My final trip of the year was to the Hertz Furniture Expo in Mahwah, New Jersey, just south of the New York state line. I must admit, it was one of my favorite speaking trips of the year. It was a different audience for me: a meeting of school furniture expert client representatives who sell to district and charter public schools around the country. I love that Hertz Furniture is so committed to supporting the charter sector across the nation that they took time from their annual meeting to learn more about chartering and the pioneering story (and even gave their team members a book to take home).
As I traveled to charter school events in twenty states this year, I noticed that Hertz Furniture was everywhere! So when CEO Saul Wagner (right) and Vice President David Mocton (left) invited me to join them December 17, I was delighted.
I got to know more about Hertz Furniture when they generously sponsored my book, Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story for attendees at the Florida Charter School Conference in November. I got to spend time in their booth, where I heard stories first-hand from their Florida charter school clients not only about quality furniture, but more importantly, how much the clients valued the relationship. It dawned on me for the first time that these client representatives become teachers and counselors for their start-up clients. Entrepreneurial charter school leaders and educators are hungry for this expertise, because most have never done this before.
Hertz Furniture got that. They created the Hertz Furniture Design Center to provide creative interior design services for new charter public schools. The service is free! They understand how important it is to customize the design to each charter school culture and vision, because each school is different. I heard passion in those client stories where together they molded ordinary buildings into breakthrough learning spaces.
Frankly, there are too few organizations in the charter world who take time or have passion to understand the true needs of the charter sector—and how those needs differ from those of traditional district public schools. Those organizations that do understand those distinctions, like Hertz Furniture, are indeed the most successful in the charter school sector, or will be in the future.
It was a pleasure to meet the Hertz Furniture sales team, sign their books, and hear their stories. Most of all, I appreciated their eagerness and hunger to learn so they could become better teachers themselves for those just starting out in the charter world. So for me—mission accomplished! We now have a whole team across the country able to dispel the myths about chartering, provide support to new charter leaders, and help create quality charter schools in a robust charter sector.
I smiled all the way back to Minneapolis, even in the snowstorm. Happy Holidays, everyone!!