By Kendall Masset
Kendall Massett is the executive director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network.
More than a quarter of a century ago, a group of concerned, committed and innovative players came together around a truly unprecedented idea.
This idea was born from questions such as: how can we help future generations of children realize their dreams in Delaware? What if we removed bureaucracy and provided flexibility, but held schools accountable? What if we loosen controls on inputs and stand firm on high outcomes for children? What if we allowed the people closest to our children – parents and teachers – to run a school on their terms? What if we could find great innovative practices that work for all children? What if we showed flexibility and responsibility and could change the future of our children?
On July 10, 1995, when the then Governor. Tom Carper signed the “charter bill” into law, this idea became reality. Today, 27 years later, our state has 23 charter schools in operation, serving more than 17,000 students, and another school is slated to open in the fall of 2023. In nearly three decades of charter schools , our students have accomplished so much. That’s why Delaware Charter Schools celebrated the incredible educators, leaders, board members, students, and families within the community at the 10th Annual Delaware Charter School Network IDEA Awards. during National Charter School Week.
The IDEA Awards – Innovation, Dedication, Education, Admiration – began 10 years ago to recognize the phenomenal work that goes on at every charter school in the state.
Our students set an example for those who follow by forging new paths in their schools and using their voice to bring about change in their school, in their community and for our planet. Neha Veeragandham (Graduate of Wilmington Charter School, Class of 22) stands up for our environment, raises awareness and gives her community the opportunity to participate through clubs and events like the Youth Environmental Summit.
The Schools Parent Community is a coalition of tireless volunteers, spending countless hours supporting our schools as they strive to educate the whole child – academically, physically, socially and emotionally. Brooke Balan is the president of the Charter School of Wilmington Parent Teacher Student Organization. In addition to all of her OPTS duties, she organizes parent volunteers and volunteers herself at almost every event, including the Charterthon event which raised nearly $95,000 for the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation this year. .
Our energetic, passionate, compassionate, fun and innovative teachers collaborate to create new strategies geared towards a more equitable educational environment. Charter school teachers create new programs, extracurricular activities and mentoring programs to meet the needs of each child. Las Américas ASPIRA Academy’s DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) team conducts roundtables throughout the school year aimed at ensuring equity with school policies and procedures and auditing the curriculum from a culturally appropriate perspective.
And during COVID-19, MOT Charter School leaders and staff, led by Mitch Weiss, Director of Student Services, have worked together to implement programs, processes and systems to keep our students safe. , and then shared that knowledge with other charters, districts, and private schools.
Our leaders and their leadership teams foster a sense of community, create a space where innovation can flourish, mentor future leaders, and constantly communicate with everyone in the community to ensure everyone is connected to a vision. success for our students.
The IDEA Awards honor those individuals and groups who have had a positive impact on their charter school and the community, used the flexibility of the charter school to find innovative and creative solutions for student and community needs, and are dedicated to educating not just students in their classrooms. but in classrooms across the state and the country – no matter what kind of schools those classrooms are in. The IDEA Awards winners and all nominees are the perfect example of why these awards were created. Each nomination is an inspiring story of the incredible work that goes on every day at our charter schools for our students. They tell the story of the incredible impact our charter schools are having, as well as the amazing opportunities available to our students.
Delaware Charter Schools believe that every child deserves an opportunity for an excellent public education. The IDEA Awards event shines a light on how this can be done, not just in our charter schools, but in any school.