One word keeps popping up when reflecting on my first National Charter Schools Conference, which was held earlier this month in Austin: overwhelming.
With more than 4,700 attendees from across the country and more than 125 breakout sessions, it’s rather a lot for one person to take in, especially someone who has only worked in the world of charters since May.
But I like to think I took advantage of all the conference had to offer, ranging from sessions about communications and the media (my field of expertise) to seeing all the latest technology available in classrooms on display at the exhibit hall – everything from robots to online video music classes. I also got to interact with my counterparts from all over Texas as well as other states, providing valuable networking as we work to tell the story of the positive impact public charters are making in education.
The conference was a great way to introduce our new CEO, Starlee Coleman, who attended NCSC even though she doesn’t fully assume her new role until September. Given her time with NCSC as its Vice President for Communications from 2013-14, Starlee was able to make contact with a lot of familiar faces.
I’m proud to say that TCSA, Charter Schools Now and many of our charter operators had prominent spots at the conference. Matthew Abbott (Wayside Schools), John Armbrust (Austin Achieve Public Schools), Karalei Nunn (Meridian School) and Kathleen Zimmermann (NYOS Charter School) teamed up to talk about how charters worked together to combat city zoning regulations. Kirk Scarbrough (KIPP Texas) co-hosted a session on telling the story of your school. Shree Medlock of CSN was on a panel about grassroots mobilization. Many other charter operators and supporters, along with representatives from the TEA and Texas ISDs also served on panels throughout the conference to tell about our successes and hurdles here in the state.
As I networked, one of the things I emphasized was my search for positive stories about charter school successes. I’m not only looking for great stories about our students (though, of course, pass those along please!) but also features on teachers, parents, staff and administrators who make a difference in the lives of our students.
Please pass them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I don’t want to limit these stories to just profiles; I’d also like stories that highlight the innovative programs and teaching methods charters employ. We want to share Texas stories not just in our state, but across the country. You can read about what’s happening at other U.S. charters on The Charter Blog, and send them your stories at email@example.com. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Las Vegas next year!