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CONNECT [summer 2016 edition]

The Best Program Improvement You Can Make ALSO IN THIS ISSUE Transportation Options pg 12 The Award Goes To... pg 20



Investing in STEAM education through Camp Central for College Candidates.

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Letter From the President


The last year, and specifically the last few months in Detroit, can perhaps be considered the greatest challenge the charter movement has faced so far. The intensity and passion of high-stakes decisions was elevated by the emotionally charged nature of advocating for kids. As a membership organization that places advocating for charter school needs as a top priority, we invested every resource possible to preserve the charter ideals in the DPS bill packages. We admit that the system isn’t perfect; there is work to be done to ensure that charter schools are setting the bar for quality education, despite what anybody else decides to do. The legislation that passed is a good compromise. It mirrors closely the original solution we proposed to the Governor’s office nearly a year ago. It promotes collaboration yet offers real and greater accountability. However, it’s not the legislation that will drive you to be great. Greatness comes from believing in high expectations and working passionately to surpass those expectations.

We stand strong on quality. The opposition to the Detroit Education Commission was not to protect every charter school and to avoid accountability. We believe in quality. We believe that our members will deliver on this. We believe in and will advocate for standards on quality, standards reflective of growth and proficiency, but standards all the same. We stand supportive of our members, but first and foremost, we advocate for the families served. The passing of this legislation is just the beginning. With or without it, the work needs to be done and MAPSA is committed to leading it. It is now time to take a stand in the charter community. We must not compromise on defining quality education. We can no longer accept that a “little better” is the benchmark to achieve. We must lead by example by sharing our measures of quality and demanding for higher expectations for all children. As the nation is cheering on the great Motor City for its acclaimed comeback, the Michigan education sector now more than ever needs the realistic approach to education reform and the collaboration and united passion of all interested parties to do what is best for kids.



CONNECT meet the team vp of operations and strategy accounting coordinator parent & community outreach coordinator director of marketing and program design director of research and grants membership coordinator office assistant vp of communications president director of membership services director of instructional systems design vp of government and legal affairs administrator

angi beland angie boldrey amy bytof becky carlton julie durham candace embry karen kundrat buddy moorehouse dan quisenberry heather risner leah theriault alicia urbain sara vanderbilt

mapsa board member treasurer secretary member member member chair member vice chair-elect member

ralph bland - new paradigm for education john cleary - the thompson educational foundation don cooper - national charter schools institute mohamad issa - global educational excellence jennifer jarosz- charlton heston academy greg mcneilly - windquest group david seitz - thinkspace, llc. tiffany taylor - teach for america, detroit samuel buzz thomas - thomas consulting group, inc. tim wood - gvsu charter schools office

ad index Center for Charter Schools CMU General Agency CS Partners Michigan Educational Personnel Services CMU Online Degrees Detroit Institute for Children Francis Young International Flagstar Bank Saunders, Winter McNeil, PLLC Thrun Law Firm, P.C. Grand Valley State University Innovators In Education

Inside Front Cover pg. 10 pg. 11 pg. 11 pg. 13 pg. 13 pg. 13 pg. 13 pg. 19 pg. 19 Inside Back Cover Back Cover


Vote in Local Elections By Gary G. Naeyaert

12 Transportation Options for Your Program By Landmark Academy & International Academy of Saginaw


Invest in Teachers for Maximum ROI By Meagan Batdorff

20 Administrator and Teacher of the Year

Share Leadership, Share Success By Julie Kildee & Tia Tucker




Dear Experts Future Leadership Skills MAPSA Spotlight Unveiling Our New Website Say What!? What is the true definition of “Autonomy”? Member Reconition Spreading the Charter Brand through Social Media Imagine If... Charter Leading Accountability

7 10 11 19 26

20 Administrator of the Year Shannon Brunink

Connection Corner Implementing Member Feedback Feedback in Action Improving Membership





Teacher of the Year Ronald Brown



DEAR EXPERTS We asked these experts what their secret to success is! Have great techniques you’d like to share? Send us a paragraph for a chance to be published in a future edition of our newely designed Charter Connect


Q: What qualities should school leadership, especially in the future, possess?

Most importantly, leadership must possess a passion for children. Such passion drives decision-making that will prevent failure and benefit children throughout their lifetime. Leadership must share and follow a clear and precise vision. Everyone must be on one accord and act accordingly. Everyone in leadership must recognize the full potential of others and train them in such a manner that the call of duty can continue with fluidity in the absence of the leader. Great leadership is progressive in thought and action. It keeps itself up-to-date and in the know of current and best practices for effective pedagogy. Lastly, in order for leadership to continue success, it must be flexible, willing to change and adapt to the needs, demands and challenges of the current and future environment. Latricia M. Brown, Principal Northridge Academy A good school leader assumes the full responsibility of the success and failure of ALL students and holds high expectations for them ALL regardless of any difficulties or circumstances they or their parents face. This leader builds the culture that ALL students can learn up to their potential and have the right to get the accommodations they need to get to their ultimate goals.  They should believe that continuous improvement and professional development to themselves, their staff, students as well as parents is a basic ingredient to the success of all students. Best practices and model teaching methodologies are not limited to the classroom teacher only, it should include everyone who interacts with the student in and outside the school.  Conclusions driven from assessment and data should be the base for any decision that will affect students in any shape or form. They should insure diversity and choice in all aspects to fit the various learning styles and needs of ALL students. They should also work on empowering others to take leading positions all the time. Luay Shalabi, Principal Central Academy It’s difficult to narrow down the qualities that a great school leader must possess. However, there are five that rise to the top when I think of exemplary leaders.  First of all, school leaders must be visionary.  They need to be able to inspire their team to work toward the vision that inspires excellence.  Instructional leadership in education is also key.  School leaders must be able to help their teachers to continually improve to become the best teacher, that special teacher that we all remember.  Building community and culture is crucial to success as well.  In addition, being able to focus on the positive creates energy in an environment that can be draining.  Finally, school leaders must hold the belief that every student can and will be successful, no excuses.    Leann Hedke, Superintendent Summit Academy & Summit Academy North


