If you saw the teacher flash mob at yesterday’s last day of school BBQ, you would know that Innovation Academy Charter School is a special place.
Yesterday marked the end of my 10th year teaching at this school, and as the tradition goes, today I got an IACS jacket in honor of my 10 years. Here’s something that makes my brain spin — Next fall’s batch of 5th grade students were infants when I started teaching here. This has always been a unique community, but I’ve seen the school change drastically since my early days.
We are a different school in countless ways. We have more than doubled in size, and serve twice as many grades now. We used to have a shortage of students, and now we have over 700 students on our waiting list. We are in a new town, have a new name, and have not just one new building, but two!
Despite all these changes, Innovation Academy has maintained a clear mission and philosophy over the past 10 years. Above all, we still strive to meet the needs of the student as a whole person by focusing on our school’s 4 social outcomes: community membership, problem solving, effective communication, and self direction.
It’s not a coincidence that I ended up teaching here. I met our executive director, Walter Landberg, at a job fair back in 2003. I had never heard of the school, but as soon as I heard him describing the school’s mission, I knew that it was a perfect fit. Beginning with that first interview, Walter and I shared many sparks of excitement as we talked about our vision for creating the best school possible. While my first few years of teaching were rough, I never lost this connection to the shared values that Walter and I discussed back before I was hired and throughout the journey. Walter truly cares about this community, and he sees his work as an educator as part of the larger work of caring for our planet. He has been an inspirational leader for our school, and I feel very lucky to have worked with him.
After many years leading the school, Walter is moving on and Innovation Academy is seeking a new head of school to begin in the summer of 2014. I can only imagine what the journey ahead will entail. Do you know anybody who wants to lead this special community? Please forward them this opportunity to be our new Head of School.
We need somebody unique because our future is like a flash mob. Innovation Academy is a place where spectacular things can happen when you least expect it. And maybe ten years later, you’ll realize that there are a lot of reasons to break into spontaneous dancing.
Thank you, Walter, for all you’ve done. There’s a lot to celebrate and I’m sure that there are a lot of surprises yet to come.