Open Letter to President Paul Alivisatos on the Possible Dissolution of UChicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program

Educators, students, and alumni of the Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) at UChicago call upon the University to reconsider disinvestment in teacher preparation.

Dear Dr. Alivisatos,

We are educators, current students, and alumni of the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP). We are writing to voice our strong disappointment at the possible dissolution of the teacher education program that has made a profound impact on our personal and professional growth as teachers and the larger landscape of teacher education in Chicago and beyond.

Since its inception in 2003, UTEP has graduated nearly 400 educators, who work at over 50 public, private, and charter schools across Chicago and other cities, such as Boston and Los Angeles. In its recent Illinois Education Preparation Profile scorecard from the Illinois State Board of Education, UTEP exemplary designation overall and on multiple indicators, including the number of diverse graduates of the program, demonstrated teaching skill, retention, and placement of graduates in high-needs schools.

The program has a unique design by Dr. Kavita Kapadia Matsko, Dr. Marv Hoffman, and Dr. Anthony Bryk, past director of the Urban Education Institute. In the first year of the program, cohorts of students engage in classes to examine their own identities, participate in fieldwork to gain understanding of local school contexts, and tutor students as they learn literacy development. In their second year, or residency year, students are placed in two different classrooms and school communities to learn from experienced teachers, create and implement curriculum, and build relationships with students. In addition, graduates are provided with individual coaching for the first three years of their careers, which is a critical time for more support.

Graduates of UTEP are passionate, thoughtful, and resilient. They are advocates for their students and school communities. They are committed teachers in it for the long haul, many of whom become mentor teachers for UTEP or instructional leaders within their schools. They are recipients of Golden Apple awards, Teacher of the Year awards, and other accolades. They become school coaches and administrators, nonprofit leaders, Ph.D. candidates, activists within their local school communities, and writers who document their experience as teachers. UTEP alumni are committed to “being the change” by envisioning and working towards a more equitable education system.

The University of Chicago prides itself on supporting K–12 education in Chicago through its investment in community-based initiatives and programs, including urban education. Disinvesting from teacher preparation, a fundamental piece of the education system, would be a huge loss to the overall work that the University is doing to transform education. At a time when there are many policies leading to the nationwide teacher shortage and devaluing of the profession, cutting off an important pipeline for well-prepared teachers in Chicago is unwise. In addition, the University’s possible withdrawal of leadership within teacher education spaces and from the deep connection within communities that UTEP has developed seems antithetical to its goals of more fully engaging and partnering with the surrounding communities and city.

We request that you commit to a series of conversations with alumni and current and former UTEP staff about the future of UTEP. We hope that the University decides to invest in UTEP through financial resources and staffing required to maintain the graduate-level courses and programs in place and eventually grow the program. We also believe the University can support UTEP’s marketing and recruiting efforts to nurture diverse cohorts of future teachers in Chicago.

We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response.

Note: This letter was delivered to the Office of President Paul Alivisatos on Monday, October 24 with over 150 individual member signatures.

The authors and signatories are students, educators, and alumni of the University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program, a teacher residency program for urban teacher preparation.



Clare Buckley Flack, UTEP Cohort 1, Research Associate, The Research Alliance for New York City Schools, New York University

Erica Keto, UTEP Cohort 1, Kindergarten Teacher, Longfellow Elementary, Oak Park D97

Margret Pilat-Chiyeni, UTEP Cohort 1, Lead Instructional Coach & Former UTEP Induction Coach, Dvorak Elementary, CPS

Evelyn Pollins, UTEP Cohort 1, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois Chicago

Nicole Yakes Constantinidis, UTEP Cohort 1, Instructional Support Leader, Network 11, CPS

Eliza Bryant, UTEP Cohort 2, Managing Director, Teaching and Learning, Big Shoulders Fund

