"We always know if the board we are meeting with is a CBP board. They ask thoughtful questions, bring a sense of professionalism to the table, and are focused on student outcomes. CBP boards understand their responsibility, as stewards of taxpayer dollars, for ensuring that the students at their schools are getting a high-quality education. We can spot a CBP board a mile away, and it’s a sign of an increasingly accountable and responsible charter school sector."
— Naomi Rubin DeVeaux,
Deputy Director, DC Public Charter School Board
We help build more diverse boards.
Last year, 50 percent of CBP recruits who joined boards in DC were Black or Latino. The Capital City board increased the percentage of Black and Latino board members from 10 to 53 percent while working with us; the Ingenuity Prep board increased the percentage from 50 to 82 percent.
We support boards that need to turn around schools.
We helped the board of IDEA add five new board members, who led a dramatic turnaround that saved the school from being shut down. For each the next two years, IDEA was among the top five percent of schools for academic improvement, and is currently one of the top performing open enrollment high schools in the district.
We help founding boards quickly become mature governing boards.
We recruited a board chair and new members for the Ingenuity Prep board, supporting the board’s determination to invest in building a strong board from the start. Board members have the skills and expertise the new school needed and the board uses CBP’s training and tools to provide strong leadership.
We ensure that boards have strong leadership.
During Creative Minds International’s second year of operation, we helped find a new board chair who brought stability to the young school, and trained the board in best governance practice. The school is thriving: CMI was recently approved to expand to include a middle school and has secured a new facility.
We support boards in strengthening school leadership.
When Meridian’s board recognized that a change in leadership was needed, we recruited new board members, helped the board through a transition to a new board chair, and provided coaching and support as the board moved to find a new school leader. 100 percent of board leadership roles are now filled by CBP recruits. With fresh leadership, the school recently celebrated the opening of its new middle school.
We support boards at critical turning points.
We helped the Bridges board oversee an expansion, while maintaining their innovative early childhood program. CBP-recruited board members, including a strong board chair, brought critical skills and experience the board needed to navigate growth.
When necessary, we help boards close low-performing schools.
Our board recruits and coaching supported the boards of two DC charter schools as they made the difficult decision to close their schools. By proactively addressing the problem, these boards were able to negotiate guaranteed spots for their students in high-performing schools.
"Building a stronger, more engaged board was an area we needed help with, and Charter Board Partners really delivered. They found board members for our school with the leadership and education expertise that have really supported me as the Head of School to advance our school’s mission."
— Dr. Golnar Abedin,
Head of School, Creative Minds International Public Charter School
of CBP recruits wouldn’t have joined a charter school board without CBP
of CBP recruits feel more connected to the education reform movement because they are part of our network
of the people we recruit would recommend CBP to a friend or colleague
CBP recruits people with the skills and experience charter school boards need to govern effectively
of board members report they are using their skills to contribute to the work of the board
"CBP has given me the opportunity to use my governance and finance skills to help sustain an important charter school in D.C. As a board member, I feel like I use the skills I have honed at The Carlyle Group to give back to my community in a meaningful way."
— Andrew Marino,
Board Member, Capital City Charter School
We match board candidates to boards that need their expertise
of leadership roles on
CBP partner boards are filled by CBP recruits
average increase in board size for boards since working with us
of board members on our partner boards were recruited by CBP
"I came to trust and rely on Charter Board Partners to hand select and train the right individuals to contribute their time, talent and compassion to achieve the goals of our school."
— Sterling Ward,
Former Board Chair, Paul Public Charter School
We train and support them to be effective board members
of participants in CBP training report that the training helped them be better board members
of board members who have used our services and programs say they would recommend CBP to a friend or colleague on a charter school board
of coaching clients say our coaching helps them be more effective
of board members say CBP provides tools that help them be more effective board members
"Speaking for myself and the DCB Board we are stronger, more organized, and better governed since working with CBP."
