What a journey! I have had the distinct honor of serving as the President & CEO for Academy of Arts and Sciences Charter School for exactly one year today. And it truly has been a journey ...
One of the slogans for Central Michigan University, where I earned my bachelors degree, is 'Put your stamp on the world.' I am hopeful that I have put a stamp in my AAS world, one where all of our stakeholders feel valued and part of the family. It is not my charter school - it is our charter school. I hope my stamp is one that realizes everyone's input is important, is welcome, is valued, and is acted on.
One of my first acts at the helm was to survey our stakeholders, and use those results at an in-person All-Staff Weekend Retreat. I knew a weekend away for a virtual staff would be tough, yet worth it. I am most proud of bringing the 85 staff together, use the data from our stakeholder surveys, and crafting a new mission statement for the school. I do not take a single ounce of credit; I merely facilitated the conversation. We also spent a little over a month, working virtually in Google Docs, to craft a new vision statement. These statements spoke, and still speak, to who we are as a school, and who we want to be.
We spent a lot of time surveying stakeholders and gathering input and feedback. And we grew. We grew our staff, our programs, our initiatives. We increased ways to be involved, and we increased our transparency to our community. I often share with family and friends - my Board of Director packets are always over 300 pages ... if I know something, not only does my board know, my staff does too. There is nothing to hide ... nothing to be hidden.
We had some challenges, and still do. Through transparency, communication, collaboration, though, I believe we will persevere and grow. Our work is not done. My commitment is not over. More change is on the way, positive change, change that will help us close a chapter and start a new one.
I am so blessed, so honored, to be part of the AAS family. We have some of the most committed educators you could find. We have staff dedicated to ensuring scholar success. Thank you, AAS, for the opportunity to be part of this journey and making a positive impact on the scholars we serve. Onward!
J.J. Lewis - a blog sharing the journey throughout SDSU's MA.EL. program.