Charter School Application Essay

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leadership experience involving an ambitious goal.

I have committed a great deal of time and energy increasing parent involvement in the Title 1 school where I currently work. Located in a low-income community, the majority of the school's students and parents suffer from situational poverty. Many parents have a tendency to resist support interventions from the school because, despite socio-economic issues in the community, they wish to retain a feeling of independence and self-reliance.

Our goal focused on increasing parent involvement through experiential methods. We developed a parent resource center which houses computers and reference materials specifically for parents. Individuals and couples can use the center to search for employment. Typically, families are also able to access a variety of online resources that provide them with housing support, medical care, and basic family needs.

Our parent resource center also provides workshops and parenting classes. We focus on adolescent social-emotional development and high school academics, offering parents effective strategies to support their child's school experience. Parents can also participate in a wide variety of academically based involvement opportunities within classrooms or during school-wide events.

(do you have data on the increase in parent involvement or employment rates over the course of the program?) if so, I would add here.

Essay 2: What drives you to want to found a new charter school in your proposed school territory? What political, policy, financial, and other challenges do you anticipate facing?

My work as a teacher and Title 1 Facilitator has allowed me to experience, first hand, the lack of high quality education in low-income, urban communities. Charter schools that are well-developed and carefully managed can offer educational alternatives for families in these areas.

I expect to face a variety of political challenges developing a charter school in this specific region because our public schools rely on student enrollment to meet their budgetary needs. If enrollment declines, schools may face closure, and this is often a primary concern for educators and community members.

In addition, staffing schools in low-income, urban areas can also be challenging. Educators may not be prepared to sacrafice the security of union protected contracts and public funding available within the district schools. Hiring staff can prove to be particularly challenging during the initial years because prospective teachers will not be able to gauge the school's progress or reputation.

From the details provided by this case study it is fair to assume that Kerri leads a highly student-centered classroom and places a great deal of emphasis on the social-emotional development of her students. Given the over-riding values of City Charter School and core faculty responsibilities it is likely that Kerri is a very "grow-able" teacher. She clearly has strong work ethics, and her rapport with students likely makes her a strong advisor. She also maintains strong contact with parents, and dedicates time to school activities and tutoring. She is the type of teacher who will invest extra time and energy in her job because she honestly cares about students and most likely enjoys working with youth.

The main difficulty Kerri faces in one that's fairly typical for young teachers who enter education with advanced degrees and elite educations. These teachers are often very well versed in theories of experiential learning, scaffolding, and teaching to multiple intelligences. At times, however, they can struggle with the ability to follow set curriculum frameworks. Kerri's hesitancy to collaborate with her math department chair may be indicative of a desire to control and shape her individual curriculum. Yet, in large classrooms, with a wide range of ability levels, teachers, particularly those teaching basic math skills, must also ensure that students can perform to standard on benchmarks.

With this in mind, the school leader should follow the standard protocol used for mid-year reviews. This should include class observations by the department head and director as well as a self-evaluation by the teacher. The mid-year review is an important opportunity to acknowledge Kerri for her responsible work ethic and meaningful contributions to the school. It is also critical to discuss the concerns regarding student progress and grading. Many charter schools allow teachers to develop their own systems for grading, and many teachers opt to weight homework, participation, and projects more heavily that test scores. Nevertheless, the director will need to clarify the basic math standards that Kerri's students must master because this level of math will lay the foundation for Algebra and Geometry, and students should not be passed without a satisfactory understanding of basic math facts.

The mid-year review should clearly outline Kerri's strengths and notes the major areas for growth. Kerri should be encouraged to meet with her department head on a weekly basis to share her lesson plans. Her lesson plans should begin to incorporate the lessons developed by the previous teacher, with a time for teacher-led instruction, followed by student questions and written practice. Kerri can work with slower students during the practice time and faster students can be given extra challenge problems. Group and experiential activities can remain in the curriculum, but there should be increased time for teacher-centered instruction and student practice.

Kerri should also be asked to draft a general plan for all quizzes and tests for the second semester. This will allow the director and department head to monitor student progress. A follow-up meeting should be scheduled for March, at which Kerri's curriculum planning and student progress should be reviewed. If Kerri does not follow through with the goals outlined in her mid-year meeting the director should not renew her contract for the following school year, and should have sufficient time to search for alternative employment.

Since Kerri is clearly hard working and is well respected by her colleagues, it's critical that her director and department head both acknowledge these skills and also support her professional growth. Simply asking a teacher to instruct to the standards and improve test results may seem heavy-handed and inflexible, especially if teachers are typically given a great deal of autonomy in their classrooms. Coaching Kerri to structure her classes differently and integrate new teaching strategies will offer her very a very useful professional development opportunity.

Finally, the director may consider other options. Kerri may be very well-suited to work as an language arts teacher or to fulfill another role available in the school community, such as a parent liaison or tutoring director. During the mid-year review, the director should enquire about her overall interests and the possibility for future role changes.

Essay 4: Describe a project, program, initiative or entrepreneurial endeavor (on any scale) that you led and of which you are particularly proud. What did you learn from the experience that you will apply to founding a charter school?

For the last two years I've been incorporating Professional Learning Communities into my current school. Initially these changes were met with intense resistance from staff member who did not view the process as a necessary or productive use of their planning periods.

Through direct communication with teachers, I was able to design meetings that allowed teachers to explore student data and make data-based curriculum designs and lesson plans. We also have time to share teaching strategies and discuss current educational news and issues that are relevant to our school community and demographics.

Over the course of two academic years, this process has led to improved student performance. Teachers are now more engaged in the Professional Learning Communities and report that this collaboration and discussion is improving the quality of instruction across the institution.

Essay 5: From your perspective, what is wrong with urban education?

Many adults, both educators and community members, tend to assume that youth in urban areas are resistant to or apathetic about learning. In low income areas, urban youth may face community and family violence, few resources, and a…[continue]

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