Decisions to Impact - You never know the power of your perspective

Grace Noyola
Aug 25, 2021 3:32:46 PM

These days, Chaffaye Carter proudly walks the halls of Hanley International Academy as a passionate, committed board member – and all around her she can see the fruits of her labor. From the vibrant classrooms, to the new technologies and supplies recently added to the building, to her son and daughter, two successful former Hanley students who have moved on to their next big adventures – she knows that the many hours spent poring over budgets, reviewing proposals for new student programs, carefully evaluating health and safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic and more, have all been worth it.

Fifteen years ago, Chaffaye’s daughter was a student at Hanley, back when 3rd-8th grade building was located on Poland Street in Hamtramck, and becoming a charter school board member hadn’t even crossed her mind. But when a friend, who was already on the board, suggested that their team could use a parent voice, Chaffaye eventually leaned into the opportunity.

I had NO idea what a board member’s responsibilities included, and I certainly never thought that I had the background or skills that would be useful for our board. But once I got started, I realized that I did have a unique perspective – not very many board members actually had students at Hanley, but I did. And it meant that I could see how our decisions were implemented and were affecting educators and learners.”

- Chaffaye Carter

For Chaffaye, Hanley has always been a special place – like a big family. Most of the students come from the greater Hamtramck community, and many have immigrant families and are English Language Learners. The school has always worked to support these students and their families in a holistic way, integrating aspects of culture, community, cuisine and more.

At Hanley, teachers truly love the students and work to support the kids in any way they can. Relationships are really important, and you can tell that all the educators are invested in that work every day. My children left Hanley prepared for life in a way that I felt I was not.”

- Chaffaye Carter

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And during her time as a board member, Chaffaye has played a role in making sure the magic is still flowing at Hanely.

Boards talk about EVERYTHING related to the student and the student experience. We are entirely focused on working to improve the school – from curriculum to extracurriculars, to health and safety and more. It’s our job to review building upgrades, talk about new projects, comb through budgets – there’s a lot of work to be done, but we have FUN doing it.”

- Chaffaye Carter

Chaffaye and the rest of the board were integral in purchasing, renovating and opening their current building in 2006 as the school grew and developed new needs.

There are so many steps to something like a new building. I remember poring over the smallest details – all the way down to soil samples! But I look around me today and see how special this building is, and how well it serves our students, and I know it’s all worth it.”

- Chaffaye Carter

It’s been 15 years and counting, and Chaffaye isn’t going anywhere, even though her son has since finished at Hanley and is now at University Prep Science & Math High School. She knows that her voice is still a valuable one on important issues that impact students, educators, and families - and now she knows just how impactful her perspective has been along the way. 

We have a responsibility to look out for kids - even when they’re beyond school years or if they don’t attend the school anymore. Serving as a board member is a great way to fulfill that responsibility. I have learned so, so much - from the complexities of running a school financially and academically, to how to better to support educators and students, the list goes on! This is my opportunity to help my school be a resource for our community, and I am so proud of that." 

- Chaffaye Carter

We need voices like yours on charter boards!

Michigan charters are facing a board member shortage, and we need passionate community members to help support our schools

Learn more & apply today!

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