Traveling with the Concept Leadership Team

What a great experience these two weeks have been, traveling with the Concept leadership team to 7 cities in as many days for Concept Teacher Institute Days!  I feel like an attorney “embedded” with a traveling brigade of master teachers and educators, who are leading professional development for hundreds of educators ready to start the school year.

Here, Jennifer Sajovec leads the departmental session for elementary educators.

My role is to share the pioneering charter school story and help attendees to challenge the myths of chartering in their community.

But I’m learning far more from them than they are from me.  I’ve never sat in on teacher professional training before. With new assessment tools, a focus on Response to Intervention (RtI), and orientation for new teachers, I’m just beginning to understand how complex the teaching profession can be.

I’m especially impressed with the focus on special education in these schools. Cheryl Kalkirtz is Director of specialized services for Concept’s 33 schools.  Cheryl is third from right in this picture with her special ed directors in Columbus, Ohio. In just one year she has created a strong system of compliance and support for those who work with her. A special page on the Concept website(  maps out all laws and regulations relevant to special education in each state in the Concept network.  Check it out for your own school!

I’m a fan of Concept’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum.  The mission statement of Gateway Science Academy in St. Louis, Missouri says it all. We need more STEM graduates! Did you know that there are 1.9 positions in the STEM field right now for every employed STEM person?  Compare that to 1 job for every 4 persons in the non-STEM market.  The Department of Commerce predicts that STEM occupations will grow by 17% as compared to less than 10% growth for non-STEM fields.

Concept has two national Blue Ribbon Schools within its network.  A third school, Horizon Science Academy Columbus Elementary School, won the Concept network robotics competition, against students of all grade levels!  Remarkable.  But as these signs at Gateway Science Academy demonstrate, these schools teach much more than STEM.

To the students starting your new school year: Yes, put your future in good hands—your own. And the earlier the better!