National Charter Schools Week: How We’re Celebrating Amazing Charter Schools
It’s the beginning of National Charter Schools Week and what better way to celebrate than to share some amazing charter school stories and images from our 2019 Charter School Honor Roll! We were blown away by the inspiring, not-enough-positive-words-to-say-about-them, submissions for this year’s Charter School Honor Roll. Selecting just 30 winners out of the hundreds of submissions across the five categories was no easy task, to be sure. This blog post hopefully pays homage to just some of the amazing submissions that we’ve received from across the country.
Note: The photos below are in no particular order, just a compilation of some of the great photos that were sent in with submissions. And, for the sake of brevity, the submission excerpts below may not be the submission in its entirety.
Charter School Growth
Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy, Louisiana
In its first year of operation the school welcomed 420 students in grades PreK-3rd, 5th, and 6th. Now, in its sixth year, the school has a bustling student body of 1,536 students in PreK-11th grade. Since its opening Discovery has had an active wait list of over 1,000 students.
~2019 Honor Roll Winner: School Growth
Towpath Trail High School, Ohio
Towpath Trail High School is dropout recovery high school located in Akron, OH. It is managed by Oakmont Education and served just over 100 students in 2012. Towpath recently opened a satellite campus and now serves just under 500 opportunity youth across its two locations. Towpath also recently opened a career tech wing where students can earn industry credentials in the fields of Healthcare, IT, Construction, and Manufacturing. Oakmont and the school have partnered with Habitat for Humanity and the construction students have just begun work on building a new house in the community that when complete, will go to an under-resourced local family. Academically, the school has met standards on Ohio LRC and has grown its number of graduates each of the past 6 years. And the school’s growth has allowed the board to purchase both buildings. Towpath is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students who are the definition of “at risk” and they’re making a difference in the Akron, OH community. They’re doing this by providing a safe environment with a multitude of wraparound services, helping students earn a high school diploma that most think is out of reach, and by offering industry credential career tech pathways in high need fields that provide opportunities for jobs paying living wages immediately upon graduation.
~2019 Honor Roll Winner: School Growth
Charter School Leadership
Mission View Public Charter, California
Principal Berry has demonstrated leadership and vision geared toward increasing student learning through academic integrity. She does not want her students to simply “get through” their courses, she wants them to grow through their coursework. This is evident through policies and procedures she has put into place to ensure academic integrity.
~ 2019 Honor Roll Winner: School Leadership
Amana Academy, Georgia
Mr. Ehab Jaleel, has shown a dedication to not only his students and staff but also to the greater community. They are actively looking to replicate their model (Number 1 STEM Certified K-8 School in Georgia) to offer their model in underserved areas of Metro Atlanta.
~2019 Honor Roll Winner: School Leadership
Compass Charter School, California
Compass Charter School Leadership is built from a team. Of hard-working, inspirational and highly capable leaders. Amir three years ago the school was on the verge of closing. One of the board members, Jay Luis, took over as CEO and has turned the organization around closing underperforming campuses and increasing enrollment substantially. JJ Lewis and compass charter schools could be equally nominated for growth and strong leadership. In fact, it is difficult if not impossible to grow a school without strong leadership. I have had the pleasure in the honor of working with JJ for the last few months and find that he had he is compassionate and empathetic but also drives a hard bargain. Compass leadership is the type of leadership that is always a joy to work with.
~2019 Honor Roll Winner, School Leadership
Positive Charter School Climate
The Bronx Charter School for Better Learning, New York
BBL has developed an inclusive community and culture that contribute to an exemplary school climate of scholarship, connection and high achievement. Productive relationships lie at the center of all action where the school fosters trust and gratitude filled relationships between staff within their schools, across locations and also with neighbors within co-located space. Knowing that learning, progress and development do not occur in spaces of discomfort, BBL goes above and beyond to ensure their staff and students are happy.
~ 2019 Honor Roll Winner, Positive School Climate
Pine Springs Preparatory Academy, North Carolina
At Pine Springs Preparatory Academy, teachers have their students work both collaboratively and individually in the classroom, promoting teamwork, as well as independence. With an unwavering respect for discipline, the PSPA classroom is very demanding yet vastly rewarding.” When asked about Pine Springs, students respond that the school provides project-based learning experiences, a safe learning environment, discipline and rigor. The school gives them opportunities and is focused on relationships. Pine Springs teaches students to have ownership and be critical thinkers in a global world. The mayor of the town shared at a ceremony that Pine Springs is the only school in town he does not get complaints about which is a direct result of a positive school climate and the heart each staff member gives to such an amazing school.
~ 2019 Honor Roll Winner, Positive School Climate
Early College High School, Delaware
HIA works hard throughout the year to “multiply good” through its participation with the Jefferson Awards’ Students in Action program. This past school year, HIA has completed multiple service projects. It’s Hoops for Hurricanes in October raised funds for an Early College HS in South Carolina where many of the students were negatively impacted by the hurricane. In addition to collecting donations, HIA organized a basketball tournament where many in the ECHS community participated or helped out. HIA has also raised funds for Delaware Coalition for Prostate Cancer through a “No Shave November” fundraiser, collected cans for the Delaware Food Bank, volunteered with the Special Olympics’ State Bowling Tournament, helped promote other organizations’ fundraisers like Wreaths Across America and Rock Your Socks, and also organized a Candygram sale for Valentine’s Day. The proceeds from the Candygram sale fund the HIA care package project to benefit Shepherd Place, a family homeless shelter in Dover, DE.
