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CONNECT [summer 2017 edition]

Charter School Talent Shines



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raduation time is one of my favorite times of the year. I love attending charter school commencement ceremonies, hearing the success stories and watching the pride on the faces of parents and grandparents as the students receive their diplomas. By and large, charter school graduates and their parents recognize that they’ve been a part of something special. They recognize that because their schools are innovative and able to cater to their individual academic needs, they’ve been able to flourish and succeed. This spring, MAPSA asked charter school graduates, parents and alumni to tell us their stories of success. I’d like to share some of these with you, because they serve as an affirmation for all of us who work in the charter world that what we’re doing is working.


Charters Celebrate Graduation Success

Juan, Advanced Technology Academy graduate

helping other foster and adoptive students through high school experience.”

“The charter school experience helped me to succeed because it really helped prepare me for college. Taking college courses throughout most of my high school career made me see what awaits me when I move on to college. Being one out of the many million immigrant students in the United States and graduating from high school is already a success to me. My parents brought me to this country for a better life and to have them see me graduate makes me happy to know that I’m making them proud. I am a first-generation graduate from high school and in the future I hope to be a first-generation graduate from college.”

Mary, Jackson Preparatory and Early College parent

Melissa, Grand Traverse Academy parent “My daughter suffers from anxiety and sensory processing disorder. The school worked with us to put together a plan that allowed her to leave a classroom when overwhelmed, wear a hat to cover her ears, have gum to chew, hold an object for fidgeting, etc. All of her teachers were very cooperative in implementing this plan. Plus, because the school is small, other teachers knew her and what she was allowed to do and wear, so if they saw her in the hall, they never told her to take off her hat.” Rachel, Insight School of Michigan parent “Sometime our kids don’t ask for the experience they have to go through. My daughter has had a very rough high school experience. Until we came to Insight, we did not have very much hope that she would graduate on time. The teachers, advisors and counselors have been the encouragement, guidance and support my daughter needed. Because of Insight, she will be in college this fall and hopefully

“My 16-year-old daughter graduated two years early from a local collegel. Her high school not only allows dual enrollment with the local college, it encourages and facilitates dual enrollment. She graduated from local college with an associate’s degree in arts. This high school requires community service and job shadowing or internship. This allowed my daughter to get an insight into careers that she might be interested in.” Elizabeth, graduate of Walden Green Montessori and West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics “My charter school experience changed my life, my mindset and gave me the tools to succeed. Charter school taught me much more beyond the classroom, also preparing me for life. It not only taught my brain, but taught my heart and mind as well. I believe true success is having ethical, principled, good-hearted character and with that, anyone has already succeeded. Both of my charter school experiences inspired me to develop this kind of character.” Jamie, Michigan Virtual Charter Academy graduate “I have been able to succeed in high school over just three years with the help of my charter school. I was able to take extra courses to graduate closer to when I was supposed to. MVCA has also given me the opportunity to shine in anything I set my mind to. The courses are challenging and will help me succeed in work and in college.”



E H T D N S A R E N N I W . . . E R A PAGE 18


The Importance of Self-Care


Childhood Trauma and the Brain


Try In-Kind Fundraising


Charters Hold Themselves Accountable


Disciplining Students Doesn’t Work

By Olivia Adams

By Apryl Pooley & Tashmica Torok By Megan Zars

By Kerri Barrett

By Becky Carlton


Letter from the President


Letters to the Editor


Chalk Talk


Cover Story

MAPSA Will Keep Fighting

Chilhood Trauma Hits Home Open Letter to School Leadership Teacher and Administrator of the Year



Our mission is to support charter schools in improving educational outcomes for Michigan’s children by advancing quality education through choice and innovation.



MEET THE TEAM vp of operations and strategy director of marketing and program design director of data initiatives vp of communications president director of membership services director of instructional systems design vp of government and legal affairs administrator

angi beland becky carlton julie durham buddy moorehouse dan quisenberry heather risner leah theriault alicia urbain sara vanderbilt

MAPSA BOARD member treasurer secretary member member member member member chair vice chair-elect

ralph bland - new paradigm for education john cleary - the thompson educational foundation don cooper - national charter schools institute andrew gayle - national heritage academies mohamad issa - global educational excellence jennifer jarosz - charlton heston academy greg mcneilly - windquest group terri reid - michigan’s freedom fund david seitz - apple computer, inc. buzz thomas - thomas consulting group

AD INDEX Center for Charter Schools CMU National Charter Schools Institute CS Partners Saunders Winter McNeil, PLLC Detroit Institute for Children Thrun Law Firm, P.C. CMU Online Choice Schools Associates

Inside Front Cover pg. 09 pg. 09 pg. 09 pg. 13 pg. 13 pg. 13 pg. 13

Michigan Virtual School General Agency & EMC Insurance Elite Educators Insurance Elite School Staffing AccessPoint Grand Valley State University Ferris State University Innovators In Education

pg. 17 pg. 17 pg. 27 pg. 27 pg. 30 pg. 30 Inside Back Cover Back Cover


School Leaders Love and Believe in Charter Schools The majority of the charter schools are founded by entrepreneurs who work very hard, are highly committed, dedicated, innovative, and passionate about making a difference within their communities. Our story is no different than many other charter schools. Almost 20 years into the lives of our students. We have graduated over 1400 seniors since 2004, educated over tens of thousands of students who came from diverse cultures, spoken languages, and skills. The majority of our students who join us come with limited English language, challenging socio-economics, and/or special needs. We welcome refugees at any time space permitting.  We have over 27 countries and mother languages represented mostly from the Middle East. The Arabic language, culture and high expectations are key to our educational program. Our academies are data driven and focus on results. Many of our students end up taking AP classes or are dual enrolled taking college classes at the high school level. About 98% of our students graduate, millions of dollars are raised each year in college scholarships for small numbers of graduates, 99% of enrolled students are admitted into colleges and universities of their choice. Many of the alumni are now returning to the academies in the capacity of board members, parents, staff, or community engagers. They are taking charge; they’re leading and became successful professionals, counselors,