     8


Local Elections Matter. Really, They Do. SUMMER 2016

Gary G. Naeyaert Executive Director Great Lakes Education Project


op quiz: Who is Michigan’s governor? Okay, I guess that’s an easy one. What about your state senator or state representative? How about your County Commissioner, Mayor or members of the local school board? Maybe you know the answers to each of these questions. Maybe I shouldn’t assume most people couldn’t fill in all the blanks. I recall with some pride being the only person in my high school civics class that could name every local, state, and national elected official who represented me. Yes, I was (and still am) quite the political nerd. But what does it mean if you weren’t able to answer all of those questions? It doesn’t mean you’re a bad citizen, or that you don’t care. It’s no secret that local elections attract dramatically fewer voters than presidential elections. It even makes some sense, since most people probably care more about who is going to be the next most powerful person in the world than they do about who’s going to hold big scissors at the town’s next ribbon-cutting photo-op. The United States is notorious for having low voter turnout rates. For example, in the 2012 presidential election, we ranked near the bottom of industrialized nations with only 54 percent of eligible voters showing up to cast their ballots. In Michigan, about 1.5 million fewer voters show up for a governor’s election than when the Presidential race leads the ticket. And just under 20% of registered voters actually show up for Primary Elections held during the summer, which is where the vast majority of legislators

are actually selected, given how legislative districts are drawn in the state. While it’s easy to understand the logic behind caring more about a national election than a local election, perhaps this logic is backwards. Does President Obama really get up in the morning and wonder what’s happening specifically in Kalamazoo, or Alpena? Does he discuss the condition of Michigan’s roads over lunch with his key advisors? Probably not. The people who can actually make an immediate and specific impact on our dayto-day lives are the ones whose names are either forgotten or perhaps never learned. Among other things, locally elected officials make decisions about schools, transportation, business development, zoning and housing, law enforcement and courts and taxes. Your state legislators, county commissioners, city council and school board members should be just as important to you as the race for the White House, if not more so. You’ve probably heard people say that if you don’t vote you shouldn’t complain about the outcomes. Well, at what point do we stop whining about the political affairs of our local governments and actually start trying to do something about it? Politics and government are complex. It can be confusing and time-consuming to make educated decisions about elections, but it’s important that we spend the time and energy to do so. Someone who you disagree with is going to vote for a candidate you don’t like. Winners of local elections can be determined by a difference of only a handful of votes. If you want changes made in your city and state, you need to start by stacking the local government in your favor. And don’t forget, voting is your civic duty. You want to be part of a society

with paved roads, an educated population, a safety net that keeps children from starving, mail, phone service in rural communities, hospitals, and much more? If you benefit from those services (and we all do), it’s your job to vote. Also, arguments about the futility of voting dismiss the importance of local politics.  What impacts your life most?  The presidential elections or your local school board’s elections?  Your state representative or the vice president?  I’m willing to bet that your local officials have more to do with the quality of your daily life than anyone on the top of the ticket.  And in local elections, a handful of individual votes really can change the shape of your community. Take schools: Neither the president nor Congress can have as much effect on local schools as the school board. Almost all elementary and secondary school building and construction funding comes from local taxes. School boards hire superintendents and set policy. Other locally determined policies include attendance zones, busing, discipline policy, textbook adoption, curriculum and funding. These are important issues that need your attention. Novelist David Foster Wallace made the issue plain when he said, “In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some diehard’s vote.” Can you live with other people setting your community’s agenda for you? Please don’t think your vote doesn’t matter.  Be informed.  Join me at the polls.  Bring your neighbors and your friends.  Our communities will be stronger for it!


MAPSA SPOTLIGHT Check out the new MAPSA website at! As our team has prioritized the positive impact we can have for our members, branding continues to find its way to the top of our list. While we have several plans to continue to highlight the great things happening in your schools, we built our website to ensure that there was an intentional focus on illustrating the pride we have in our members. Our new website will be a place to see the charter story. Through press releases, pictures and key facts and figures, it is our intention to lead the way in making charter schools the leaders they were intended to be. We have a purposeful strategy to drive more parents and community members to the site and a goal of ensuring that a search of school choice leads any parent to our school directory. An important part of our strategy will be to target future charter school teachers as well. Using our job board, OpenHire, it is our

goal to build a database of resumes of teachers that believe in the premise and opportunity created by your school. You can play a big part in this too by using our tips and tools to build dynamic job descriptions that align with the culture of your school. More traffic to our website, also means more traffic to the school directory ( a look at your profile today and ensure it reflects the culture of your school. Identify your pride points and ensure they are included. Go ahead and adopt our strategy and include press releases, pictures and key facts and figures to bring your school’s story to life. Also, along with a new website comes a strategy for extending our connections on social media. This next year is about telling the charter story from our point of view. It’s time to show the world the true Innovators in Education you are. We hope you will join us in this mission!

Working for you. Working with you.



"We've worked with General Agency since our very first day as a school and have remained impressed by them! It feels like they are our teammates at every step of the way -- from when we bought our new school building to learning more about how to keep our premiums as low as possible! They inform us on best practices and are immediately responsive! We could not ask for anything more!" -Kyle Smitley, Detroit Achievement Academy




{au·ton·o·my} As a movement, we need to have a united voice, and that starts with a common language. How do you define these tricky questions or terms?

DEFINING {AUTONOMY} TO THE PUBLIC The simple definition of autonomy is: the state of existing or acting separately from others or the power or right of group to govern itself. The meaning of autonomy in the charter world is about having the ability to invest resources, both human and capital, in supporting kids in attaining academic success rather than into misaligned compliance requirements. Autonomy limits the chain of permission to making a positive change that allows for better support, down to a single student. Autonomy is about having the ability to create strategies that are unique to a single school or classroom and adapt them as needed. Autonomy does not mean to work without boundaries. Boundaries, best practices, integrity of implementation and achieving expected outcomes are all necessary and valuable in building culture, within a state or within a classroom. And autonomy isn’t just for charter schools. It’s a necessity for building the most dynamic and effective education system possible.

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s a charter school dependent on parental choice and often serving a high percentage of underserved populations, providing transportation can often be a necessity for enrollment of the students your mission seeks to serve. It can be the only option to provide hope to a family that once believed they were out of options. It can be the one obstacle standing in the way of a decision between two school options. The community you serve will tell you the importance of transportation. But be sure to listen carefully and see the tips below when we asked the team at Landmark Academy in Port Huron and International Academy of Saginaw (IAS) to share their experiences with transportation.

How have you creatively been able to budget for transportation?

Before budgeting for transportation we conducted a feasibility study. The goal was to determine if interest from our current families, and potential new families, would warrant adding transportation. Part of this process included surveying our current families and conducting a market analysis to have an idea of what we could expect in terms of interest and participation. Based on our research, we found that we should plan to transport roughly 20% of our total enrolled students. Further, we determined our break-even point based on considering priority placement to new and returning families while creating a first come first served list for other interested families. Once we had this information we worked in partnership with our board to commit resources from our Fund Balance for three years. These committed funds allowed us to move forward with the budget and with the knowledge that we would be building a successful program over time. - Landmark Academy The cost of transportation does add a considerable line item to our budget. The international Academy of Saginaw has a relatively low student count with only 16 to 25 students in most classrooms. The hope is to bring each classroom to a capacity of 30 students. The SABIS curriculum and teaching strategies are designed to be more beneficial for larger class sizes.  Grant money from GSRP may also help to subsidize some cost while opening our doors for even more preschool students.  - IAS

How do you anticipate providing transportation will help with reaching your enrollment goals?

