Charter School Passes on Administration, Uses Teacher-Empowered Learning

September 07, 2018 06:00 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- This year, Rosa Parks Charter High School got a new building ... and a new learning plan.

That plan is called teacher-powered learning, and began after long-time administrator and school-founder Jay Martini retired last year.


"We always wondered what would happen," said lead teacher Blair Larson. "How do you replace somebody like that, who has been here 25 years? We finally got the idea that we don't have to replace him. Instead of having a principal come in who may not know anything about the program."

The teachers who know about it took over, "and we share the administrative responsibilities," Larson said.

What that means is the teachers have the power to make all of the decisions, with no principal or superintendent involvement.

Larson wasn't sure about the idea initially.

"I was a little intimidated at first, to be honest," he said. "We went to a couple of conferences and started hearing about how other schools are doing it, and we thought it might be a good option for us; it turned out it really is."

They began transitioning to this type of learning two years ago, but this is the first year teachers are on their own.

So far, everyone, including the students, thinks it's going well.

"My favorite part about going here is being treated more as a person than as a student," said Carter Duncan.

The school also focuses on project-based learning, on topics students pick for themselves.

And while it's been a great fit for students, enrollment at the school has dropped to just more than 60 students.

"Right now, with only 11 staff members, we would like to get too many more," said Amy Mullen, an adviser and language arts teacher. "We're looking at adding seventh- and eighth-grade; we've seen a huge need for that in the community."

The staff knows this type of learning isn't for everyone.

"Education isn't one-size-fits-all," Larson said. "Every educational institution in town provides something different, and kids are shopping around a lot more now."


Talia Milavetz

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