administrators, physicians, engineers, educators, nurses, IT specialist, dentists, business entrepreneurs, etc. The demand by parents is so inspiring. Each time we walk into those beautiful hallways, we don’t get greeted normally. We receive numerous compliments and sincere appreciation for having the school programs. Overall, parents are happy. Our results are no different than most of the charter schools. Parents are choosing charter schools. The demand is high because each of those charters is able to serve specific needs that are not met elsewhere. The more choices parents have, the better off our students and future leaders will be and the better off our country will be. Charters are making a difference in the lives of their students which is an essential service to our wonderful country, the USA! God bless America!

It’s all about choice. Being a principal in charter schools for the last nine years, I have witnessed how charter schools have become an important part of the educational landscape in America. This is because charter schools service students who need something different then what the traditional public schools offer. Parents are excited to have options and realize that charter schools have more autonomy and flexibility. I have worked in both traditional public and charter schools, and have found that the charter movement has allowed me to grow and experience a side of education that I never would have realized by just working in the traditional public schools. For example, in charter schools I collaborate more with my colleagues and have opportunities to share best practices that directly impact student achievement. Also, being able to think and use out of the box practices has made education fun

and exciting for not only myself, but the students and staff that I work with. I believe that the charter school movement is here to stay and will be the model for education around the world.

Nawal Hamadeh, Superintendent & CEO Hamadeh Educational Services

Shawn Hurt, Principal Inkster Preparatory Academy


An Open Letter to School Leadership: We See You


eading a school is one of the hardest jobs an individual can choose. One can only imagine the burden of responsibility carried on the shoulders of those charged with molding the future of our youth. And, as though that wasn’t enough, in today’s climate, leading a school means taking on the responsibility of rebranding the career of teaching, finding ways to attract and retain talent in an environment that offers little support in funding or the incentive of public appreciation. We see you all in leadership. We see the never-ending pursuit of fulfilling your role. We see you seeking out every possible solution to the challenges you recognize within your school and tirelessly working toward staff buy-in to implement these solutions that add work to everybody’s role. We see the struggle you have in leaving your building because you know that there is no option for a redo if something goes wrong. And we see you smile each and every day, never once letting all of this show because after all, you are a leader and that too is your role. Except that it’s not. Your value is not derived from how much burden you shoulder alone. Your value is not derived from a 24-hour relentless dedication. You are human. You have bad days in which the smile isn’t quite as big. You have days in which the challenge becomes overwhelming. You have days in which you need somebody to prop you up in an environment that offers little support in funding or the incentive of public appreciation.


Charter schools are innovative think tanks that require sharp and focused minds to drive the possibilities. We cannot let our greatest talent become drowned in the idea that the pressures of the day-to-day, minute-by-minute challenges are your sole responsibility. While distributive leadership may come across as just today’s buzzword, the power of a distributed leadership model is far greater than the impact on school culture, although this impact is impressive. The power of a distributed leadership model is the shifting of the burden of responsibility to multiple shoulders to create a team, supportive of one another and allowing for the greatness within each individual to shine when there is freedom to think and collaborate. Your value is derived from empowering others to be part of the solution. Your value is derived from modeling vulnerability and embracing support. Your value is derived from creating a culture in which you cultivate and surround yourself by other great leaders, perhaps even future school leaders. Your value is derived from your ability to be an amazing thought leader, coach and visionary. Your value is derived from all of the things you have done in your current role and in leading up to this role. You maybe just don’t think it’s quite enough. Except that it is. As you prepare for the upcoming school year, carrying the torch for the future, ask yourself who will help you get the torch past the finish line. It’s heavy. Please don’t carry it alone.

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Treat Yourself as Kindly as you Treat Others Olivia Adams, BSW Community & Patient Support Liason Critical Signal Technologies

Teachers and school leaders often set aside their own needs, but in doing so, they are unable to take care of those of their students, families and communities. Before you can take on the emotional burden of others, you need to take care of yourself. “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first.” Most people are all too familiar with the phrase yet rarely do they heed it. It is important to treat yourself as kindly as you treat others. Self-care is taking time to do the things you enjoy doing. Self-care is ensuring you are physically and mentally well and that can’t happen unless time is prioritized to focus on yourself. Oftentimes it’s necessary to bring work home, resulting in work overtaking much needed personal time. Self-care essentially comes down to: sleeping well, eating well and maintaining good mental, emotional and physical health. By avoiding self-care or other things that make you happy, it allows stress and negativity to build up. When that happens, it’s nearly impossible to keep balance and focus and things will quickly seem to swirl out of control. If you don’t take care of your body and your brain, you are not going to work efficiently or effectively. It seems impossible to put one more thing on the schedule, but until self-care is a regular part of the routine, the result will be burn-out, and no one will benefit. If work is taken home, try setting a strict limit for the amount of time that will be spent on it. Make time to play – with your own kids or grandkids, with your students during the day, or keep a small ball on your desk to toss

