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Welcome to the newsletter of the UIC EdD program in Urban Education Leadership. If you have items to be considered for submission, please forward them to
April 2021

In this issue...

In this issue you will read about a range of news, including:

  • Current student and alumni appointments
  • Current student and alumni awards
  • Program announcements
  • EdD Information Session dates for 2020-2021
  • Superintendent Endorsement Information
Celebrating Salisbury and Taking Stock of Our Team as Our Program’s “Cycle” Work Continues

Celebrating Salisbury and Taking Stock of Our Team as Our Program’s “Cycle” Work Continues


Although it has been a year that has been particularly shaped by challenge and grief and pain, I have meaningful reasons to feel hopeful and energized about the year ahead. For me, this energy and optimism finds roots with the recent verdict in Minnesota but also in very related ways with the individuals who are my UIC colleagues. As I think about this latter point I’m thinking very specifically about Dr. Jason Salisbury and also about our UIC team more broadly. Let me explain.

First related to Jason.  I’m truly excited to share with everyone that Dr. Jason Salisbury has just received a very prestigious national award from the American Education Research Association’s Division A (Administration). Last week he was one of two individuals to receive this organization’s Emerging Scholar/Early Career Award. This award is for pre-tenure faculty members, and it means that the field views Jason’s scholarly work as of the highest quality and impact for this career stage. One of the nationally recognized scholars who reviewed Jason’s scholarship concluded that Jason’s “use of equity-focused critical theoretical perspectives makes a significant contribution to a field that has not traditionally emphasized issues of social justice.” And for the record, Jason has had a truly stellar year this year as he has also successfully navigated the UIC promotion and tenure process (we expect the final authorization of his promotion to Associate Professor to occur later this summer by the Board of Trustees). What a year Jason! Congratulations for these well-deserved achievements!

Thinking about our team more broadly. I am also feeling a real sense of hopefulness about the year ahead because of the team that we have assembled at UIC—which is not just important for the overall quality of the program but is a truly vital factor in our ongoing cycle of inquiry and program improvement work (aka “cycle” work). This critical work enables us to not just sustain our program quality but to advance our program quality over time. Let me elaborate why this team is important and then share some brief insights about members of our team that others may not know.

Having been at UIC now for more than 15 years and also being deeply engaged in both the national and international field and work on the preparation of schools leaders, I have an ability to consider our program in general and our ongoing program improvement work more specifically. As many of you know our Ed.D. program, in collaboration with the Center for Urban Education Leadership which I lead and Steve formed/led before me, engages in ongoing cycles of inquiry as an approach for finding and solving program problems that are currently undermining the nature/quality/impact of our program.  What’s important to note is that we have developed an organizational culture that values program inquiry. We also have considerable expertise with cycles of inquiry and with the kinds of collaborative routines that encourage such kinds of inquiry work to be productively taken up. My assessment (not hyperbole because I am drawing from my extensive national experience of formally evaluating preparation programs as well as supporting programs seeking to improvement) is that few preparation programs have such collaboration routines or expertise. However, none of these things (e.g., our values or expertise with cycles, our collaboration routines) really matter if we don’t have the right team assembled—that includes individuals who are willing to work collectively and also have the kinds of expertise necessary for taking on the actual challenges and next edges of growth that are uncovered through our ongoing cycle work.  Despite having an assortment of amazingly talented and deeply committed faculty members and leadership coaches depart from the program over the years (Nancy Carter-Hill, Kathleen Mayer, Peter Martinez, Mark Smylie, Steve Tozer, Ward Weldon, Paul Zavitkovksy) as well as several deeply committed program administrators (Katonja Webb, Jason Swanson), our hiring has allowed us to sustain the quality of our faculty/coaches over time. Importantly, we have assembled a powerful team within our program more generally, but also in relation to the cycle work that we have undertaken over the last four years and are sustaining in an ongoing manner—work that is largely focused on addressing and improving issues of equity within our program. This work is of course vital for our program, and by extension the graduate students and community that we serve. But it is also absolutely necessary as we position this work within the context of the deeply embedded structural racism, anti-Blackness and racial injustice that exists and must be dismantled in our country. If George Floyd is “going to change the world” as George’s brother, Rodney, suggests, this change will only occur from meaning engagement and action by everyone. 

