Tanika Island, an exemplary teacher developer and school leader, has been named Director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UChicago UTEP). Island will bring her wide-ranging expertise from almost two decades of teaching and leading to continue developing UChicago UTEP as one of the nation’s premier teacher residency programs.
The appointment builds on Island’s 14-year career at the Urban Education Institute, where she most recently served as Chief Academic Officer of the UChicago Charter School and Interim Director of UChicago UTEP. Earlier in her career, Island served as a 5th grade literacy instructor, intermediate/upper grades literacy coordinator, and director of the UChicago Charter North Kenwood/Oakland (NKO) Campus. During her tenure as director of NKO, Island was recognized with a Community School Leadership Award in 2012 from the Federation of Community Schools and a Principal Achievement Award from the City of Chicago in 2013.
“I have big ambitions for UChicago UTEP, which begin and end with my hope to change the lives of many Chicago students by giving them a great education by UTEP-trained teachers,” said Island. “Steps along the way include leading and developing a superlative staff, scaling up the program, deepening the ways through which UChicago UTEP and the UChicago Charter School campuses can complement their respective missions, and aligning our work with state-level mandates.”
Prior to joining UEI, Island was an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University’s Teaching Practicum and Field Experience Seminar. 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.
“Tanika is a remarkable teacher, teacher trainer, and school leader,” said Timothy Knowles, the John Dewey Director of the Urban Education Institute. “At each step in her career at UEI she has demonstrated a deep understanding of teaching, learning, and leadership, and she has delivered extraordinary results at every turn.”
Island’s appointment is part of UEI’s ambitious plan to improve schooling nationwide by training exemplary teachers, conducting rigorous applied research, operating high-achieving urban schools, and designing and delivering school-improvement tools and training to thousands of schools and classrooms across the United States.
The University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program is a five-year experience that integrates rigorous academic and methods coursework with ongoing teaching experiences that broaden in scope as candidates progress. After completing the program with a two-year masters degree, UChicago UTEP alumni continue to learn and develop as they teach with three years of post-graduate supports.
Island has been serving as the Interim Director of UChicago UTEP since August 2014, overseeing program design, curriculum, and program operations, as well as the recruitment of students, staff, faculty, and clinical instructors. Island’s work will continue developing UChicago UTEP as a leader in urban teacher training and development, creating a model to improve teacher training nationwide.
“Tanika is a rare talent in the field," said Sara Ray Stoelinga, Senior Director of UEI. "She combines exceptionally high standards and deep expertise in teacher development with a genuine caring for people. UEI is incredibly fortunate to have Tanika as a leader."