Two of the important conference breakout strands emphasize training in effective governance as well as developing school and network leadership systems. Here’s a sampling of breakout sessions in these two strands:
Why is Good Charter School Governance so Difficult? presented by Mike Mizzoni of BoardOnTrack – Monday, October 28 – 10:45 a.m.
Great boards are well-staffed and well-supported. They have the right people in the right roles, doing the right work. And, by measuring their performance, they improve their capabilities over time. In this interactive workshop, we'll hand over the keys to great charter school governance. Whether you're focused on ending your first year strong, preparing to replicate, and managing a rapidly-scaling organization, you'll take away actionable strategies and practices for your governance team. Together, we'll explore:
If you don't grow your people, who will? A Model for Developing Organizational Capacity: presented by Troy Mooney, EdD and Lani Norman of Life School – Tuesday, October 29th, 2:00 p.m.
Employees are overtrained and underdeveloped. Learn how to develop leaders at all levels in your organization to improve student outcomes. Participants will explore how to build capacity by redefining systems and empowering leaders in order to create a sustainable learning culture that will:
Avoiding Chaos: Leadership Development and Succession Planning presented by attorney Darrick Eugene of Darick Eugene Law Firm – Wednesday, October 30th, 9:45 a.m.
The charter school movement started over 20 years ago and organizations that were new and novel are now mature and possibly in transition. As these organizations grow from founder lead to management lead, they may experience growing pains and challenges with navigating that path. This presentation will provide guidelines and strategies for leadership development and succession planning that will give school leadership resources to avoid potential pitfalls. Through case studies, group discussion and real world examples attendees will be encouraged to participate in and lead their organizations to new horizons.
By Samantha Womack, TCSA Communications Specialist
A recent Gallup poll illustrates students who have at least one teacher who excites them about the future are 30 times more likely to be engaged. Furthermore, if the principal is engaged, there’s a trickle-down effect on teachers, students and families.
Unfortunately, the polling indicates only 31 percent of teachers are highly engaged, with only one-in-three showing involvement, enthusiasm and commitment to their school and their work.
Teachers and staff who have an engaged principal say:
Gallup found hope and engagement are significant predictors of academic achievement.
But more than 50 percent of students don’t feel they get to do what they do best every day.
When asked what makes a school effective, survey results show its dependent on:
Standardized test scores came in last.
Additionally, only one in five parents are fully involved with their students’ school. These parents are your vocal advocates and ambassadors of your school—going above and beyond to share their pride.
In contrast, the banking, insurance and healthcare industries have 30 to 40 percent of customers who are fully involved!
Building an engaged school takes a long-term commitment, hard work and dedication to changing your school’s culture.
Where can you start to help your school?
1. Register for the free Gallup Student Poll by October 30 to gauge your students’ engagement. Then analyze the results for what needs changing.
2. Learn more at the Texas Charter Schools Conference at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa from October 28-30. The advocacy session track will cover how to start, build and grow your grassroots advocates on your campus. Register today.
By Barbara Mallory Caraway, Special Projects Director, Nova Academy, Dallas
Inspired by a cause close to her heart, one Dallas middle school teacher galvanized her school to action.
When her aunt died of breast cancer in 2014, Nova Academy English teacher Sade Burkman was devastated. Her aunt, Elizabeth Oyetunde, 50, of El Paso, lived with the disease for eight years and is survived by her five children.
She turned her grief into action and took up the crusade to educate others about breast cancer. She began before her aunt’s death, wanting to share risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options. In 2013, Burkman asked and received permission from her administrator for Nova Academy to join the public awareness campaign.
That first year, she handed out pink ribbons in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The second year, Burkman created an informational display on breast cancer that included pink-colored paraphernalia.
This year, marks the first since Burkman’s aunt died and it holds special significance for her. She partnered with her students to design a T-shirt that would memorialize those impacted by breast cancer.
“I told them I wanted a heart (love), wings (faith), and ribbons (hope). After three tries they got it right,” she said.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women and one in eight U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. If found and treated early, many women can survive the disease. Burkman said it is important for students to understand this disease because of its broad implications for the victims and for surviving family members.
Participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps to heal the pain of losing her aunt, she said. And having the school support her in the awareness efforts has been invaluable, she said.
“I am most grateful to [Nova Academy CEO] Donna Houston-Woods -- for her encouragement and support,” she said.
“I mentioned to her last year that I wanted to do something a little more, and I left it at that. When school started she reminded me of my intentions. She supported the T-shirt idea," Burkman said.
Staff members now wear the T-shirts every Wednesday in October.
With tears, she said, “I’m happy.”
Nova Academy serves more than 900 students at three campus locations in Dallas. The charter's mission is to educate all students in a multi-cultural environment where parents and the community will serve as partners in achieving academic excellence of our students.
By Dorothy Gentry, 4th Grade Teacher, A.W. Brown Leadership Fellowship Academy
Note: A.W. Brown charter leaders will be presenting at the 2015 Texas Charter Schools Conference during the Principals Workshop on Wednesday, October 28, to discuss hiring and retaining high-quality teachers.