Considering our hiring over the last few years and its impact on our team. The hiring of permanent members for tenure-line/clinical faculty and leadership coaches has brought SO MUCH expertise into our program in general. Importantly, it has deepened our equity-oriented expertise within our program—which we have drawn on extensively in recent years. Let me share a few highlights related to these individuals.

·       Decoteau Irby was hired in 2015 and is an Associate Professor in our program. Decoteau brings into our program a strong organizational lens and focus on organizational learning to the work of creating more racially just schools. I recently shared through CUEL email distribution some of Decoteau’s current co-authored work that examines the role of the central office equity director and how this role is organized for impact. If you did not receive a copy of this, you can gain a copy of that article along with his CV that lists all of his publications on the CUEL website. Be on the lookout for his forthcoming book, Stuck Improving: Inquiry-driven Racial Equity Improvement and Capacity for Change. This book is one that will certainly be critical to the field, our program, and our students. As I elaborate below, Decoteau was also a major contributor to the equity-oriented redesign of our Ed.D. program’s three-course instructional leadership sequence.

·       Jason Salisbury was hired in 2017 and is an Assistant Professor in our program. Jason has considerable expertise with equity-driven instructional leadership that moves schools towards more racially-just ends. You can learn more about a set of his more recent publications on the work of equity-oriented leaders and you can locate his CV that lists all of his publications on the CUEL website. Like Decoteau, Jason was also a major contributor to the equity-oriented program redesign of our three-course instructional leadership sequence.

·       Lionel Allen was hired as a clinical faculty member in 2018.  Although many of you know of Lionel’s extensive and rich leadership background (assistant principal, principal, principal coach, and chief academic officer) prior to coming to UIC, you might be less aware of some of his current work. He is engaged in hugely important school leadership development work within several regional education offices in IL, and he is one of the individuals working within the ASPIRE Fellowship program—which is a newly incubated program (I’ll elaborate more below) designed to strengthen and diversify the school principal pipeline by building the number of principals of color.

·       Joe Shoffner began as a leadership coach in our program in 2019. Like Lionel, Joe came to UIC with an impressive leadership track record (assistant principal and principal in CPS), and he is regularly sought for leadership development projects beyond UIC. Two of the projects that have tapped Joe as a project member showcase his equity-oriented expertise (ASPIRE Fellowship and Chicago Leadership Initiative).   


Let me also add that beyond these permanent positions, we are also fortunate to currently have a small team of additional adjunct faculty members who are also regular contributors to our current equity-focused cycle/program improvement work. These are Ed.D. program graduates who are likely to be well known for their exceptional leadership skills and their passion about and engagement with equity-oriented work in CPS and the greater Chicagoland area including LaTarsha Green (D65 Deputy Superintendent), Jackie Menoni (CPS Principal and 2021 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership Finalist) and Victor Simon (Gower Superintendent), Amy Vondra (CPS Principal).

Highlighting those who have long-standing program connections. Beyond these newer members to our team, there are a number of others who have had long-standing program connections and contributions.

·       Cynthia Barron is not only making so many significant contributions to our program but you should also know that she is playing a lead role in strengthening and diversifying the city’s school leadership pipeline.  Above I briefly introduced the ASPIRE Fellowship as a critical project for deepening the pool of school leaders of color. Well Cynthia is the one who incubated and catalyzed this very important initiative. Roughly 85% of the members of the first cohort of teacher leaders (TL) participating in this project are TL of color.  I should also note that Cynthia has shepherded roughly 30 students through capstones over the last four years in the role of capstone chair.

·       Bev LaCoste has been a long-time coach and major contributor within our program. More recently given her expertise, Bev has taken the lead within the coaching team to serve as an equity-focused mentor to all of the coaches in our program. This means that she regularly joins coaching sessions so that she can consider and then share with coaches the kinds of tools and routines that will be vital to more equity-focused leadership coaching. Like Cynthia, Bev has taken on a notable group of capstone students the last four years—roughly 20 as capstone chair.

