A couple of months back, I was talking with Dude about everything that happened (and, at the time, was still happening) at CHS. He mentioned to me that someone in the city government was working on opening a competing charter high school, and that I should should look this guy up and see if that was something that was still in the works.
It took me a while to track this guy down, but I finally did and fired off an email asking about the school. It turns out that he’s involved in an online school (which isn’t really anything I’m super interested in), but he did know the people working the new high school, so he put me in touch.
I emailed both of the contacts he gave me and got back cryptic messages about the uncertainty of the whole enterprise. A month or so later, I emailed back, just to keep my name fresh in their minds, and received an email letting me know that the geniuses in our legislature (don’t even get me started) are being obstructionist (THERE’S a surprise!) about charter school funding. The future of the school was in serious doubt, they said, but they’d keep me in the loop.
Last weekend, I found that the school had a tent at our apple harvest festival, so I marched right up there and introduced myself to the director. With a firm handshake, a level gaze, and a bit more confidence than I was really feeling, I told her about my work experience (playing up the university experience and the “department of one” work I did at CHS), the fact that I have a Master’s and state certification (just renewed this year), and that I have an arsenal of curriculum design and several years’ worth of lesson plans. By the time I was through, I talked the lovely and overwrought woman (let’s call her Sally) into thinking that I was someone she wants on her team.
She insisted that I go home right away and send her another email (“put the subject line in ALL CAPS,” she said, “so I’m sure not to miss it”) because she wanted to invite me to their next meeting and bring me onto the team. That meeting happens on Monday.
She seems pretty confident that the school WILL open in September (and in the building where I first taught community college, which is both awesome and a little weird); she told me they were going to start accepting applications in January. My understanding (my very fuzzy understanding, I’ll admit) is that they got in under the wire before our whackadoodle legislature put the brakes on new schools, so it may well be that they’re not going to be killed by the government’s giddy attempts to kill education in the state altogether.
If this works out, it could be an incredible opportunity. Being able to get into a school on the ground floor, to make decisions about how the academics are designed and how the culture is developed and managed is an idea that thrills me, and I’m desperately hoping that this isn’t too good to be true. I learned the hard way about what NOT to do at CHS, and I’m certain that I have a lot of valuable insight into how to make things at this new place get a little bit closer to what I know a good, rigorous, ethical high school looks like.
I’ll keep you posted.