About Us

The UChicago Charter School is a public charter school in the Chicago Public Schools district composed of three campuses serving approximately 1,500 students on Chicago’s South Side. UChicago Charter’s North Kenwood/Oakland and Donoghue elementary campuses serve grades preK–5, and its combined middle and high school Woodlawn campus serves grades 6-12. Together, the three campuses of the UChicago Charter School provide a pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade “superhighway” to college, cultivating students to become critical thinkers and leaders who succeed in four-year colleges and beyond.

3 Campuses

Serving students from grades preK through 12 on the South Side of Chicago.

1500 Students

Our scholars go on to study at some of the best colleges and universities here in the U.S. and abroad.

160 Full-time Staff

With partners from across the University of Chicago and the city, our dedicated people help our students succeed every day.

Our Mission

The University of Chicago Charter School aims to prepare 100% of students for college acceptance and graduation through a preK to 12 superhighway which cultivates culturally aware critical thinkers and leaders.

mission statement information

Our Story


The UChicago Charter School was founded on the belief that all students are capable of achieving academic excellence and realizing their highest potential through ambitious instruction and strong support networks. At the heart of the UChicago Charter School’s model are ambitious learning goals for students. The UChicago Charter School’s founders believed that school subject matter should be engaging, intellectually challenging, and relevant to students’ lives, and that teachers should go beyond imparting information to elicit student thinking. In contrast to many conventional approaches to teaching, which emphasize the absorption of facts and procedures, the UChicago Charter School emphasizes the development of “higher-order” abilities such as the capacity to synthesize and explain complex ideas, interpret and construct arguments, test hypotheses, discover patterns, evaluate claims, and support conclusions with evidence.

UChicago Charter provides students with rigorous instruction and comprehensive academic and social supports to accelerate learning, develop college readiness, and cultivate self-responsibility and leadership. Our campuses provide extensive instructional time and take a research-based approach to instruction, engaging students in ambitious intellectual work and using diagnostic assessments to gauge their progress toward learning standards as well as tailor instruction to students’ individual needs. Intensive professional development and supports are in place for campus directors and teachers, and an advanced technological infrastructure supports both teaching and learning at each UChicago Charter School campus.

Parent centers and parent leadership are also an integral part of our school culture. The UChicago Charter School’s founders believed partnerships between parents and teachers mattered—not just during a crisis or when a student experiences serious learning difficulties, but on a daily, ongoing basis, to ensure each child was on track to meet the school’s ambitious learning goals.

Consequently, UChicago Charter leaders and teachers make continuous engagement and coordination with parents a central part of their efforts to foster ambitious learning.  The UChicago Charter School has a Director of Partnerships, Family, and Community Engagement who is devoted to developing strong relationships with students and families, and connecting them with local community resources when needed. Above all, our teachers, staff, and leaders are dedicated and skilled educators who guide and inspire our students to rise to excellence and achieve at high levels.

Students undertake research projects in the humanities, sciences and social sciences, beginning in elementary school and culminating with thesis projects in the senior year. Each campus envelops students in a culture of high academic achievement, with explicit attention to issues of race, class, culture, and gender that affect urban schooling.

UChicago Charter uses diagnostic assessments to gauge student progress towards learning standards, using the results to fine-tune instruction, introduce interventions, and target academic and social supports. Intensive professional development, supports, and incentives are in place for teachers and school leaders. An advanced technological infrastructure supports teaching and learning. Parent centers and parent leadership are integral to our school culture. Above all, our teachers, staff and leaders are dedicated, knowledgeable and skillful educators who teach, support, and inspire our students to achieve at high levels.

School Leadership

The University of Chicago Charter School is led by a team of dedicated, experienced educators—leaders who truly believe that all of our young people are capable of extraordinary things. Our school leaders relentlessly champion students’ potential and possibilities at every grade level to help each student rise to excellence. Click below to learn more about our team.

tanika island childress
aneesa sargeant

Tanika Island Childress

Director & CEO

Tanika Island Childress is the Chief Executive Officer and Director of the University of Chicago Charter School and its three campuses, as well as a managing director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI).

Aneesa Sergeant

Deputy Director

Aneesa Sergeant is the Deputy Director of the University of Chicago Charter School and its three campuses.

Akima Anderson
Akima Anderson joined the UChicago Charter School in 2022 as the UCW Middle School Campus Director. She has 16 years of experience in education, having served in roles ranging from math teacher to high school principal in an urban public school district in Gary, Indiana. Ms. Anderson has a track record of success in maintaining high student attendance rates, reducing suspensions, and increasing curricular rigor. She seeks to motivate and empower staff and students to be solutions-oriented, open-minded, and their authentic selves in the classroom.
Asha Bonaparte

Asha Bonaparte is the Interim Assistant Director of the UChicago Charter School Donoghue Campus. She joined the Donoghue Campus team in 2009 as a kindergarten teacher, and she has since served in a number of leadership roles, beginning in 2012 with her four-year tenure as PreK Coordinator and PreK–5 Literacy Coach. In 2016, Ms. Bonaparte joined the Academy for Urban School Leadership for a school year and cultivated her skills as a network instructional coach, and she returned to Donoghue the following year as the campus’ PreK–5 Instructional Coach and PreK Coordinator.