Katherine Hove, UTEP Cohort 2, Board Member, Chicago Free School

Alexander Fishman, UTEP Cohort 2, Technology Teacher, Campbell Hall 

Jeannie Kim, UTEP Cohort 2, Co-Founder of Be the Change Collaborative

Heather Pogue, UTEP Cohort 2, 2nd Grade Teacher, Hartland Elementary School

Kayla Vigil Nuguid, UTEP Cohort 2, Site Director, Amplify Tutoring – Chicago

Esther Angulo Foiles, UTEP Cohort 3, Third Grade Teacher NBCT, Zapata Academy, CPS

Crystal Espinosa, UTEP Cohort 3, Rise Team Lead, Crimson Education

Tracie Kenyon, UTEP Cohort 3, Montessori Preschool Teacher, Garden Montessori School, Danville, CA

Kyla McCartney, UTEP Cohort 3, 4th Grade Inclusion Teacher, Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School, Boston Public Schools 

Eliza Ramirez, UTEP Cohort 3, Middle School Teacher NBCT & Golden Apple Fellow, Zapata Academy, CPS

Sonia Wang, UTEP Cohort 3, Co-Founder of Be the Change Collaborative & Executive Director 

of New Community Outreach

Kandice (Washington) Cole, UTEP Cohort 3, Consultant, K. Cole Coaching and Consulting

Janet Granados, UTEP Cohort 4, World Language Specialist, CPS

Jason Sitko, UTEP Cohort 4, Teacher, CPS

Catherine Schoenfeld, UTEP Cohort 4, ENL Teacher, NY Department of Education

Robert Welch, UTEP Cohort 4, Professional Learning Specialist, CPS

Stacy Young, UTEP Cohort 4, Diverse Learner Math Teacher, KIPP One Academy

Shula Bien, UTEP Cohort 5, Teacher, Elmhurst United Middle School, Oakland, California

Deena Heller, UTEP Cohort 5, Academic Intervention Specialist, Harlem Link Charter School, New York

Alexa Lee-Hassan, UTEP Cohort 5, Doctoral Candidate and Lecturer, University of Illinois Chicago

Tracey Nance, UTEP Cohort 5, 2020 & 2021 Georgia Teacher of the Year, National Network of State Teachers of the Year

Louisa Shannon, UTEP Cohort 5, 5th Grade Math and Science Teacher, Murray Language Academy, CPS

Joanna Wax Trost, UTEP Cohort 5, 7th Grade ELA and S.S. Teacher, Acero Marquez

Rosalie DeFino, UTEP Cohort 6, Assistant Professor in Educational Studies, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Casandra Gonzalez, UTEP Cohort 6, Science Education Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

Michael Havazelet, UTEP Cohort 6, Doctoral Student, Vanderbilt University

Ashley Haywood, UTEP Cohort 6, Senior Director of Humanitarian Initiatives, Kepler (NGO and College in Rwanda and Ethiopia)

Lindsey Acuff, UTEP Cohort 7, 5th Grade Teacher, Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy, CPS

Mari Altshuler, UTEP Cohort 7, Teaching Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Angelica Alvarado, UTEP Cohort 7, Math and Reading Intervention Specialist, Innovation Scholars

Maggie Claudy, UTEP Cohort 7

Beth Fioritto, UTEP Cohort 7

Lucy Hilarides, UTEP Cohort 7, Assistant Principal, The Accelerated Schools, Los Angeles

Maureen Murray, UTEP Cohort 7, 5th and 6th Grade Literacy Instructor, Perez Elementary, CPS

Ikeisha Russell, UTEP Cohort 7, Interventionist, Kipp Bloom College Prep

Jenny Sarna, UTEP Cohort 7, Director, NextGenScience, WestEd

Hemang Srikishan, UTEP Cohort 7, Math Teacher, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, CPS

Kenji Mori, UTEP Cohort 7, 8th Grade STEM Teacher, Lincoln Hall Middle School, District 74

