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.

Panel 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)

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)

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)

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)