·       David Mayrowetz’s connection to the program as a tenured faculty member pre-dates my own and his contributions to our program and improvement work have been numerous over the years. Most recently, David collaborated with Decoteau and Jason over a period of about 18 months to engage in some of the program’s earliest equity-oriented improvement work. As I just briefly discussed above, these three worked as a team to bring issues of equity-oriented instructional leaders to the foreground across a three course instructional leadership sequence and to much more deliberately sequence and scaffold these learning experiences over three semesters.  You can read about this work in a 2020 issue of the Journal of Research on Leadership Education. David has also made exceptional contributions with capstone students these last four years by chairing roughly 15 capstones.

·       Kay Volk has also been a leadership coach in our program for a number of years and has made many important contributions to our program and improvement work. As we have been working to deepen our knowledge base for our equity-oriented work, she has been pushing the coaching team to dig deeply into critical texts like Muhammad Khalifa's "Culturally Responsive School Leadership" and more.  

·       Katonja Webb, who you know as one of our former program administrators who moved into the role of Vice President of Academic Affairs at City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College, has remained engaged with our program improvement efforts. Beyond her many contributions while she worked with us, she has since taken the lead to develop a mentoring program for Black students in our Ed.D. program and the matching of students with mentors is currently underway.

In the center that I lead, there are a number of individuals who have made important contributions to our program as well as to our cycle improvement work:

·       Sam Whalen and Martha Hebert are both long-time researchers in the center who make ongoing contributions to our program and improvement work. Beyond their regular engagement with our capstone students, they have contributed to the: a) development and use of our state of the art data system to support our ongoing cycle/improvement work, and b) translation of much of our improvement work into materials for use within our program and for sharing with other programs across the country.  It is important for me to also note that Sam published (in December) a case study that focuses on CPS under the leadership of Dr. Jackson which I disseminated through CUEL email. You can also access the executive summary and full report on the center’s website. 

·       Steve Tozer and Paul Zavitkovky, who have both retired continue to work part-time within the center in ways that make significant contributions to program and center-related efforts (as you know their contributions prior to retirement were massive). Beyond remaining engaged with capstone students, they both, for example, chave ontributed to a major study in CPS that examined the set of elementary schools that have historically struggled to improve within the context of the district’s accountability policy. These schools generally serve underserved communities of color. I expect that the center will be publicly be releasing findings from this study in the coming weeks (so stay tuned), and this work is already beginning to motivate critical work within CPS.

·       Lisa Walker just recently departed from the center at the end of her “visiting” researcher position in the center. One of Lisa’s important program contributions related to some of the earliest equity-oriented cycle work taken on within the program that motivated major changes to our selection process as we worked to mitigate forms of bias in our program’s student selection. For those who are interested, this work appears in several briefs that appear on the center website. Lisa also collaborated with Steve and Paul on the study of historically struggling CPS schools discussed above.

Bringing interns into our work. As most of you are aware, our work within the program is complex and multifaceted. This has created an opportunity for us to connect a college intern with our program work for the last two years.

·       Ayana Wilson is our college intern who is graduating from Vanderbilt University this May. She has helped to re-vamp our admissions process moving it fully on line while maintaining the integrity of a non-bias process and leading the work of our monthly "UIC Leaders on the Move" communications which is our effort to widely disseminate the accomplishments of our leaders and important work of the program.

With all of these things in mind, I am profoundly aware of two things. First, I feel so deeply blessed to have my arms locked together with this group of individuals. I also know with complete confidence that we have the right members on our team to grapple with our program’s important equity-oriented work--work that is not only critical to our community but that is absolutely essential at this moment in time in our nation.




A message from the Urban Education Leadership Program

We are relieved that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd and that he will be held accountable for his actions.  However, we know that we have a lot of work to do as a nation to prevent instances of brutality like this from ever happening again.  This verdict will not change what needs to happen in this country unless we/everyone commits to dismantling the racism that is embedded in the practices and structures in so many of our institutions, including the schools that we lead.  For us to truly honor George Floyd, Adam Toledo, and other victims of sanctioned brutality, we must continue to learn together how to lead change so that the young people we serve have a more equitable future.  At UIC, we believe that we are preparing leaders to advance racial equity and that change is possible, but it will take courage, persistence, and knowledge to make this happen. This is our call to action.  Each one of us can make a difference.  



Congratulations to Keisha Campbell!