Transportation eliminated barriers for families to allow their children to attend Landmark Academy. Specifically, it helped the overall growth of our enrollment and increased our student retention rate. While our goal was to begin with two buses, the response was so great that we increased our fleet to three and are in the process of evaluating a fourth. Currently, we serve about 24% of our student population – 4% more than we originally planned for! Landmark Academy The belief that transportation will boost our enrollment is based on several factors. First, most families that leave our school give “lack of transportation” as a reason for leaving. Secondly, while recruiting for the past several years, many families showed a definite interest in our school and were genuinely disappointed when they realized we did not offer transportation. Finally, research of surrounding schools showed a dramatic increase in enrollment once transportation was added. Many families in our area are not happy with the limited choice of schools they have in our area. It is our hope that investing in transportation will give them one more choice - IAS.

Do you have any helpful tips for others considering adding transportation?

What other benefits do you see with offering transportation?



In order to be successful it’s important to take the time to do your homework on the front end. This includes surveys, group discussions, stakeholder buy in, contract review, bid process, etc. We suggest beginning no later than 6-7 months before the beginning of the school year. Proper diligence on the front end will allow the decision makers to be well informed, minimize risk, and potentially reap a great reward for your school. Once the decision to provide transportation has been made, let your community know about it, and often! - Landmark Academy Once guaranteed transportation is available, we expect our attendance rates to see a positive impact. It is not uncommon for certain students to miss one or even two weeks of school because there is not a reliable source of transportation available for the household. The addition of busing will provide a consistent, reliable source of transportation for our students. - IAS


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cultures, increasing teacher and leader capacity, and delivering clear programmatic expectations to participants.

Meagan Batdorff Lead Consultant Progressive Education


ack in 2010, MAPSA won a federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant and began a five-year project they called TEAMS (Teaching Excellence and Academic Milestones). MAPSA partnered with 20 Detroit charter schools to implement a performance-based pay model and numerous supports and training with the goal of attracting and retaining excellent teachers and school leaders. In the beginning of the process, performance-based pay and all its parts were king. Quickly, MAPSA realized that such a program could only be implemented effectively with teacher and leader supports. Accordingly, MAPSA’s specific focus shifted to building supportive school 14



As a third-party evaluator of the project, I had some strong notions about how a project like this would impact teachers and leaders in these schools. Some of my assumptions were right. However, a lot of what I thought we would find during the case study investigation went out the window during the first and second years of the project. And, some of my “firm” beliefs, understandings and theories about education, schools, teachers and kids did a complete 180. This was a great learning process – humbling and rewarding. I think many teachers and leaders working in these 20 schools had some of the same transformational experiences about their education practices. It’s tough and often confusing when deeply held convictions or ways of practice get challenged. As a research team, we did a lot of head-scratching, revisiting data and research, and poring over

conversations and visits. It was like sifting and digging through a hoarder’s closest trying to find something we didn’t know we were looking for. But a lot of what we were looking for was piled high right in front of us: you pass over and over it, thinking “that can’t be it, it can’t be right in front of me.” But it was. Teachers. It’s all about excellent teachers. Treading Water: The Urban School Predicament Urban schools have been waging a stand-still battle against persistent low student achievement. Here and there we have seen some scores inch up, but the achievement gap remains large, mostly unchanged, and has even increased between some groups after years of federal mandates under NCLB (Greenberg, Kalorgrides, Reardon, Shores & Valentino, 2013). Schools throw everything at this problem – new programs, new management companies, new leaders, new technology, longer school day

hours, longer school years, computer-based learning, you name it. But, what continues to elude our nation’s urban schools is what matters most: excellent teachers. Here’s what we know: Teachers are the most important school-level indicator of student success. High performing teachers produce around five to six more months of student learning in a year than low performing teachers, according to The New Teacher Project (TNTP). Additionally, about 20% of our teacher force in big urban districts is high performing. They call them the “Irreplaceables.” TNTP has deemed these teachers the Irreplaceables because they are nearly impossible to replace when they leave. In the TEAMS grant, teachers who greatly exceeded both academic and classroom practice expectations made up about 35% of the teacher population. >>


Teacher turnover in urban districts is high and for urban charter schools, it’s often even higher. Urban, high-risk schools are commonly staffed with young, less experienced teachers. Research has consistently shown that about 50% of teachers leave urban schools within their first 5 years of teaching (Headen 2014, Ingersoll 2011, TNTP 2013.) To make matters worse, high-performing teachers leave urban schools at high rates: TNTP estimates that in a given year, 10,000 high-performing teachers leave our most at-risk districts, whereas 100,000 low performing teachers stay. Over the course of the grant, TEAMS participating schools saw an average turnover rate of about 40%. School administrations don’t do much to keep these Irreplaceable teachers or get rid of the bad ones. TNTP’s survey data in 2012 covered 90,000 teachers in 2,100 urban schools. They found that 75% of the high-performing teachers that leave urban schools annually would have stayed if their “main issues” had been addressed. In TEAMS schools, the retention rate of high-performing teachers is much higher than the TNTP rate of 25%. Additionally, the high-performing teachers have a higher retention rate than other teachers (65% v. 60%). Earlier research suggested that teachers left urban schools in high numbers because of demographics and low pay.

New research shows that teachers leave unsupportive working environments in urban districts in high numbers in favor of more supportive school cultures. The problem and solution in a nutshell: Urban schools across the US suffer from high rates of teacher turnover, which leads to sustained low student achievement. One critical component to reversing this trend is the creation of teacher-supportive school cultures that attract and retain top teaching talent.

“If you build it with them and for them, they will stay.” Creating Supportive School Cultures If you build it, they will come. I like this notion – in reference to parks and people. But, when thinking about school cultures and teachers, this idea needs to go a step further: If you build it with them and for them, they will stay. The crucial result here is “stay.” Supportive school cultures that focus on teachers are likely the most important factor in attracting and retaining an amazing teaching staff. And maintaining an amazing teaching staff

is what gets schools sustained student achievement results. It’s important to emphasize the need for a purposeful teacher culture – not only a supportive school culture. School cultures that embody achievement, care, support and a family atmosphere are all important to the overall concept of a “supportive” school culture. However, schools that are teacher-focused require specific public and smart structures that place teachers at the pivotal core of educational success for students. Building a commonly recognizable positive school culture takes intentional planning. All school community members must be involved and have a stake in its success. This is where great school leaders come into play; they must steer, champion, invite participation and co-leadership and live the vision every day for a supportive school culture to evolve and take shape. It’s not something that gets written up and handed out to teachers with a notice saying “this starts today.” If teachers are asked to uphold and implement the mission and vision of the school with zeal, they better be at the table in making decisions on how to carry out the vision and mission and build a culture that makes it possible. If teachers have ownership in a school’s culture, they’re much more likely to be vested in every aspect of the school’s success; most importantly students, since

that’s an investment in themselves and their own career. Traditional understanding about culture focuses on the establishment and adherence to norms and a common belief system. This is certainly applicable to constructing a purposeful school culture. But, as we learned quickly during our interactions with TEAMS teachers and leaders, school cultures have much more to do with relationships than a mission statement. Time and time again teachers reported that the most important factors affecting the success of their schools or students was the ability to build trusting and caring relationships and having the support to do so. The following are some of the major findings from teachers about supportive school cultures from the case study evaluation. These findings came from four years of interviews and site visits with more than 80 teachers at TEAMS schools: Teachers want a seat at the table. They are left out of decision-making and often are clueless about the trajectory of their school. Teachers want ownership and trust as teachers. Most teachers welcome observation and feedback (even when new to that practice) but they want creativity, ownership and trust put back in their hands. They feel that the accountability movement has taken the ability to trust away and teaching and learning has been stripped of joy. Supportive school cultures that drive excellent teaching should be built on trust. Teachers want and need time to plan together, team teach, observe one another, etc. This builds relationships and supports excellent teaching. Teachers loved the big and small group PLCs in the TEAMS project for this reason. Teachers want opportunities. The teaching profession must change to offer opportunities within the field of teaching for professional growth (see www. for examples). Right now, for most teachers motivated for career growth, the options in front of them are to leave the classroom and take on coordinating positions, or shoot for an assistant principal or principal job. That needs to change to keep excellent teachers in the field of teaching.

