Forging the Future at Village Tech School By David Williams, CEO Village Tech Schools
ne Saturday morning five years ago, I found myself in a meeting with other elementary and secondary teachers. We sipped on Costa Rican coffee and sat in a small room at a local church in Cedar Hill. The room was provided free of charge and we weren’t quite ready for the world to hear what we were talking about. Charter schools. For some, this is a subversive word tied to the deconstruction of public education and the rise of privatization and profiteering. As public school teachers, we did not know this at the time, only the hushed rumors and gossip that charter schools were getting away with something and “stealing” students. What we did know is that we were frustrated by a system of public education tied up in knots. We knew there were schools around the country untangling these knots, but we were unable to gain traction in our circles. So for us, the public charter school proved to be a viable vehicle for educational innovation where any student within our boundary could apply and be admitted without paying tuition. After all, the Texas legislature created public charter schools in 1995 to encourage innovation, increase public options, improve student learning, develop new forms of accountability and attract new talent to the teaching profession. As public school educators, the charter sector gave us an opportunity to bring our vision for education to life.
And on that Saturday morning, we found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences about what makes a great school. We did not yet know it, but that was the beginning of Village Tech. Village Tech is a PK-11 public charter school in Cedar Hill, TX enjoying our fourth year of operation. We will graduate our first senior class in 2018. We believe that the best thing we can do for students is provide them with great teachers who work together to cultivate character, design real challenges and establish authentic community. School should be a place where students learn who they are, learn things that last, and learn they belong. School should be a place where the power to learn is entrusted to students and teachers. Thomas Jefferson said, “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.” Wise well past his years, Jefferson’s quote acknowledges that the people should be trusted with the powers to govern. Being a student of human nature, he could predict that people would not always live up to this responsibility and we would be faced with a choice — do we take the power from them or do we do a better job instructing them on how to wield their power? Winter 2016 | OffBeat Business Magazine 5
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