Dr. Jessica Tunney was honored as Distinguished Alumna for the School of Education on May 23, 2019, at UCI's 49th Lauds & Laurels Celebration.
Dr. Tunney was a logical choice for this year's Lauds & Laurel honoree. She is a passionate advocate for authentic hands-on learning; inclusive practices and strategies; and ongoing reflection and collaboration as a tool for instructional improvement. Upon earning a B.A. in Anthropology from Cornell University and Master’s Degree in Special Education from Bank Street College in New York City, she began her career teaching elementary grades K-5 and was an early literacy specialist in Brooklyn, New York. In 2006, she moved to California and worked for five years as a 4th grade teacher at the nationally acclaimed inclusive model CHIME Charter School in Los Angeles. Her experiences with inclusive learning environments led her to UCI to pursue a PhD in Education (2018), with a specialization in Learning, Cognition, and Development.
Currently, Jessica is devoting her efforts to administering a new charter school in the city of Orange, one dedicated to serving special needs children as well as families seeking more inclusive learning environments. Under her leadership as founding principal and executive director, the TLC Public Charter School opened to 55 students in Fall 2018 as a TK through 4th grade school, with plans to expand through grade 5.
TLC is distinctive in Orange County in providing students with an inclusive, student-centered public education program featuring the integration of enrichment programs in art, music, and technology. As Principal Tunney has commented, "I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the school community we are building together with students, teachers, staff, and parents, and I am delighted at the opportunity to offer this school with this model of excellence in education to our community."