“Children. That is the one word answer. Children deserve the best education we can provide them. It’s that simple.”

This was the new center director at UICS-North Center, Tina Pike’s response to the question, “What makes you passionate about this work?”

Tina joins the UICS family with a wealth of experience and expertise in early education. She is a seasoned education administrator, a strong leader, and is excited to make a difference.

Tina was about to retire after spending 30 years at the same school but decided she wasn’t done helping families and children in early education, her favorite age group. She had more to give back to her Northland community. 

“I knew when I retired I was not ready to stop working with people,” she said. “UICS was the perfect opportunity for me to continue to use the skills I have to benefit others.”

This was why UICS leadership knew she was the perfect candidate to lead UICS-North Center. 

“She comes with lots of experience and has a deep passion to educate children,” said Area Learning and Inclusion Director Raina Davis. “She is committed to ensuring quality care and education to all children. The experience and knowledge that she brings to UICS will take the North Center location to a higher level.”

Tina’s roots compliment her extensive background in her new role as our Northland center director. Tina grew up on a working farm in Norborne, MO, 45 minutes east of Liberty. She earned a child development degree from the University of Missouri. Tina discovered her calling early in her career to work with students with disabilities. She has a certification in deaf studies and a teaching certification in Severe Developmental Disabilities. She also has a Master in Special Education Administration degree. Tina’s commitment to and  decades of work with children made her a fantastic choice to lead a center with a history of being an anchor in the community for preschoolers with disabilities. 

Tina has seen firsthand how crucial quality care and family engagement is to fostering rich educational opportunities. This is integral to the UICS mission.

“Family is a child’s first experience with the world and a child’s first teacher,” she said. “A child’s family is the most important part of their lives. By partnering with parents through education we are able to give the child the best of both worlds to provide them a quality start in life.”

The North Center is the newest facility in the UICS network. In the middle of a pandemic, families, staff, and students watched their school unexpectedly transform into a new center with a new mission. They are a strong community that has experienced enormous change. Tina is excited to work with them to create the best early education experience she can. 

“I make my decisions as a leader with children’s best interests at the forefront,” she said. “I get to know my staff and use their strengths in decision making as well.” 

While she has only been in this position since June, she has a vision for North Center.

“My goals are to bring staff together as a cohesive unit to work together as a team for the benefit of kids’ education. I also will be working to pull everyone over to the fact that we are not a daycare but are an educational center,” she said. 

Tina is ambitious and inspires those around her.  

“She is a natural leader,” said Kristi Barchers, new UICS-North Center Education Manager.

Kristi is Tina’s former colleague and leapt for the opportunity to join Tina at UICS.  “She’s empathetic. She’s passionate. She believes in her students.” 

We asked Tina if there was anything else she wanted her new school and peers to know. She wrote this: 

“I want them to know that I will be a dedicated leader and will work to the best of my abilities to grow teachers to be the best educators they can be. I have always put 100% into my work and I won’t be putting in any less in the future.