For those that know me, it may come as a surprise that I’m helping to start a charter school, Future School of Fort Smith.
Here are a few reasons:
- I’ve becoming increasingly frustrated with the constrictions of the educational establishment. Let me first say that I believe that the vast majority of people from teachers to administrators to politicians to policy wonks have the best of intentions when it comes to education. That being said, the behemoth of education has become completely overwhelming, especially at the scale at which I was formerly working. From staff size to student population to school culture, I needed a fresh start. While I’m under no illusions that we’re creating an educational utopia at Future School, and I’m fully conscious of the myriad battles and difficulties we’ll encounter in this endeavor, I’m embracing the opportunity to create something from scratch. And that excites and invigorates me.
- I love a good challenge. I’ve often written about my enjoyment of the constant cycle of rebirth each school year. I’ve also written about my love of constant professional growth and learning. Heck, this blog is called “A Constant Learner”! Well, this is a whole new world for me that I’m entering, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Starting a school at this scale and staff size from the ground up means that I get to have my hands in every single piece of this pie from RFPs for FFEs (which I spent a good while googling to figure out what that even means– Request for Proposal for Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment) to APSCN/Triand to overseeing professional development to developing a discipline policy, etc.. etc. The list goes on, and I get to learn about and deal with all of it. At times it makes my head swim, but it’s also extremely exciting.
- It’s a model in which I believe. The most important piece to this equation. In recent years, I’ve often complained about “kids these days” as I saw who wandered the hallways of my school during class. The disengaged learners who didn’t seem to care about what was happening at school. Then I started trying to see education from their perspective. Suddenly, I saw them as symptoms of weaknesses within our system. We were spending extraordinary amounts of time and energy to help these disengaged learners, but the very fundamental system in which we existed was disenfranchising for them. This model of Big Picture Learning will, I believe, start to address some of those issues and help to make learning relevant and real for kids who might have previously just been going through the motions.
I’m going to try to keep this blog as a record of this experience. If you’ve ever thought about starting a school and wanted to see how that works (I’m pretty sure that audience is pretty small), then you might want to check back in from time to time.