around. Go to bed at a consistent time every night and be sure to make wise meal choices, have healthy snacks handy and get exercise. Rather than sitting in an office for one-on-one meetings, take it on the road and go for a walk while talking, or take phone calls on the go and take a trip around the building. Know that your staff and co-workers are just as helpful, giving and caring as you are, and a great way for everyone to help each other is to help themselves by speaking up when self-care needs to take place. By building the need into a school culture, everyone can help each other by picking up little things or covering for 5-10 minutes so all staff have the opportunity to perform even small acts of self-care throughout the day. Having a home environment set up that allows for regular selfcare can also have quite an impact on overall health and wellbeing. Leaning on a spouse or older children to take on some responsibilities for a few minutes, or placing your phone on silent and out of reach for 30-60 minutes a night can be helpful. Sitting quietly and practicing mindful breathing can very quickly calm down a hurried brain. If you only have two to five minutes try things like dancing in your living room, catching a few rays of sunshine, chatting with a friend – not about work, coloring, or taking a quick nap. With as run down as everyone is by the end of the school year, falling asleep quickly should be no problem at all! Olivia Adams works at Critical Signal Technologies. Her goal for every patient is to meet their needs and make them feel safe. Many patients she helps on a daily basis do not have friends or family and are alone. Olivia believes in the CST core principals including caring first for the patient, the team, then herself.

Take some times to relax and color these next two pages. It might be helpful to use markers rather than crayons on the glossy paper.



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When Children Experience Trauma: Effects on Brain Development and Classroom Behavior Apryl Pooley Neuroscientist Michigan State University


Tashmica Torok Executive Director The Firecracker Foundation


pryl Pooley is a neuroscientist at Michigan State University where she researches the effects of trauma on the brain. She is especially interested in why men and women respond to trauma in very different ways, which appears to be a result of how the stress response system is set up early in development. As a survivor of childhood trauma herself, Apryl is passionate about promoting systems that will recognize, heal, and even prevent the negative impact of trauma on a child’s development. Apryl is also a published author, wife to a fierce child and family advocate, and mom to two dogs. Tashmica Torok is a nationally recognized survivor activist working to end child sexual abuse. She is a powerhouse fundraiser and movement maker who has raised thousands of dollars and countless volunteer hours in support of her work. As the executive director of The Firecracker Foundation, she incites riots of generosity and advocates for the healing of children and families every day. Tashmica is the kind of friend who always encourages you to do more. She’s a published storyteller and a nearly retired roller derby skater. She’s also the mother of three boys, wife to a talented tile installer and a behind-the-scenes volunteer. What is childhood trauma? Apryl: Trauma is any serious threat to our physical, emotional, or social integrity, or to the safety of those around us. Trauma can include natural disasters, car accidents, and serious illnesses or surgeries, but interpersonal trauma such as abuse, bullying, assault, and domestic or community violence is the type of trauma most likely to have lasting negative effects that physically change the brain. Children are even more vulnerable to the disruptive effects of trauma than adults, and people who experienced childhood trauma often develop what is called complex PTSD in adulthood, which includes disturbances in learning and memory, self-perception, relationships, personality, and emotionality. Children six years old and younger are especially sensitive to trauma as this is when significant developmental changes occur in


the brain. Young children who experience trauma show more problems with emotion regulation, forming attachments with others, and autobiographical memory. If trauma is experienced after puberty, it has a more profound impact on identity formation. Even young adults can experience developmental impacts of trauma, as the prefrontal cortex region of the brain hasn’t fully matured until age 25. In contrast, adults who experience their first traumatic event in midlife are more likely to adjust in healthy ways. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study identified the most common types of trauma that American children experience: 28% of children under 18 are physically abused, 27% grow up in environments where alcohol or drugs is abused, 23% have parents who are separated, 21% are sexually abused, 19% grow up with caregivers who have a mental illness, 13% witness their mother being abused, 11% are emotionally abused, and 5% have an incarcerated family member. Over 60% of children have experienced at least one of these traumas, which means that in a classroom of 30 kids, at least 18 of them will have experienced some kind of significant trauma. Experiencing childhood trauma increases the risk for significant health problems later in life, especially with 3 more ACEs, but also has short-term effects that often become apparent in the classroom. Tashmica: I am a survivor of child sexual abuse and incest. My perpetrator was my biological father. All of my experiences happened before the age of 8 with most of the abuse happening between the ages of 6 and 8. These early traumatic experiences were then followed by the unexpected death of my biological father at the age of 10. Although his death saved me from a future that included more

sexual abuse, it was still traumatic in that I lost my father. Like the millions of children in the country impacted by adverse childhood experiences, my brain wasn’t allowed to develop uninterrupted. My brain was in the midst of some form of panic response with no end in sight. During my adolescence, I tried to make sense of my experience and its impact on my relationships, sexuality, behavior and self perception. I carried a feeling of dirtiness with me into adulthood. I couldn’t shake it. I felt like my body had been ruined and that I was unworthy of healthy relationships. I always felt like I was the only one wrestling with these issues which made everything worse. However, my struggles were met

with a small circle of strong women that were my teachers in school, my youth counselor at church, my mother and my aunt. I was loved and validated through a unique set of challenges. I believe that is why I am as healthy as I am today. How does trauma affect kids at school? Apryl: Childhood trauma can actually shrink or stunt the growth of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory, which can cause obvious impairments in school performance. The activity and maturation of the frontal cortex, which is responsible for decision making and impulse control, is also disrupted in children who have experienced trauma. This means that traumatized children may act out with aggression toward themselves or others, be socially withdrawn, distrust adults and peers, have difficulty describing their emotions, have problems with attention, and be impulsive. Some children who experience trauma respond with what is called dissociation, which is a survival mechanism that allows kids to blunt their awareness of the trauma to the point that some do not even remember or recognize the trauma until years later. These kids might appear “spaced out” or have flattened emotionality, or they may seem overly cheerful even in the face of adversity. Some kids even cope with their trauma by over-achieving at school, and while this may not seem like a bad thing, it can disrupt healthy self-esteem and relationships and mask dysfunction in other facets of life. Tashmica: I was an overachiever with a lack of impulse control. This meant that I was able to achieve academic success while never missing a party. I remember drinking all day but making it back to school in time for cheerleading practice. I was constantly over scheduled and overcommitted. One year I was on the dance team and the cheerleading squad which meant 6 am practices before school and practices after school. I still managed to maintain my grades. I was not what some may have identified as a child dealing with significant trauma and loss. What many could not see is that my success in school and extracurricular activities were directly tied to my internal conflict of using my worth or success to disrupt the constant feelings of unworthiness. I felt deeply that I could achieve my way out of the desperation I continued to feel. My behavior served me well socially but it didn’t give me the tools that I needed to heal.



