More than 600 Gather for Spokane International Academy’s International Night

Last Friday, more than 600 students, families, and Spokane community members hailed on Spokane International Academy (SIA) for a night of internationally-themed activities. SIA students from all grade levels took guests on a thoughtfully curated world tour through their school’s classrooms.

In the Primary Academy, Kindergarten highlighted work focused on North American indigenous cultures, first grade offered tours of South America, and second grade presented projects on endangered animals and art of Asia.

SIA’s Middle Academy (sixth and seventh grades) classrooms covered a variety of content covering topics spanning all corners of the globe. English Literature spotlighted poetry focused on conflicts around the world, while the History room was transformed by students’ displays of ancient civilizations and projects on the impact of previous conflicts on current states around the globe.

In Global Perspectives, visitors were educated about microfinancing and leared about SIA’s partnership with KIVA. Through this partnership, SIA students have lent out $2,800 over the last two years. In the Spanish classroom, guests got to learn and practice “day in the life” Spanish vocabulary.

SIA drew a diverse and excited crowd for International Night, and the momentum will continue into the summer. In June, students will get outside for field day on June 12, and will celebrate their last day of a successful school year on June 15.

Over the summer, 40 SIA Primary Academy student will participate in a free, six-week summer literacy, science and math program. Students will work on literacy skills to bridge the gap between the school years and deepen their understanding of new science concepts.

To learn more about Spokane International Academy, visit: spokaneintlacademy.org.

Getting Plugged into the WA Charters Network: A Recap from Educators’ Night

Last Wednesday, a robust crowd of more than 75 gathered for a fun and engaging evening at WA Charters’ Educators’ Night.

We were so glad to see such an enthusiastic and supportive group of attendees and school representatives. Teachers and other professionals curious about plugging into the charter public school sector had the opportunity to connect with current charter leaders and teachers and learn more about the great work happening inside of our state’s charter public schools.  Our leaders and hiring teams thoroughly enjoyed learning about candidates’ diverse backgrounds and interests, while sharing about their school models, missions and values.

  

The energy was high and positive, and we know that many great conversations were had between current schools and potential future teachers, staff, board members and advocates.

Whether or not you were able to join us at Educators’ Night, here are three great ways you can get more involved with our work in the near future:

  1. Attend our annual conference on May 12th-13th to meet more teachers and leaders from our schools and engage in interactive breakout sessions.
  2. Explore employment opportunities with our charter schools via our job board, and learn more about each of our schools on our website.
  3. Join our email list and follow WA Charters on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest news on our work and our schools.

We look forward to many more opportunities for collaboration and we hope to see even more educators and professionals at future events and in the halls and classrooms of Washington’s charter schools.

Spread the Word! Tacoma Charter Schools Tour, January 12

Find the right school for your child at our school tours event, January 12!

Help your child reach their potential in one of Tacoma’s charter public schools.

 

It’s never too early to start thinking about school enrollment for Fall, 2017. Washington is home to some incredible charter public schools, and this week families in Tacoma will have an opportunity to learn more about the leading schools in their area. For students and parents looking for exceptional options in personalized learning and academic enrichment, this is a perfect place to start.

On Thursday, January 12, WA Charters will host an evening tour of SOAR Academy, Summit Olympus, and Destiny Middle School so that parents and kids interested in learning about great public school options can explore each school building, meet with school teachers and leaders, and hear from current charter families and students about their experience.

The tour promises a close-up look at the amazing programs and opportunities provided by schools that are paving the way for student achievement. These schools are tuition-free and academically rigorous, prioritizing the personal educational needs of all students so that they can reach their full potential. It’s going to be a great evening, and we hope to see you there.

To RSVP, please email Brooke Brod at bbrod@stand.org.


For a full schedule of the tour and more information on the schools, visit: http://wacharters.org/enroll-tacoma/.

 

Thank you.

Tom

Tom Franta | CEO | WA Charters

Calling All Educators! Join Us for Winter Educators’ Night, Feb 22

WA Charters will be hosting a night just for educators on February 22!

Are you a teacher or a professional looking to find your place in the public education space? Join us at this event in South Seattle for the chance to network with other educators, take home strategies you can use in your classroom, and learn about Washington’s thriving charter public schools.

Please save the date and RSVP today, and spread the word to educators in your network!