Teachers want consistency in their schools in order to build effective systems and practices. It takes time to build a supportive culture with expected norms and beliefs that act as a gel to hold communities together. Urban schools experience way too much leader and staff turnover and programmatic changes. This is disruptive to school communities and is like kryptonite for job satisfaction. The Link to Classroom Culture Even within a shaky school culture, really great teachers can establish effective classroom cultures. But it’s tough. Healthy, vibrant, supportive school cultures led by strong instructional leaders set the stage for supportive classroom cultures. And for new teachers, this is crucial. Early in our case study work, the teachers and leaders we talked with often had limited thoughts and ideas on school culture. I often had to explain what I meant by ‘school culture.’ But by years 3 and 4, teachers were abuzz with reflection on changes they’ve seen in their “school culture” and “classroom cultures.” In this project, specific attention was paid to developing and implementing systems for effective communication and working together – building culture through relationships and shared responsibilities and for teachers to build their own achievement cultures within their classrooms. These classroom culture trainings were often game changers. For example, some teachers at TEAMS schools were trained in the Research for Better Teaching (RBT) “A Culture of Talk,” and a whole new way of teaching and learning in the classroom unfolded. Students were

now encouraged and at the center of “talk” and classrooms were filled with noise and ideas. For some teachers we interviewed, this change was unnerving at first. They wondered, “How many parents are walking by thinking I can’t manage my classroom?” But they were floored that they stuck to the belief for so long that a noisy classroom was automatically a mismanaged classroom. Their classroom worlds turned upside down as they managed this new culture of talk and learning and their own voices became the background. Teachers are the leaders that set the tone and establish norms within their own classrooms. When schools encourage shared responsibilities with opportunities for shared teaching, this opens the door to effective teachers reaching more kids. But in order for teachers to establish effective classroom cultures, they need ownership over their own teaching and the unwavering support and trust of school leadership. Leadership, for example, that wholly supports a school-wide change to “A Culture of Talk” and goes to bat for all teachers if and when parents complain that their child’s classroom is too noisy for any learning to take place. For a Reversal of Fortune Supportive teacher cultures must be about teachers - from every aspect of school design, the education plan, and budgeting. To reverse the persistent trends of low student achievement in our high-need schools, there are some age-old assumptions about education, teachers and schools that we need to shake-off and reverse, even in the charter school world. >> 17

Common Assumption #1: School leaders are the key to success. Reality Check #1: Success is a door with lots of locks. School leaders are one of the keys needed to open the door but in prioritizing needs, they come in second compared to excellent teachers. It’s not only about the school leader. Fabulous school leaders are obviously important, but only in the context that their role is to manage, collaborate, mentor, lead and provide support, support, support, and support. Did I mention that their main role is to provide support? Effective school leadership should largely be measured by the ability to build and sustain a supportive, transparent, motivating and rewarding school culture for excellent teaching.

“Teachers are the leaders that set the tone and establish norms within their own classrooms.” Common Assumption #2: Students are the first priority and should be at the center of every decision. Reality Check #2: Students should be at the center – that’s who schools serve. But teachers need to be right there alongside students. Administrative positions and support staff should all be aligned to support the needs of teachers in the classrooms who are the direct one-on-one contact with students and bear the responsibility of their learning. The daily consideration should be: how can we help and support you in and out of the classroom to maximize your impact on students? Common Assumption #3: In today’s education marketplace, a strong marketing plan is the key to building student enrollment and school growth. Reality Check #3: Doing some advertising may be important but it pales in comparison to having an excellent teaching staff, outcomes data that shows high student achievement, and happy parents and students. Schools in America have unfortunately followed the trend of everything else American: to want to offer big gymnasiums, fancy uniforms and fancy buildings at the expense of investing in their teachers and education programs. This is likely to result in lousy education outcomes. The greatest marketing and branding scheme imaginable is a second-to-none teaching and leadership staff that produces top results. Invest in people. Common Assumption #4: Pay is King. Reality Check #4: It is and it isn’t. It is because teachers – excellent teachers – are grossly underpaid for the work they do. Teaching is hard. Being on your game for 8 hours a day with students – managing, teaching, loving, disciplining, encouraging and supporting – is nothing short of climbing a mountain every day. I get exhausted just observing teachers. But more than higher pay,




teachers want support. Research clearly concludes that support is the number one criteria for staying in a teaching job and it was the number one requirement reported by teachers in our four years of interviews. Common Assumption #5: Teachers Last in Budget Priority Reality Check #5: Getting the roof repaired, raising funds for more computers, submitting the latest compliance report or even finding a new building, etc., should be the last of a school leader’s worries. Who cares what building your school is in when you have the greatest teaching staff in the district! Unfortunately, teacher hires are often last on the to-do list and definitely last when developing school budgets. I have worked on many charter applications over the past 20 years where 75% of teachers are plugged in to years 1 – 5 of operating budgets at the lowest end of the pay scale, maybe a few are budgeted for 5 or more years of experience, with one or two special education teachers budgeted at the lowest market value budgeting will allow. So, in my view, these schools get what they pay for in outcomes: not much. Imagine if this was reversed. Schools started with a blank budget and a goal of getting a 100% phenomenal teaching force. What do we need to realistically budget to attract these teachers to our school and keep them? With excellent teachers that produce stellar results, the payback is tenfold. It’s Right in Front of You We had 12 years of NCLB efforts on the federal and state level working to eliminate the achievement gap and move all kids to proficiency by 2014. And although there is much blame to go around – including unrealistic goals to begin with – there’s a lot more that could have been addressed if we would focus on the specific problem right in front of us: we have a crisis shortage of high performing teachers. We need policy changes to address this crisis and we need to raise the standards for entry into the teaching field, thereby raising the value of the teaching profession to that of other esteemed professions. But a lot can be accomplished now at the school level. Put all your eggs and money in the high performing teacher basket. It’s the safest investment a school can make. If your school leader’s ego is too big to put teachers first, get a new one who recognizes that excellent teachers are the key to success and is a strategic leader to that end. Revamp your human resources strategies and systems to provide ongoing support and market your school’s supportive teacher culture to attract high performing teachers. Offer incentives and attractive pay to the right candidates. Reconfigure your staffing structures and develop positions for teacher leadership and growth. If your school doesn’t have a supportive teacher culture, get busy building one, with teachers leading the design!


