Letter from the CEO's Office
February 2021
Dear UChicago Charter School Families and Friends,

Thanks to the commitment of our families and staff, remote learning has been a success for so many of our students. Attendance has grown steadily at all campuses since September, and on average, students' GPAs have not reflected significant changes between in-person and remote learning.

Achievements like these are meaningful because of the dedication they reflect: unwavering support from the family members who motivate our students every day, tireless creativity from our teachers who have effectively redesigned school, and most of all, a firm commitment from our students to our values of scholarship, leadership, excellence, and grit.

We are also thrilled to be able to begin welcoming back our younger scholars in need of in-person support, particularly because our UChicago Charter teachers became eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the University in January. Many of our teachers were able to take advantage of this opportunity.

We will be in touch soon with more information about our plans to survey more families about their preference for returning to school buildings later this spring. In the meantime, you can read answers to frequently asked questions about the first phase of UChicago Charter's return to in-person learning here.

Thank you so much for your continued commitment and partnership as we forge along the path to even brighter days ahead.

Tanika Island Childress
Chief Executive Officer

UChicago Charter School Calendar

UCW Middle School Zoom Family Social
February 22 at 4:30 p.m.
Register to receive Zoom link

Donoghue FTCO Meetings
February 9 at 6:00 p.m.
March 9 at 6:00 p.m.
April 13 at 6:00 p.m.
Register to receive Zoom links

NKO FTCO Meetings
February 2 at 6:00 p.m.
March 2 at 6:00 p.m.
April 6 at 6:00 p.m.
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UCW FTCO Meetings
February 18 at 6:00 p.m.
March 11 at 6:00 p.m.
April 8 at 6:00 p.m.
Register to receive Zoom links

For general updates, follow us on Facebook or Twitter
UChicago Charter School News

Help Us Expand the UChicago Charter Family

UChicago Charter School’s application for enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year is now open! Please share this information with any families interested in enrolling their child(ren) at UChicago Charter. All new families interested in enrolling for next school year can apply online at

For more information, please contact our UChicago Charter Admissions Director, Carla Scott,

Support and Resources for Families

If you are experiencing any challenges due to COVID-19, please do not hesitate to reach out to your campus directors, or our central campus team, Mr. Barnett at and Mrs. Hill at, for assistance.

Network-Wide Initiatives

Dr. Muhammad Leads Professional Development Series on Cultivating Genius

In January, UChicago Charter leadership welcomed Dr. Gholdy Muhammad for a virtual two-part professional development series focused on her book, Cultivating Genius. Dr. Muhammad worked with UChicago Charter staff and aspiring teachers from the UChicago Urban Teacher Education Program (UTEP) to better meet the needs of our scholars through her equity model for culturally and historically responsive literacy. 

"Dr. Muhammad challenged educators to become uncomfortable with how education has been used with students of color while promoting structures to improve identity, criticality, and joy,” said UChicago Charter Chief Academic Officer Jerrold Washington. Read more about Dr. Muhammad’s historically responsive literacy framework here or listen to her discuss her framework here.

Funding for this initiative was provided by the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Virtual Service Projects Connect Students with Neighboring Communities

This year, the University of Chicago expanded the annual MLK Day of Service into a week-long virtual event in January. The Week of Service was presented by UChicago’s University Community Service Center (UCSC) within the Office of Civic Engagement in partnership with UChicago Laboratory Schools and UChicago Charter School.

In addition to providing UChicago Charter students and staff with volunteer opportunities, the University supported UChicago Charter through two initiatives during the Week of Service. First, UChicago alumni led two nights of My Very Own Library virtual Read Alouds for our young scholars. Then, UChicago students from the Office of International Affairs led cultural classroom presentations for UCW students taking Spanish. Thanks to all who helped make the Week of Service a success!

Campus Life

Donoghue Announces New Star Student of the Month Awards

It’s more important than ever to acknowledge our scholars for demonstrating excellence, so Donoghue has added the Star Student of the Month Award to our monthly award ceremony! Every month each homeroom teacher selects a student who has shown excellence in their attendance, academics, and social emotional learning. 

