Stories about UCIEP

By Christine Schmidt, AB'17

Between an academic-year internship, Resident Assistant duties, and volunteer commitments, Brock Huebner, AB'16, didn’t have a lot of free time for schoolwork. Get this: he actually encouraged people to leave the library and explore.

“Break out of the Hyde Park bubble. There are so many interesting (and often free) things going on in the city every weekend. Take advantage of your new UPass [allowing unlimited rides for UChicago students on public transit] and make friends with the CTA,” he advised.

Huebner took his own advice. And this informal education, coupled with on-campus experiences, helped Huebner prepare for work as an analyst at the Civic Consulting Alliance, a public-private partnership in Chicago aimed at finding solutions for governments. Now, just weeks after accepting his diploma, he’s conducting informational interviews with some of the brightest minds in criminal justice and researching best practices to help with the post-election transition for the new Cook County State’s Attorney.

His passion for public education and his undergraduate coursework ultimately drove him toward  working in the public sector.

“My parents, both of whom are public school teachers, nurtured a belief in the importance of public service and a strong interest in education policy,” he said.

He noted that his volunteer experiences and his interactions with professors pushed this interest further: “The acknowledgement that there are no silver bullet solutions in education (and public policy in general) helped me to broaden my career aims, as I felt I could not effectively work to directly address educational policy challenges without first gaining a better understanding of the root causes affecting educational attainment.”

At UChicago, Huebner became involved with the Institute of Politics as the Student Civic Engagement intern, taught civics lessons to middle school students as part of Citizen Schools, and shared philosophical discussions with local elementary school students through the Winning Words program—not to mention baking weekly study breaks and frequent house trips as the RA of Henderson House.

But he also dedicated time to professional development. He regularly participated in the Office of Career Advancement’s programming for the UChicago Careers in Education Professions (UCIEP) group  landing a summer internship as a Jeff Metcalf Policy Intern with the Chicago Foundation for Education. Huebner spent the summer after his second year in China as a Wanxiang Ambassador Fellow, studying green technology and the Chinese language.

He said that some of his greatest mentors on campus came from UCIEP, the Institute of Politics , and especially his professors.

“Professor Sara Stoelinga's ‘Urban Schools and Communities’ class helped to illustrate the symbiotic relationship between schools and their surrounding community,” Huebner said,

“Through reading and discussing groundbreaking works such as William Julius Wilson’s When Work Disappears, I was exposed to a multitude of examples of declining neighborhoods sapping the vitality from their schools, the weakening of which further accelerates the community’s decay,” Huebner said.

Classes like these helped to bring his diverse experiences together.

“The academic discussions on the detrimental effects of poverty, race, and social isolation lent support to the first-hand observations I made while volunteer teaching in some of Chicago’s schools through the Winning Words and Citizen Schools programs,” he said. “I later applied these ideas to a rural setting while writing my Public Policy BA about a place-based charter school in my home town community.”

Now, Huebner plans to apply to law or public policy school once he has gained a greater understanding of the widespread issues that affect education policy, with the hopes of creating or researching those improved policies in the future. And the Wisconsin native will continue exploring the city outside of the office and the classroom.

“Chicago has countless adventures waiting to happen,” he said. “Homework can wait.”

For more stories about the accomplishemnts of UChicago students and alumni, visit the College's Uniquely Chicago archive.

 UChicago Careers in Education Professions (EdPros) set out on their inaugural trek to Helsinki, Finland this fall. EdPros offers specialized preparation for students interested in pursuing careers in teaching as well as educational administration, research, and policy. The Finnish education system is regarded as one of the best in the world, so it was a natural destination for the program’s first international trek.

The trek began with a visit to the Trade Union of Education. Ritva Semi, a Special Adviser to the Trade Union of Education, discussed the union’s history and its active role in the Finnish education reform movement that began 40 years ago. Because the role of teachers’ unions has become such a controversial issue in the United States, the students took advantage of this opportunity to compare the challenges of Finnish teachers with those of American teachers. The students were surprised to learn that Finnish educators confront many of the same issues as American ones do: Ritva mentioned that many Finnish teachers wish that class sizes could be smaller and teacher salaries are relatively low compared to other professionals.

