"I'm not surprised being here ten years later, but I certainly didn't appreciate then the richness of what the school would become."
Jennifer C. Niles, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
I turned in the application on time, right at deadline. I am sure I walked it to the office myself. It was an exciting moment -- it felt like a big accomplishment just to have completed the proposal.
This was 12 years ago! I don't really remember the interview process.
But I do remember the hearing. Because I had been working at Capital City, a number of students and parents from there came to speak, which was really nice. One of the 2nd graders who spoke made an analogy: "Ms. Niles is like a Japanese Tea Ceremony." I was wondering where this was going... She said, "Ms. Niles is very calm and serene with everything exactly in its place." What a lovely image, though one I didn't think was quite so representative of me at that time, but I was pleased that's the impression I gave. The other people who spoke were some of the 40 people who contributed to our application. It was great to have so many people there in support.
I thought that our application would be approved, but I didn't know if it would be approved conditionally. I thought it would be approved because it had drawn so much from effective practice and we were very thorough. And I had read so many other charter applications in DC and around the country.
I'm not surprised being here ten years later, but I certainly didn't appreciate then the richness of what the school would become. While you can imagine having a high school, you can't imagine what it really looks like to have incredible teachers think about rigorous curriculum, students shine in writing essays about "Persepolis," students impress scientists who come to visit, and students earn scholarships to prestigious summer programs.
Jennifer C. Niles is the founder and Head of School at E. L. Haynes Public Charter School. The school opened in 2004, and currently serves more than 950 students in grades PK to 12th grade.