated weekly discussions on educational practice and theory. From 1997 to 2001, Island was the 4th grade team leader for Martin L. King Experimental Laboratory School in Evanston, IL, where she took on the roles of Language Arts district representative, School Literacy Committee member, Teachers as Readers Committee member, a Sisterhood Project mentor and coordinator of Battle of the Books inter-school competition.
Island received a BA in education with a concentration in psychology from National Louis University in Chicago. In May 2008, she received an MA in literacy education from Loyola University and received a leadership fellowship through the Urban Education Institute.