Danielle Zablocki, UTEP Cohort 7, 1st Grade Teacher, Saucedo Scholastic Academy, CPS

Kathie Ang, UTEP Cohort 8, Science Teacher, Walter Payton College Prep, CPS

Kathryn Hottinger, UTEP Cohort 8, Biology & Chemistry Teacher, Woodrow Wilson HS, Beckley, West Virginia

Gloria Huezo, UTEP Cohort 8, 8th Grade Math Teacher, Blackhawk Middle School, Bensenville, IL

Shelena Johnson, UTEP Cohort 8

Alexandra Krueger, UTEP Cohort 8, Middle School History Teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District

Nick Limbeck, UTEP Cohort 8, Bilingual Teacher, John Barry Elementary School, CPS

Jasmine Marshall-Butler, UTEP Cohort 8, Senior Associate Director of Fieldwork and Coaching, Urban Teaching Apprenticeship Program, University of Pennsylvania

Priyank Srivastava, UTEP Cohort 8, Science Instructor, Walter Payton College Prep, CPS

Brita Strub, UTEP Cohort 8, Early Childhood Special Educator, Denver Public Schools

Annemarie Thilmont, UTEP Cohort 8, Elementary School Teacher, Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy, CPS

Jessica Nixon, UTEP Cohort 8, Founder & CEO, CARE Education Partners, NFP

Ivy Abid, UTEP Cohort 9, STEAM Program Manager, North Grand High School

Derrick Asante, UTEP Cohort 9, Elementary Teacher & Horizon’s National Campus Director, UChicago Charter School

Yael Berenson White, UTEP Cohort 9, 6th-8th Math Interventionist, Oak Park District 97

Alli Bizon, UTEP Cohort 9, Lower Elementary Teacher, Suder Montessori Magnet School, CPS

Sarah Howland, UTEP Cohort 9, 2nd Grade Dual Language Teacher, CPS

Lauren O’Gara, UTEP Cohort 9, Bilingual Teacher, CPS

Miriam Tesfamikael, UTEP Cohort 9, Biology Teacher, Springbrook High School

Caitlin Reusche, UTEP Cohort 9, Early Childhood Teacher, Suder Montessori Magnet School, CPS

Chad Robertson, UTEP Cohort 9, Teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District

Lauren Szymanski, UTEP Cohort 9, Learning Specialist, Wolcott College Prep

Molly Cohen, UTEP Cohort 10, K-5 Math Coordinator, Calhoun School, NYC

Peter Dzubay, UTEP Cohort 10, Partnership Lead, Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS Program, Microsoft Philanthropies

Lauren Kline, UTEP Cohort 10, Science Teacher, Joliet Central High School

Claudio Martinez, UTEP Cohort 10, Assistant Principal, Evergreen Park, CPS

Richard Nettles, UTEP Cohort 10, Manager, CPS-Central

Jordan Reece, UTEP Cohort 10, Middle School ELA Teacher, Christopher House Elementary

Amanda Snow, UTEP Cohort 10, 6th Grade Science Teacher, Marquette, CPS

Lisa Vaughn Prioleau, UTEP Cohort 10, National Curriculum & Training Manager, SMASH Academy

Rebecca Zisook, UTEP Cohort 10, 3rd Grade Bilingual Teacher, Peirce Elementary School, CPS

Omar Castro, UTEP Cohort 11, Math Lab Teacher, John H Hamline Elementary, CPS

Britney Haeg, UTEP Cohort 11, Kindergarten Teacher, Whittier Community School, Minneapolis Public Schools

Melissa High, UTEP Cohort 11, 3rd Grade Teacher, Coonley Elementary School, CPS

Sarah Reu, UTEP Cohort 11, Intermediate Math Teacher, Caldwell Academy, CPS

Yeimi Valdes, UTEP Cohort 11, Manager of Youth Tour Programs, Perez Art Museum, Miami

