Charter School Leaders: Are you the keeper of the flame?
  • Peggy Downs

Charter School Leaders: Are you the keeper of the flame?

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

As the leader of a charter school, you have a huge impact on the success of your school. You are so much more than just administrator or board member. You are the keeper of the flame. You hold the vision. You can inspire others to advance your school’s goals with enthusiasm and commitment. You can encourage students to do more than they believed they could. You can create a school culture where teachers collaborate in pursuit of excellence, and parents volunteer time, energy and talents to support your school goals. You can lead the way. How can you do this?


What's your vision?

A charter school is based on a clear mission of improving student achievement with a unique vision of what success looks like. According to the online Business Dictionary, a vision statement is:

An aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.

Every charter school has a mission statement, and most also have a vision statement. A search of charter school vision statements shows a wide variety of statements and styles in charter schools:

  • Vanguard Classical School graduates will be literate in the classics and the ideals of Western Civilization, while valuing the diversity of ideas, abilities, and cultures in today’s world, and will be prepared to contribute meaningfully to their communities.

  • Rocklin Academy: We envision a school community that inspires its students to excel academically, pursue their passions, and impact the world with excellence.

  • Global Learning Public Charter School: Our vision is to create a unique educational environment in which student success is measured beyond standardized tests so that they demonstrate academic excellence and mastery of essential skills. At GLCPS, essential skills include: technology literacy, public speaking, global citizenship and arts exploration.

  • The vision of Heritage Heights Academy is to develop successful scholars, critical thinkers, and lifelong learners acquired from a Core Knowledge education. Heritage Heights Academy students will thrive as contributing members of our local and global community. https://www.heritageha.org/about-us

Take a look at your school’s vision statement. Does it inspire you? Does it align with your deepest values? Does it express your view of the impact your school can have in your community? Your charter school vision statement is (or should be) a clear depiction of your highest goals. Why does your school exist? Why are you there? Why do families choose your school? Why does it matter?


Own the Vision

Ultimately, every charter school is expected to improve academic achievement for the students who choose to attend; that is the “why,” but beyond that basic goal, why is your school special?

Inspired schools know why they exist, and it has nothing to do with enrollment or textbooks. Those serve as the tangible proof of their cause. Parents don’t enroll at your school because you are a STEM school, or an early college access school, or a Core Knowledge school. They enroll because they connect with WHY you do what you do. And it is the “clear correlation between WHAT they do and WHY they do it that makes successful charter schools stand out. If you don’t know WHY, then you can’t decide HOW or WHAT.


Share the Vision

Take another look at the vision statements shown above. Can you identify their WHY?

When you own the vision, you share the vision. It shows itself in every decision you make. Does your school value inclusion? Excellence? Community service? Global citizenship? Are these values clearly demonstrated and infused into your program? Take a moment to reflect on your school culture, policies, hiring practices, curriculum and other factors. Does it all align to make a powerful statement of your school’s vision?


Live the Vision

Lead your team to a deeper understanding of your school’s WHY. Then make sure your WHY is front and center in every decision, every communication, every policy, and every hiring decision. When you know WHY your charter school exists, then your WHAT and your HOW will follow. You hold the vision. You are the keeper of the flame.

New charter school leaders often struggle with the sheer amount of information they are expected to have.  This eBook helps you tackle ten important topics new leaders are likely to face, with confidence and efficiency.  Find out how to analyze data, write a bio, delegate effectively, and more!  Written by a former charter school director, this eBook will make your job a little bit easier.

10 Essential Tools for New Charter School Leaders



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Peggy Downs works with school leaders who want to leverage grants to dramatically increase funding, impact, and credibility for their schools. More info and a ton of free resources are waiting for you at:

www.peggydowns.com

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