Dec 07 2021
CSDC is proud to announce this year's winner of the annual Green Apple Award.
CSDC established the Green Apple Award in 2018 to recognize the contributions and achievements of charter leaders who are moving into retirement and to encourage and inspire those who follow in their footsteps.
The Green Apple awards are focused on individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution toward the success of one or more charter schools as evidenced by the following:
This year, 6 exceptional school leaders were recognized:
Celia started her teaching career by bringing a decade of business experience into the classroom in inner city San Diego at Hoover High School. She transitioned to charter school development 17 years ago, quickly moving into administration, merging her love of business with inspiring our young adults. Her expertise in personalized program development and building partnerships with the local community resulted in years of increase in student achievement and a wide-range of program offerings like Robotics and Career Technical Education. Through her whole-hearted leadership approach, she encouraged her staff to courageously dream, create possibilities for students, and go beyond expectations. During her tenure as the School Director of Dehesa Charter School, the organization successfully obtained the first Countywide Benefit Charter in San Diego County, Dimensions Collaborative School.
Rounding out her charter years at Cabrillo Point Academy, she served as Director of Curriculum and Director of Human Resources Development. There she continued leading by example with integrity and insightfulness, collaborating on school improvement processes, programs, and systems. She shared that she drew inspiration over the years from her charter colleagues who continuously demonstrate creativity, innovation and resiliency - transforming education so that all students, particularly those from underserved populations, can thrive.
Gina served as the Founding Executive Director of Pacific View Charter School. She says the highlight of her career occurs every year at graduation when she is uplifted and encouraged by her graduates—many of whom likely would not have received a diploma but for Pacific View Charter. The thought that has continuously sustained her through some of the toughest days are her reflections back to why Pacific View was started in the first place. She says, “We knew we had a format for a school the community wanted and a population of students that needed an alternative to the traditional school setting. We also knew a charter school would allow us to do what was right for the student.” The advice that Gina has for other charter leaders is to keep doing what is right for the students, stay firm in your convictions and never give up.
In 2004, Inge Karlshoej , in partnership with her husband Axel, established the Erik Karlshoej Educational Foundation in memory of their late son specifically to support the charter school movement and to start the K-8 Twin Rivers Charter School in Yuba City. Inge has served on the charter school’s board for 17 years and reports the highlight of her career has been watching the school grow from a small building to a 50,000 square foot state of the art campus on 6 acres with large classrooms, beautifully landscaped grounds, play areas, gymnasium, theater arts and athletic fields. She says, “equally and more satisfying is seeing the efforts realized as thousands of students have benefited with a great educational experience from Twin Rivers Charter and knowing that the future is bright for students, school, community and employees for years to come.” The success of their students and the knowledge that Twin Rivers Charter School is providing a solid educational experience has sustained her as a leader. Inge’s advice to charter leaders is to “remember, it’s people not programs that make a school successful. Take care of your employees with salaries, duties and schedules that meet or exceed what your competition offers to allow you to recruit and retain the very best educators and staff. Top notch employees with high morale equals successful students.” Inge is the first charter board member to receive a Green Apple Award.
Jan Perry founded America’s Finest Charter School in San Diego in 2011 and says, “I wanted to create a school that would help students achieve their American Dream. I created the name America’s Finest Charter School because we live in America's Finest City and wanted all of the pride of that name to follow. We are now a TK-12 school with over 500 students and help students identify and follow their chosen college or career path.” The advice Jan has for other charter leaders is to get into classes and get to know the students and families in your school—they are the reason we do what we do. Hold high expectations for everyone in the building and have a network of other charter leaders that you can trust and rely on for advice and support.
Joyce Montgomery is the former Chief Financial Officer at Summit Public Schools in the Bay Area. Joyce feels blessed to have found a career that married her financial talents and passion for education by leading those who work on the business side of charters. Participating in and then leading and managing the CSDC Charter Business Officer Program has always been something that she has been passionate about. Joyce was also part of a team that supported a charter school on the verge of revocation. Preventing that school's revocation was a humbling and empowering professional experience. Joyce was sustained in her career by her team members, colleagues and a network that reminded her that while we don’t see the results overnight, good things come from the hard work. She says, “The network of colleagues and CBO alumni who work tirelessly to serve students in smart and practical ways are the foundation of my work and I dedicate my career to them.” Joyce’s advice to charter leaders is this: There will always be problems, obstacles, and dilemmas. Hire the best people you can and have high expectations of their work. Make changes as soon as the need identifies itself. Be brave, be smart, be prepared for the worst and then prepare to be amazed.
Margaret Johnson was the cofounder and Executive Director of Redding School for the Arts. The greatest highlight of Margaret’s career was finally moving RSA onto its own state of the art campus after being housed in 4 different locations. Margaret reports, “Opening the doors for the first day of school at 955 Inspiration Place seemed frightening and magical. What a banner day to know we would not have to set up school in another location. We were home.” After an exhausting or frustrating day as a charter leader, Margaret would recognize that the tough days were there to make the school stronger and more resilient to the outside forces that come at charters and their leaders. Margaret’s advice to charter leaders is fivefold: 1. Know your school’s mission and values. 2. Build a team with others who believe in the mission of the school. 3. Be brave and stay positive in tough times. 4. Show gratitude toward others. 5. Lastly be sure to take time for yourself to exercise, sleep or just have down time. Thank you, Margaret, for your service and congratulations.