Luis Amaya, UTEP Cohort 12, Civics Teacher & CTU Union Delegate, Hurley School, CPS

Skye Black, UTEP Cohort 12, Humanities Instructional Coach, University of Chicago Woodlawn 

Quetzalli Castro, UTEP Cohort 12, 7th Social Science Teacher & Union Delegate/District Organizer, CPS & Chicago Teachers Union

Andrew Chenohara, UTEP Cohort 12, Kindergarten teacher & Chicago Teachers Union Area Vice President, Gillespie Tech Elementary, CPS

Matthew Collins, UTEP Cohort 12 

Louvina Davis, UTEP Cohort 12, Academic Interventionist/MTSS Lead, Countee Cullen Elementary, CPS

Yolanda Herrera, UTEP Cohort 12, Teacher

Marley Kleiman, UTEP Cohort 12, Teacher, Academy for Global Citizenship

Joseph O’Hara, UTEP Cohort 12, Chemistry & Physics Teachers, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, CPS

Molly Bennison Slater, UTEP Cohort 12, 2nd Grade Teacher, Portland Public Schools

Elaine Svatos, UTEP Cohort 12, Teacher, CPS

Samantha Symon-Rabicoff, UTEP Cohort 12, Middle School Science Teacher (currently on childcare leave)

Rachel Tingley, UTEP Cohort 12, Program Manager, Interfaith America

Maggie Brockland, UTEP Cohort 13, Multilingual Learners Teacher, Roosevelt Middle School

Amaris Evans, UTEP Cohort 13, Algebra Teacher & Math Specialist, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, CPS, Surge Cohort 22-23′

Hannah Gomez, UTEP Cohort 13, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator and Educator, Gulliver Preparatory Academy

Leah Koch, UTEP Cohort 13, 2nd Grade Teacher, Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy, CPS

Kitty Ma, UTEP Cohort 13, 4th & 5th Grade ELA Teacher, Mount Vernon Elementary

Hayley Serres, UTEP Cohort 13, Teacher, Aki Kurose Middle School

Lindsay Singer Kalt, UTEP Cohort 13, Math Teacher, Detroit Prep

Caleb Wagner, UTEP Cohort 13, Teacher, The Montessori School of Englewood

Albert Burford, UTEP Cohort 14, Teacher, Mark Twain Elementary School, CPS

Krystle Hall, UTEP Cohort 14, 1st Grade Teacher, Clara Barton Elementary School, CPS

Alanna Henry, UTEP Cohort 14, 5th/6th Math and Science Teacher, Clinton Elementary, CPS

Brian Krause, UTEP Cohort 14, Instructional Technology Coach, Learning Technology Center of Illinois

Richard Montalvo, UTEP Cohort 14, Teacher, Evergreen Academy Middle School, CPS

Sean Murphy, UTEP Cohort 14, 6th-8th Grade Science Teacher, Fiske Elementary, CPS

Phebe Myers, UTEP Cohort 14, Teacher, Pilsen Community Academy, CPS

Lisa Rodriguez, UTEP Cohort 14, Teacher, Belmont-Cragin Elementary

Lillian Rosner, UTEP Cohort 14, Teacher, Akiba Schechter

Haley Ross, UTEP Cohort 14, Teacher, Hamline Elementary, CPS

Maya Ruiz-Stanbary, UTEP Cohort 14, Teacher, Brentano Elementary, CPS

Crystal Givens, UTEP Cohort 15, Education Advisor for Educational Talent Search, Roosevelt University

Hannah Gross, UTEP Cohort 15, 5th Grade Teacher, Academy for Global Citizenship

Loie Hasler, UTEP Cohort 15, 1st Grade Teacher, McMahon Elementary School, Holyoke Public Schools

Andres Herrera, UTEP Cohort 15, 8th Grade ELA Bilingual Teacher, Chavez Elementary, CPS

Erin Hodess Fettner, UTEP Cohort 15, Kindergarten Teacher, American Cooperative School of Tunis

