By: Dustin Curzon, Executive Director of 36°N
Last Tuesday night, we hosted a panel of leaders from five different Tulsa’s Charter Schools: Nikhil Kawlra from Collegiate Hall, Jamilla MacArthur from Tulsa Legacy, Eric Doss from Tulsa School of Arts & Sciences, Chelsea Vanacore from College Bound Academy and Elsie Urueta from Tulsa Honor Academy.
Over the course of an hour, we dove into their individual and collective journeys to create unique and impactful schools. In many ways, Charter Schools are the startups of the education world. Entrepreneurship is the search for creative solutions to important problems, and that's exactly what these schools are doing.
Going into the event, I assumed their stories would be similar to that of a startup founder. They include a big vision, struggles and hopefully, a big reward. The most fascinating part for me was their discussion of what motivates them and their teams. It’s not the potential of a future payday like many tech companies. Their drive is even deeper- a desire to make impactful change in the lives of individual children. When I asked “What keeps you awake?,” the first response from every panelist was the same: the kids. Elsie put it best when she talked about the fear of creating another mediocre school. The stakes are high for these founders- excellence is the only option.
Though Charter Schools are not exactly new, the number of them has increased in recent years. And despite this increase, they remain a mystery for the general public. Are they private schools? Are they public? Do you have to pass a test to attend? On a basic level, our discussion shone a light on what charter schools are and what they are not. On a deeper level, my hope is that we showed the passion and vision behind these schools. I think when people see that passion, they want to get on board.
All of these schools need our help. My hope is that entrepreneurs, technologists, designers and the general public will find ways to support them. Starting this semester, I will be volunteering as a Reader Partner at Tulsa Legacy. It’s an easy commitment with a huge benefit - for students, the school and myself. I hope you’ll find a way to use your talents to serve our schools. If you’re looking for a way to get involved, come by 36°N and we’ll connect you.
Want to know more about what was said at the charter school panel? Read this Tulsa World article.