Promoting the Charter Brand Social media is proving to be one of the most effective ways to promote your school and engage your current and future customers, both students and parents. More than ever, as a society, we are sharing our stories on various social media sites and truly becoming a global community. This past quarter, the MAPSA Buddy sought out to find the schools that were creating a buzz in the social media world. Through self-promotion of each school, these teams have contributed positively to the charter brand on a more global level. Perhaps we haven’t hit international status, but statewide status is a win! In the spirit of social media buzz, the MAPSA Buddy pictures entertained MAPSA’s 3,000+ FB followers and 1,000+ Twitter followers. But there was one lucky winner of a $100 Staples gift card. Congratulations to Dove Academy of Detroit! Thank you for being a brand champion for Dove Academy and the charter movement!


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wards A W ARD A



dministrator of the Year

Goes To...

My leadership style is to be as collaborative as possible while still being the face of the organization. I relate my leadership style in many ways to my music career as the band director.

In this regard, I believe that there must be trust between the leader and the musicians (or teachers, students and parents) so that all are enabled to contribute in a meaningful way. A highly effective school, much like a great musical group, can take all of the parts to create something larger than the simple sum of its parts. It is a dynamic interaction that creates a product only possible when all trust each other to do their work in a way that does not require the conductor (or school leader) to tell them every exact detail that they must perform. In this way, I also believe that any group needs a leader like a conductor, but that leader should never get in the way of the music being made or the teachers shaping the lives and minds of the students. I like to think I trust my staff and students in a way that allows them to do their work.

Shannon Brunink

Black River Public School, Holland

Teacher of the Year

Every day I see as a chance to make a positive, long-lasting impression on my students. This all starts with lesson planning. I take lesson planning and assignment creation very seriously as those are the tools I use to ensure my students walk away from class having learned something, whether it be about mathematics or life. Every single lesson I do, whether it be from exponent rules to arithmetic sequences, I try my absolute best to make it apply to my students’ lives. Students need hands on, real-world activities that turn on the light bulb in their head and spark their imagination. I want students going above and beyond in my classroom by being curious about things and learning through exploring. Outside of lesson planning and assignments, I also try to leave that lasting impression on my students by always being there for them no matter what. I hardly ever sit at my desk nor do I ever say no to students in need. You will see me always by their side, helping them out, and guiding them through the work. I have had past students come to me with math questions even though I am no longer their teacher. I have even 20



In the end though, I’m proud that I have been trusted to be put at the front of this organization so that I can step up and make some of the difficult decisions and do what I feel is right for the good of the students and the staff. I hope that the example I strive to make helps my students and staff realize that sometimes you must stand up for what you know is correct, even when it is difficult or potentially unpopular.

Ronald Brown

Taylor Preparatory High School

had students leave and go to other schools e-mail me asking for help with their math or to write them a letter of recommendation. By being a steady, positive presence in their life, I show my students each day that I care about them and I hope that leaves a lasting impression worth keeping

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ur team loves giving out awards! It’s so amazing to see all of the talent and passion that lives inside the charter community. This year, we hit all kinds of highs including over 500 entries, nearly 10,000 views on video highlights as well as great media coverage. It’s an honor for all of those individuals nominated and especially special for those that become finalists, but the honor is shared by all of us as these winners exude the charter brand. We congratulate and thank you for representing the excellence that is the charter school movement in Michigan! >>

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Administrator of the Year Finalists Michigan Charter Schools

Connor Creek Academy East Karen Smith Dove Academy Brandon Slone

Renaissance Public School Academy Lisa Bergman Taylor Preparatory High School Aquan Miles

Greater Heights Academy Lisa Leimeister

Trillium Academy Angela Romanowski

West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science Scott Morgan

Timbuktu Academy Cha-Rhonda Edgerson

Jefferson International Academy Dr. Elizabeth Ruff

Karen Smith

Connor Creek East - Roseville Servant leadership is definitely my style. As a leader it is my job to make sure everyone understands and believes in our goals. Once these goals are established I use modeling the behaviors I expect to see, and day-to -day coaching in helping staff achieve these goals. When I see success it is important that I offer

praise and when I see difficulties offer support and redirection. As a servant leader my staff knows that we all do whatever it takes to get the job done. It is important that I participate in everything that I expect my staff to do from picking up papers outside on the lawn, to being outside at the buses for dismissal, to modeling instructional practices in our staff meetings. The true test for me is not what happens when I am in the building but what happens when I am out of the building. As a servant leader I believe I can influence people to develop their potential in becoming the best they can be.

Brandon Slone

Dove Academy - Detroit I was hired as the Principal for Dove Academy of Detroit over four years ago and have loved every minute of doing my work as an educational leader. My commitment to my staff, students, parents, and community over the years is no act and as a result the schools where I have served as an administrator have been successful under different roles of my leadership. As a matter of fact, Dove Academy of Detroit has an outstanding track record and I believe as a result of my hands on approach to being an instructional leader, I have been influential in positively impacting the teacher performance that has led to increased student achievement. I have also enjoyed many roles throughout my career year as




an administrator including evaluating teachers, managing the custodial/maintenance departments, and being responsible for creating the master schedule for my schools. I have worked to create a safe and non-threatening environment where my staff continuously feels safe and confident to have input in what we do to make our school the very best it can be.

Scott Morgan

West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science - Walker My leadership style begins and ends with relationships. Students, staff, and the school community are where I focus my intent to create, sustain, and build personal relationships that encompass trust and a culture conducive for teaching and learning. When I am able to build relationships with people that are passionate and engaged about student learning, the school becomes a breeding ground for collaboration and high achievement. I don’t create a lot of rules. Schools need rules but they don’t have to be shortsighted and lethargic attempts at creating or maintaining order. I give autonomy to teachers to run their classrooms in a way that best fits their and the students’ needs. If you hire good people that are professionals, they will create rules that work for them to accomplish the goal. I try to treat everyone equally, but in reality not everyone is equal. Top performers need to be recognized and rewarded. Traditional thought that treats everyone equally will produce complacency and a sense of entitlement. I have found this type of atmosphere

retains mediocre to poor performing educators. Without being challenged, the leaders and “work horses” within your organization will leave to find more rewarding and progressive schools. I try to share my vision or “big picture” for our school. I cannot garner support or ownership from my colleagues unless I share with them the goals and aspirations I have for our school. I can also gain their ideas and concerns. I think one of the most important components in my style of leadership - fun! If people aren’t having fun at work, they are doing it wrong. If work is fun, you’ll not only perform better, but you’ll stick around for longer hours and a longer career.

