Education, Teaching, and Policy

The field of education is no longer confined by the walls of schools. In today's dynamic political, technological, and social landscape, young college graduates and professionals are channeling their passions for social justice and education into government, non-profit organizations, and research labs across the city of Chicago. The Education, Teaching, and Policy Panel will highlight just a few of the many interdisciplinary opportunities that University of Chicago alumni have taken to help advance the educational experiences of children across the country and world. Featured will be a member of the Illinois Governor's staff, a founder of an education non-profit, a Chicago Public School teacher, and the director of UChicago's Urban Education Institute (UEI). Each will share their own unique personal paths to their current positions, and strive to demonstrate how a variety of skillsets and interests can make a tremendous difference in the field of education. For those interested in cultivating an impactful and dynamic career after college, the field of education offers the perfect path.

Roundtable Participants

Sam Buck, AB'16

Managing Director of Education Systems, Office of the Governor

Ms. Buck graduated from the College in 2016 with a degree in History and minor in Classical Studies. While in the College, she was involved with the Friends of Washington Park Tutoring RSO, the Neighborhood Schools Project, and Le Vorris and Vox Circus. After graduating she joined the Governor's Education Team, where she is now the Managing Director of Education Systems. In this role, she focuses on bringing the various agencies that oversee programs related to children and youth to move projects forward in a cross-agency fashion to improve outcomes for the children and youth in Illinois. In her free time she bakes elaborate cakes and worries about the struggling bee population. (Table 25)

Kristian Coerper, AB'11, MAT -2013 (The University of Chicago)

Science Teacher, CPS - Kenwood Academy

Ms. Coerper graduated from the College with Honors with a degree in Biology and Psychology, and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from the Urban Teacher Education Program at UChicago. Ms. Coerper teaches in Chicago Public Schools at Kenwood Academy. Ms. Coerper is a science teacher that specializes in the Biomedical Sciences curriculum by Project Lead The Way's (PLTW). Within the PLTW program, Ms. Coerper teaches PLTW Medical Interventions, PLTW Human Body Systems, and PLTW Principles of Biomedical Sciences. In addition, Ms. Coerper teaches Anatomy & Physiology and Advanced Placement Biology. While at UChicago Ms. Coerper participated in Peer Health Exchange (PHE) as a teacher and co-coordinator, and completed research in various laboratories. (Table 26)

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

Senior Research Scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago

Mr. Hernandez is a Senior Research Scientist and Director of NORC at the University of Chicago's Early Childhood Research and Practice Collaborative. He graduated from the University with a degree in Biology, Psychology, Social Sciences, and a PhD in Developmental Psychology. His expertise and research background is in cognitive development and education, 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. (Table 27)

Matthias Jamison-Koenig, AB'09

STEM Teacher, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep. Academy

Mr. Jamison-Koenig (known as Mr. JK to his students) graduated from the College in 2009 with a degree in Physics. While there, he represented UChicago in intercollegiate competition as a foil fencer, returning to help coach for a year after graduating. Mr. Jamison-Koenig was also very involved with University Theater, working as a sound designer for numerous productions from 2006 through 2009. While in his 4th year, Mr. Jamison-Koenig became involved in research at Fermilab, working on the Higgs Discovery project. This work continued after graduation until 2011, when he changed paths to become a teacher. After receiving his endorsements in Physics (and later Mathematics) through the Illinois Institute of Technology, he began teaching in Chicago Public Schools. Mr. Jamison-Koenig now teaches Mathematics and Physics to juniors (mostly) at Brooks College Prep, in their nascent STEM program. (Table 28)

Safiya Johnson, AB'14

UChicago Promise Director/Sr Assistant Director, University of Chicago

Ms. Johnson graduated from the College in 2014 with a degree in Sociology. Her senior thesis explored how high-achieving Chicago students from low-income backgrounds adjust to the setting of an elite, private high school. Ms. Johnson currently works for UChicago's Office of College Admissions as a Director of Community Initiatives and Senior Assistant Director of Admissions. She is a proud native Chicagoan as well as a former CAAP student, UChicago Promise Metcalf, a UChicago Careers in Education Professions student, and a Summer Links Intern. (Table 28)

Michelle Oliva, AB'01, AM'01

Co-Founder and Director, EduDream

Ms. Oliva is the Co-Founder of EduDream. Founded by two UChicago alumni, EduDream partners with schools, districts, foundations and nonprofits working to ensure educational equity for racially and economically diverse students. There, she co-leads projects across the organization's service areas (data insights, research and program evaluation, needs-assessment and strategic planning, and technical assistance), and provides leadership on EduDream's strategic direction. Ms. Oliva has over a decade of experience conducting collaborative research, program evaluations, policy analyses and technical assistance at the federal, state and local levels. Her passion for more equitable education experiences for all students stems from her personal experiences as a product of the Chicago Public Schools, daughter of immigrants, first generation college student and graduate. She earned a degree in Public Policy from the College and a Masters of Arts in Social Sciences from the University. She is fluent in written and conversational Spanish. (Table 29)

Maricar Ramos, AB'92

Sr. Manager, Workforce & Partnership Development, Chicago Public Schools

Ms. Ramos graduated from the College in 1992 with a degree in Psychology. She also attended a Developmental Psychology Ph.D. program at Loyola University Chicago. Since then, Ms. Ramos has enjoyed a diverse career as a funder/grant maker, nonprofit practitioner, and fundraiser. She currently works in Education as the Senior Manager for Workforce & Partnership Development for Chicago Public Schools, where she serves as the workforce development liaison for the school district and leads a team that is responsible for providing summer internships for 1400 students every year. She is also the most recent past Board Co-Chair for Chicago Women In Philanthropy (CWIP) and is the Chair of CWIP's Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee. Her passion for racial justice, social equity, women's issues and youth development is evident in all she does. In her spare time, she travels all over the world for yoga and meditation retreats. (Table 29)

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 $40m operating budget. She is also a professor at UChicago, teaching and advising undergraduate and graduate students. She teaches in 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, UChicago's most prestigious teaching award. She received her BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Chicago. (Table 26)

Christina Ricordati, AB'09, MPA'11 (DePaul)

Policy Development Consultant, National Association of Charter School Authorizers

Ms. Ricordati graduated from the College in 2009 with a degree in Public Policy and Sociology. She also obtained a Master's in public administration from DePaul University in 2011, after which she began working for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). In her position as policy development consultant, she works to develop partnerships, resources, and policy positions all aimed at improving charter school laws across the country. She is married to a fellow UChicago graduate and they live with their two boys in the Chicago area. She is a proud Delta Gamma alumna. (Table 27)

Demetrius Sajous-Brady, AB'94, MSED'00 (Northwestern)

Teacher, Chicago Public Schools

Mr. Sajous-Brady has taught English and history at the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School for the last eighteen years. Prior to his work at Lincoln, he taught for two years at Pope John XXIII, a Catholic school in Evanston and three years at Francis W. Parker, a private, independent school in Chicago. Mr. Sajous-Brady graduated from the College in 1994 with a degree in English Language and Literature. He lives in the Buena Park neighborhood of Uptown. (Table 25)