April 2012 Spotlight on Success

April 30, 2012

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The charter school movement is dependent upon the hard work of visionary founders, leaders, and authorizers, plus dedicated teachers and volunteers and inspired students. The Association is proud to recognize several of them this month.

The Community Charter Early College High School Forensics Team won top honors in Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, and Duo Interpretation at the 26th annual Stanford Invitational Speech & Debate Tournament. Over 3,000 students from 35 states competed in this national level competition. CCECHS had 3 students win the highest honors.

For his contribution to the community beyond the classroom, and for inspiring athleticism among his students, Environmental Charter High School teacher Andrew Makar was recognized recently at a Los Angeles Lakers NBA game during a half- time presentation. Makar, a chemistry teacher and cross-country coach, has extended his classroom into the community by creating service projects alongside the curriculum.

River Valley Charter School was recognized at the California Consortium for Independent Study (CCIS) Conference for receiving the Exemplary Independent Study Recognition Award (EISRA). The award is issued jointly by the CCIS and the California Department of Education for exhibiting excellent educational practices in schools where independent study is the primary mode of instruction.

The CCIS Conference gives independent study teachers and administrators the opportunity to meet representatives from previous EISRA recipients to learn more about their practices. Awardees also serve as models for other schools to replicate.

O'Farrell Community School is the first charter school in the nation to achieve AVID National Demonstration status. This designation is reserved, nationally, for approximately 120 public schools. O'Farrell will now open its campus to other schools throughout California to share its philosophy and structure on how to bring about a college going environment.

Howard Gardner Community School, an independent charter school opening in August 2012, won a "Love Your Block" grant. The grant helps community groups fund small projects in hopes that neighbors will continue their efforts to improve their community.

Granada Hills Charter High School, for the second year in a row, won the state Academic Decathlon in Sacramento. The team beat out more than 60 others -- including a dozen other schools from Los Angeles Unified -- at the two-day competition. Granada Hills scored 52,327 out of 60,000 possible points.

The team members are Lev Tauz, Sean Wejebe, Hamidah Mahmud, Christian Koguchi, Priscilla Liu, Kimberly Ly, Jimmy Wu, Stella Lee and Julia Wall. Their coaches are Matt Arnold, Spencer Wolf and Nick Weber.

The Department Of Education announced the EPIC National Charter Consortium 2012 Award Winning Schools, and three California charter schools are being honored as Silver Gain Schools:

  • Leadership Public Schools Hayward
  • Leadership Public Schools Richmond
  • Voices College-Bound Language Academy (San Jose)

Voices was also one of the charter schools that was invited to apply for Distinguished School Status this year.

Laura McGowan, founder of Crown Preparatory Academy charter school in south LA, was honored by the Black Alliance for Educational Options as one of their "Ed Reform Champions Under 40."

Mueller Charter School received the National Urban School Transformation Award-- one of only four K-8 schools in the country to be named to this list from the National Center for Urban School Transformation.

The team from River Springs Charter School has advanced to the national championships of the FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis. In this year's competition, called Rebound Rumble, students built robots that can shoot baskets from various distances on a small basketball court. Learn more about the River Springs team and the competition.

According to the U-T San Diego, Beth Teeple, a third-grade teacher at Urban Discovery Academy, "will be visiting monuments in Washington D.C. and teaching a remote lesson to her students in May after winning a contest for being an inspiring teacher." Teeple also won 25 computer tablets for her school, Urban Discovery Academy, in Wonder bread's 7 Wonders of the USA Teacher Tour contest.

Karina Andersen, a third-grader at Rocklin Academy, won first place in her division at the Sacramento Regional District Playoff hosted by Sacramento Math Contests and Mathleague.org.

Andersen claimed the first place trophy by earning the highest scores among third graders competing in the regional contest. She now moves onto the state finals, taking place in May. Read more.

Environmental Charter High School is among four schools statewide to be nominated by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to represent California in the inaugural year of the new federal Green Ribbon Schools Program. The program recognizes schools for their commitment to educating students about sound environmental practices. This news article has more.

Aspire Public Schools was recognized as being among the top-performing charter school companies in the country. A new report from Mathematica Policy Research and the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, Bothell, singled out the Aspire approach to its teacher coaching practices, which have been shown to have strong, positive impact on middle school student achievement.

Daphne Ching-Jackson, Executive Director of Constellation Community Middle School, was honored by Soroptomist International of Long Beach with one of their "Women Who Make A Difference" Awards.

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