On Wednesday, while area schools were closed for spring break, board members of Bogalusa’s still-in-development Northshore Charter School introduced principal Julie Rodriguez and shared some plans and visions for the new public education option.
The school will open for the 2013-2014 school year with approximately 240 students in kindergarten, first-, second- and ninth-grade classes. It plans to expand each year until it is a full K-12 grade school.
This week, ex-officio board member William Wainwright, who is also the chancellor of Northshore Technical Community College, praised the experience Rodriguez brings with her to Bogalusa.
He’s particularly excited as an education program consultant for the Louisiana Department of Education she traveled the state to provide training for Compass teacher and leader evaluation.
Compass is the state’s educator support and evaluation system designed to provide teachers with regular, meaningful feedback on their performance and with aligned supports to foster continuous improvement.
“She trained people throughout the state on success markers,” Wainwright said.
“What a win for our community.”
Rodriguez’ resume also includes work as a Department of Education Northeast Louisiana English/Language Arts common core state standards trainer; participation in the EQuIP Collaborative to evaluate common core state standard lessons and units; and university level instruction of five literacy courses and classroom behavior management.
It was while she was an adjunct professor at the Missouri Baptist University that she was inspired to move to Louisiana, Rodriguez said.
She was teaching literacy and behavior management and discussing growth when a student pointed out that Missouri was stagnant and asked where there was such growth.
“I didn’t know,” Rodriguez said. “So I researched and found that Louisiana had a great trajectory. I told my husband, ‘I want to be part of that growth.’”
After a couple of years with the state Department of Education, she saw a new opportunity to make something special from what she’s learned.
“I’ve got a deep understanding of how to produce growth and a drive to be a part of it,” Rodriguez said. “I plan to be out in the community making calls on parents and teachers, letting them know how excited I am and inviting them to be part of it. I think we’re going to have an awesome charter school.”
She said she plans to be held accountable for the education Northshore Charter students receive and for the success of the school.
“It’s my job to make sure students achieve,” Rodriguez said.
Now in her third week on the job, she is in the process of hiring a business manager and an administrative assistant. Once they are in place, interviews with prospective teachers will begin.
“I want highly qualified teachers,” she said. “I want the best people in the classroom. I want them to be driven, to have vision. And they have to be up to Department of Education standards.”
The school will follow a state curriculum in a project-based way. Children learn best by doing and, in the process, gain ownership, Rodriguez said.
The students will be encouraged to lead. They will set goals and ask questions, and the teachers will act as facilitators. That results in broad-based learning that will transfer into classroom, school and community success, she said.
“It’s not just about the A, B, Cs,” said Rodriguez. “They’re important, too. But you need to know how to use them.”
This school is founded on the principle that all students can and will succeed, she said.
“Inspiring students to become good citizens taking an active role in the classroom, school and community, Northshore Charter School fosters an atmosphere where students are able to come face-to-face with their own greatness,” Rodriguez said. “Through high expectations, a caring staff, leadership training, goal setting and a rigorous curriculum, students will graduate from Northshore Charter School with the tools to have success in college and career.”
The school will offer “autonomy and accountability that has been lacking in the traditional setting,” said Board President the Rev. R. L. Palmer.
Board members stressed that Northshore Charter School will offer a needed free public school option for local students and their parents, and that they will work with Bogalusa City School System.
“One of the things I’ve asked the board to work toward, understanding the business of educating children, if we find a process that works, we share it with the Bogalusa school system,” Palmer said. “And we are hoping they will share with us.”
The new school’s location has not yet been confirmed, but board members said they have a “strong possibility,” which they hope to announce soon.
Parents who would like to enroll their children in the school can pick up an application at the Northshore Technical Community College, Sullivan Campus or download one from the website northshorecharterschool.org.
The deadline for the first round application period ends on May 31. The period will be extended if necessary, and if more students apply than can be accommodated, there will be a lottery drawing for seats.
Regular Northshore Charter school board meetings will begin in July, and the schedule will be posted in the Daily News and online
Charter school board introduces principal