At the next site visit, students had the opportunity to explore the relationship between classroom teaching and education policy with the Finnish National Board of Education. Irmeli Halinen, the Head of Curriculum Development, explained that Finland has a core curriculum that is set at the national level and is deeply informed by teachers. The national curriculum identifies a set of competencies and local schools have the authority to create a more specific curriculum. The students found it fascinating that the number of standardized tests is dramatically lower in Finland than in the US: Finnish students do not take a standardized test until their university entrance exams!

The Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) hosted the students for a visit and lunch. Students had an opportunity to learn more about opportunities at CIMO and how Finland collaborates with other nations on education policy. This was followed by a visit to the Yhtenäiskoulu (YNK) School, a 12-year school that provides both primary and secondary education. Sari Tiita, the head of higher secondary education at YNK, explained that Finnish education emphasizes a holistic approach to student development.  The students’ conversation with Sari provided another opportunity to compare the American and Finnish education systems and think about how national policy influences classroom practices.

Over a traditional Finnish meal, students had the opportunity to speak with two American teachers working at the International School of Helsinki. In between bites of reindeer, the students were able to ask questions about what it was like to live and work in Finland as a foreigner. In typical UChicago fashion, there was also a spirited discussion of education policy!

The next day, students attended presentations given by the Playful Learning Center and the Department of Teacher Education. The Playful Learning Center, which was just launched, explores ways that computer games can be integrated into the classroom. The presentations sparked a thoughtful discussion of whether computer games actually inhibit collaborative learning.  The students also had a presentation from Katriina Maaranen, a researcher at the Department of Teacher Education. She provided an overview of university teacher training programs for both Finns and foreigners. The students were surprised to learn that foreigners can study at universities in Finlandfor free,  there is a unique program for English-speaking students, and students can receive their Master’s in teaching in as little as one year.

Next, students were excited to see everything they had just learned in action, by visiting a local primary school. To cap off the trek, students visited the US Embassy in Helsinki where they had the opportunity to meet Gottlieb Duwan, the Deputy Political and Economic Section Chief for the embassy. Gottlieb represents United States interests on both education and a variety of other public policy issues. Learning about his career path especially appealed to students interested in interdisciplinary policy work.

This trek was a perfect opportunity for the students to explore the relationship between theory and practice. Fourth year, Matthew Collins, commented that the trek, “significantly challenged my perceptions on how education can and should work for all stakeholders in education.  Teachers are not only masters of their craft, but life-long teachers.”

To learn more about the Trek Program, including a comprehensive map of trek locations and hosting opportunities, please visit our website. Interested in hosting students on a trek? Find out how here.

On Thursday, January 9th, the College honored the philanthropic efforts of University Trustee, Chuck Lewis, and Founding Co-Director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research, Penny Sebring. Chuck and Penny were instrumental in the establishment of the pre-professional program, UChicago Careers in Education Professions. The program provides specialized preparation for students interested in pursuing careers in preK-12 teaching education administration, research, and policy. To honor Chuck and Penny’s work, Dean of the College, John W. Boyer, named the program director title, the Lewis-Sebring Director of UChicago Careers in Education Professions.

Nahida Teliani, Lewis-Sebring Director of UChicago Careers in Education Professions, is honored to take on her new title. While I was proud to have been selected as the first director of UChicago Careers in Education Professions in the summer of 2012, I am humbled today as the job title now bears the names of two people I hold in the highest regard. As I learn more about Chuck and Penny and the types of initiatives they lead, my admiration for the Lewis – Sebring name is ever increasing. I am thankful for the guidance and direction they have provided in launching this initiative, and look forward to cultivating an environment where the future educational leaders of America can thrive, right here at UChicago.”

