“I've learned to understand that what we're doing is never finished--it can and must continuously improve because so many lives are at stake.” -Jack McCarthy, AppleTree Early Learning PCS
As I recall, we used every bit of the time available to us to submit our application. We even went to the office about an hour before the deadline just to make sure we were on time. I'm sure everyone worries about a mistake, or an omission - we were no different.
Once submitted, however, our founding group felt a great sense of accomplishment - we had taken an idea that we had developed and tested, and documented it into a full implementation plan. PCSB’s process was rigorous and hard, but we expected that. We were tired and cautiously optimistic. It seemed like the review process took a long time. The public hearing caused the greatest apprehension (because one never entirely knows what to expect). Fortunately, everything went smoothly.
The moment our school was approved we were elated. Charters provide citizens with both a unique policy space and operational opportunity to start the world over again in some aspect of public education. They are innovative, autonomous entities, accountable for results, and it is always exhilarating when the rubber meets the road in school reform!
Designing a charter school, implementing a business growth plan and measuring the positive impact of your innovation on children's learning is extraordinarily satisfying. But every day one learns something important about education and about oneself. What is really interesting is that you learn from everyone: parents, teachers, staff, funders, policymakers, and even casual observers. I feel an incredible sense of urgency about our mission at the same time that I recognize what a long-term commitment school reform is.
As Emily Lawson wrote in her founders series post, over time we've become "idealists without illusions." The biggest change is "seasoning" and patience. You own it and it owns you. I've learned to understand that what we're doing is never finished--it can and must continuously improve because so many lives are at stake.
AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School started with 36 children in a church basement. Today, the school serves 640 children at seven sites throughout the District of Columbia. To further strengthen their priorities of academic achievement and performance, AppleTree recently requested to amend their school’s charter to adopt PCSB’s early childhood PMF as their official academic goals. Learn more about AppleTree PCS.