It wasn’t until adulthood that I started to peel back the layers of how child sexual abuse had impacted my body, my brain and my interpersonal relationships. This is why I am a proponent of early intervention from those qualified to work with children who have experienced trauma. It is critical to the health and well-being of our communities. Which kids in a classroom might have experienced trauma? Are there warning signs? Apryl: Trauma can affect anyone, but kids who identify as LGBTQ and/or who are racial or ethnic minorities are more likely to experience bullying, sexual trauma, harassment, and other forms of interpersonal trauma. Kids who don’t have strong peer and caregiver support groups are most at risk for experiencing lasting disruptive effects of trauma. After trauma, many kids will show social withdrawal and “constricted play” by only engaging in a limited number of activities or showing repetitive play behavior. Kids who have experienced trauma may be irritable and have extreme temper tantrums. Some traumatized children will show excessive compliance in an effort to prevent trauma or oppositional defiance because they anticipate trauma. Some kids don’t show outward behavioral disruptions, but will often experience stomach problems, headaches, and other bodily discomforts. If there is one thing to expect with trauma, it’s that no two people will respond in the same way. Tashmica: I think it’s also important to mention that we have to give children a way to tell us if something has happened to them. Not just in terms of child sexual trauma but in all of the ways trauma manifests. Teachers have a unique and irreplaceable relationship with youth. As role models, it is important to tell stories that are relevant to the experiences of trauma. Your curriculum can serve as a tool to make space for deep conversations. Many of the lessons you are already teaching can pave the way to hear from your students what is happening in their lives.


Note that I didn’t say question. You don’t need to interrogate a child to find out what they have experienced. Create an environment that is conducive to them sharing vulnerably with you and then listen. Allow them to share with you about their lives. Many of my teachers provided this space to me and I feel strongly that it changed my future. What can schools and teachers do to help? Apryl: An important step in creating a supportive environment is to be aware that many kids have experienced trauma and they need help, not punishment. Some kids may be punished and isolated as a result of their reactions to trauma, and this can limit their educational and social opportunities throughout life and exacerbate their struggles. Children can sometimes be stigmatized as “bad kids” when they are really just trying to survive. Kids who experience lasting problems after trauma are diagnosed with an average of 3-8 “disorders” including oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, disruptive mood regulation disorder, self-injury, intermittent explosive disorder, dysregulated social engagement disorder, and disruptive impulse control disorder. But when trauma is the cause of these disruptions, there is nothing wrong with the kids—what is wrong is that they have experienced trauma and haven’t been given the tools or the time they need to recover. Tashmica: All schools should be making an effort to become more traumainformed environments. This may require additional training for teachers, staff and administration. The MSU School of Social Work has recently announced a Trauma Certificate designed to help professionals learn techniques to improve their work with children, adolescents, adults, and families who have experienced trauma. As an educator, understanding the impact of trauma on the brain and on

behavior is critical to inform your work and gives you the ability to apply a traumainformed lens. The Trauma Certificate exposes you to innovative information and helps you prepare to support students who have experienced trauma. The Trauma Certificate courses also prioritize developing self-care practices to reduce the risk of secondary traumatic stress and compassion fatigue. For more information, visit Certificates or call 517-353-3060. Where to learn more MSU School of Social Work Trauma Certificate program: http://socialwork. National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Watch: How childhood trauma affects health over a lifetime by Dr. Nadine Burke Resources for schools and teachers: http:// resources.php Watch new award-winning documentary on effects of childhood trauma: Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope

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2017 Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year Chanavia Patterson

Detroit Enterprise Academy, Detroit

My leadership style can be described as culture focused, with consistent accountability. I am a leader that is committed to ensuring staff members are heard, coached, safe, and accountable. I create a school environment where teachers want to come everyday. Creating a positive culture sets the foundation for everything in the school to stand upon to be successful. In order to maintain success, there must also be accountability. I am consistent with messaging the “why” of being a part of the staff at Detroit Enterprise Academy. That “why” is to ensure every child receives an excellent education, and ensure we are a better choice for parents. Holding staff accountable to the goals and promises we make parents, is of the utmost importance. As a leader, I work hard to exhibit these attributes on a daily basis by being a supportive leader with realistic expectations.