Ms. Bonaparte has a B.S. in Psychology from Tennessee State University, a M.A.T. with a certificate in Early Childhood Education from Belmont University, and a M.Ed. in School Leadership as well as Reading Literacy from Olivet Nazarene University.

Donald Gordon

Mr. Gordon began his career working in the District of Columbia Public Schools as a history teacher and most recently served as Principal at Frazier Elementary Charter School in Chicago. Mr. Gordon also served as Dean of Students at Chicago’s Fenger Academy High School and Director of Student Development and Interventions at the Gresham School of Excellence. In all of Mr. Gordon’s leadership roles, he has demonstrated effective ways to lead his team, create a safe and productive school environment for scholars, and maintain positive relationships with parents and community stakeholders.

Mr. Gordon holds a B.A. from Hampton University and completed the Building Excellent Schools Emerging Leadership Program in 2017.

LaTonya Hill

LaTonya Hill has been appointed Director of Family and Community Engagement for the University of Chicago Charter School.

She will work closely with Todd Barnett to support the Family Teacher Community Organization (FTCO) and engage families across all three UChicago Charter campuses. Hill will also support the coordination of parent volunteers at the campuses, lead new efforts to enhance student retention, and establish new partnerships with community-based organizations to expand resources for parents.

Hill has been a UChicago Charter Donoghue parent since 2005 and was named Family Support Counselor at Donoghue in 2009. As Family Support Counselor, Hill served as a liaison between the school and the most at risk students and their families. She facilitated academic and social support meetings, in which parents collectively brainstormed ways to support students who were struggling academically. She also worked on the Birth-to-College Initiative, communicating with families whose children were transitioning from childhood support centers into UChicago Charter.

“As a parent and having been a UChicago Charter parent before, I’m just excited to teach parents how to navigate school for their kids in a way that supports the family, the student, and the community,” said Hill. “More and more, school has a role to play in the footprint for African American kids in Chicago. We have to do more, and at UChicago Charter we have the capacity to do it. I’m excited to take on the challenge.”

Efundunke Hughes is Director of our North Kenwood/Oakland (NKO) Campus. Hughes is a graduate of Stanford University with more than 15 years of teaching experience. She most recently served as an instructional coach at our Donoghue Campus and brings a wealth of expertise and passion to the NKO family.
Tony Pajakowski

Tony Pajakowski is the Chief Technology Officer at the University of Chicago Charter School. Pajakowski works with leaders across the school to strengthen the vision for technology implementation in grades preK to 12. He serves as the principal advisor on all technology systems and initiatives and helps design, develop, implement, and maintain a data platform to enable continuous academic and operational improvement across the University of Chicago Charter School.

Prior to joining UEI, Pajakowski worked for eight years with Perspectives Charter School, serving in roles including the director of data and accountability at Perspectives Charter School and as the principal of Calumet High School of Technology. Pajakowski is a New Leaders for New Schools Alumni and has previously served as the director of Chicago Public Schools’ Technology Services eLearning Office. He started his career as a teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, located on Chicago’s North-West Side.

Pajakowski attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, the University of Notre Dame and holds his undergraduate degree from Northeastern Illinois University. He earned a Masters in Education in Curriculum and Technology from the University of Phoenix and a second Masters Degree in Administration and Supervision from National Louis University.

Shavaughn Monson
Shavaughn Monson joined UChicago Charter in 2022 as the UCW High School Campus Director. Ms. Monson has 16 years of experience in education as a teacher, instructional coach, and assistant principal at urban middle and high schools. She seeks to leave a lasting impact by developing authentic relationships, using instructional best practices, and being true to the core belief that learning should always feel good.
Carla Scott

Carla Scott serves as the Director of Admissions for the University of Chicago Charter School. In partnership with the admissions team and campus operations managers, Scott oversees the application, registration, and enrollment process for the school’s three campuses. Scott also collaborates with the communications team to develop recruitment materials and coordinate and execute recruitment strategies for UChicago Charter.

Prior to working as director of admissions, Scott worked for all four campuses as project manager for the University of Chicago Charter School and supported office staff at Woodlawn Campus. Scott’s two children currently attend the UChicago Charter School.

Shamilya Woods
Shamilya Woods has been in education for 17 years. She started her career with CPS as a classroom teacher. Ms. Woods has served as an Instructional Coach and Assistant Principal for Acero Octavio Paz for the past eight years. In this role, she was responsible for leading and coaching teachers to drive their instruction using data. Ms. Woods’ area of expertise is creating systems and routines that will yield a positive school environment. Ms. Woods holds a B.A. from Bradley University and a M.A. in Educational Leadership from the American College of Education.