WA Charters Names New School Leadership Fellows

The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) announced today the selection of four new fellows into the School Leadership Program, the organization’s charter public school incubator.

The new fellows are Dr. Debra R. Sullivan, seeking to open Ashé Preparatory Academy in King County; Cindy Reuther looking to open the Intergenerational High School in Whatcom County; and Dr. Steven Gering and Rebecca Moore, seeking to open Spokane Collegiate Academy. The fellows will spend a year working with school founding experts, communities and families exploring how to provide community-responsive high-quality education options for K-12 students. In March of 2018, they will submit an application to a charter school authorizer to get approval to open their schools.

WA Charters recruits and prepares innovative community and educational leaders to imagine, plan and open high-quality charter public schools for systemically underserved students across the state of Washington. Since it launched in 2014, WA Charters has supported the successful design and launch of 12 charter schools throughout Washington state serving more than 2,600 students. The work of fellows is guided by WA Charter’s commitment to community, diversity, excellence, innovation and partnership.


Debra Sullivan
Dr. Debra R. Sullivan has spent her career studying best practices for working with underserved students in schools. Sullivan, most recently was the Dean of Business and Behavioral Science at Seattle Central College, served as the dean of Pacific Oaks College Northwest and founded the Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education in Seattle. Now, she wants to take her years of research into the classroom by opening Ashé (pronounced ah-SHAY) Preparatory Academy, a K-8 public charter school in an unincorporated area of King County. Ashé, an anchor partner in the Skyway West Hill community-driven neighborhood revitalization effort, is named for a philosophical concept from the Yoruba people of Nigeria that affirms the power to make things happen and produce change. The school will focus on project-based learning, student leadership development and community and cultural responsiveness.

“Over the years, I have studied quite a bit of research regarding best practices for working with children of color, children learning English and children from low-income families,” Sullivan said, who also serves as the president of the Seattle affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute. “After reviewing what seems to show up decade after decade, I began to imagine what a school would look like, sound like, feel like if all those best practices were implemented. Ashé Preparatory Academy is an opportunity to do that.”

Cindy Reuther
Cindy Reuther isn’t new to the public charter school sector. A decade ago, she founded Laura Jeffery Academy, a girl-focused STEM charter middle school in St. Paul, Minnesota. Reuther hopes to use her school founding experience to open the Intergenerational Sustainability Institute, a learning lab where all generations come together to discuss and debate ways to impact communities’ sustainability and where aspiring teachers can conduct their practicums. Through her fellowship, Reuther plans to found the Institute’s first school, Intergenerational High School, which will serve the Bellingham, Ferndale and Mt. Baker communities in Whatcom County. She wants to give students the chance to learn alongside community elders through phenomenon-based teaching and learning, which allows students to explore real-world concepts through inquiry-based learning that incorporates multiple academic subjects rather than separating classes out into traditional subjects like math, reading and science.

“I want to give young people an opportunity to learn alongside elders in a unique learning environment where their interests are piqued, passions are nurtured, and the study of social justice and joy of learning are equally encouraged,” said Reuther.

Steven Gering and Rebecca Moore
Dr. Steven Gering wants to use his two decades of experience in school and district leadership in Washington state to create Spokane Collegiate Academy, a K-8 public charter school with a college prep focus. Gering most recently served in the Spokane School District on the superintendent’s leadership team. He is working alongside Rebecca Moore, a high school science teacher, to develop Spokane Collegiate Academy. Moore has been a resident of Spokane for 25 years and received her bachelor’s in biology and chemistry and a master’s in secondary education from Whitworth University.

Spokane Collegiate Academy will provide students with a rich and diverse classical curriculum in English, math, science and social studies, along with world languages and Latin. The school will offer before and after-school time for students to get extra help and STEM-focused learning expeditions.

“I am passionate about meeting the needs of families by providing options like charter schools. As a district administrator, I led work to expand educational choices for families,” Gering said.

“Having spent time with high school students from an underresourced area, I have had a first-hand look at the opportunity gap. I believe we can help close the gap by providing students with an education grounded in a content-rich curriculum,” Moore said.

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