2017 Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year Gordon (Gordy) Hyska

Charyl Stockwell Academy, Howell My teaching style is about supporting student growth into well-rounded, happy people - not just amazing students! No matter how hard you try to be the best teacher you can be, it won’t work if you aren’t authentic to who you are. My teaching style is me. It is laid back, stress free, and a whole lot of fun! It involves energy and excitement, passion for learning, humor, spontaneity, strong positive relationships, collaboration, wacky moments, optimism, and wonderment and awe. But, it is also serious about rigorous learning. The foundation of my teaching style is connecting and building relationships with students for the entirety of the year (and beyond). My students know I love and care about them. They know that I have their best interest at heart. I remove the stress, fear, and pressure of traditional classrooms. I teach with positivity and optimism. I have a strong belief in my students and they know this. From there, I tap into their internal motivation to become successful learners and people because

they want to, not because I tell them to. Using these principles, I help foster a growth mindset and love of school that leads them to often take control of the learning through choice, differentiation, and excitement for challenges. They become stronger readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, and friends as they engage in different learning opportunities in a fun and meaningful way. Through whole and guided group teaching, individual and collaborative opportunities, hands-on and open ended exploration, movement activities, culminating events, and student-created activities - I teach to the whole child. I teach to grow the students’ inherent goodness, creativity, imagination, and excitement for the world around them. I want them to view the world as theirs to innovate in, change, and make better using the knowledge they obtain. I infuse the character traits

of kindness, optimism, respect, getting along, responsibility, and work ethic with traditional subject area learning to promote the importance of building character. I always say that character is “a big flashing neon sign that says a lot to the people around you” and everything we do impacts it. Positivity and kindness begets positivity and kindness and we must learn to work and collaborate with peers. School is more than just academic achievement and my teaching style reflects that. I let kids be kids as they develop in all areas of the whole child to help them become the best possible version of themselves. They intrinsically strive to master content while still having a real childhood experience not centered around “teaching to the test”.

Hosep Torossian ves i g AGBU Alex & Marie Manoogian A PS A School, Southfield M r, or a n e o y h Finalist s r ach s to e d h r c a ea w When I received word from MAPSA two a r School T roughout that I was nominated for this honor, I te r Th a ! h invited four teachers to help me answer s r C o t a o t r t these questions. What I am presenting inis amazing n m d below is a summary of their responses and A ocess, it’s nd passio with a little bit of editing from me. r a p t this the talen e charter Our teachers describe my leadership as follows: t h i l t l Unwavering focus on academics with human compassion. h a e e id w s s ee , n r i a Ability to filter out the less important aspects of education. s e sy ive i l g t Full attention to individual student needs. n a Th i h t ud ty. l i c n Practical, collaborative team leader who involves teachers in all n 0 i u 0 s crucial decisions. comm s of high , over 45,0 d s Organized and supportive of teacher needs, great decision n e i i ts h all k 000 entr making ability. Faculty also credits me with the ability to simplify g i l gh , i 1 h complex problems. r e o ge ov de a i r v e Accessible and visible throughout the school and in classrooms. v n o co s a y i w l Trusting the teachers’ judgment. e d n i e i v ta m r t e a c Easy to communicate with. e r s ’ Direct and honest. What you see is what you get. No hidden and g . While it those f l l o e l nd agendas. a as w or for al d e t n ina I was happy with the comments made above, I was an ho uals nom or those Although surprised that the four teachers did not mention my vision for the id lf school. I should do a better job in articulating it. indiv lly specia sts, the li ia My focus on leadership (and this is from me) comes from my espec come fina all readings of the biography of the late Father Theodore Hesburgh, y e president of Notre Dame University who defined leadership as that b is shared b ers n r n i o hon s these w brand. Competence, Commitment, Compassion led by Vision. a r of us the charte e and ing exud e t a l gratu represent harter n o c We he c for t u s i o n! t y a a k g h i t n h a e th lenc nt in Mic l e c x the e moveme ere’s h , g l n o arni r of scho e l f o irit rato ay p t s s i e n h i In t dm had to s A r u o and s what r Finalist ship style r ea a the Y heir leade building f tt abou portance o . re the im tive cultu r suppo



Kerri Barrett West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science, Grand Rapids Finalist As the principal of WMAES, I practice servant leadership. I believe it is my responsibility as a leader to set the vision for my school while allowing my team to express their professional creativity. At WMAES, I create the parameters to allow for our school to be consistent and common, but trust in the teachers to use their expertise in pedagogical strategies to get results. As a leader, I set high expectations for my team and in turn they set those for their students. It is my responsibility to ensure all stakeholders have what they need in order to meet those expectations. To summarize, I serve my strong team to help students reach their potential.

Ali Bazzi Star International Academy, Dearborn Heights Finalist My leadership style reflects that of a transformational approach. As a school leader, I embrace our best qualities and use them with a deep sense of a shared vision to motivate all stakeholders. This vision includes building and establishing school goals, creating a productive school culture, providing intellectual stimulation, offering one on one or group support, modeling best practices, demonstrating high expectations, and developing open communication and structures to ensure collective decision making. The most critical part of my leadership style is ensuring that teachers and staff have a voice. That teachers and staff are unified and collectively agree that the elements of the district (curriculum, instruction, assessments, and culture) are aligned to the mission and vision of the schools. The next critical components of my leadership style at the district are students and parents and their role within their school. I ensure that ownership is established and student and parent voices are being heard. I want to know what students and parents are thinking and embrace any opportunities for growth within our school district. This will allow the district to continuously innovate and provide a lasting educational environment that will intrinsically motivate students on to postsecondary education.

Lynn Sperry Countryside Academy, Benton Harbor Finalist As a servant-leader, I see leadership as an opportunity to be “of service� - to our students, to their families, to our staff, and our community. My role evolved with the intended purpose of being of service. A purposeful leader is one who shares leadership with others. I believe that shared leadership empowers others in our school to put their passions to work for common goals. My leadership style is also one of collaboration and cooperation. Working with the Board, with other school leaders, with staff, students, parents, and school community, is of primary importance in advancing opportunities for our students and the broader community.

