Friday, August 17, 2012

Creating the School of My Dreams

On Friday, May 18, 2012, at 3:10 p.m. the call came through. WE HAVE BEEN APPROVED. I’LL TALK TO YOU LATER said Steve Crane, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Solomon Charter School, which was officially given its Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued birth certificate. With that, an extensive consulting involvement of almost two years has now officially turned into a completely new chapter in my professional life as the Founding and First Principal of this new school. I will now utilize my state issued certifications from long ago when I graduated from the Graduate School of Education of the University of Pennsylvania. This is something I never really intended to use but, as they say, never say NEVER! So, now I prepare to enter public education. What are my expectations? Will there be bureaucracy? You bet! Will there be frustrations and days when I am not sure which end is up? Why should this system be any different than any other? Am I hopeful and excited? Why wouldn’t I be? I have already acquired important skill sets in dealing with bureaucracy in an efficient manner even if it itself is not efficient, and this is clearly often the case. I have learned the art of working with and putting trust in good people so we can laugh off some of these experiences as the dues we pay for fulfilling our dreams. This whole idea of starting an entirely new educational entity, that is a brand new school, is to say the least, daunting! I have served as a consultant for many new educational entities in the private Jewish Day School sector through the years, but to begin a new public school entity and to birth it and grow it up, well, this will indeed be a new experience. We are already in the throes of it all – hiring teachers, enrolling students, dealing with the building, furniture, attending to a million administrative details, and, oh right, considering what it means to envision and bring to reality a new educational entity! We are truly and in the full sense of the word being Chalutzim, that is pioneers, in this venture…. So, I was not able to complete this post and it is now August 17, 2012. That gives you a sense of how busy and crazy my life has been. But now, to the real subject of this blog post. I love the fourfold approach that I have always used in education: 1. INSPIRE students to want to learn more and be more. 2. INFORM students to be able to do this by showing and modeling how one acquires important and valuable information. 3. ENABLE students to find such information by utilization of learned skill sets of acquisition. 4. EMPOWER students to use their inspiration, information, and skill sets to change our world This is what will make the newly birthed SOLOMON CHARTER SCHOOL run. Through use of technology, we can expose our students to so much content and so many ideas. Through creation of a caring and intentional community of diversity, we can create the laboratory in which our students and teachers and all community members ask themselves to be so much more. This is indeed in the spirit of Harold Rugg, one of the most pivotal thinkers in American Education who taught that “when society is not at its ideal, the role of the school is to be the laboratory in which its community members learn how to improve and get society to ask more of it’s self.” Through use of best educational practices, the assembling of an absolutely phenomenal team of educators, bringing the world of knowledge and capability to the computer screen that will be in the hand of every student, through becoming an embracing and supportive community, and asking each of us to be the best we can be both individually and collectively, I hope to fulfill the vision of Harold Rugg through the creation of this school of my dreams. More later about the wonderful people and components of this very special school.