Tanika Island

University of Chicago Charter School
Managing Director
University of Chicago Urban Education Institute

Tanika Island is the interim CEO of the UChicago Charter School and a managing director of UEI.

Island works with school leaders, teachers, and support staff to provide ambitious instruction to every student and collaborates with instructional coaches and leadership teams to design effective, weekly professional development programming for PreK through 12th grade staff. She shares best practices from across the campuses aimed at increasing family involvement and attends to the ongoing development of a safe, orderly, and supportive environment so that every student can focus on learning and every teacher can concentrate on instruction. Through effective leadership, Island works to strengthen the collaborations that exist among the four campuses and create new partnerships to leverage the expertise of teachers, leaders, counselors, social workers, tutors, and after-school providers. All work is oriented towards the school’s overarching mission: to prepare 100% of students for acceptance to and graduation from four-year colleges through a PreK to 12 pathway that cultivates critical thinkers and leaders.

Prior to assuming her current role with UChicago Charter, Island served in several roles across the Urban Education Institute, most recently as the Director of UTEP, where she oversaw program design, curriculum, and program operations, as well as the recruitment of students, staff, faculty, and clinical instructors. Island has served as 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.