Kay Hottel, UTEP Cohort 15, 5th & 6th Grade Teacher, Brighton Park Elementary, CPS

Freddi Konefsky, UTEP Cohort 15, LD Resource Teacher & MTSS Interventionist, Burnside Scholastic Academy, CPS

Annie McCloskey, UTEP Cohort 15, Teacher, CPS

Heather Pedziwiatr, UTEP Cohort 15, 2nd Grade Teacher, Perez Elementary, CPS

Linnea Peterson, UTEP Cohort 15, Teacher, The Little School

Rajanee Redmond, UTEP Cohort 15, Communications and Special Projects Associate, Vocal Justice

Tom Story, UTEP Cohort 15

Ambria Taylor, UTEP Cohort 15, Candidate for Chicago City Council

Layla Treuhaft-Ali, UTEP Cohort 15, 5th/6th Literacy Teacher, Bronzeville Classical School, CPS

Esmeralda Barajas Bennett, UTEP Cohort 16, 6th Grade Science & S.S. Teacher, Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, CPS

Emily Barry, UTEP Cohort 16, 7/8th Grade Math Teacher, West Park STEAM Academy, CPS

Evelyn Beard, UTEP Cohort 16, 2nd and 3rd Grade Math and Science Teacher, Sor Juana Elementary, CPS

Jasmine Eshkar, UTEP Cohort 16, 2nd Grade Teacher, Isaac Dickson Elementary School

Eugenia Huang, UTEP Cohort 16, 8th Grade ELA Teacher, Columbia Explorers Academy, CPS

Sally Johnson-Pastorini, UTEP Cohort 16, 1st Grade Teacher, Emmett Till Fine and Performing Arts, CPS

Nia Moreno, UTEP Cohort 16, Middle School ELA Teacher, Ryder Math and Science Specialty School, CPS

Kayla Forcey, UTEP Cohort 17, Kindergarten Teacher, Village Leadership Academy, CPS

Sofia Gomez-Doyle, UTEP Cohort 17, 3rd Grade Bilingual Teacher, CPS

Torchell McFarland, UTEP Cohort 17, 2nd Grade Teacher, Carter G. Woodson Elementary, CPS

Saarah Na’Allah, UTEP Cohort 17, Elementary Teacher, African Heritage Incorporated

Rachel Perry, UTEP Cohort 17, 4th & 5th Grade Teacher, The French American School of Rhode Island

Sophie Welber, UTEP Cohort 17, 8th Grade Math & Science Teacher, Funston Elementary, CPS

Catherine Carnes, UTEP Cohort 18, 7th & 8th Grade ELA Teacher, St. Clement School

Laura Pulido, UTEP Cohort 18, Teacher, Nobel Elementary, CPS

Luke Albrecht, UTEP Clinical Instructor, 7th grade Math and S.S. Teacher, Ray Elementary, CPS

Adrienne Cole, Elementary School Teacher, Detroit Public Schools Community District

Chandra Garcia, Assistant Principal & Former Clinical Instructor, Ray Elementary School, CPS

Daniel Gray, UTEP Clinical Instructor, 7th & 8th Grade ELA Teacher, Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, CPS

Michael Gomez, Attorney, UChicago College and Law

Tonya Howell, Executive Director, Intonation Music (former UTEP Clinical Instructor)

Amy Jacobs, UTEP Clinical Instructor, 5th Grade Math and Science Teacher, University of Chicago Charter Schools, NKO Campus

Ashley McCall, UTEP Clinical Instructor, 8th grade bilingual ELA educator, Chavez Multicultural Academic Center, CPS

Charlene Merentie, UTEP Clinical Instructor, Teacher, Brighton Park Elementary, CPS

Patrick Rabbitt, Math Teacher, CPS

Tarsia Rhyne, UTEP Clinical Instructor, Teacher, South Shore Fine Arts Academy, CPS