25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference Highlights

April 2, 2018

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3,000 charter public school leaders, teachers, supporters and advocates attended the 25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference at the San Diego Convention Center March 26-28, 2018 to celebrate 25 years of charter public schools "Making a Difference" in the lives of students and families in California's public education system.

This year's conference featured special plenary sessions, including keynote presentations from Geoffrey Canada, nationally known bestselling author, children's advocate, and founder of Harlem Children's Zone, and Paul Tough, bestselling author of "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character" and "Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why." Additionally attendees heard from a panel of several dynamic woman charter leaders from Northern and Southern California who discussed the diversity of the movement, where the sector's been, where it is now and where it is headed in the next 25 years. CCSA also continued the tradition of honoring charter public school teachers, leaders, volunteers, schools, supporters and elected officials for their outstanding leadership and excellence in education, and awarded scholarships to graduating high school seniors at the conference.

The 25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference boasted 160 breakout sessions, 57 expo presentations/poster sessions, new tools and resources from over 300 exhibiting companies, and media coverage from El Latino San Diego, the Sacramento Bee, EdSource, LA School Report, the Redding Record-Searchlight, and the Voice of San Diego. CCSA's general press release about CCSACon 2018 was also released on the wire and picked up by 149 media outlets with a total potential audience of 14,616,160.

Check out our daily highlights below. For more information, visit info.ccsa.org/ccsacon2018.

Daily Highlights

Monday, March 26, 2018

Opening Plenary Session: Featuring a keynote presentation by Geoffrey Canada, Nationally Known Author, Children's Advocate and Founder of Harlem Children's Zone.

Tuesday, March 27

Tuesday Morning Plenary Session: Featuring keynote speaker, Jed Wallace, CEO & President, CCSA and CCSA Advocates Board Member

25th Anniversary Celebration Reception & Plenary - Making a Difference: Charters Past, Present and Future: Featuring a panel of woman charter public school leaders from across the state moderated by Dr. Margaret Fortune, CEO of Fortune School of Education, who will discuss the diversity of California's charter public school movement, models and theoretical approaches to education as well as where we've been, where we are now and where we are headed in the next 25 years. Panel to include:

  • Dr. Jody Graf, executive director for Visions in Education
  • Yvette King-Berg, executive director for Youth Policy Institute
  • Sue Park, head of Yu Ming Charter School
  • Frances Teso, founder and CEO of Voices College-Bound Language Academies

Wednesday, March 28

Closing Plenary Session: Featuring keynote presentation by Paul Tough, Bestselling Author of How Children Succeed and Helping Children Succeed, as well as the following award announcement:

2018 Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarships

CCSA awarded $2,000 individual college scholarships to ten deserving high school graduates at CCSA member charter schools to help fund their first year of college. The scholarship is named in honor of Susan Steelman Bragato, the co-founder of the first charter school in California and the founder of the California Network of Educational Charters, renamed to what is now known as the California Charter Schools Association in 2003. Details about each winner found online here.

  • Zoe Karch, Inspire School of Arts and Sciences (Chico, CA)
  • Destinee Duncan, Oakland Military Institute College Preparatory Academy (Oakland, CA)
  • Amy Estrada, Roseland University Prep (Santa Rosa, CA)
  • Monica Garcia-Vilchis, Lighthouse Community Charter School (San Leandro, CA)
  • Caleb Deniston, Inspire Charter Schools (Tollhouse, CA)
  • Daisy Gonzalez, Wonderful College Prep Academy (McFarland, CA)
  • Sadie-Jean Bolton, Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Anthony Ramirez, Animo Pat Brown Charter High School (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Felipe De La Cruz, The Preuss School UCSD (San Diego, CA)
  • Ai Setoyama, Capistrano Connections Academy (Irvine, CA)

2018 Hart Vision Awards

CCSA was honored to award charter school leaders, teachers, volunteers and schools with a Hart Vision Award for their outstanding leadership and excellence in education. The Hart Vision Awards were established in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education. While serving as state senator, Hart sponsored the legislation that established California charter schools. Details about each winner found online here.

  • Teacher of the Year - Kaelin Swaney, Rocklin Academy Gateway (Rocklin, CA)
  • Charter School of the Year (North) - Shasta Charter Academy (Redding, CA) 
  • Charter School of the Year (South) -  EJE Middle Academy (El Cajon, CA) 
  • Volunteers of the Year - Xitlali Castro, Ramona Lopez, Esmeralda Medina, Roxann Nazario, Mireya Pacheco, and Bielma Perez (Los Angeles, CA)
  • School Leader of the Year (North)  - April Chou, Chief Growth and Operating Officer, KIPP Bay Area Schools (Oakland, CA) 
  • School Leader of the Year (South)  - Debbie Tarver, Executive Director for LaVerne Elementary Preparatory Academy (LEPA) and Desert Trails Preparatory Academy (DPTA) (San Bernardino County, CA) 
  • Elected Official of the Year - Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)
  • Supporter of the Year - Bill and Susan Bloomfield


For additional footage of the event, be sure to check out our YouTube profile and 2018 Hart Vision Award Playlist.