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400+ Students and Parents Held Day of Action in Olympia, Calling on Legislators to “Keep Our Public Schools Open”

With court ruling threatening to put more than 1,100 out of their public schools, group asks state representatives to “fix this mess”

 

Olympia— Yesterday, as the Washington State Supreme Court announced its refusal reconsider its unfair September ruling, more than 400 students, parents and educators from Washington’s public charter schools were heading home from a Day of Action in Olympia, where they urged legislators on both sides of the aisle to fix the glitch that allowed the Court to rule against the more than 1,100 kids currently enrolled in charter schools.

The September 4th ruling by the state Supreme Court invalidated Washington’s voter-approved public charter school law and is threatening to close nine local public schools that serve more than 1,100 students.

Yesterday’s Day of Action included a state government civics lesson, meetings between students, parents, and their state representatives, and a rally on the Capitol’s lawn. The day was sponsored by Act Now for Washington Students, a newly formed coalition dedicated to ensuring that student and parent voices are elevated in the fight to keep public charter schools open and serving local communities.

The Court’s decision adds a sense of urgency to what kids and parents were asking for in Olympia yesterday, which is for the legislature to fix the law so that our schools can stay open and that other families in Washington will have access to these high-quality options in the future.

 

Parents, Community Members and Policy Makers Celebrate Seattle’s First Public Charter High School

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Before an energetic crowd on Wednesday, Summit Sierra ninth graders, parents and educators talked about the first month of school, the community they have built and their disappointment over the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the state charter law is unconstitutional.

Jen Wickens, Summit Washington Chief Regional Officer, said Summit Public Schools, which opened its doors in both Seattle and Tacoma last month, is in the midst of their most historic moment yet. And the school community is ready to fight for their school.

“The families fell in love with their school, the students fell in love with their teachers. They built a community and they now know what it feels like to be in a public charter school and they will fight for that and their voices will be louder,” Wickens said.

Rep. Eric Pettigrew, who championed public charter schools at the state level, addressed the crowd Wednesday. He praised the beautifully remodeled school space in the International District, the diversity of the students and the teaching and learning that was happening in classrooms.

“I see kids from all over the world represented right here. They are all working together and they are excited about one thing – and that’s learning,” Pettigrew said. “Congratulations to all of us for getting to this moment. But we have a lot more work to do. It is a battle, because we are doing something different.”

Diane Tavenner, Founder and CEO of Summit Public Schools, urged the attendees to help advocate on behalf of Summit students and families to continue to have the choice of public charter schools. She said charter schools have always faced challenges, but they will overcome because students and families deserve the option.

“We always figure out a way to overcome, because you are about to see why we have to – our students,” Tavenner said.” Someone has to do this for these kids who are here today, and for those kids who want to be here in the future.”

Tavenner also said that “being a charter means you have local control and local authority.” She said by giving families a choice in school options, charter schools are held accountable by the entire school community.

Summit Sierra Executive Director Malia Burns led a panel of parents and students, which included a lively discussion about the success of the first month of school.

Jerald Flowers, 14, said he’s looking forward to meeting with his mentor this week to talk about both short-term and long-term goal setting for himself, academically and behaviorally.

“The one thing that really struck me about Summit Sierra is just the general positivity of the school,” Flowers said.

Parent Natalie Hester Johnson said she has already seen the confidence in her daughter grow, including in math and science. She credits the teachers for working with her one-on-one and helping her set her own pace for learning.

“Everyone here wants my daughter to be as successful as my husband and I want her to be,” Hester Johnson said.

First Day of School for New Public Charter Schools in Washington State

WA Charters celebrates schools that will serve more than 1,100 students in Western Washington and Spokane

SEATTLE, Wash. — August 17, 2015 – Today, the first three of eight new public charter schools opened their doors, kicking off a school year in which the new public charter schools will welcome more than 1,100 students.

SOAR Academy begins classes today in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma. The school welcomes full kindergarten and first-grade classes this year, and will ultimately offer grades K-8.

Summit Olympus, the new Tacoma high school opened by Summit Public Schools, welcomes a new ninth-grade class in 2015-16. The school will expand to serve grades 9-12 by the 2018-19 school year.

Summit Sierra, the new high school opened by Summit Public Schools, welcomes a new ninth-grade class in 2015-16. The school will expand to serve grades 9-12 by the 2018-19 school year. The school is located in Seattle’s International District.