— Lester Matlock,
Former Board Chair of DC Bilingual Public Charter School
William E. Doar Jr Public Charter School for the Performing Arts
Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School
Capital City Public Charter School
Bridges Public Charter School
Septima Clark Public Charter School
William E. Doar Jr Public Charter School for the Performing Arts
"The Board's participation and support becomes even more critical when engineering a school turnaround"
Challenge: Guiding a School Through Turnaround
The William E. Doar Jr. Public Charter School (WEDJ) occupies a unique niche in Washington, DC, being the only school in the city that provides arts training for students in preschool through eighth grade at no cost to families. For much of its ten-year history, however, it had been plagued with low academic performance, financial challenges, and a small and ineffective governing board that lacked the capacity to oversee the academic, organizational, and financial aspects of the school.
By the time Charter Board Partners partnered with the WEDJ Board in December 2012, the school had failed three times to gain full continuance of its charter following the five-year review by the DC Public Charter School Board. To compound matters, most of the school’s board members had resigned due to infighting, which ended in court intervention. For several months during the 2012-13 school year there was only one person on the school’s board, a violation of the School Reform Act. The DC PCSB deemed the board “dysfunctional.”
The WEDJ Board was in desperate need of new members with the time, expertise, and dedication to guide the school through turnaround.
Results: A Board Positioned to Support Continued School Improvement
CBP worked closely with board and school leadership to determine the board’s critical needs and identify and vet candidates. Candidates with expertise in finance, governance, academics, assessment, and fundraising were prioritized.
Today, the WEDJ Board has ten members, eight of whom were recruited and trained by CBP. All four of the board’s officers and all committee chairs come from the CBP network.
With added capacity, the board is leading the school through a period of tremendous change, partnering with a consulting firm to launch an intensive school improvement effort, overseeing leadership transition, strengthening fiscal performance, and restructuring the board. Consistent with best practice, the board has instituted an annual retreat and formed committees, each chaired by a different board member and supported by at least two other board members. Most importantly, as a result of the school’s overall turnaround efforts, the DC Public Charter School Board voted 5-0 on June 16, 2014 to conditionally continue the WEDJ PCS charter. The board continues to monitor the school’s academic, financial, and leadership performance to support continued improvement.
"CBP's support in sourcing and training potential board candidates has been invaluable. It is allowing WEDJ to build an exceptional team of committed and engaged trustees, and a system of governance critical to our goal of becoming a tier 1 public charter school in DC."
— Cindy Gertz, WEDJ Board Chair
Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School
"Charter Board Partners helped us build the board we needed to launch an effective school on Day One."
Challenge: Moving quickly from start-up board to governing board
Newly chartered schools are, understandably, completely focused on opening their doors, and building high-quality governing boards tends to fall by the wayside. But Ingenuity Prep Public Charter School did not make this mistake. Immediately upon becoming authorized, Head of School Aaron Cuny declared that on day one, he wanted both a strong school and a strong board.
Aaron and his founding board members worked proactively to transition from start-up to governing board as quickly as possible, even while doing everything they needed to do to open a new school. They recruited strong new board members, formed functioning committees, and set goals. Perhaps most importantly, the board built a culture of high expectations and seriousness of purpose, mirroring aspirations of what a successfully launched school would look like. “Since receiving our charter in 2012, our board has not only provided important oversight, but it has given me the support and feedback I needed to launch an effective school,” said Aaron.
Results: Transition to governing board outpaced peers
Ingenuity Prep is now in its second year of operations, and its board is flourishing. Board discussions focus on strategy, and the board operates using best-practice structures and policies. The board also uses dashboards to measure progress toward its annual goals and has already completed a strategic plan that lays out a vision for long-term success as the school grows.
In a recent report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools entitled Breakthroughs in Time, Talent and Technology: Next Generation Learning Models in Public Charter Schools, Ingenuity Prep was one of four charter schools across the country highlighted as successfully implementing a breakthrough, next-generation school model—an accomplishment earned in no small part through the leadership of its board.
"Charter Board Partners has been an invaluable partner in identifying top-notch board candidates and board fellows, training our board, and providing ongoing counsel. Our board would not be where it is without CBP’s partnership."