In addition to finalists above, we would like to recognize the remaining Top 10 Administrators in our Michigan Charter Schools. Pat Cwayna West Michigan Aviation Academy, Grand Rapids

Aquan Miles Canton Preparatory High School, Canton

Cathy Cantu West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics, Spring Lake

Koree Woodward Grand River Preparatory High School, Grand Rapids

Ali DuBois Muskegon Montessori Academy for Environmental Change, Norton Springs

Lindsay Andrade Achieve Charter Academy, Canton Finalist

t i r i p s e h t In , g n i n r a e r l u o of t a h w here’s r of the e h c a s t Te s i l a n i F t r u a o e b Y a y a s o t g n d i a t s h a l a g n i k ir a e h m t n o t c impa ts. n e d u st

As a teacher of early elementary, I believe in teaching with partnerships. In the classroom, I partner with students to create a safe, rigorous, and fun environment where students take part in the following aspects as well as many others: the creation and monitoring of the classroom expectations, the seating choices, the tracking of individual progress, and the maintenance of a positive learning environment. Outside of the classroom I partner with parents and families using technology, open communication, and opportunities to invite parents into our classroom learning. Within my building, I partner with my wing dean and other classroom teachers to prepare for experiences that will keep students engaged, interacted within our building, and to challenge myself as a teacher. I believe that teaching goes far beyond the classroom and that my impact exceeds more than just the students I have in my classroom at one specific moment. I am preparing future leaders, and I don’t take that lightly. Every day I ask myself “did you do everything you could today to better educate every student?”, and honestly sometimes that answer isn’t an immediate yes. That just keeps me continuously reflecting and changing. I know that my style as a teacher involves constant growth, feedback, and risk. Students in my classroom have experiences with a variety of opportunities to sing, dance, create, and compute, in settings that are sometimes whole group but mostly small group based so that I can attend to student-created goals and personal needs. A large part of my teaching style is very driven on individualized instruction as well. I am constantly adjusting to meet the needs of the learners in the classroom. Also, I believe in the format where the teacher works as a guide and allows for opportunities where students discover their learning and understanding through collaboration and exploration.

Sydney Azzi Grand River Prep High School, Kentwood Finalist My teaching style would best be described as relational with mutual inquisitiveness. At times, I have found out the hard way, and at times in the best ways possible, that the best teaching and learning experiences always start with a solid foundation - the relationship. We are asking kids to do hard work in order to become their best, and most times the best persuasion is caring about them. You can get students to do so much more through genuine caring than guilt and disappointment. I work to let my students know me and know that I know them. We have at least a year of working together, so the relationship needs to count. After that, my room is full of inquisitive minds, mine included. It is important to be the role model in the room in every way; this means being the model for learning and wanting to learn, making mistakes and growing from them. My students know that I am far from perfect, but it allows them the room to be far from perfect as well, which is where the real growing can happen as well as excitement to learn. While I do have some of the answers in the room, I have many more questions and an excitement to find the answers. It might be slow, but the excitement eventually catches on to everyone else in the room.

Jennifer Melero Holly Academy, Holly Finalist

for optimal learning.

Over the years, my teaching style has changed as needed due to changing standards, times, and from year to year, based on the needs of my students. One thing that has not changed and is one of the most important part of my teaching style is the building and maintaining relationships with students, parents, and staff. I feel that my teaching style is one that embraces the whole child and celebrates all accomplishments, no matter how big or small. My classroom is one that fosters independence and also interdependence on each other as a school family. I keep child development and best practices always at the forefront of my mind. My classroom has elements where students are engaged and are active participants in their education while addressing the different modalities

Learning in the classroom draws upon a child’s strengths, learning styles, and background knowledge, and interests of small groups and individual children. The student’s learning must be meaningful, connections made, and relationships need to be built and fostered. Truthfully, it comes down to relationships. My children love to share so much of their lives and what is important to them. I find it powerful and a wonderful way to connect with my students and families if the children know me, my family, and experiences. They also eagerly share details about themselves, their families, and experiences which have shaped the individual that they have become up to this point. The activities that take place in my classroom combine both gross motor and fine motor and are activity based and allows for brain breaks and connections between the brain and body that allows for the development of a variety of muscles and helps to activate learning. A love of learning and an environment that fosters risk taking and exploration is evident for children in my classroom which enables them to become and remain lifelong learners. My classroom fosters an environment where children are asked to problem solve and work collaboratively, thus setting them up for a success in school and in life. An atmosphere which empowers students to take ownership in their learning is important to me. The children in my classroom also feel secure in our daily routines and expectations but at the same time, can still handle themselves when the routine is varied or changed. Another very important aspect to my classroom is one where we have fun and enjoy each other as a school family. The children know that this is not “my classroom” but “our classroom” and a safe environment where they can grow and thrive.

George Pavey West Michigan Aviation Academy, Grand Rapids Finalist Firm, fair, and consistent. Students know that my tough love approach has boundaries and expectations that each must live up to in the daily grind of an academic school year. If students take away that my first priority is that they will leave my classroom better citizens equipped with the tools of being young ladies and gentlemen that will never be late and always mindful the golden rule to always treat others the way you would like to be treated regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religious or political beliefs, then everything academic is gravy! The environment I attempt to create in the classroom also extends to our Aviation Department utilizing the pillars: Safety First, Professionalism, and the Pursuit of Excellence.