Angela Brown is a true example of a success story in teaching. The long-time employee of A.W. Brown Fellowship Leadership Academy in Dallas, a successful Texas charter school, is passionate about the field of education and about teaching at the two-campus academy.
Brown began at A.W. Brown as a substitute teacher in January of 2005 and was officially hired as a teacher’s assistant in March 2008. Ten years at the school and she said, “I’ve loved every moment.”
As the special education teacher for the past three years at A.W. Brown’s Early Childhood Campus she said the school’s vision is key to why she stays.
“First off, what made me get on board with this school was the vision that it has for its students and the community,” Brown said. “They want to make the world a better place one student at a time and it has been an amazing privilege to see it unfolding and steadily coming to fruition right before my eyes.”
Brown said the school supported her in efforts to gain additional education.
“[They] allowed so many doors to open up for me once I was ready to move up. They continue to support and nurture my growth by presenting multiple opportunities to get involved,” she said.
The school feels like a family, where she can speak openly with others about any concerns, Brown said.
“Words cannot express the joy I have of being able to watch these children grow from babies to teenagers, and then they come back to visit as adults,” Brown said. “They thank us for all we instilled in them and taught them. My own daughter was 3-years-old when she started here, and now she is in the 7th grade.”
Brown said she feels “secure and comfortable” at A.W. Brown and plans to stay as long as possible.
“With the constant growth and success at this school I feel like the sky is the limit and I have no reason not to continue to be loyal to them as they have been to me,” Brown said. “This is one district that I truly feel secure in. They make me feel appreciated in everything I do.”
Other schools can adopt those practices by starting with the board and administrators, she said.
“Ours is awesome. They do a great job letting us know how much we are appreciated and acknowledge that none of this would be possible without us,” she said.
Brown believes the regular evaluations and continuous positive feedback is crucial to the success of the school. Also important is having a good vision of what you are trying to accomplish and then determining what steps are necessary to achieve it.
“They do a good job making sure new teachers are aware of the vision and the steps and why we are all here. For veterans they never let us get complaisant. They find new exciting ways to break down the vision and mission and those steps we need to complete in order to accomplish them,” Brown said.
The vision of A.W. Brown-Fellowship Leadership Academy is to provide a learning environment in which children are trained, prepared and equipped for life leadership and academic excellence. The mission of A.W. Brown-Fellowship Leadership Academy is to produce smart, effective, efficient, disciplined students by creating an environment in which teachers feel safe and free to teach and students feel safe and motivated to learn.
A.W. Brown serves more than 2,000 students on two campuses in grades PK thru 8th grade and has more than 200 full- and part-time staff. A.W. Brown has been in existence since 1998.
By Dr. Paula Moeller, TCSA Director of Training
Got school board members?
But have they met their training requirements? Returning board members need six hours and new board members need 12 instructional hours of training this year!
TCSA has you covered with a six-hour Board Workshop on the Friday of the Texas Charter Schools Conference October 28-30 at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. It's the perfect place for board members to satisfy these compliance training hours and meet the requirements outlined in the Texas Administrative Code §100.1102.
Board members who attend the entire three-day conference can receive up to 10 hours of training credit! View the full schedule by workshop or topic track by downloading the free TCSACon Mobile App.
The list of available topics and sessions include:
Accountability (reporting, student performance, human resources)
Health and Safety
TCSA is an approved provider of training credit hours and board members will receive a certificate of attendance after completing the training at the conference.
By Lindsey Gordon, TCSA Director of Policy and Legal Services
TEA released a change document that indicates certain changes that will be made to the forthcoming 2015-2016 Student Attendance Accounting Handbook based on House Bill 2610 (Rep. Ken King), the new law that changes the number of days a school district must operate from 180 days to 75,600 minutes.
House Bill 2610 does not apply to open-enrollment charters. However, based on the changes proposed to the 2015-2016 SAAH and conversations with TEA, TCSA member schools and charter hopefuls have concerns as to how FSP funding for charter schools with shortened or flexible school days might be impacted under the new minute based attendance accounting system.
TCSA received confirmation from TEA that for the 2015-2016 school year, charter schools that offer flexible school days may continue to do so and their full day funding will not be impacted. There is less clarity as to how charter funding may be impacted in the future. In the SAAH change document, TEA sets forth the following: ”Charter schools are not subject to the 75,600 minute requirement, however most charter schools typically offer 75,600 minutes of instruction.”
TCSA will continue to work with TEA staff to gain clarity on this issue and to ensure Texas charter schools’ missions and unique operational models remain uncompromised.
There's less than a month left to register for the only statewide conference for Texas public charter school leaders and educators!
The Texas Charter Schools Conference is early this year on October 28-30, so don't miss out on specialized workshops, dozens of educational sessions and networking opportunities with industry experts. You make the conference better each year and we hope to see you in San Antonio!
Check out the great video below to review fun snapshots from at last year's Texas Charter Schools Conference.