Over the next few weeks, five more public charter schools across Washington will open: Excel Public Charter School in Kent on Aug. 18; Green Dot Destiny Middle School in Tacoma on Aug. 24; Spokane International Academy in Spokane on Aug. 26; Rainier Prep in South Seattle on Sept. 1; and PRIDE Prep in Spokane on Sept. 2.

“Today marks an important milestone for the growing public charter school sector in our state, and I want to congratulate all of the schools opening this year,” said Thomas Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters). “The amount of preparation that school leaders, staff, and teachers have poured into these schools is remarkable—and I’m looking forward to seeing that delivered in the form of high-quality education for Washington kids.”

Public charter schools in Washington are open to all students, do not charge tuition, and, like all public schools in Washington, receive funding based on student enrollment. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Washington has one of the strongest charter laws in the country, which voters approved in 2012.

Parents have responded to these new charter schools with great interest. All eight schools spent significant time engaging with families and students over the last year and met enrollment targets. Schools will welcome more than 1,100 students through their doors on the first day of school.

Each of the eight schools opening this year received over a year of in-depth training and support from the WA Charters Leadership Center, which provides leaders with academic, organizational, financial training, and funding to prepare them for a successful opening.

All eight schools will open between the dates of August 17 and September 2. Below is a list with specific first dates and enrollment details:

2015-16 enrollment: Kindergarten-1 | Will ultimately offer K-8

2015-16 enrollment: Grade 9 | Will ultimately offer 9-12

2015-16 enrollment: Grade 9 | Will ultimately offer 9-12

2015-16 enrollment: Grades 6-7 | Will ultimately offer 6-12

2015-16 enrollment: Grade 6 | Will ultimately offer 6-8

2015-16 enrollment: Grades K, 1, and 6 | Will ultimately offer K-8

2015-16 enrollment: Grades 5-6 | Will ultimately offer 5-8

2015-16 enrollment: Grades 6-7 | Will ultimately offer 6-12

 

Three additional schools will open in the 2016-17 school year. Green Dot Public Schools was authorized in 2014 for a South Seattle charter, and is joined by Summit Public Schools: West Seattle and Willow Public School in Walla Walla, both recently approved by the Washington State Charter School Commission, one of two authorizing bodies in the state (along with Spokane Public Schools).

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About WA Charters

WA Charters is an advocacy and professional membership organization that advances Washington’s movement for high-quality charter schools, through state and local advocacy, development of local leadership and talent, and resources for member schools.

Our Mission: As a catalyst to improve academic outcomes for every student in Washington, we partner with communities to advocate for and support high-quality public charter schools that meet the needs of historically underserved students.

Our Vision: Empowered communities with high-quality public schools for all students.

To learn more about public charter schools in Washington, please visit: www.wacharters.org.

Proposed Walla Walla Public Charter School to Present at Community Forum

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – July 23, 2015 – The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) is excited to share that this evening, the Washington State Charter School Commission will host a public forum for Willow Public School, a proposed project-based learning charter middle school in Walla Walla. The public forum will be a key opportunity for parents, local residents, and other members of the community to learn about and provide input on the proposed public charter school.

Since October 2014, founder Daniel Calzaretta has worked closely with WA Charters as a participant in the WA Charters School Leadership Program. The WA Charters Leadership Center serves as a charter school incubator and is grounded in the belief that leaders and educators are the cornerstone of effective schools. Leaders work in partnership with communities to design high-quality school models in order to dramatically impact the lives of children, families, and communities in Washington.

To date, 100 percent of submitted school applications supported by the Leadership Center have been authorized to open. These are schools designed to serve historically impacted communities and better serve kids with models based on proven practices.

“Charters are part of a range of solutions in the public school system helping to ensure that every child has access to a high-quality education,” said Thomas Franta, CEO of WA Charters. “With one in every five Washington students not graduating in four years, the state charter commissioners need to hear from parents, families, and community leaders about why it’s so important to bring more high-quality public school options to our state.”

“From its inception, Willow Public School has set out to serve a diverse student population that reflects the Walla Walla community, and WA Charters has unwavering confidence in Calzaretta’s ability to deliver on a school that will equip students with the 21st century skills needed to succeed in four-year colleges and have the full range of opportunities beyond.”