In addition to finalists above, we would like to recognize the remaining Top 25 Teachers in our Michigan Charter Schools. Jill Carbone Summit Academy North, Romulus

Nick Lange Chatfield School, Lapeer

Matt Chesney Arbor Preparatory High School, Ypsilanti

Megan Mitchell South Canton Scholars Charter Academy, Canton

Mandy DeBoer West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics, Spring Lake

Amber Nevison Landmark Academy, Kimball/Port Huron

Eric Diener Dove Academy, Detroit

Megan Nix Renaissance Public School Academy, Mt. Pleasant

Laura Ebnit Detroit Enterprise Academy, Detroit

Shawn Pollman Kensington Woods Schools, Pinckney

Melissa Flickinger Chandler Woods Charter Academy, Belmont

Bethany Rydzewski Global Heights Academy, Dearborn Heights

Michelle Griggs University Preparatory Academy Middle School, Detroit

Meagan Scott American Montessori Academy, Livonia

Lindsay Haycock Advanced Technology Academy, Dearborn

Cinda Shumaker Concord Academy Boyne, Boyne City

Jane Hennrick Three Oaks Public School Academy, Muskegon

Marlo Silveira West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science, Grand Rapids

Alaina Kramer Black River Public School, Holland


Melissa Trebing Forest Academy, Kalamazoo

Beyond the Dollar: In-Kind Fundraising Megan Zars Marketing Specialist D.A. Blodgett - St. John’s


undraising is vital to organizational success within nonprofits. We are blessed to be in Michigan where we are part of a community that thrives on giving back, fundraising and supporting a wide variety of causes. Fundraising comes in all shapes and sizes and so do donors. Some organizations rely heavily on in-kind donations (donations of tangible items or goods) where others need mostly financial support. Whatever the cause may be, there is a need for fundraising in one way or another. Schools, in particular, can utilize in-kind fundraisers to assist with their many ongoing needs. A few of these needs may include school supplies, classroom supplies, needs for specific art projects, or even sporting equipment.  In-kind giving is a great option because it gives community members the opportunity to get connected and know they are making a tangible impact. One added bonus is that this style fundraiser is typically low cost up-front and can run for an extended period of time. (And can be ongoing!) It can seem difficult to get started with an in-kind fundraiser but keeping a few things in mind will help get one started and set the precedent for donors in the future who are looking to help. Start by establishing the need. The greatest part of in-kind fundraising is the

flexibility – almost anything goes! Look to your classroom, school, and community. What is the need? It can be basic from socks and winter hats to something more specific like teen backpacks or scientific calculators. Having a specific goal can be helpful too, for example, collecting 200 calculators for middle school students.

previous donors or companies in the community who may be interested in supporting. Adding events to your school’s website, newsletter and other communications is also an easy way to get more exposure. Reaching out to TV stations to get your fundraiser on air can also be a free way to share your message.

In establishing the need, also be aware of the “why.” Writing a “why” statement is the staple of every successful fundraiser. The reason the fundraiser was established and the need was chosen will help with target marketing and pulling in donations. Having it written out will make it easier to share the opportunity with others. This will help the community become emotionally connected to the cause and have a better understanding of those they are helping .

After your fundraiser is complete evaluate the outcome. How many items were received, how many donors participated? Did you meet your goal? What communications were most effective? Review the good and not so good parts and use this information to improve for next time.

It’s also important to pick a date and timeframe - will this be a one-day drop-off style fundraiser or can people donate over a few weeks? What time of year will this event run? Seasonally? Is it dependent on a specific time of year or holiday? Once these details are established, it’s time to spread the message! Remember to have an easy drop off location for items or offer pick up to make it easier for the donors. The most important part of running a fundraising is spreading the word. Share in-kind fundraising in various ways and on various platforms. Social media is a definite must these days. Facebook tends to be the most successful of social platform for our organization. Other options include online community calendars (most news stations have them) as well as connecting with

At the end of the day, regardless of your fundraiser’s outcome, consider the positives. Did you have a community of people stepping up to talk about your school? How many places now know your school name? There are so many positives that can come out of these types of fundraisers and you should be proud of yourself! If you feel it’s worth it, do it again next year and I’m sure you will see even more support!

D.A. Blodgett –St. John’s is a Grand Rapids based non-profit serving children who have experienced abuse and neglect. We pride ourselves on being a leader in creating a community where all children are treasured and families are strong. D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s provides over 20 services including mentoring, foster care, adoption, residential care, and counseling.


Charter Schools: Paving the Way to Accountability Kerri Barrett Principal West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science


hoice. Opportunity. Innovation. These are the pillars of successful charter schools. Charter schools allow parents to take ownership over their child’s academic experience. The creation of charter schools created an opportunity for parents to have their voice heard in providing the optimal educational experience for their child without relocating. We are fortunate enough to live in a society that is surrounded by a variety of choices in our everyday experiences. So I find it hard to understand why we should not have a choice in where our children develop and grow into productive citizens. Some school districts provide ample opportunity for students, while others are just not the right fit. Charter schools provide opportunity for parents and students to expand their horizons. If a traditional district is not able to meet the needs of a child or family, the parents should have a choice in where that child attends. As a principal, I am able to provide opportunities for my students to experience 62 acres of hands-on learning with a diverse student body. Not only are the children learning through doing, they are learning about the dynamics of a diverse community and how to be a productive citizen within that community. What better opportunity for a child can you create? To be successful, charter schools must be innovative. They must step outside the norms of the educational box and allow educators to expand their teaching. We are no longer an assembly line


society, so we must ensure our schools follow suit. Educational organizations should be creating 21st century problem solvers. They should not be following the same ideals from 20-30 years ago. We must allow our students to focus on the arts, engage in a conversation about environmental change, and above all else allow them to explore their own innovation to create a better world for our tomorrow. Charter schools are held accountable for outcomes to students, parents, and the community. We use data everyday to tell us if we are doing our job and doing what is best for kids. If we are not meeting our goals, we have to change course as fast as possible. We are able to compete with the best of the best. Being a charter school gives us even more accountability and pressure, in a good way because the parents are choosing to send their children here. We don’t have busing so parents are driving students here or finding a way to bring their child to our school every day so we owe it to them to do the best for them. Not only are we held accountable to the state of Michigan, we are held accountable to our authorizer. The state and our authorizer continually judge us and we thank them because we need to show the community what we are doing the best for kids and we need to show them that. Charter schools give our communities the opportunity to choose to be innovative. Why would anyone want to take that away from our future leaders? Choose to be innovative. Choose to be accountable. Kerri Barrett is the Elementary Principal at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science located in Walker, MI and is a top 5 nominee for the 2017 Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year award.