— Peter Winik, Governance Committee Chair
Capital City Public Charter School
"The newly recruited members pushed us forward."
Challenge: A Complex Facilities Project and an Opportunity for Growth
After years of operating on two separate campuses, Capital City Public Charter School had the opportunity to acquire and renovate a larger facility with plenty of outdoor space and the capacity to serve many more students. The board needed new members with the experience to lead the school through a successful facilities upgrade while maintaining high academic achievement.
Results: Increasing Capacity Strategically
Charter Board Partners worked with the school to identify board candidates with finance, real estate, and legal expertise to assist with plans for the expansion and facilities needs. CBP recruited and matched four candidates from its talent pipeline to the board, trained them in "Standards for Effective Charter School Board Governance," and provided executive coaching to the entire board. Karen Dresden, Head of School, highlighted the speed with which the newest board members “contributed tremendously, adding value where we needed it.”
Capital City successfully moved into its new facility in 2012 and increased enrollment by 40%.
"CBP helped us identify and fill the talent gaps on our board."
— Karen Dresden, Head of School
Bridges Public Charter School
"Partnering with Charter Board Partners has rejuvenated our board."
Challenge: Moving from Founding Board to Governing Board
Seven years after the school’s founding, the Bridges Public Charter School board recognized that it needed to transition from a passionate but inexperienced founding board to a mature governing board. To successfully lead this small school through a period of expansion and growth, the board needed coaching and support to elect a new board chair, implement strong governance practices, and build a clear under- standing of the role of a governing board.
Results: A Successful Transition
Charter Board Partners worked with the Bridges board to develop and implement a succession plan for a new board chair. CBP helped board members identify a strong candidate and provided tailored coaching and targeted training to support both the new chair and the school leader through the leadership transition.
CBP also helped the board establish a strong committee structure and, through observations of monthly board meetings, suggested improvements to help the board run more effective meetings. Additionally, CBP identified recruiting needs and matched board candidates with relevant and strategic experience and skills.
Bridges is on track to expand up to fifth grade, having added second grade in the fall of 2013.
"It’s a whole new world for this board, and even those of us who have been here a while feel great about being in a better position to do something worthwhile for the school."
— Lionel Howard, Board Member
Septima Clark Public Charter School
"Charter Board Partners was a critical partner in a challenging situation."
Challenge: Persistently Low Performance
Faced with chronically low academic results, the board of Septima Clark Public Charter School realized it needed to confront difficult decisions about the school’s future. Lenders were reluctant to provide capital for a needed new facility with such low levels of performance; by early 2012 the time had come for the board to face the challenge of reversing low academic performance.
Results: A Courageous Solution
Charter Board Partners worked with the Septima Clark board to help generate a plan to address this serious challenge. With coaching and support from CBP, the board established a task force to evaluate strategies for turning around the school. Board members consulted with peers from other schools and worked with experienced consultants to navigate the terrain.
In early 2013, the board announced a merger with Achievement Preparatory Academy Public Charter School, one of the city’s highest performing charter schools. The merger guaranteed Septima Clark’s students enrollment at Achievement Prep.
Nearly half of Septima Clark’s students enrolled at Achievement Prep for the 2013-14 school year.
"CBP was a great sounding board and partner to Septima in a difficult situation. "
— Debbie Lister, Vice Chair
Board Member Spotlights
Cydney Peyton Walton
Associate Director, Marketing & Proposals,
DISYS in McLean, VA
Development and Communications Committee,
DC Bilingual Public Charter School
Cydney Peyton Walton
CBP works hard to seek out leaders in the community with valuable skill sets that are missing in DC charter school boards. CBP’s Director of Board Recruiting and Diversity encouraged Cydney Peyton Walton to consider serving on a charter school board due to the critical need for her 10 years of experience in communications and business development.
Passionate about education, Cydney felt board service gave her the opportunity to marry her skill set with a social cause. She states “education is the most reliable path to social mobility and leadership equality in our society and I’m committed to creating opportunities for all students to have access to excellent educational experiences.”