The Star Student is featured in Donoghue’s monthly interview spotlight on Class Dojo through which the student can send a message to their peers and advice on how they can be named Star Student of the Month, too! We are so proud of our Star Students and cannot wait to name more of our scholars Star Student of the Month.

Fourth Graders Participate in Virtual
Math Bowl

Our annual Math Bowl is a Donoghue tradition that engages fourth-graders in a friendly competition to show off their math skills. This year, our fourth-grade team did not let the challenges of remote learning stop them: through the game-based learning platform Kahoot, 30 of our fourth-grade scholars battled each other virtually to take home the Math Bowl prize. Congratulations to all who participated!

Donoghue Staff Creates Bitmoji Poem for Scholars’ Winter Break Send-Off

Donoghue staff wanted to send our scholars off on winter break in a special way this year, so they created a Bitmoji poem! Watch it here.

North Kenwood/Oakland

Parents Share Notes of Gratitude

It's no secret that remote teaching during a pandemic is hard work! The teachers and staff at NKO have gone above and beyond in preparing high-quality instruction and learning experiences for our scholars. Recently, we gave parents and scholars the opportunity to share kind words, encouragement, and thanks to teachers and staff. Here is what just a few out of many of our parents and scholars had to say: 

Woodlawn Middle School

Calling All Parents of UCW Sixth-Grade Scholars: RSVP for the Zoom Family Social!

Please join UCW Middle School’s Sixth-Grade Team on Monday, February 22 at 4:30 PM as we use our third annual Zoom Social to celebrate Black History and Black Excellence in the City of Chicago. We will examine the legacy of John Baptiste Point du Sable, discuss the influence of Civil Rights pioneers like Albert Raby, and explore the literary works of prominent African American authors and poets that hail from the Windy City. 

Any parents who have questions that pertain to attendance, student engagement, assignment completion, communication with teachers and staff, or have other comments or concerns are also welcome and encouraged to attend the Social. RSVP for the Social via Eventbrite.

Seventh-Grade Science Teacher Mrs. Cotton Named as 2020 Society for Sciences STEM Research Grant Recipient

Example of one of the STEM research kits grant recipients could select for their students.

The Society for Science & the Public today named UCW Middle School science teacher Mrs. Alexzaundreya Cotton as a recipient of their STEM Research Grant. Through this grant initiative, the Society for Science is providing STEM research kits to 100 middle and high school science educators from across the country to help their students conduct scientific research outside the classroom. The grant provides Mrs. Cotton’s seventh-grade science students with research kits (like the one pictured above) so that her students can participate in hands-on, project-based learning while instruction continues to be delivered remotely. Read more in the Hyde Park Herald.

UCW Middle School Hosts Inaugural STEM Exhibition with Judges from UChicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

Before our winter recess in December, UCW Middle School hosted its inaugural STEM Exhibition! At this virtual exhibition, 12 of our seventh- and eighth-grade scholars presented research projects involving scientific experiments and design investigations ranging from the best way to clean old coins with our top finalist Brileyah Conley to a sneak peak into the future of electric transportation with our first runner-up Israel Easley. Judges included graduate students from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.

Brileyah and Israel continued onto the Chicago Public Schools regional exhibition of student STEM research this February. Congratulations to our UCW Middle School Warriors for a successful inaugural STEM Exhibition, and thank you to UCW Middle School science teacher Mrs. Cotton for her work to build this new initiative.

UCW Warrior Jayden Ervin Interviewed for NFL’s Way to Play Initiative

The UChicago Charter community saw a familiar face on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown earlier this semester: our very own UCW Warrior, Jayden Ervin! Jayden was one of the youth football starts interviewed by a current NFL player for the NFL’s Way to Play initiative. The initiative aims to promote proper playing technique across all levels of football through inviting youth football stars to meet and break down plays with a pro.

For this segment of ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown, “Next Generations,” Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen interviewed Jayden, who is our MVP and star of the Chicago Raiders. Jayden is not only an accomplished player on the field, but off the field he attends a mentoring and educational program through the Academy Group where Jayden is learning how to code. Watch the full video!