Lisa Bergman

Renaissance Public School Academy - Mount Pleasant Passionate would be the very first word I would use to describe my leadership style. In my third year as School Leader for Renaissance Public School Academy it has become clear to me that I have found my true, professional calling. In a world where it seems the field of education is faced with countless challenges, I look forward to going to work every day. After spending more than 20 years in a traditional public school system, I found myself growing weary. The constraints of a large system seemed to only serve the needs of the adults, not the students we were called to educate. That all changed for me as a leader when I accepted my position at Renaissance PSA. Renaissance has a solid strategic plan that was formulated when

I began as school leader three years ago. The needs of individual students are at the heart of our mission, vision and strategic plan. It shapes all of our decision-making. When faced with a decision I am always able to ask myself what is best for the student. So much of the role of School Leader revolves around being open and available for staff, students and families. I believe it is essential to be sensitive to the culture of your school and the needs of all stakeholders. This requires me to be extremely selfreflective. I pride myself in being open about my thinking process and decision-making. I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong or ask others for assistance. At my core, I believe a difference can be made in the lives of every student who walks through our doors at Renaissance Public School Academy. We have the power to transform the traditional approach to education and create a love of lifelong learning in every student.



Teacher of the Year Finalists Michigan Charter Schools

American Montessori Academy Meagan Scott Arts Academy in the Woods Rachel Kamischke Bradford Academy Erica Peterson Caitlin Sanborn

Forest Academy Danielle Perez

GEE Edmonson Charter Academy Angela Ringo

Greater Heights Academy Jackie Botsford

Central Academy William Weidner Charyl Stockwell Preparatory Academy Elizabeth Holland Countryside Academy Sean Kellogg

Jefferson International Academy Kathy Sadlier-Fiol Kensington Woods Schools Lyndsay Grasman Michigan Virtual Academy Tonya Westra

Detroit Delta Prep Joy Lyman

Redford Service Learning Academy Esther Kang Three Oaks Public School Academy Jared Meldrum Trillium Academy Kristinna Price

West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics Mandy DeBoer Katie Moriarty West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science Tara Baxter Jason Chronister Jessica Heintskill Anne Hoekstra Rachel McKenna

Jackie Botsford

Greater Heights Academy - Flint I believe building relationships with families is a priority. I call to personally encourage students before a test or assessment. I might call to provide the parent/guardian ways that their child may be motivated or encouraged at home for learning. Many times, this encourages the parent to know their child’s teacher cares, but also encourages the student to know that their teacher knows their parent/guardian. I also make it a priority to attend after school sports events and parties. I want to be a part of not only their lives at school, but outside of school as well. I build a safe environment where students feel comfortable making mistakes. I do this through modeling. When they see how I handle my own mistakes, they learn that this is not a reason to stop trying. We celebrate successes all the time. We celebrate their uniqueness. We all realize that we have areas where we are strong and other areas where we could use some improvement. My students feel empowered to always strive to do better. It is important to learn the process of learning. Students realize they need to push through situations even when faced with situations




that may be out of their realm of control or skill set. I do not allow negative attitudes during learning. If a student is having trouble, I will conference or have them write it down, so they can get back to the learning. Their emotions are important and I don’t want them to feel I don’t care. Talking or quickly writing about how they feel will usually take care of the behavior. Helping students push through educational and personal situations, I have gotten to know them individually. They can connect with me to confess a home issue or family situation that might distract them or make them act out. They also trust that I will help them or I will allow another student to mentor them in a subject. In this, I can encourage respectful community.

Lyndsay Grasman

Kensington Woods Schools - Lakeland I go to great lengths to create a positive environment inside my classroom. I start the beginning of every school year creating a social contract for each class. This contract is created by the students and is used by them to govern the rules and expectations of the class. By giving the students the ability to create their own guidelines, they buy into my class and what it is about, which gives them a safe place to be themselves. They are not allowed to put each other down, and if they do, the student can call a foul and the other student has to give them two put ups,

which are positive traits that student possesses. We build each other up instead of tearing each other down. We start out our day in my classroom with good news. This gives students a chance to let me, and the class, know good things that are happening in their lives. I get an opportunity to know my students, and them me, in a positive light. As a school we also have a “caught doing good board� where students and teachers can write good things done by other students that they witness around the school. These get read to the entire school and are posted where everyone can see them. With these routines in place, a student develops a lasting impression that I care about them as a student and a person because I take the time to develop a positive relationship with them both inside and outside of my classroom.

Meagan Scott

American Montessori Academy - Livonia The most important part of educating children is forming a positive, trusting relationship with each of the students from the beginning. I spend a long time at the beginning of every school year, sitting down and talking to each of my students individually. I get to know who they are, what their home life is like, what their interests are, and what obstacles they have had to overcome or are going through. My approach is to build a relationship based on trust that can help the students feel safe. I want to provide my students with a safe place that they can relax, breathe, and learn without outside distractions. I strive to ensure my students know that I believe in them and their ability to do whatever it is in life they want to do. I remind them that there will be obstacles, but encourage them to believe that they have the ability to overcome them and succeed. I also believe in fostering positive relationships with their

parents and forming partnerships with them, learning all I can about their family. The more I know, the more I can understand what their child may need. I also rely heavily on creating a deep and comfortable sense of community within the classroom through daily community meetings in which we set goals and celebrate accomplishments. My relationship with my students does not end with the school year. We write letters to each other, send birthday cards, and party invitations, and get together on occasions to catch up. These relationships will last a lifetime!

Rachel McKenna

West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science - Walker It’s extremely important for my classroom to be a home for everyone that is in it. We spend so many hours of our lives in that classroom, learning and experiencing together. I want my students to feel as if they truly are a part of a family while they are there. Each day starts and ends with a smile, no matter what has happened during the day. Each day is a new start. Many of my students come from homes in which there is not

a lot of money, nor are there two parents. They come to school with the viewpoint that teachers have a different life than they do, and I work very hard to share with my students many of my experiences. Sharing these experiences enhances the connections that I am able to make with my students. At the beginning of the year I create a Star of the Week board and share pieces of my life with my students. For example, during our economics unit in social studies, we learn about spending and saving. I open up conversations about how I started working at age 15 so that I was able to purchase my own school clothes and help my mom out with money. My hope is that by sharing these stories, I am able to create an atmosphere of comfort and positivity. 25

IMAGINE IF... Charters Led Accountability The original vision for the creation of charter schools was one of leadership. It was a vision created on the idea that there just might be a different, more effective way to engage with students in order to raise achievement standards. Charter schools would be supported and applauded for testing bold strategies. And, once success was found, those strategies would be shared with all schools in the interest of improving education for all students. As charter schools took on this task of testing bold new strategies, it soon became clear that safeguards had to be put in place to ensure that risk was managed properly and that ineffective strategies wouldn’t be adopted, or even continued too long, at the risk of student success. Out of this realization was the adoption of interim assessments and sophisticated intervention programs. Schools began to use available tools to know each student very specifically, understanding their current knowledge and setting clear paths to meeting their expected knowledge. And in this process, it was discovered quickly that what everybody was calling “expected” was just not enough if expectations for all students truly were to be the same. It was the first time that data revealed the real challenge in education, proving just how far behind students were starting from. There has been a lot learned over the years. But, we have yet to truly achieve the original vision. Why? Because as educators, you never feel you do enough for your students. There is always more to be done. It’s difficult to share your success when that success doesn’t seem like it’s quite yet worth bragging about. But, imagine if you realized your success is worth bragging about. Imagine if you realized the value of your work. Imagine if you believed that others would embrace the lessons you have to teach. Imagine if charter schools emerged from being the target to being the leader. What could happen? Let’s take the A-F performance measure as an example. Charter schools have understood the value of real growth for years. Data teams have analyzed student data at multiple levels. The combined work of authorizers and school-based data teams has led to verified correlations between interim assessment quartiles and proficiency in order to map out the path to closing the achievement gap. And you have gone beyond just proficiency to college readiness, setting the bar high for all students, despite their chosen path after high school. However, data teams know all too well that proficiency doesn’t come as quickly as hoped for. And it certainly doesn’t come without a significant amount of hard work and progress monitoring.