Cydney felt that the education sector could benefit greatly from best practices that have proven successful for the private/corporate sector. As a member of the Development and Communications committee she is working to foster more formalized communication between parents and the board, developing integrated marketing strategies that leverage multiple distribution and access channels as well as building fundraising plans that combine traditional philanthropic philosophies with proven corporate business development approaches.
With Cydney’s help, DC Bilingual PCS will soon be launching a new school website – rooted in the belief that “two-way family communication is imperative to student success. This new website will go a long way towards increasing parent and prospective parent engagement, expanding dialogue and better informing parents of the full DC Bilingual experience their children are receiving.”
Cydney encourages those who are considering board service to understand that “your contribution is valuable, necessary and you’ll surely get more than you give. Few things are more rewarding than advocating for others and I can think of no more important advocacy than working to ensure educational excellence for our next generation of leaders."
Vice President, Programs & Education,
Tiger Woods Foundation
Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy
Kathy Bihr has been involved in education for more than 20 years as a teacher, coach, and school administrator. Prior to joining the Tiger Woods Foundation, she was principal of Vista View Middle School in Fountain Valley, California. Under her leadership, the school received recognition by The Council for Special Education and was deemed a California Distinguished School. In 2010, Kathy joined the board of Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, which serves more than 1,400 students in grades 6-12 on four campuses in Wards 1, 6, and 7.
Kathy’s exemplary leadership has played a pivotal role in helping the Chavez board transition from a founding board to an effective and sustainable governing board. She first served as governance chair before moving into the board chair role. As governance chair, Kathy helped the board implement key policies, including establishing a formalized committee structure and setting guidelines for board participation to ensure members understand their responsibilities.
“Developing and providing training to the board so that we all understand our roles and responsibilities as board members – that alone has lead to a more stable system,” Kathy said.
Once Kathy assumed the role of board chair in February 2013, her talents in leadership and management fused with a relentless focus on academics to take the board and the organization to the next level. Now, the board sets annual goals by committee to help support the organization in meeting its annual goals. As board chair, Kathy also established an executive committee and led the development of a new performance evaluation process for the CEO. Additionally, the board brought on new members who provided needed expertise in education and finance.
When board members play their roles well, they make decisions that benefit students and strengthen school quality. The Chavez board recently saw the fruits of some of their labor when the Parkside Campus was rated Tier 1 on the Public Charter School Board’s 2014 Performance Management Framework. The board celebrated that accomplishment, but got right to work on its next goal: the organization’s new CEO leading a strategic planning process to make system-wide improvements that will lead to even stronger outcomes for students.
Some of Kathy’s biggest fans are her fellow board members. They appreciate the results of her leadership and hard work, which have had a profound effect on each board member’s experience. Several Chavez board members note how much they enjoy their board service under Kathy’s leadership.
“Kathy leads by example with her calm and thoughtful approach to making our schools the best that they can be, which quietly encourages all of us to be better board members,” said Chavez governance chair Sulee Clay.
Like many charter school boards, Chavez has had to make some tough decisions in the last few years. Under Kathy’s leadership, board members worked together to make decisions that are already paying off and will benefit the school in the long term. Kathy said she is very proud of the board’s leadership on behalf of the students attending Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools, and she is grateful for the opportunity to help ensure that they get the education they deserve.
Director of Instructional Practice,
NewSchools Venture Fund
Achievement Prep Public Charter School, DC International School, Paul Public Charter School
Melissa Kim serves on three charter school boards across Washington, DC that offer very different and powerful models for supporting student success.
Melissa brings deep expertise in education to her board roles. After teaching and serving as a vice principal in DC and Arlington, VA, she served as principal of Alice Deal Middle School, where she managed the school’s expansion, raised academic standards, and led a major facilities renovation.
Melissa’s first-hand experience in schools helps her contribute to the charter school boards on which she serves. As a board member, she focuses on ensuring that board conversations connect to the school’s academic program and school quality. She helps her fellow board members understand academic data and discuss how to support the school leader in improving academic achievement and leading effectively.