~ 2019 Honor Roll Winner, Community Service
Leadership Prep School, Texas
Leadership Prep School (LPS) empowers students to be servant leaders. Teachers and students have both taken the initiative to create community service projects. Each year, LPS computer science high school students raise money to purchase computer parts, build desktop computers from scratch, and donate the computers to “make an authentic impact.” For the past two years, students have chosen Computer for the Blind as their charity. The unemployment rate for blind people is 63%, so many cannot afford computers. Donating 17 computers provides online access to individuals who were otherwise disconnected because of blindness. This past fall, seventh-grade math/science students from LPS used their project-based learning assignment to raise $1500 to battle childhood cancer. The students worked in teams and used math ratios, business math and chemistry to create the best slime to sell at the school carnival. They donated $1500 raised from the sale of the slime to Team Connor whose mission it is to raise funds for childhood cancer research and inpatient programs. A team of fourth graders pitched the idea of a buddy-to-buddy peer mentoring program where fourth graders would partner with two to three kindergarten or first-grade students to help them with English / Language Arts learning. LPS elementary principal, Michelle Creamer, said that when the students approached her with their idea, she provided them with guidance and suggestions, but ultimately she left the coordination and implementation of the project to them. LPS Fourth-grader pitched a service project idea to his teachers, principal, and classmates after his family contributed to World Vision to purchase farm animals to provide food and income and help build sustainable communities across the globe. With his classmates, they launched a school-wide fundraiser and exceeded their goal of raising $2720 to purchase 28 farm animals in less than three weeks.
~2019 Honor Roll Winner, Community Service
Charter School Student Achievement
Signature School, Indiana
Signature School, Indiana’s first charter high school founded in 2002, focuses its International Baccalaureate (IB)-based curriculum on fine and performing arts, science, technology, mathematics and the liberal arts. Signature, an open-admission high school, believes all students, given proper support, are best served by high expectations. All, regardless of GPA or test scores, are expected to be IB diploma candidates. In May 2018, 361 Signature students sat for 999 Advanced Placement (AP) exams. 198 Signature students were designated AP Scholars by College Board in recognition of their exceptional achievement on the AP exams. 89% of seniors participated as IB diploma candidates. Signature continues to expand student achievement opportunities, becoming an AP Capstone school in 2018. All students take AP Seminar and AP Research courses; all are eligible to earn the Capstone Diploma. The Class of 2018 included three National Merit Finalists and six Commended Scholars, roughly 14% of the total graduating class. 92% received the Indiana Academic Honors Diploma. This class also collectively performed 7,894 hours of community service and generated $22.6 million in scholarship offers. Beyond the classroom, Signature’s participation in national science fairs continues to grow. Two sophomores participated in the Intel International Science Fair in Pittsburgh. Another advanced to round two in the highly competitive American Mathematics Competition for the second year in a row. Signature’s success has been consistently recognized by respected national publications. The Washington Post ranked Signature the third Most Challenging High School in the nation, and US News and World Report ranked Signature the 17th Best High School nationally. Thank you for the opportunity to nominate Signature School, which consistently exemplifies student achievement through its emphasis on rigor and excellence in academics, the arts, integrated technologies and community service.
~2019 Honor Roll Winner, Student Achievement
At RISE, we address social injustices while valuing scholar identity through innovative planning and “empathy” interviews. As a college prep school, we serve all scholars whether gifted, Emerging Bilingual, scholars with Individual Education Plans (IEP) and/or scholars in our Multi-Intensive center. Therefore, the category of “Student Achievement” looks different at each level, but one thing that remains true for all scholars is experiencing achievement that is meaningful. Examples of scholar achievement at RISE include (but are not limited to): an outstanding 11th grader winning the Marshall-Brennon Moot Court Competition and heading to the national competition in D.C. while his peer, a member of the Colorado Youth Congress, will be speaking with Denver’s new superintendent about important issues facing our community. One of our oldest scholars, who has an IEP, completed necessary coursework to begin his alternate path to graduation, which included securing part-time employment; he is also the lead in the school musical. One scholar testified at the Colorado State Capitol on HB-1032 and then weeks later won 2nd Place at the State Speech Championships. An unmotivated scholar has made tremendous progress in controlling his explosive anger by practicing coping skills and has even started encouraging his peers to find better paths when they fall off-track. A young woman scholar in our Multi-Intensive center informed staff about what she felt was a violation of her personal space and comfortability and, in a formal meeting, advocated to get her schedule changed to feel safe at school again. Two other speech & debate scholars took 2nd place in Duo and Drama at State in our very first year in CHSAA. Finally, a small group of 11th graders partnered with their teacher and principal to co-create a new course entitled Life 101 where scholars earn civics & economics credits via real-world simulations.
~2019 Honor Roll Winner: Student Achievement
To see the complete list of this year’s winners, click here!
And be sure to join in the National Charter Schools Week conversations! Our team will be following along and featuring some of the happenings and activities on our social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Don’t forget to use the hashtags #WeLoveCharterSchools #CharterSchoolsWeek
Since the company’s inception in 2006, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We provide growth capital and facilities financing to charter schools nationwide. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $1.8 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country. For more information on how we can support your charter school, contact us. We’d love to work with you!