Earlier this year, we asked you to share why you love your charter school. It's critical to share your stories so the community, elected officials and local leaders understand the importance of public charter schools in Texas. Our students and families deserve the right to choose the best fit public school for them. To get involved please join the Texas Charter Revolution.
In case you missed the responses, below are some of the highlights.
"Our students come from a diverse set of backgrounds. Seeing them grow and learn daily reminds me why I wanted to become an educator." - Educator at Harmony School of Science Austin
"I love my charter school because they are big on building lasting relationships and training life leaders....The teachers and staff genuinely care for the kids they teach, doing what it takes to help the [students]." - Parent, Advantage Academy, Waxahachie
They care about each student on a personal level, and each student and their parents, know it and see it on a daily basis. The entire staff is amazing and they take so much time out of their own lives....I feel like my child really matters!" - Parent, Vista Academy of Hickory Creek
"My public charter school actually cares about the students and helps them to succeed in their class work. The wow factor for us is the way students are treated with respect and are allowed to move forward with their studies on an individual basis." - Parent, Premier High School, New Braunfels
"Where do I start? My grandson attends this school and I am so grateful for all they have accomplished in him. He is nonverbal and they are so patient and kind in his instructions and because of their diligence, he is able to speak a few words now." - Guardian, Foundation School for Autism, San Antonio
"[My school] is caring, respectful and mindful of kids, not only their education but their feelings too. They know they are dealing with the future and give these kids the right steps to be great leaders and mindful adults." - Parent, International Leadership Texas, Garland
"I love my public charter school because I have students that actually want to learn and they have a choice to go any where. The thing my school does that wows me is that we make sure every child is learning and getting the support that they need." - Educator, Houston Gateway Academy
"I love my public charter because they are big on building lasting relationships and training life leaders. Life's love for us WOWS me and helps me understand what "Life" is all about. My public charter school ROCKS! There is no other place like it!" - Educator, Life School Oak Cliff
And a letter from Abigail, a 9th Grader at Houston Gateway Academy
My school, Houston Gateway Academy, is very great. I love that my school has a band and a few other activities. My school makes me want to be the best of the best. It encourages me to never give up and accomplish my many goals.
I love the education I receive. The teachers really care about grades and are able to give us students one-on-one education when we need it. Our teachers know us so well, they can tell when we don't understand something or are struggling
My teachers are always pushing us to give everything our all.
My charter school makes me feel like I can be myself, and I'll always be understood.
I love my charter school. There's no other school I'd rather go to than Houston Gateway Academy.
Be sure to attend the 2015 Texas Charter Schools Conference, where the advocacy and grassroots track will give you the tools needed for strong advocates on your campus.
By Dr. Paula Moeller, TCSA Director of Training
Struggling to hire quality teachers in critical areas such as mathematics and science for your campus?
Finding it difficult to locate certified bilingual and special education educators?
You are not alone!
The Texas Charter Schools Conference Principal Workshop will feature panelists from across Texas to discuss hiring and retaining strategies for outstanding teachers with a passion for educating charter school students.(View the full TCSACon workshop and session schedule)
The Texas Charter Schools Association is committed to providing support, training and technical assistance to Texas charter schools on the newly developed teacher and principal evaluation systems, Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) and Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS). These systems will replace the current PDAS evaluation system as the new state-recommended appraisal systems in the 2016-2017 school year. While charter schools aren’t required in statute to implement these new appraisal systems, learning about new ways to evaluate and provide feedback to educators is critical for continual improvement.
Join us for three credit hours of training on Wednesday, October 28, at the Texas Charter Schools Conference at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.
Principal Workshop Presenters:
Sheila Collazo, Academy Director, T-TESS, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching
Tim Regal, Texas Education Agency
Paula Brown, COO, A.W. Brown – Fellowship Leadership Academy
Michelle Holland, Principal, Leadership Prep School
John de la Cruz, Principal, Sanchez Charter School
By Dr. Paula Moeller, TCSA Director of Training
Calling all public charter school teachers!
The first few months of school are exhilarating, but they can also be exhausting.
For your students, take a day to focus on you at the Texas Charter Schools Conference on Friday, October 30, at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.
Through this full-day teacher workshop you’ll receive expert training in better reaching students with language or discipline barriers. There will also be tools on utilizing classroom technology to go beyond the four walls of your learning zone.
As Texas demographics continue to change, instructional strategies must also improve to engage the students we teach. Register for the workshop and gain the academic language needed to reach second language learners. Also, identify principles to build positive behaviors with your students to maximize your teaching and learning time. And enjoy a power hour of blended learning strategies to capitalize on the technology you already have on your campus.
Teacher Workshop Presenters:
Kathryn Brown of Visage Collaborative, a leader in ELL strategies developed while working for Edgewood and Northside ISD, ESC Region 20, and IDRA.
Dan St. Romain will lead the discussion surrounding discipline. He is a behaviorist with extensive national experience in training on discipline, brain-based learning, and student engagement strategies. Dan served as a presenter with Quantum Learning and Eric Jensen.