In the charter school sector, we know that evaluating the performance of a school based solely on proficiency outcomes is short sighted, leaving significant knowledge about a student’s progress on the table. We know that there must be a careful balance between real growth and proficiency. We also know that proficiency can be assessed without an additional test. Student learning can be greatly impacted in investing time and energy into testing tools that manage progress toward clear goals. We have an opportunity ahead of us to be the leader charter schools were intended to be. We have an opportunity to stick our neck out a little and share what you have learned. We have an opportunity to inform the change that needs to happen in order to have a real performance measure to drive accountability. Imagine if we only believed we had that opportunity? Imagine how different our actions would be? If you thought that your voice could truly make this change, would you stand up and speak a bit more loudly? If you thought that there was a chance in having state accountability align with authorizer accountability would you stand up and speak a bit more loudly? And if you thought that your teachers could be recognized for their successes by changing the focus would you stand up and speak a bit more loudly? If you thought that you could build pride within your community by showing the success of your students far exceeding the “expected” would you stand up and speak up a bit more loudly? The truth is that you don’t have to imagine this. This is the reality. The charter sector has the opportunity to step up and take the lead. To be a leader, we must let ourselves be vulnerable to share our data. We must embrace the reality that there are failing schools and commit to improvement or closure. We must embrace the reality that proficiency is still a standard and despite the greatest successes in student growth, without student retention and a continued path towards proficiency, an “A” status will never be achieved. The opportunity is yours. Are you ready to stand up and speak more loudly? And, if not, what is in your way? If you are interested in testing your school data in the proposed A-F performance measurement model or have questions to ask before speaking up, please email us at

It Takes Two Teachers and Leaders: Sharing Leadership, Sharing Success. Julie Kildee - Principal Tia Tucker - Teacher Holly Academy Administrator’s Point of View: “We are only as good as the people in this room.” I routinely make this statement when interviewing teaching candidates for our Academy. Our school is one of the 16 percent of charter schools in the State of Michigan that hire employees directly. As Director, I have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that we operate our academic and financial spheres with the utmost professional integrity. The shared leadership (or distributive leadership) model is one that has shaped our culture to ensure that our Academy remains an MDE Reward School. I never made a conscious decision to practice shared leadership; rather, I have come to realize that my niche as an administrator is growing leaders. I

routinely identify staff members who have that “something” that we define as leadership ability. Through years of observation, it has served me well to study teachers in the classroom and committee meetings and identify teacher leaders based on those observable qualities that define a leader. I agree with Lisa Cash Hanson that leaders are those that

they hold a unique perspective as we recognize and solve Academy needs. Identified teachers may choose to attend our local Intermediate School District’s Leadership Academy, which is a yearlong program that highlights monthly topics covering all aspects of leadership. These trained teachers then serve as “acting administrators” in the absence of

“As former teachers, they hold a unique perspective as we recognize and solve Academy needs.” “have the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them feeling empowered and accomplished” (Aniban, 2015). What does the shared leadership model look like at our Academy? Each member of my administrative team (other than our Finance Director) was hired out of our teaching ranks. As former teachers,

administration. Teachers who want to be introduced to leadership can apply to be elected as a subject area committee chair. They, along with administration, make up our School Management Team (SMT). The SMT authors all state reports, including: Ed Yes, Program Evaluation Review, College and Career Readiness, and the School Improvement Plan (embedded in the Single District Plan). >>


Whether overseeing the entire school or overseeing a committee, our teacher leaders are afforded opportunities to use their skill sets in a way most comfortable to them. I have had four former teacher leaders become leaders of their own schools, and two of my former administrative partners now lead their own schools. I am often asked if training leaders that eventually leave our Academy is detrimental to the future of our school. I actually believe the opposite; it is my duty to provide mentorship and opportunities for my staff that will assist them to fulfill their career goals. It is very satisfying to me that through the leadership processes I’ve established at our Academy, I have had a small part in the establishment of sound leadership in other schools and districts as well.

end up feeling defeated. The teacher burnout rate in Michigan is roughly 10% for first-year teachers and 30-40% for teachers within the first four years of their careers.

Teacher’s Point of View: How Shared Leadership Saved My (Teaching) Life

Despite my insecurities, I couldn’t fathom leaving teaching. I kept applying for positions and found myself at Holly Academy, a topperforming school in the state of Michigan. I was constantly in fear of not being good enough. I was let go from a school ranking in the 0 percentile on Michigan’s Top-to-Bottom list; Holly Academy is in the 95th percentile. I would make myself sick with worry before every observation. Meetings with my principal, Julie, filled me with anxiety. Despite her constant support and encouragement, it took me over a year to understand she was truly on my side; it was her desire to see me succeed. She put tremendous responsibility on my shoulders, but it was always coupled with tremendous support. I never felt alone; instead, I felt empowered. I had a voice in my classroom, on my teaching team, and ultimately in our school. The leadership roles I was given helped me realize my potential as an educator. Julie’s support and mentorship took me from the status of a kicked puppy to a graduate of Oakland University’s Master’s program in Educational Leadership. She has helped me to see how entirely capable I am and how much I have to offer to the world of education, and it’s because she believed in me enough to entrust me with big decisions, as she does with all of her staff.

My time at Holly Academy was preceded by a long and trying road as a first-year teacher with a minimally supportive administration. Despite my struggles, I ended that year absolutely in love with teaching, with my team, and with my students, but found myself without a job. The worst part was, I was never given an explanation. I had great observations and received wonderful feedback. I wondered how, since I had given everything possible and made such connections and gains with my students, I still wasn’t good enough. I questioned my abilities, my understanding of teaching, and my purpose in this career. If I couldn’t make it there, why would anyone want me? I know I am not alone in my experience. Far too many educators work in similar situations and

I never knew there was a name for what Julie practices, but it’s shared leadership. This leadership philosophy is what makes our school so incredible and high-performing. Teachers are given leadership roles, volunteer ideas, and own decisions. We are seen as a cornerstone of our school, not a burden to it. We have as much investment in our instructional program as our leaders do. This is important because, as Julie so frequently references, we are only as good as the people within our walls, so we need to have each and every one of us performing at our very best. Shared leadership is one way to help people reach their true potential and live out their passion, giving our students the absolute best that we have to offer.

