UChicago UTEP is proud to trace its history back to the earliest days of the University of Chicago. In the 1890s, the philosopher John Dewey led the University’s School of Education and established an elementary school as a “laboratory” to promote his revolutionary view that hands-on experience and systematic inquiry could inform teacher education. To Dewey, the education of children was a serious intellectual endeavor, and the study of teaching and learning had to be immersed in the daily life of a school.
UChicago UTEP grew out of school reform efforts initiated by a center that is now known as the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI). Beginning in 1988, University faculty and staff partnered with neighborhood elementary schools—predominantly on Chicago’s South Side—to provide professional development and coaching for principals, lead staff, and teachers, in order to build school capacity. Three major initiatives emerged from this work: UChicago UTEP to prepare excellent educators for underserved communities; the University of Chicago Charter School, where aspiring teachers could learn from experienced mentors in a clinical setting, as envisioned by John Dewey; and the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, to provide objective research on school reform taking hold in Chicago, and more recently, across the nation. The University of Chicago’s long tradition of research, curriculum development, and teacher education was instrumental in forming the UChicago UTEP model.