Dr. Keisha Campbell (Cohort 5) has been selected as the next Superintendent of Elmhurst Community Unit District 205. Dr.Campbell is a graduate of York High School as well as a District 205 parent. Dr. Campbell is currently the Director of School Leadership with the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) in Chicago. The AUSL network contains 31 schools and over 16,000 students. In her current position, Dr. Campbell oversees leadership development and school academic achievement for eight schools in her network. Dr. Campbell has been Director of School Leadership since 2012, and has devoted her time to teacher training, leadership development, and helping schools develop strong and welcoming school climates, resulting in student growth and achievement. Dr. Campbell was the former principal of Howe School of Excellence. The title of her capstone was, “An Analysis of School Leader Development and its Implications for Organizational Change: A Capstone Case.” Dr. Campbell will assume responsibilities as Superintendent of District 205 starting July 1, 2021.

Congratulations to Dr. Amy Vondra!

Dr. Amy Vondra (Cohort 10, CLC 1) has been selected as the next Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Student Services in Kalamazoo Michigan. Dr. Vondra will assume the responsibilities of Assistant Superintendent starting July 1, 2021. Currently Dr. Vondra serves as the principal of Hamilton Elementary. For the past nine years, Vondra has held school leadership positions in the Chicago Public Schools.  After her residency at Fulton Elementary and Infinity High School, Vondra served as the assistant principal at Wells Community Academy from 2013-2017. During her tenure at Wells, she led the climate and culture team and co-lead the ILT.  Under her leadership at Hamilton, she built a culture of inquiry, designed structures for ongoing professional learning, and fostered a culture focused on student growth and ambitious instruction.  External to work at CPS, Dr. Vondra also serves as an adjunct faculty member with the Urban Education Leadership Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She teaches the first half of the Practitioner Inquiry for School Leaders course sequence (586a). Prior to joining CPS she was  the Chief Operating Officer of America Scores, a non-profit whose goal is to build confidence and character in young people to help them succeed. America Scores specifically serves school districts with a high number of at-risk students. She supported the leadership development of the 14 America Scores executive directors throughout the country, who in turn academically supported 13,500 students in 14 states.

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Lach!

Dr. Michael Lach, the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Township High School District 113, recently completed the Superintendent Endorsement process through UIC.  Mike is an alum of EdD Cohort 2 and his final capstone was titled: "Teacher-Generated Final Exams in High School Science:  Content, Rigor, and Assessment Literacy"  Mike has contributed to strong results in the districts he has worked with previously:  In Chicago , the learning gains outpaced the state; in District 113, which serves Highland Park, Highwood, Bannockburn, and Riverwoods, collective improvement efforts are beginning to show results, particularly with the most vulnerable students.  Mike has extensive experience with high school work, including schools with high needs and schools that are high-performing.  Mike has trained teachers, mentored leaders, adjudicated policies, analyzed data, crafted strategies, fostered partnerships, and enacted programs and more.  Dr. Lach's career has been centered on  equity, as closing opportunity gaps and ensuring that services delivered to support diverse students were a top priority both as a classroom teacher and as an administrator.  Congratulations to Dr. Michael Lach!


Congratulations to Dr. Shanele Andrews!

Dr. Shanele Andrews, the Visionary Leader of Orr Academy High School in Chicago recently completed the requirements for the Superintendent Endorsement at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Dr. Andrews is also an alum of UIC Ed.D Program, Cohort 11. Her capstone was titled, “Teacher Leader Development and Instructional Coherence: A High School Principal’s First Year”. Shanele’s expertise spans across elementary through high school; and in high performing and opportunity for growth schools. She is accomplished in building collaborative, team oriented approaches, to improving instruction and building community among teachers and creating opportunities for shared leadership. She has been instrumental in changing the landscape for many students at Orr Academy High School by improving Freshman on Track (FOT), and improved postsecondary outcomes for students.  She has mentored teachers, developed teacher leaders, assistant principals and is currently mentoring Ed.D students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In Dr. Andrews’s passionate pursuit to improve equitable outcomes for students, she continues to focus on providing high quality instruction for students,  supporting student’s SEL needs, and improving relationships with families and the community. She is dedicated to changing the educational outcomes for students within Chicago Public Schools, West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park.

Congratulations to Dr. Leonard Harris!

