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Charter School Leadership Forums Receive $43,000 Grant from Farash Foundation

December 12, 2017

Dr. Marie Cianca, associate professor in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education at St. John Fisher College, received a $43,000 grant from the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation to continue funding for the Charter School Leadership Forums.

Marie Cianca

The Forums brings leaders of Rochester’s 12 charter schools together to exchange information and ideas through planning meetings, speakers and coaching sessions, sharing research, meeting with service providers, and budget management.

“The Charter School Leadership Forums have several benefits including the sharing of best practices, support for charter leaders, opportunities for charter schools to collaborate and learn from each other, and a communication system that can keep all charter leaders in the area informed of upcoming events and interests,” said Cianca, who teaches in the School of Education’s Executive Leadership Doctoral Program.

Due to the success in the first year, the Forums have inspired partnerships and joint initiatives and have also created a system for charter school leaders to learn from each other’s experiences and exchange information to assist students, teachers, families, and boards. Cianca said the Forums allow leaders to focus on creating better long-term results in Rochester’s charter schools, including increasing the graduation rate for the students they serve.

Last year, members were invited to eight professional development sessions throughout the school year with a culminating event in July for school leaders and Board of Trustee members. Charter school leaders committed to participating in and hosting meetings in addition to following up on initiatives developed at the meetings. As an added benefit, representatives from the Northeast Charter School Leadership Network participated in each meeting and provided statewide policy updates for schools.  

Interest and support surpassed expectations, allowing the Forums to continue into the 2017-18 school year. Cianca said in the program’s second year, she expects continued support and expanded interest in coaching opportunities for members of charter schools’ leadership teams. The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation will also explore bringing in national speakers to present to teachers and administrators.

Fisher’s School of Education will plan and facilitate six forums in September, October, November, January, March, and April. In the forums, the School will work as a liaison to arrange speakers, distribute information to charter school leaders through activities, provide updates on timely issues, arrange for coaching, and communicate with individuals and organizations that want to provide support and services to Rochester charter schools.

The grant was secured in collaboration with the College’s Office Sponsored Research.