As a member of DC International’s start up board, Melissa helped the board build a strong governing structure and prepare to launch a school that now serves students who are bilingual in three different languages—French, Spanish, and Chinese. At Achievement Prep, Melissa and her board colleagues are working on a facilities expansion that will allow the school to serve hundreds more students and add an elementary school to its successful middle school. And Melissa’s board service at Paul Public Charter School is enhanced by her experience as a school principal, where she launched an International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program; as a board member, she is supporting Paul’s launch of its International High School.
Melissa believes in the power of boards and enjoys seeing regular progress at the schools on whose boards she serves. “In our busy lives where we all have many priorities, I am so grateful to know that each of these schools has a board made up of people from across the community who leverage their experience and bring their ‘A’ game for the good of the school. When I look around the board table and I see members engaged and really leaning in—that is a beautiful thing.”
Melissa Kim is the Director of Instructional Practice at NewSchools Venture Fund and leads the DC Pilot for the DC Schools Fund. Previously, Melissa served in a number of education leadership roles as both an administrator and classroom teacher in DC and in Arlington, VA. She received her Ed.D from the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation focused on practices to integrate within schools to close the academic achievement gap as well as the social engagement gap.
Education Advisory Board
Creative Minds International Public Charter School
Melanie Bowen joined the Charter Board Partners network in October 2013. Shortly thereafter, she was matched to the board of Creative Minds International Public Charter School (CMI), a school located in Ward 1 in Washington, DC that, at capacity, will educate students in grades PK-3 through 5. Melanie was voted onto the board and was elected board chairperson just six months later.
To say that Melanie hit the ground running would be an understatement. “In a very short time, Melanie read all the school documents and familiarized herself with the DC Public Charter School Board’s policies, not only in the area of finance, but in every aspect of governing a public charter school, including academic accountability,” said CMI Founder and Head of School Golnar Abedin.
Melanie’s capacity for quickly assessing, adapting to, and impacting new environments has served her well. She joined the CMI board during its second year of operations, a pivotal moment as the board was beginning to transition from the startup to adolescent phase of growth. As the board chair, Melanie has drawn upon her experience as an entrepreneur, adviser, and independent school trustee to stabilize the board during a period of high turnover, bring structure to the planning and implementation of monthly board meetings, formalize the board’s relationships with outside stakeholders, and optimize the committee structure. She has also leveraged the considerable financial and real estate expertise she and other board members offer in order to lead the school through a lengthy and complicated lease negotiation process.
"Melanie brings her professionalism and enthusiasm for education to the Creative Minds board," said Sarah Spreitzer, CMI Vice Chair. "She's ably led the board through a major facilities negotiation and is helping the board strengthen its relationship with the school community. Most importantly, Melanie inspires our board and uses her enthusiasm to recruit critical new board members."
Melanie has found her experience on the board rewarding and the opportunities to apply her expertise and passion for education endless: “It is a privilege to partner with the talented team at CMI as we work to ensure our unique new school matures to serve an even larger group of school children across DC."
Melanie Bowen is an Executive Director at the Education Advisory Board. Before joining the firm, Melanie was based in New Delhi, India, where she focused on growing and strengthening social businesses, especially in the education space. Previously, she was the general manager of the consumer health website RevolutionHealth.com of Revolution Health Network, and a senior executive at Discovery Communications. Her experience spans Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and the U.S., including time with McKinsey & Company, the U.S. Department of State, and PriceWaterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers).
Latham & Watkins
Paul Public Charter School
As a member of the inaugural cohort of fellows within the Charter Board Partners Fellows Program, Rami Turayhi has had an outsized impact both as a charter school board fellow and within the CBP network itself. CBP Fellows are emerging leaders nominated by CBP's corporate partners to provide added capacity and support to local charter school boards. Rami, an Associate in the Investment Funds Practice Group at Latham & Watkins LLP, was nominated and accepted into the Fellows Program in 2012 and subsequently matched with Paul Public Charter School in the Brightwood neighborhood of northwest DC.