Dr. Leonard Harris (Cohort 5) ) was recently awarded a renewed four-year contract as principal of Nancy B Jefferson Alternative High School renewed. Leadership demands at Jefferson High School are unique in comparison with other CPS high schools.  Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School provides high quality educational programming to meet the diverse educational and social/emotional needs of court-detained youths. While their context is distinctive, Dr. Harris relies on proven guiding principles for courageous school leadership. Dr. Harris has been principal at Jefferson High School since 2017. Before becoming principal at Jefferson, Dr. Harris ws principal of George H Corliss High School for five years. 

Congratulations to Dr. Katie Magnuson!

Dr. Katie Magnuson (Cohort 10) has just had her contract as principal of Skinner North Elementary School renewed. Dr. Magnuson has been principal at Skinner North since 2017. Before becoming principal, Dr. Magnuson was Assistant Principal at Skinner North for four years and was a UIC resident principal before becoming the school’s AP. Skinner North (opened in 2009) touts an experienced, dedicated staff committed to rigorous, differentiated instruction with a focus on teaching the whole child. A strong shared Theory of Action undergirds the fostering an academically advanced environment and successful socially-motivated students.

Congratulations to Tyrese Graham!

Tyrese Graham (Cohort 12) was recently highlighted in The Chicago Principal Partnership newsletter. 

Tyrese Graham is the principal of Uplift High School in Uptown. He is one of the inaugural leaders of our Learn to Lead PLC, a new development opportunity for students enrolled in principal endorsement programs across the city. Tyrese shared his leadership journey and viewpoint on building a strong principal pipeline. 

The interview can be found here.


Congratulations to Dr. Tai Basurto!

Dr. Tai Basurto (Cohort 12) has successfully defended her capstone, “Cultivating Teacher Leadership for Instructional Improvement in Changing Contexts”. Dr. Basurto is currently the principal of John C. Dore Elementary School, where she has been principal since 2017. Dr. Basurto worked as assistant principal of Dore for two years before becoming principal. 

Congratulations to Dr. Minerva Garcia-Sanchez!

Dr. Garcia-Sanchez (Cohort 4) has successfully defended her final capstone titled, "Case Study: An Analysis of the Principal Supervisor's Role in Building Equitable Sustainable Practices." Dr. Garcia-Sanchez is the Chief of Schools of CPS Network 7. Prior to her role as Network Chief, she held various CPS school leadership roles including Deputy Network Chief, Deputy Chief Officer of the Department of Language and Culture, principal of Hernandez Middle School, assistant principal at Lafayette Elementary School, Area 10 Management Support Director, assistant director of the Department of Instructional Technology, and classroom teacher.    On January 5, 2021, the DeKalb School District 428 board voted unanimously to confirm Dr. Minerva Garcia-Sanchez as the next superintendent of schools.


Congratulations to Dr. Brian Kelly! 

Dr. Brian Kelly (Cohort 15) has successfully defended his capstone: "Building Trusting Relationships to Foster the Conditions to Create a Culture of Instructional Inquiry." Dr. Kelly is principal of Martin Luther King College Prep. Before becoming principal in 2019, Dr.Kelly was assistant principal at John F. Kennedy High School where he completed his residency in 2017. Dr. Kelly was also recently featured in an article in the Chicago Tribune about the reopening of Chicago Public Schools. Find the story here.


Congratulations to Dr. Nakeisha Knight!

Dr. Nakeisha Knight (Cohort 15) has successfully defended her capstone, “"Establishing Trust and Collaboration to Developing an Organizational Capacity for Change". Dr. Knight is currently the assistant principal of Orr Community Academy High School. Before becoming assistant principal of Orr in 2018, Dr. Knight completed her residency at Rudyard Kipling Elementary School. Throughout her ten years in education Dr. Knight has remained committed to providing equitable learning experiences to her students and is now leveraging her relationships with staff to mobilize them toward this shared goal. 

Congratulations to Dr. Laquita Louie!

Dr. Laquita Louie (Cohort 13) has successfully defended her capstone: “School Improvement Through Cultural Change: Leadership as Healing and Helping in a Post-turnaround School." Dr. Louie is currently principal at Curtis School of Excellence, where she has been principal since 2017. Prior to becoming principal at Curtis, Dr. Louie was assistant principal at Milton Brunson Math and Science Specialty Elementary School for four years.

