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Charter Board Partners

Shayna Hammond: Sharing Responsibility for DEI

March 13, 2018 | by David Connerty-Marin

Shayna Hammond is founder and CEO of Teach To Lead, a leadership development organization for education leaders, teachers, and other social sector leaders, based in Washington, DC. She has seen school governance from multiple perspectives: as an award-winning teacher and school leader in Baltimore, where she explained academics to her board members and educated them on what they should be looking for as board members; as founder and CEO of Teach To Lead, an organization with an advisory board; and as a board member for two different charter schools in Washington, DC: Digital Pioneers Academy, set to open in fall 2018, and Rocketship DC.

“Being on the startup is exciting; I get to use the entrepreneurial side of me,” Shayna says. “Everything has to be created—from ‘we need to find a facility’ to the ever-changing school design. I like the uncertainty around it: there’s a certain level of energy and commitment. I feel a heightened sense of commitment because so much has to get done in a short period of time.

“And it’s also been good to see on Rocketship DC’s board what it’s like to come in as a new board member to an already established board. They have their systems for how they run very much in place.”

Shayna says having diverse representation on a school board is critical.

"When you’re governing a school you are governing, basically, a mini-city, so it’s important to have diverse perspectives at the table,” she says. “It’s important for everyone to have a different way of looking at what it means to have a schooling experience—because school is more than even teaching and learning and results. It’s an experience—for students and teachers and parents…The more diverse mindsets and approaches we can apply to getting the best out of people, the better our schools are going to be.”

It’s critical, she says, that the board include people who share the experience of the school’s families and students. She says that it’s important that “boards are as representative as possible of the communities they serve…and that the people who make the ultimate decisions about how the community is going to be served are made by a representative group of people who live, work, play in the community and have a shared experience with them.”

As someone who has engaged in governance structures from many perspectives, Shayna says CBP’s all-day Governance Academy is a valuable experience.

"It made me go back to my days as a school leader, and I was thinking: ‘I wish my board had had this.’ I remember being a school leader and reporting out to my board and reporting out to people who were mostly not familiar with the education landscape, and I remember spending quite a bit of time contextualizing and framing the information to make sure that everyone around the table could digest it. So I loved the fact that the beginning of the [Governance Academy] day they talked all about the charter landscape, and really gave a primer for anyone who’s not in education, so they’re armed with the very basic questions around what’s important, what metrics we should be looking at, and why.”

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