“It is my duty to provide mentorship and opportunities for my staff.”




CONNECTION CORNER MAPSA offers opportunities for schools to connect and collaborate with peers to help you achieve your goals! As a charter school movement we are all fighting for what it means to be a charter school and the value and respect that should come with that. The debate in the legislature around the Detroit Education Commission has brought out an onslaught of attacks by those that seem to have simply tolerated charter schools until now. It’s upsetting that the hard work that happens inside your schools each day is discredited. And, it’s upsetting that a parent’s ability to choose what is best for their child is being disputed. How do we expect to build strong communities around education if we don’t even believe in the ability for parents to make a decision? Certainly, as a charter school, you know the value of community. We have seen the outreach and support you provide to the families you serve. They are part of your community. We appreciate the candid discussion. We appreciate that members that aren’t in Detroit still understand what is at stake and are willing to stand up for what choice means. The ability for a teacher to be successful starts with the desire to want to serve students. Despite demographics, every student attending a charter school is unique, each carrying the burden of their own personal challenges. Great teachers enter a classroom empathetic to this uniqueness and empathetic to influences of the culture of the community. Great teachers have the desire to find ways to support students while never

compromising high expectations. Schools can’t become great without great teachers. This is troubling given there is a teacher shortage. This isn’t the situation we saw years back in which there was a quality teacher shortage (i.e. you had stacks of resumes but none of them were the types of candidates you wanted). This is a situation in which there are literally no applicants at the table. We heard challenges of recent job fairs including sponsors charging teachers to attend and that the only way to get the attention of any candidate was to literally talk to them while they were waiting in line for one of the “popular” districts. College prep programs are not preparing teachers for today’s classroom dynamics. While there is much focus on discipline strategies, there lacks a focus on true classroom management that, if done right, greatly diminishes the needs for discipline. New graduates entering the classroom for the first time in a job anywhere other than a suburban, predominantly middle class community are not set up for success. Teachers reach burnout within three years of being in the classroom. And, within the three years, their greatest focus is on finding a way out. Additionally, you told us, and research supports, teachers are not paid enough to do the job they do, especially in a charter school. The funding structure of a charter school does not allow schools to pay teachers a salary that is reflective of the commitment put into the job. Teachers are tasked with preparing our youth for the future and yet are far below a typical “professional” wage. And those that you have trained and groomed and have become one of your best,

have no shortage of other opportunities. While there is a lot a school can do to create a culture to retain irreplaceable teachers, often the opportunity for an easier job and more pay for can be just too appealing to overcome. In light of all of the reasons why teachers are leaving the field of education, we wondered why alternative certification, a frequently discussed solution to the teacher shortage, would be any different. Turns out there is a large group of professionals nearing the end of their career that have found a passion in education. These professionals are those that have strong content knowledge and the dedication to kids that make them easily trainable. Further, these individuals are often respected in the business community, offering opportunity for greater community engagement that supports the school in many ways. Also, some of your best teacher candidates are right in front of your eyes. Be it a paraprofessional or a substitute teacher, there are individuals that have come into your school and that are making a difference every day. They know your culture. They know your students. They are respected and valued by your students. They are truly the best candidates you could ask for. We are thankful for the connection with our members and the opportunity for MAPSA to explore. We were excited to introduce the alternative certification process and discuss funding opportunities and to get feedback on the OpenHire job board. We invite you to continue to connect with us and we’ll see you at a Charter Connection meeting this fall!

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FEEDBACK IN ACTION Improving Membership

In education, nothing ever seems to stay the same. Well, unless it’s the something that you really want changed and then it can seem like nobody is listening to anything that you have to say. In your moments of frustration, know that MAPSA is always listening. (And if you think we missed it, tell us again!) Hands down, one of our greatest assets is the foundation of membership. There is no shortage of advocacy organizations but our impact comes from the ability to align practice with policy. Our goal as a membership organization is to continuously engage with our membership to learn the obstacles in your way and the opportunities not yet maximized. This feedback is what drives our agenda and what allows us to advocate for solutions that allow you to focus on education. We certainly don’t always get the immediate ability to make the changes you need to operate at your best, but we do always look for the opportunity. Also, while the headliners of things such as control and equitable funding tend to make the most noise, in the background your feedback is always with us as we work to make your day-to-day a bit easier. And recently, we’ve had some great opportunity to share your feedback to influence positive policy changes!

influence the conversation in many ways. The teacher survey data you helped to gather showed the opportunities and needs in developing “high-quality, prepared and collaborative” workforces. Your feedback on the real impact of poverty, including the expansion of the meaning of “poverty” that goes beyond a free and reduced lunch count, influenced a focus on providing resources to meet the needs of all students. And, your knowledge and experience on assessing students in a more meaningful way that allows for more individualized instruction and tracking of student progress will absolutely be a significant factor in determining Michigan’s next state assessment. We understand the impact that this change can have both on your culture but also on the reflection of the success inside your school. Our best strategy in finding policy solutions to your greatest challenges will come from better understanding the implications on practice. We ask that you continue to share your experiences and your ideas, even on things that we may not be asking about today because we never know when an opportunity will present itself. What big or small change in policy or environment could make your life easier today? Share with us at!

Back in the summer of 2015, with the help of member feedback, we were able to provide a legislative workgroup a list of dozens of reporting requirements that were more red tape than valuable. In this feedback, we discovered duplication of reporting and misunderstanding for the need of report requirements and were able to share this with legislators leading to the introduction of a bill to reduce the amount of red tape reporting for schools. We are hopeful that you will see the impact of this feedback in the upcoming school year! In conversations regarding the strategies to become a top-performing state in the next 10 years, charter success and experience was able to WE ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS OUR MEMBERSHIP. WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR ONGOING FEEDBACK AND LOOK FORWARD TO FINDING NEW OPPORTUNITIES TO TAKE ACTION!

Have feedback on this plan? Email us at

DEVELOP YOUR POTENTIAL As authorizer of more than 70 charter schools across the state, the Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office not only provides high quality K-12 options for more than 33,000 students, but also offers Michigan teachers a wide variety of professional development opportunities. Choose from workshops emphasizing literacy instruction, data instruction, technology, classroom management, and other relevant topics to help you meet continuing education requirements and reach your full potential as a better teacher. • More than 40 different professional development topics totaling over 200 workshops • Workshops offered in Grand Rapids and Detroit • State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH) available at almost every workshop See schedule and register at or call (616) 331-2240.

Summer Symposium Thursday, August 25, 2016 Detroit, MI

Take your instructional team to the next level by joining us at the summer symposium and discovering the courage it takes to teach! “COMMUNITY, OR CONNECTEDNESS, IS THE PRINCIPLE BEHIND GOOD TEACHING.” Parker J. Palmer - The Courage to Teach

Charter Connect Summer 2016  
Charter Connect Summer 2016