Rami is finding his experience providing ongoing legal expertise and support to Paul's board rewarding and worthwhile: "Serving as a CBP Fellow is a fantastic opportunity. It's been fascinating to learn how the local education system functions in DC—I feel as if I'm no longer simply an outside observer. Additionally, being able to play a part in supporting quality educational opportunities in DC is incredibly motivating, particularly because the work is local in nature. You can see your impact immediately in a very tangible way."
Rami utilized his legal background and skill set during the most recent school year to revise and update Paul's Charter Agreement with the DC Public Charter School Board. His hard work has also resulted in a more robust set of governing bylaws that should enable the Paul board to provide more effective support to the school and its management. "Rami has been a tremendous asset to Paul PCS," said Paul's Governance Chair Mannone Butler. "He has played instrumental roles on the Board's School Expansion and Governance Committees. His keen legal skills, coupled with his commitment to quality educational opportunities for our young people, have made his tenure invaluable."
In addition to providing general governance support to the board, Rami has also assisted the board in developing responses to financing, negotiating and structuring issues in respect of significant capital projects being carried out at Paul. During Rami's time at Paul, the school began the process of undertaking a significant physical and programmatic expansion project, including the building and creation of a new high school and the renovation of the existing historic building.
"Rami has impressed me with the proactive approach he has taken throughout his fellowship at Paul. He identifies areas where he can add value and works closely with Paul's leadership to move critical work forward," said Kate Essex, CBP's Managing Director of Programs.
Throughout his involvement with CBP and Paul, Rami has been instrumental in ensuring that CBP continuously connects smart, committed professionals to local school boards where they can have a real and lasting impact. To this end, Rami has taken on a leadership role within the new cohort of CBP Fellows this past school year. He has dedicated time and resources to assisting CBP in selecting and placing new fellows and continues to provide them with ongoing support. Rami has additionally been a leading advocate for increased charter board service at Latham, helping to engage an increasing number of his professional colleagues in the CBP network and doubling the number of Latham fellows year-on-year.
Rami Turayhi is an associate in the Washington, DC office of Latham & Watkins. His practice focuses on the representation of private equity funds in their formation, fundraising, tax, and organizational structuring and their acquisition and divestiture of portfolio companies. Prior to joining Latham, Rami was a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State and an energy and power investment banker in New York.
The Carlyle Group
Governance Committee Chair,
Meridian Public Charter School
Bryan Corbett joined the Charter Board Partners network as a charter school board candidate in 2011. That fall, CBP matched Bryan to the board of Meridian Public Charter School, a school located in the U Street corridor of Ward 1 serving students in grades PK3 through 8.
Bryan has helped the Meridian board add a number of new directors who bring increased capacity and capability, as well as valuable skills and experience. He has exercised steady and strategic leadership in his role as Governance Committee Chair, leading the effort to improve the overall effectiveness of the board. “Serving on the Meridian Board has been both more challenging and rewarding than I had expected,” Bryan observed. “While the board addresses difficult governance and strategic issues, you can see the meaningful positive impact that your decisions have on the students, parents, and community.”
During Bryan’s tenure, the school has seen major change. Meridian was able to secure, finance, and move into a new facility in October 2012; the school was awarded the former DCPS Harrison School building, completed renovations, and moved in its 500+ students by that time. In the summer of 2013, the school underwent a leadership change as the board hired a new head of school. While the school continues to face increasing competition for students as the number of nearby charter schools has grown, its board has turned many of these challenges into opportunities; this is in large part due to the board’s energy, initiative, and focus on execution.
Bryan has been an active and supportive member of the CBP network; he has spoken at several CBP trainings, drawn on our tools and advice, and helped many of our recruits fill vacancies on the Meridian board. Overall, Bryan and the entire Meridian board are committed to their school, strong governance, and the bottom line: providing the best possible education to all children.
Bryan Corbett is a Managing Director in Carlyle's Executive Group in Washington, DC. Prior to joining Carlyle, Bryan served in the Bush Administration as a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and as Senior Advisor to Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmitt at the Treasury Department. He also served as Majority Counsel on the Senate Banking Committee.