Congratulations to Dr. Kyla Mathews!

Dr. Kyla Mathews (Cohort 15) has successfully defended her capstone: "A Crosswalk of Effective Leadership: Black Feminist Epistemology and Traditional Educational Research." Dr. Mathews is currently an assistant principal of Neal F. Simeon Career Academy.  She has been an AP since 2018, after completing her CLC principal residency at Simeon.  Key aspects of her leadership are her consciousness as a Black woman, knowledge, and decision-making skills. Her leadership has been effective because she uses her social capital for collective racial and community uplift. As an equity leader at Simeon Career Academy for the past four years, she has supported teachers in problematizing their practices at the classroom level.  As a result of her leadership, teachers are tuning their grading practices and instructional design, and the math department is an emerging culturally responsive teacher learning organization.  Dr. Mathews has also been a social and emotional bridge for students, families and staff.

Congratulations to Dr. Cortez McCoy!

Dr. Cortez McCoy (Cohort 14) has successfully completed his capstone: "Creating systems of Change at Brooks High School Through the Implementation of Competency Based Education". Dr. McCoy is currently the principal of Walter H. Dyett School for the Arts where he has worked since 2019. Prior to becoming principal at Dyett, Dr. McCoy was assistant principal at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy High School for two years after completing his residency at Acero Charter Schools - Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. 


Congratulations to Dr. Heidy Moran!

Dr. Heidy Moran (Cohort 15) has successfully defended her capstone "The Evolving Role of an Assistant Principal in Developing Organizational Capacity for Equity". Dr. Moran is currently assistant principal at Carl Schurz High School, where she has been assistant principal for three years. Dr. Moran completed her residency at Darwin Elementary under the leadership of Mauricio Segovia, CPS Chief of Network 2.

Congratulations to Dr. Kate Nestler!

Dr. Kate Nestler (Cohort 15) defended her final capstone, "Creating a Teacher Learning Organization to Support Instructional Improvement in a High Performing Urban Elementary School". Dr.Nestler is currently Assistant Principal of Stone Elementary Scholastic Academy, where she has worked as Assistant Principal for three years. Prior to working at Stone Elementary, Dr.Nestler completed her residency at Augustus H Burley Elementary School.

Congratulations to Dr. Jake Stefan!

Dr. Jake Stefan (Cohort 15) successfully defended his final capstone, “Strengthening Organizational Capacities for Enacting Cycles of Inquiry in an Urban Elementary School”. Dr. Stefan is currently assistant principal of Tarkington School of Excellence Elementary School. Prior to becoming assistant principal at Tarkington in 2018, Dr. Stefan completed his residency at Ellen Mitchell Elementary School. 

Two UIC-Led Schools Achieve Competitive, Multi-Year Postsecondary Grant

George Washington High School and North-Grand High School will receive, collectively, over a million dollars in funding to support increasing postsecondary access and opportunities for their students over the course of the next few years. Both schools engaged in a highly competitive grant application process and were awarded initial planning funds by the Crown Family Philanthropies through the Catalyst Grant, to further compete for a multi-year funding opportunity to support students’ and schools’ abilities to increase equitable access to high quality post-secondary programming within their school communities. Each school will be awarded $100,000 annually for projects that were designed over the course of an entire year-long study and pilot program, and both schools will also receive several hundred thousand dollars each in the form of scholarships for students to attend college.

UIC graduate Dr. Barbara San-Roman (Cohort 15) and her team, Samuel Davis (Cohort 17) and Ali Zimmerman (Cohort 16), originally applied for the grant, with the vision of strengthening 3 critically important work strands: reimagining support, deepening identity and connectedness, and collective support. The pilot deepened our focus on a three pronged approach to post-secondary success asking students to foster their pride in one’s self and one’s community by focusing on ‘Who am I? Where will I go? How will I get there?’

Dr. San-Roman states “Building a strong sense of identity encourages all learners to choose a path for themselves, develops and supports self-reflection, and ensures not only each student, but also family members and larger student networks are valued partners who help ensure student success. While the traditional narrative of large urban high schools might have been to see college as a way to “get out” or “leave” one’s neighborhood, Washington believes in fostering pride in one’s self and one’s community. Therefore, the message is not to leave one’s community, but instead to pursue one’s goals with the knowledge that the strengths and rich fabric of the community have prepared one well.”