Calzaretta, a seasoned educator, has been teaching since 1990. In 1993, he co-founded and directed Pacific Crest Community School (PCCS), a project-based learning school in Oregon. PCCS has been recognized for its innovative and personalized approach, including receiving an Exemplary Alternative Educational Program award from the Oregon Small Schools Association.

Calzaretta moved to Walla Walla in 2000 to work in the Alternative Education Program at Walla Walla Community College. He has taught in the Whitman College Department of Education, and most recently taught at Walla Walla’s Pioneer Middle School from 2007-2015, where he has used project-based instruction exclusively.

“We are opening Willow to offer more opportunities for kids in our community. Families in Walla Walla will have a personalized and innovative middle school option that will prepare students for honors and AP courses in high school,” said Calzaretta. “This will set our students on a path to college and career success. Willow is deeply rooted in the community. We’ve incorporated ideas from parents and students, and Willow will reflect the needs and desires of families. Willow Public School will be a place where learning is joyous, has purpose, and engages kids.”

Project-based learning gives students the knowledge and skills they need by actively exploring real-world problems, working for an extended period of time in the classroom to investigate and respond to a complex question or challenge.

The public forum for Willow Public School will be held Thursday, July 23, 2015, from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. PT at the Walla Walla Housing Authority Gym, 501 Cayuse Street, Walla Walla, Wash., 99362.

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About The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters)

WA Charters is a statewide nonprofit organization that partners with communities to advocate for and support the startup of high-quality public charter schools, with a focus on serving academically and economically underserved communities. WA Charters focuses on four key areas of support: providing information about charter schools; supporting leaders to grow high-performing public charter schools; advocating for law and policy changes that are in the best interest of students; and providing the critical support and services to help charter schools operate successfully.

About Charter Schools

Charter schools are a type of public school. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

For more information, please contact Maggie Meyers at: maggie@wacharters.org.

State Charter Commission to host public forums next week in West Seattle and Walla Walla

Come Learn About and Support Our Future Public Charter Schools Founders

The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) is thrilled to announce that two high-quality applicants have submitted applications to open new charter schools in our state: Summit Public Schools Washington (West Seattle) and Willow Public School (Walla Walla). As part of the official charter school application process, the Washington State Charter School Commission will be hosting public forums to hear directly from these prospective school founders and to learn more about the educational needs of their communities.

The public forum is a key opportunity for parents, local residents and other members of the community to learn about and provide input on the proposed charter school. At the forum, the proposed charter school operator provides a brief overview of their school, including intended outcomes, followed by public comment from the community. The public forums are evening events and will last 90 minutes.

Please join us to support our prospective school founders and convey to the state charter commissioners that charters empower parents to choose the best public education option for their student. With one in every five Washington students dropping out of school each year, the state charter commissioners need to hear from parents, families and community leaders about why it’s so important to bring more high-quality public school options to our state.
 

Public Forums

Summit Public Schools: West Seattle

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
9601 35th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98126

Willow Public School

Thursday, July 23, 2015
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Walla Walla Housing Authority Gym
501 Cayuse Street
Walla Walla, Washington 99362

About WA Charters

WA Charters is a statewide nonprofit organization that partners with communities to advocate for and support the startup of high-quality public charter schools, with a focus on serving academically and economically underserved communities. WA Charters focuses on four key areas of support: providing information about charter schools; supporting leaders to grow high-performing public charter schools; advocating for law and policy changes that are in the best interest of students; and providing the critical support and services to help charter schools operate successfully.
 

About Charter Schools

Charter schools are a type of public school. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

For more information, please contact Maggie Meyers at: maggie@wacharters.org.

For Immediate Release: May 8, 2014

WA Charter Schools Association’s Inaugural Conference Kicks Off

More than 300 Teachers and Leaders Gather to Collectively Develop Strong New Public Charter Schools; Seahawks and Super Bowl Champion Russell Okung to Give Keynote 

SeaTac, Wash. – Today, the Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) will launch the first annual two-day Washington State Charter Schools Association Conference. Themed A World of Opportunities: Putting Washington on the Map, this conference represents the first time WA Charters has brought public charter school champions and founders together since the historic passage of the Washington Charter School Initiative. This assembly – occurring during the week commemorated nationally as National Charter Schools Week – will lay the groundwork for strong new charter schools in Washington.

