New College and Career Advancement program exposes students to education professions

Mary Abowd
News Officer for Arts & HumanitiesUniversity Communications

A new program in Career Advancement for students interested in pursuing education professions officially launched this month, with a reminder from John W. Boyer, dean of the College, that the University of Chicago has long been known as the “teacher of teachers.”

“Large numbers of alumni of the College have pursued careers in education,” Boyer told the 70 students accepted into the UChicago Careers in Education Professions during a program launch party. “This program has deep roots in the University and is part of a set of programs to support our students in making wise decisions about their future careers in all fields.”

The UCIEP program is designed for students who are interested in preK-12 teaching, school administration, education research and policy, as well as students who are interested in careers in higher education. To be accepted into the program, interested students submit essays and a resume and have a personal interview with Nahida Teliani, AM’12, the new director of the program.

Second-year Carolyn Andrew joined the new UCIEP program after spending her summer teaching and mentoring elementary school students in Chicago. “I have a lot of questions about the inequalities in the public schools and how they develop,” she said.

“I think the program will give me some real insights into our country’s educational system and where I can best contribute,” Andrew said. She hasn’t decided whether to pursue education policy, administration, research or teaching. But she is confident that she’ll be well supported in whatever career track she chooses.

The students in the program will benefit from one-on-one advising, workshops, internship opportunities and visits to local schools. They will sit in on classes and meet teachers and administrators. Through these visits, students should get a feel for the craft of teaching as an important and challenging vocation in its own right. They also will have access to resources of the University’s Urban Education Institute, which oversees multiple teaching and education research initiatives with the goal of improving urban schooling in the city of Chicago and beyond.

Part of the funding for the program comes through a gift from University Trustee Charles Ashby Lewis and Penny Bender Sebring, who have spent considerable time and resources on improving public education in the last decade.

The Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation also has helped to establish similar programs dedicated to education at Amherst College and Grinnell College. The goal is to promote this model of professional advising and programming in colleges across the country.

“I believe that one of the keys to improving education is to professionalize teaching,” Lewis said to the students at the launch party.

With nearly 25 percent of students who graduate from the College planning to begin careers in education or to pursue their own higher education, there has been a great interest in this program.

“All the students that I’ve met are ready to make big impacts in education,” said Teliani, who spent years as a teacher and administrator before joining the Office of Career Advancement to lead the education professions program. “The inaugural group is extraordinary. And we need talented people in education.”