Current UIC PhD Policy Studies student Emily Feltes and her team at North-Grand plan to streamline and better align their post-secondary seminar curriculum and will focus on implementing and progress monitoring interventions for high priority students in order to increase college enrollment and persistence rates. North-Grand’s postsecondary team is led by Nicole Luke (Cohort 17) and is also supported by Madisson Dickson (Cohort 18), North-Grand’s resident principal. North-Grand has increased its graduation rate from 67% in 2016 to 80% in recent years and looks forward to continuing the upward trend.

Principal Feltes states, “We are incredibly humbled and honored to receive this LIFE CHANGING grant funding from the Crown Family Philanthropies! We cannot put into words how much this means to us, our students, and our school community. We wish to acknowledge our postsecondary team for their incredible hard work and dedication through the grant application and program pilot processes, and we are so excited to continue this work!”

Both principals and teams are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to not only impact our students but our neighborhoods and families. We firmly believe that an investment in our schools is an investment in our communities.

Congratulations to Ayana Wilson!

Our CUEL intern Ayana Wilson is wrapping up her time at Vanderbilt University, and will be graduating May 15th with a BA. Ayana is a Political Science and English Double Major and an English Minor. Ayana was also recently published in her Undergraduate Literary Journal. Her historical fiction piece Asphyxiation, won the Best Prose Award.

UIC Newsletter Archives 

If you are interested in reading previous editions of our newsletter,  you may access them via the UIC Urban Education Leadership Website

New Study Commissioned by Wallace

Over the past 25 years, the number of assistant principals has been steadily increasing, as has the number of principals with prior experience as an assistant principal. However, the knowledge base on assistant principals has not grown in parallel with their increased presence in schools. Policymakers, practitioners, and researchers have not reached consensus on what the assistant principal role should entail, how to best prepare and support assistant principals, and how to effectively prepare them for success as principals. There is also little discussion about how the assistant principal role can promote equity and diversity in the pathway to the principalship, as well as contribute to equitable experiences and outcomes for students, teachers, and staff. To help policymakers, practitioners, and researchers better understand the assistant principal role and leverage it to promote equity and school effectiveness, The Wallace Foundation commissioned a synthesis of empirical research on assistant principals published since 2000. These study highlights describe the results from the synthesis report. 1 The report includes 79 empirical research studies on assistant principals published since 2000 and new analyses of national data and data from two states, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. 

The full report can be found at

The results summarized here highlight the need for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to focus more on assistant principals, an increasingly prevalent yet often overlooked role. There are significant gaps in our understanding of assistant principals, their roles, and how they affect outcomes for students and schools. The topics addressed in this report can provide an agenda for reframing and redefining the assistant principal role.

Upcoming EdD Information Sessions
"The strength of our program lies in its diversity, and if we are going to achieve our goals, we must strive to ensure our leadership reflects the diversity of the students we serve." Counting all 652 CPS schools, including charters, options and specialty schools, UIC has 62 principals; almost exactly 1 in 11. In addition UIC has 47 assistant principals in CPS, all but a few NOT in schools where we have principals. Approximately 91 CPS schools have either a UIC principal, or AP which is one in seven schools. We need talented, dedicated leaders. We encourage you to come to an information session and learn about the UELP.   PROUD TO BE UIC

We have dates for the 2021 Information Sessions. 
If you'd like to register, click this link HERE.

5/4/2021, 3:30 – 4:30
  5/22/2021, 9:00 – 10:30
  6/26/2021, 9:00 – 10:30

All sessions will be held via Google Meets


For general program inquiries you may contact Dr. Cynthia Barron ( If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Elise Wilson (
Superintendent Program
We are now accepting applications for the newly revamped superintendent program. If you are interested in learning whether the new UIC Superintendent program is the right match for you, we encourage you to fill out an interest form. At the end of the interest form, you will see a prompt to submit your resume to Superintendent Program Coordinator, Dr. Cynthia Barron ( Shortly after your submission, she will contact you to set up a phone call to learn more about your background. For any questions about the program, do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. Barron.  
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