This is Part VII in a series dedicated to National Charter Schools Week.
People often say that small business owners on Main Street are the backbone of the economy, and provide real sources of inspiration for the rest of us. The same is true of the mom-and-pop charter school operators in American education reform.
Armed with fortitude, a desire to serve students, and a whole lot of elbow grease, these courageous activists set up schools that at the outset may appear to have a small presence, but end up making a big contribution to their community.
The founding of Arizona-based Great Hearts Academies is emblematic of this approach in delivering better schools, and speaks directly to the can-do attitude of any student or educator.
The passage rate for Great Hearts high schoolers on state testing for reading, writing, math science is far above state averages as of 2013, ranging from a 13 percent higher passage rate in reading to a 35 percent boost in math.
Between 85 and 96 percent of Great Hearts graduating classes go on to four-year colleges.
“Our goal here is to bring a classical, liberal arts curriculum that will close the achievement gap,” says Natalie Young Williams, Headmaster of Great Hearts’ Teleos Preparatory Academy.
Due to successes and an unwavering commitment to setting high expectations for graduation rates and subject proficiency, Great Hearts has since been able to expand into multiple campuses across Arizona for hard-working students in other communities, with plans to open new campuses across state lines in 2015.
Based on the Great Hearts ‘philosophical pillars,’ students also think twice about using sarcasm or derision with their colleagues, and opt instead for personal and intellectual collaboration and growth.
“Each of our graduates is characterized by a life-long commitment to the pursuit of