Education, Teaching, and Policy

In a time when future success depends so heavily on early learning outcomes, the education industry and its supporting fields demand a unique blend of talented professionals. With new research insights in teaching and learning, the growth of education technology, and high demand for critical thinkers in non-profit, public, and private roles, the education sector is rapidly evolving. From a career perspective, the sector needs policy analysts, researchers, software programmers, consultants, and of course, great educators for diverse settings. Our education panelists and roundtable discussion leaders will discuss this changing landscape and address it from multiple perspectives reflecting their varied roles. These include researching national education concerns, directing urban education reform initiatives, and teaching and leading schools across Chicago and beyond. Our alumni will demonstrate how the education industry offers a vast number of highly fulfilling careers and will shed practical light on career navigation.

Panel Participants

Marc Hernandez, AB'00, AM'02, PhD'09

Senior Research Scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago

Dr. Hernandez is a senior research scientist and Director of the Early Childhood Research and Practice Collaborative, NORC at the University of Chicago. He graduated from the University with an AB in biology and psychology, AM in social sciences, and PhD in developmental psychology. His expertise and research background is in cognitive development and education, as well as experimental design, mixed-methods research, assessment, and evaluation. He focuses on identifying, developing, and evaluating programs and tools designed to improve educational outcomes among disadvantaged children, early in life. He is currently leading development of a web-based formative assessment tool to measure parent engagement (PFCE) in partnership with the National Head Start Association. He is Co-PI of a utilization-focused evaluation of ACF's Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance System. He is also leading a collaboration with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation to improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for vulnerable children in Oakland, California.

Barbara Hoff, AB'95, MAT'97, MLIS 2012, University of Illinois

English Teacher, Niles North High School

In 1995, Ms. Hoff graduated from the College with a degree in English. After a very short-lived stint as an editorial assistant for a real estate textbook publishing company, she returned to UChicago, graduating with an MAT in English in 1997. She taught eighth grade at a Catholic school in Ohio for one year. Since then, Ms. Hoff has been teaching English at Niles North High School in Skokie, a diverse immigrant community north of Chicago. In 2012, she received her MLIS from the University of Illinois. She is married to a social studies teacher at Niles North, has two children, and lives in Evanston.

Matt Knoepke, AB'00

Teacher, Homewood-Flossmoor High School

Mr. Knoepke graduated in 2000 with a degree in biological sciences. After graduation, he spent six months in Madagascar studying lemur behavior. After returning to Chicago, and earning his MAT at National-Louis University, he began teaching at Hyde Park Academy in 2002 where, before leaving in 2006, he served as Science Department Chair. While at HPA, he secured over $40K in grant funding and was named an inaugural Fund for Teachers and Neil Campbell Fellow. He now teaches AP Biology and IB Theory of Knowledge at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, where he is also the IB Diploma Coordinator. While at HF, he has written teacher edition material for a biology textbook, researched ovarian cancer which has led to a publication in the journal FEBS Letters, served as an Oncofertility Summer Research Fellow and earned his second Masters in Educational Leadership from Saint Xavier University.

Sara Ray Stoelinga, AB'95, AM'01, PhD'04

Sara Liston Spurlark Director/Clinical Professor, Urban Education Institute

Ms. Stoelinga oversees all aspects of the Urban Education Institute, including operations, development of teachers, rigorous applied research, operation of schools, and the distribution of models to improve schools nationally. UEI has 500 employees and a $50m operating budget. She is also a professor at the University of Chicago, teaching and advising undergraduate and graduate students. She teaches in the Urban Teacher Education Program, the College, and the Sociology department. She joined UEI as an intern in 1995. Across more than two decades at the Institute, she has served in a variety of roles. She became senior director of UEI in 2010 and was appointed the Sara Liston Spurlark Director in 2015. In 2015, she was awarded the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award, the University of Chicago's most prestigious teaching award. She received her BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Chicago.