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Year-long Forums Support Charter School Leadership

August 7, 2017

Faculty and administrators in the Executive Leadership program, housed in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education at St. John Fisher College, implemented an initiative this year to support leadership in Rochester charter schools. Charter school leaders have been meeting regularly to share ideas and information, thanks to a grant sponsored by the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation and the ESL Charitable Foundation.

Dr. Rick DeJesus-Rueff moderates a panel discussion about charter school leadership issues.

College leaders acted as liaisons to support charter schools and facilitated 10 gatherings. Held between August 2016 and July 2017, the gatherings drew a total of 241 participants. During the year, six charter schools hosted meetings and provided tours of their schools and 24 guest speakers provided information and activities related to identified interests and needs of charter school leaders.

In addition, school leaders received coaching support and professional reading material that aligned with school initiatives. While working and meeting together, charter school leaders collaborated on a central application platform and a substitute teaching system. The meetings also provided a way to receive regular updates on statewide issues from the Northeast Charter School Network.

The 2016-2017 Charter School Leadership Forums culminated with a final gathering at the Strathallan. Bringing together charter leaders and Board of Trustee members, the meeting included networking, a dialogue about future plans, and a distinguished panel discussion regarding priorities and next steps for Rochester Charter Leaders.

Dr. Rick DeJesus-Rueff moderates a panel discussion on charter school leadership.

Dr. Rick DeJesus-Rueff moderates a panel discussion on charter school leadership.

Dr. Rick DeJesus-Rueff, vice president for student affairs and diversity initiatives at Fisher, moderated the panel discussion, which included questions regarding charter schools’ roles in supporting community needs and recruiting strong teachers and administrators. Panel members included Dr. Leonard Brock, director, Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative; Ms. Jackie Campbell, alliance director, ROC the Future; Dr. Joel L. Frater, executive dean, Monroe Community College; Ms. Susan Gibbons, NYSED Charter School Office; and Mrs. Susie Miller Carello, executive director, SUNY Charter Schools Institute.

One charter school leader summed up the spirit and impact of the initiative.

“[The forums…] have really been a benefit to me. They make me feel supported in my work and renewed each month,” she said.