Charter Schools Make Big Ideas Happen!

Guest Author
Apr 18, 2017 12:00:00 PM

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Ten years ago, I with a nervous excitement walked across the stage to accept my High School Diploma. I was nervous because I had two big ideas – I wanted to do things different and I wanted to change the world. As a wide-eyed, naïve 18 year old, I knew I wanted to have an impact, but I had no real clue where to start. A few months later, I was given the opportunity to work at a local Charter School in Flint, MI. While continuing to work in this job, I finished college and the stars began to align. My vision, focus, and passion coalesced, as I finally figured out the best way to live out my dream of being different and being a change agent for our world. I decided to pursue being an educator that works in Charter Schools. Please allow me to share with you 3 reasons why I believe working in a Charter School is such an exciting opportunity to have an impact on our society.

If you have leadership qualities, working within a Charter School allows for those qualities to get utilized in a tremendous way. There is something special about working with and leading a group of educators in an unbridled fashion. In many cases, there are no contracts or bargaining agreements that can get in the way of focusing on what truly matters – our students. As a result, there is a strong dependency on quality leadership from school administrators to bring all staff members around the central goal of providing a quality education to our students. This can be quite the burden to carry, and it makes utilizing a distributive leadership model extremely important. In order to effectively use this model, school leaders have to invest in building leadership capacity in those around them. As those leaders are being developed, the goal would be to have them begin to develop leaders around themselves. It is easy to see the ripple effect of quality leadership, and how utilizing strong leadership within our schools can have real impact on our society, as we continue to develop more leaders that can affect more and more students.

I love competition! Whether I am playing checkers with my nieces or coaching high school basketball, I always enjoy competition, and I LOVE to win!! In my ten years of working in Charter Schools, I have often heard colleagues push back against the idea that Charter Schools are in competition with their conventional counterparts. I cannot take that approach. I am competing on a daily basis. I am on a mission to provide the best possible education for students that live in the Lansing area. This is healthy competition. I do not wish that the local schools do not perform well – I just want to perform better. This is the mentality I approach my job with every day I walk into the building. When we compete, we look for ways in which we can get better. We look for ways to innovate. We look for ways to separate ourselves from the pack. We look for ways to be different. In the end, when we compete, our students win!

As some one who loves competition, I see accountability as a critical component of competition. Accountability is keeping score. Accountability is seeing how much of an impact you had with your students. Working in a Charter School, we have all different kinds of opportunities to get better through several layers of accountability. As School Leaders we are accountable to our Authorizer, MDE, Education Service Provider (in some cases), Board of Directors, our Parents, and most importantly, our students. All of these areas of accountability should be viewed as a time to reevaluate programs and initiatives in order to improve academic outcomes for our students. As we are accountable to so many different stakeholders in our schools, we are in a position to constantly be analyzing what we do and why we do it. This mentality will foster growth and innovation within our schools, as we are constantly striving to strengthen ourselves.

 Working in Charter Schools over the last 10 years has helped to refine my big ideas into action. I believe, wholeheartedly, that what we do on a daily basis is the foundation for future change in our society. As we continue to shape the minds of future generations, and empower them to pursue a lifelong love of learning, the impact we can have on our world is immeasurable. As I think back to the nervous excitement I had walking across the stage 10 years ago, I can’t help but feel the same excitement now. Still unsure of what the future holds, but I know I get to live out my dream every single day I arrive at work – be different and change the world!


Tim Tenneriello is the School Director at Mid-Michigan Leadership Academy located in Lansing, MI serving grades K-8.

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