Woodlawn High School

UCW Seniors Terrance Dantzler and Julien Sims Receive Acceptance and Full-Tuition Laurel Scholarships to Grinnell College

We are thrilled to announce that UCW High School seniors Terrance Dantzler and Julien Sims were named recipients of the Laurel Scholarship at Grinnell College! The Laurel Scholarship is a highly competitive scholarship and mentorship program — Terrance and Julien will be 2 of only 10 Laurel Scholars in Grinnell’s Class of 2025 — intended to help excellent Black scholars with great leadership potential thrive during their undergraduate career at Grinnell. 

Grinnell is a highly selective liberal arts college with a beautiful campus that is located in rural Iowa and predominantly White. Through the Laurel Scholarship’s mentorship program, Terrance and Julien will have a support network of Black Grinnell alumni based in Chicago who will provide them with mentorship and help prepare them for their transition to college. In addition to this Chicago-based mentorship program, Terrance and Julien will receive a full-tuition scholarship and is eligible for additional need-based financial aid to assist with the cost of room and board. Learn more about Terrance's accomplishments here, and learn more about Julien's accomplishments here.

UCW Seniors Work with UChicago Professor on a Forthcoming Editorial

Julien Sims (left) and Terrance Dantzler (right)

UCW High School seniors Julien Sims and Terrance Dantzler recently worked with UChicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice Professor Franklin Cosey-Gay on an editorial titled "Youth Voices." The editorial highlights Julien and Terrance’s insights on youth violence and the work of the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention

The editorial was recently accepted for publication by the American Journal of Public Health! Congratulations Julien and Terrance.

Beyonca Owens Selected as Semifinalist for The Gates Scholarship

Beyonca Owens

UCW senior Beyonca Owens was named as a Gates Scholarship semifinalist earlier this semester. The Gates Scholarship (TGS) is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for outstanding, minority, high school seniors from low-income households. Each year, the scholarship is awarded to 300 of these student leaders, with the intent of helping them realize their maximum potential. Gates Scholarship semifinalists are applicants who are ideal candidates, or those who possess an outstanding high school record, consistently demonstrate strong leadership, and exude exceptional personal success skills, like our UCW senior Beyonca Owens. Congratulations, Beyonca, and best of luck in the next round!

UCW High School Teacher Ms. Benloucif Named Finalist for INCS Award

UCW High School eleventh-grade American History teacher and OneGoal program director, Ms. Amina Benloucif, was named as a finalist for the competitive Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) High School Teacher of the Year award! Ms. Benloucif said this honor “is affirmation that I am where I should be, and the recognition is just icing on the cake. The truth is, I love who I teach. I love where I teach. And there is nowhere I'd rather be!" Thank you for your contributions to the UChicago Charter community, Ms. Benloucif, and congratulations!

Family and Community Engagement

UChicago Medicine COVID-19 Updates

Many of Chicago's essential workers and residents over 65 years old are becoming eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more on the City of Chicago's website, and find your nearest vaccination location here.

UChicago Medicine and the Urban Health Initiative send out newsletters with COVID-19 updates for our community, providing information ranging from vaccine planning in Chicago to free counseling services for those who are feeling lonely, anxious, or depressed. Read the latest edition of the newsletter and sign up to receive the newsletter.

Family Teacher Community Organization (FTCO) Meetings

FTCO stands for Family Teacher Community Organization and is organized solely for the purpose of school improvement. Our membership consists of parents or guardians of the students, members of the extended family (i.e., grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) the administrators, the faculty and staff of UChicago Charter School, and interested members of the community.

Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend the monthly FTCO meetings, serve on a committee, and attend the special events that will take place throughout the school year. Please register to receive the Zoom link for upcoming meetings:

  • Donoghue parents, register here.
  • NKO parents, register here.
  • UCW parents, register here.

For more information on how to get involved, contact LaTonya Hill at

The University of Chicago Charter School

1313 East 60th Street, Chicago IL 60637 | 773.752.8101

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