Chuck and Penny’s involvement with the University is wide-spanning. In addition to his role as Trustee, Chuck is very active with the University’s Urban Education Institute and is a member of the Governing Board of the University’s Charter School. He is also a member of the visiting committees to the Division of the Social Sciences and to the College at the University. Penny is a senior research associate at the University of Chicago and founding co-director of the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Public Education Fund, and is a member of the Visiting Committee to the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Chuck and Penny advise on the UChicago Careers in Education Professions program and contribute to the University’s Metcalf internship program. Their involvement in the program has made a huge impact, not just on the faculty and staff, but on the students as well. “I can’t thank the Lewis-Sebring College Summer Fellowship, and the Metcalf Internship program enough,” said John Lim, Class of 2014. “This has truly been a transformative experience for me. Thank you”

UChicago Careers in Education Professions is a selective program that provides a variety of resources for students such as advising, workshops, guest speakers, teacher-training programs, partnerships with public and private local schools, internship opportunities, and treks to various education institutions. For more information on the UChicago Careers in Education Professions, please visit their website or contact Nahida Teliani.

On Friday, May 3rd, students, faculty, staff and alumni from UChicago, as well students and faculty from Amherst and Grinnell Colleges, joined together at Ida Noyes Hall for the first Urban Education Summit hosted by UChicago Careers in Education Professions (CEP).

The event was designed as a way to provide students interested in education professions an opportunity to explore different topics within urban education and network with experts in the industry. Panel topics included the achievement gap, teacher evaluation, the charter school movement, and school finance reform.There were over 100 participants from the three schools, as well as industry experts from over a dozen education organizations, including Chicago Public Schools, Illinois Network of Charter Schools, and the Black Star Project.

“The need for bright, young people in the field of education has never been more important,” said Nahida Teliani, CEP Program Director. “The Urban Education Summit provided students with an opportunity to come together as a community of peers, who share a deep passion for urban education.”

The summit kicked off with a breakfast, followed by a trek to UChicago Woodlawn Charter School. The event featured a formal luncheon with opening remarks by Trustee Charles Ashby Lewis and a keynote address by Dr. Tim Knowles, followed by the four panel discussions. The summit concluded with an Education Career Fair and reception.

“Because of [Urban Education Summit], I had the opportunity to engage with people involved in the process, with students who share my interests, and with the issues that I care about so much,” said a first year UChicago student. “I am certain that I will be first in line to sign up to attend another one.”

For more information on the UChicago Careers in Education Professions program, please contact Program Director Nahida Teliani at nteliani@uchicago.edu.

On Friday, May 3rd, students, faculty, staff and alumni from UChicago, as well students and faculty from Amherst and Grinnell Colleges, joined together at Ida Noyes Hall for the first Urban Education Summit hosted by UChicago Careers in Education Professions (CEP).

The event was designed as a way to provide students interested in education professions an opportunity to explore different topics within urban education and network with experts in the industry. Panel topics included the achievement gap, teacher evaluation, the charter school movement, and school finance reform.There were over 100 participants from the three schools, as well as industry experts from over a dozen education organizations, including Chicago Public Schools, Illinois Network of Charter Schools, and the Black Star Project.

“The need for bright, young people in the field of education has never been more important,” said Nahida Teliani, CEP Program Director. “The Urban Education Summit provided students with an opportunity to come together as a community of peers, who share a deep passion for urban education.”

The summit kicked off with a breakfast, followed by a trek to UChicago Woodlawn Charter School. The event featured a formal luncheon with opening remarks by Trustee Charles Ashby Lewis and a keynote address by Dr. Tim Knowles, followed by the four panel discussions. The summit concluded with an Education Career Fair and reception.

“Because of [Urban Education Summit], I had the opportunity to engage with people involved in the process, with students who share my interests, and with the issues that I care about so much,” said a first year UChicago student. “I am certain that I will be first in line to sign up to attend another one.”

For more information on the UChicago Careers in Education Professions program, please contact Program Director Nahida Teliani at nteliani@uchicago.edu.