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Discipline Simply Doesn’t Work Becky Carlton Director of Marketing and Program Design MAPSA

What if everything you learned about discipline in a classroom just isn’t true? Teaching can be one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet, and one of the most frustrating as well. Shaping and molding children can be a gritty job at times. Disruption and chaos in a classroom brought on by a child’s behavior can be infuriating knowing that your hard work on a lesson is washed away within minutes of a meltdown distracting the rest of your class. Miles was a bright and energetic young boy who brought humor to the classroom with his witty comments and inquisitive questions. As easy as it was for him to bring a smile to my face, it was just as easy for him to bring out despair and frustration from me too. Miles could easily go from engaged to outbursts of anger throughout the week. He was a


ticking time bomb and most students learned quickly to not set him off as his tantrums and screams frightened the most engaged students. Sympathy is recognizing an emotion in someone with the desire to want to see him or her feel better or happier. As humans, especially as educators, this is a natural response in working with children at any age. When we witness bullying or an outburst of anger or moments of sadness and disappointment in a child, there is a hope of betterment or a wish to see this child happier. Witnessing these moments of vulnerability within children can easily break your heart without hesitation on whether we act on this observation with a hug or a guided conversation providing suggestions or solutions for this child. The question is, does this reaction from an adult to a child provide meaningful guidance or is it a detriment? Miles had my heart from the beginning. I was always the teacher that fell in love with the kids who needed it the most. Miles was able to easily wrap me around his finger in moments of anger or frustration. What was supposed to be

5 minutes of contemplation as Miles sat in the corner of the classroom, this five year old would turn to me with his wide eyes and his calm ‘sorry’ in his hoarse voice and snap- the time out quickly ended after 2 minutes. My unwavering need to want to see Miles feel happier was quickly dominating his need of long-term behavior solutions. This game we played quite often was a routine that quickly turned to resentment on my part for letting a 5 year old ultimately control my classroom. I desperately wanted him to learn from his choices, but instead of teaching him to control his behavior, I was in control as a teacher. Today’s educators are spammed with hot buzzwords such as socio-emotional learning, empathy, and trauma-informed. But even with as much intention and seriousness these issues deserve, teachers are overwhelmed and easily resort back to short-term classroom management strategies instead of looking at long-term behavioral solutions. With the advances in psychology and the commitment most schools make in mainstreaming students with cognitive or developmental issues into general education populations,

teachers are notorious for pretending like the last 50 years of research doesn’t exist in one quick reaction with the old-fashioned reward and punishment approach. Miles is just one of thousands in Michigan that are in need of support and possibly labeled as educationally disadvantaged. During the 2015-16 school year, the Michigan Department of Education counted 1,319 expulsions among one million K-12 students—one for every ten kids. Unfortunately, evidence shows the most commonly punished student is one with diagnosed behavior problems, sometimes stemming from exposure to traumatic events that result in toxic stress. Miles was just this. His mother died from a drug overdose and he lived in foster care. Children exposed to trauma can be the most problematic in a classroom, but struggle the most with relating to others due to their impacted brain functions. Working as a bereavement counselor later in life with teenagers, I was able to learn key skills in facilitating conversation and reflecting emotion as a means to push the kids to solve their own problems. Providing the empowerment to a child who has been exposed to trauma and stress

can allow them the opportunity to build up the brain functions that might have been impacted. Focusing on the emotions and asking guiding open-ended questions gives kids the ability to reflect and support one another when needed most. When I use these skills I sometimes reflect on the interactions with Miles from years ago and how a more empathetic approach would have been more powerful in that classroom of youngsters. Allowing kids the autonomy to solve their own problems will provide empowerment of a more lasting effect with buy-in up front and ownership of consequences down the road. Educators have been exposed to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a foundation of child development, but what if we took this knowledge and implemented it into our interactions with students on a more regular basis? When a child comes to you to complain she is being picked on or was just kicked out of class for disruption, focus on the needs of the child. Asking them when was the last time you ate? How much water have you drank today? How much sleep did you get last night? Have you talked with any of your friends today? These basic questions can guide you as the adult to provide the

child what they need (i.e. water, a nap, food, etc.) in order to allow the autonomy for them to solve their own problems. Does it make sense to inflict the harshest consequences to the most challenging students? When the chronically disobedient kids are the students who have the highest classroom removal and expulsion rates, it deems a pause to reflect on a school’s approach to discipline. We need to stop pretending that kids don’t want to behave because they crave the negative attention, instead believe that they are missing the brain functions to allow them to behave. The next time a child is off task and disruptive, ask yourself when was the last time he ate or drank water. This approach demands educators to change their mindsets and review school processes and workflows in order to make true impact on behavior.




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COMMITMENT TO INFLUENCING EDUCATION The Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office offers Michigan teachers a wide variety of professional development opportunities dedicated to improving teaching and learning.

• Relevant topics to help you meet continuing education requirements and reach your full potential as a teacher. • 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.

Celebrating 20 Years as a Public School Academy Authorizer!

The Charter Schools Office currently is accepting charter applications for new academies. For more information, please visit our website at

The Ferris State University Charter Schools Office is a founding member of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers. We are proud of our support for the Michigan Association of Public School Academies and National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

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Save The Date Innovators In Education Fall Symposium Detroit, MI December 06 & 07, 2017

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