University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program gets new director

Staff Writer

Tanika Island has been named the new director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UChicago UTEP).

Island’s recent promotion builds on a 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. 

“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.”

Earlier in her career, Island served as a 5th grade literacy instructor, intermediate and 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 the 2012 Community School Leadership Award from the Federation of Community Schools and in 2013 she received a Principal Achievement Award from the City of Chicago.

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, Ill. 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.

“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,” Island said. “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.”