Associate General Council,
Pacific Western Bank
Board Member, Secretary,
Mundo Verde Public Charter School
Natasha was one of the first members of CBP’s network. She was looking for a way to get involved in the education reform movement; as a public charter school parent, she felt that charter school board service would be the perfect way for her to use her legal and business background to support a school. She joined the Mundo Verde Public Charter School board in April 2012. Mundo Verde, which now serves students in grades K-3, is focused on expeditionary learning and sustainability, and teaches its students through a bilingual, project-based curriculum.
The Mundo Verde board was Natasha’s first board experience, but she was able to immediately contribute using her skills as a lawyer (and experiences as a DC charter school parent) on the governance committee, focusing on ensuring that the growing board had strong policies and practices in place to support a seamless transition from start-up board to governing board.
Natasha’s leadership has been instrumental to Mundo Verde’s growth. During her tenure on the board, the school has shifted to serving older grades than it did in its early years, and it has moved into a permanent home at 30 P St, NW. The school is in the process of obtaining LEED certification for the refurbished building - an important representation of Mundo Verde’s commitment to environmental sustainability. The board continues to drive plans to expand the school’s grade level offerings and build additional facilities to accommodate more students.
Natasha is impressed by the level of engagement of her fellow board members and inspired by their commitment to creating the best school they can. “My fellow board members and I lead busy lives, but we make time to do the work of the board and demonstrate commitment to the board and the school,“ she said. Along with the time commitment, a personal challenge for Natasha has been developing an understanding of the “academic arena.” Not unlike many charter board members, she had a steep learning curve when it came to interpreting performance dashboards and standardized tests. Many new board members face challenges in governing a new sector. Natasha and the rest of the board supported one another through this transition, sharing expertise and experience in order to bring the full array of knowledge to key decisions.
Natasha feels that it is her responsibility to give back to the city and its students, and board service allows her to do so. Her advice to those interested in joining charter boards: “Enjoy and take advantage of the experience. Charter boards need a diverse mix of skills and experience around the table, so even if you are not an education professional, you can be of great value to a board.”
Program Evaluation Consultant,
DC Bilingual PCS
Blanca says she was hesitant to join a board initially. “I don’t see myself as someone who brings in money and has connections” to people with money, she says. But then she learned that her experience with data was a valuable asset to a school board and now plays a leading role in digging into the school’s academic data, and asking tough questions.
“Being on the board is for people who are passionate about education and passionate about students and are willing to put in some work and take on the responsibility to hold the school accountable to do right by those students,” she says. “If you are afraid to ask difficult questions or afraid to have difficult discussions, then I wouldn't push you to be on the board.
Bilingual education is important to Blanca, who grew up in a bilingual family, sends her two young children to a bilingual school, and serves on the board of another.
“The value of bilingual education isn't just the language itself. The language is a vehicle to connect with other cultures. It's not just a communications issue; it truly is your connection to a whole different world. For people of Latino heritage it's also your connection to your history and to your family.”
Associate Director of Training,
Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University
Creative Minds International Public Charter School
Eric Reese helps governments use data to inform their work and improve results for the people they serve. Originally from Indiana, he brought his data analysis, training, and project management skills to his role serving on the board of Creative Minds International, joining the board in November 2016. Less than a year later he was elected Vice Chair.
“I previously worked for the DC Public Education Fund and I was really interested in getting back involved in the education community and really having an impact on the ground for the school and the community where I live,” Eric says, adding that being able to see the impact of the school on students and families is especially meaningful. He makes a point of being in the school building at least twice a month to meet and speak with people.
He gives two pieces of advice to new school board members: “One, ask as many questions as you can while you can get away with being the new person. Second is to really dive in and meet and talk with different people at the school, from staff to parents, to students, and other board members. It’s really critical to dive in and get as much knowledge first-hand from people, as much as you can.”
Eric also advises board members to have an open and clear dialogue with the school's executive director. There's a lot for board members to pay attention to without also doing the job of the executive director, he says. "It's not hard to stay out of the weeds."