“What stands before us is a world of new education opportunities,” said WA Charters interim CEO Marta Reyes-Newberry. “With the first public charter schools opening soon in our state, this inaugural conference will position Washington to create these new public schools to meet the needs of children and families in communities across the state.”

The conference keynote address will be delivered by Seattle Seahawks and Super Bowl Champion Offensive Tackle Russell Okung at the May 8 evening dinner event. Okung will speak to the critical need to provide all children, particularly those in Washington’s urban areas, with a strong public education. Okung is the founder of the Up Foundation, which seeks to give back to the community by reaching out to children of single-parent homes while offering them hope through activities and information on the importance of a good education and social responsibility.

Joining Okung as keynote speakers will be Don Shalvey, deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Margaret Fortune, president and CEO of Fortune School. Widely recognized as a leader in public school reform and the charter school movement, Shalvey oversees the Gates Foundation’s efforts to advance college ready rates in states, school districts and in high-performing charter school networks. Prior to joining the foundation, he was the founder and CEO of Aspire Public Schools – one of the nation’s first charter management organizations – and has also spent the past 40 years in public education where he is widely recognized as a leader in public school reform and the charter school movement.

Fortune is responsible for the meteoric rise in student academic achievement at the diverse Sacramento High School in Sacramento, Calif., once an under-performing high school on the brink of a state takeover. Through her leadership, Sac High was re-launched as a charter school which now boasts the third highest rate of performance in the city.

Featuring regional and national leaders in the charter school movement, more than 300 conference participants will also learn best practices for empowering students from all backgrounds, benefiting from the lessons realized by charter schools and other public schools nationwide over the last two decades.

Hoping to inspire future charter school teachers, the conference will host the Teacher Pass, an opportunity for current – and aspiring – educators to explore Washington’s growing public school sector and their potential roles in it. Made possible in part by a generous donation, the Teacher Pass will feature sessions specifically designed for teachers including a panel of former public charter school educators. 

The conference will further include topics such as: leadership and advocacy; operations; policy and law; and teaching and learning. A complete overview of the conference’s sessions and activities can be found at: www.wacharters.org/conference.

For members of the media interested in attending conference sessions, Russell Okung’s dinner address, or for interview opportunities with speakers and charter school founders, please contact David Richey at david@larsonpr.com.

WHAT:          WA Charter Schools Association’s Inaugural Conference
WHEN:         May 8-9, 2014
WHERE:      DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Seattle Airport
18740 International Blvd.
Seattle, Wash. 98188

Public charter schools will open in communities across Washington over the next two years, with the first such school opening in Seattle this fall.  These new public school models aim to give parents additional options to consider when looking for the right learning environment for their children. Charters are independent public schools that are allowed to be more innovative in exchange for being held accountable for strong student academic outcomes. They are tuition free and are open to any student living in Washington. Eight public charter schools have been approved to open their doors to students in 2014-15 or 2015-16.

Nationally, public charter schools are becoming neighborhood schools of choice. Demand from parents is at an all-time high. More than 2.5 million students currently attend charters and more than one million student names linger on charter school waitlists.

 About WA Charters
The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) is a statewide nonprofit organization that supports the start-up of high-quality public charter schools, with a focus on serving academically and economically underserved communities. WA Charters focuses on three key areas of support: providing information about charter schools; supporting leaders to grow high-performing public charter schools; and providing support and services to help charter schools operate. To learn more about public charter schools in Washington, please visit: www.wacharters.org. 

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A few weeks ago, Excel Public Charter School launched a weather balloon. Check out the balloon's awesome video footage from SPACE! Even cooler: Excel students will be using the data captured during the flight in an upcoming math class as part of their statistics unit! ... See MoreSee Less

Save the Date! Join us May 30 for a public forum for New Horizons, a prospective new charter school in South King County. ... See MoreSee Less

Join us June 1 for the Impact Public Schools Community Forum & Celebration! ... See MoreSee Less

Excited for CT Day! Join us at Excel Public Charter School this afternoon for an open house to see Computational Thinking Day in action! ... See MoreSee Less

Join us next Tuesday at the Rainier Beach Public Library for a Charter 101! Families and community members can meet parents and founders and learn more about schools in your area! ... See MoreSee Less

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