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News and Events

I CAN Blog

-August 2017+
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  • Entries (22)
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Scholars First 

Friday, September 11, 2015 1:48:00 PM

            There is no I CAN Family without all of our key stakeholders playing their part.  Of course, what makes I CAN SCHOOLS unique is that at the end of the day, all of our funders and friends recognize that one group of stakeholders is more important than any other: our scholars.  We recognize the necessity of balancing quality, individualized education with our self-imposed mission to close the achievement gap for as many scholars as possible.  As a result, we carefully monitor our enrollment numbers to ensure that our schools are able to provide the highest quality education to the highest number of new and returning scholars.  

 

This school year, the I CAN Schools network has done a fantastic job of developing enrollment across all campuses.   The Admissions Team has worked relentlessly to ensure that all grade levels at each campus are represented as fully as possible. This year has been unique in that it is the first year I CAN has not expanded its network’s portfolio or size within the state of Ohio.  As a result, our strategy changed back to a focus on reenrollment and greater grassroots efforts that would require minimal funding. The result?   Successful Community Fun Days (a famous enrollment staple) at Canton College Preparatory School and Lake Erie Preparatory School and a reenrollment campaign that ended with over two-thirds of scholars choosing to re-enroll at I CAN SCHOOLS
 
Although we’ve been successful, we realize that our work with enrollment is never fully complete, and we are always looking to increase our presence and engagement within the communities we serve.  In an effort to continue reaching out to the community and filling our schools with scholars in need, the I CAN home office organized an incredible day of canvassing on Friday, September 4th.  After designing and printing promotional flyers, we strategically mapped out the most optimal areas of the city to focus on. 
 
From there, our teachers and principals stole the show.  Each campus had roughly 20 volunteers demonstrate their dedication and commitment by volunteering several hours on what should have been a day off from work.  They happily endured the 90+ degree heat while covering miles of housing and distributing thousands of flyers by hand.  This dedication from our teachers and school leaders paid immediate dividends, as several scholars were enrolled within hours after the event. 
 
Teachers from NEO, OCP, CCP, UCP, CAP, and AKP all took part in the canvassing event on September 4th.   Although canvasing can be an exhausting and difficult job, our amazing team took it all in stride with a smile on their faces. 
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I CAN SCHOOLS Connect With Community Fun Days 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 3:25:00 PM
I CAN SCHOOLS Connect With Community Fun Days
 
In last week’s post, we highlighted the Scholar portion of our tagline “College-Bound. Giving Back. Scholars for Life.”  This week, we will take a look at “Giving Back” and how we strive to make our communities better.
 
One example of how the I CAN family gives back is through its “Community Fun Day.”  These Community Days are free events held at one of the school buildings located around Northeast Ohio.  They are designed as an outreach program to connect and build relationships with families in and around the communities we serve.  Free games, music, and food are just a few of the exciting activities that take place at a community day.  In addition, families and scholars have the opportunity to meet with staff members, attend a Parent Orientation to begin the enrollment process, and make connections with free community service programs.
 
I CAN SCHOOLS capped off a successful summer season of Community Fun Days on Saturday, July 25th at Lake Erie Preparatory School in Cleveland.  The LEP event, which featured dancers from the Scream Team, inflatable games, and a 3v3 basketball tournament, drew a great crowd from families all around the city. 
  
Though things heated up on the dance floor (as seen here below) the kids kept cool with snacks and slushies provided by our wonderful volunteers.

The day full of games and events was highlighted with a 3v3 basketball tournament to wrap things up.  The winners even took home a cash prize!
Community Fun Days, which serve as “Home Days” for the communities surrounding I CAN campuses, were held in Indianapolis (ICP), Canton (CAP), and the Collinwood Area (LEP) this year. Akron and other Cleveland schools have also been in on the fun in past years, and each successful Community Fun Day has served to strengthen our network’s bond with the community.
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Home Office: Scholars for Life 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 11:00:00 AM

 

 
At I CAN SCHOOLS, we are passionate about our mission and vision.  We believe strongly in the tagline we developed to reflect this mission and vision : “College-Bound. Giving Back. Scholars for Life.”  Not only do we expect students to embody this motto, but we believe our staff should strive for the same goals in their daily lives.  Last week, the I CAN home office staff was granted the opportunity to come together as a group and practice the ideal of “Scholars for Life.”   Hosted by the Institute for Creative Leadership (ICL), 18 members of the I CAN SCHOOLS leadership staff stepped away from their offices for a day full of rewarding, creative exercises.
 
 
As seen below, many activities required a degree of trust.
 
 
Though many of the challenges presented by ICL appeared as simple tasks or competitions at first glance, careful listening and analysis of instructions ultimately required staff members thinking outside of the proverbial box to achieve the set goals.   Team members were forced to push themselves and each other outside of their comfort zones, with the ICL staff often intentionally putting them in uncomfortable situations.  However, it was that ability to step outside of comfort zones that eventually led to innovative solutions in nearly every obstacle the home office team was faced with throughout the day.  The staff came together to work as a team, even in scenarios that were originally thought to be competitions.  
 
 
After a full day of mental and physical challenges, the team felt both exhausted and rejuvenated.  The advanced levels of teamwork and openness were on fulldisplay in the final activities of the afternoon, proving that Scholars for Life is truly a value that can be taken beyond the classroom through an intentional focus on professional and personal development.
 
 
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What is a Charter School? 

Thursday, July 9, 2015 10:55:00 AM

As charter schools continue to grow in both size and numbers, the attention from local and national media has followed suit.  Although they are more popular than ever before, many voters do not have a firm understanding of their history or how they operate.  This post is intended to give the reader an objective insight into the world of charter schools. 

 

Charter School Overview

 

Put simply, a charter school is an independently operated school that receives public funding from the state.  The schools are often built in areas where public schools systems are failing to produce desired results.  Charter schools receive less funding than public schools, but they are also subject to fewer rules and regulations. On average, charter schools serve more low income and minority students than traditional public schools. 

 

History

 

Ray Budde, a Professor from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is credited with creating the charter school concept in 1974. However, it wasn’t until nearly two decades later that Minnesota became the first state to pass a charter law in 1991.  Since that time, 41 states and the District of Columbia have done the same.  There are now roughly 2.3 million students being served at over 6,000 charter schools throughout the United States.

 

How do they work?

 

First, a charter school is founded by either a university, non-profit, activist group or other community member.  They receive partial funding from the state (with the amount varying from state to state) and compensate for any necessary remaining funds through sponsorship organizations, grants, or private donors.  On average, funding for charter schools equates to $7,131 per student compared to $11,184 for their public district counterparts.  Once chartered and funded, the school opens an application process for students to enroll. 

 

One of the major appeals of charter schools is an increased operational autonomy, meaning that they are not subject to many of the procedural requirements that guide public schools.  Much like private schools, charter schools do not require teachers to have the same educational licenses or credentials that public schools mandate.  However, most charter schools adhere to the public standard of hiring highly qualified teachers. 

 

The increased control and flexibility for charter schools allows staff to create a culture and system that better fits the needs of students.  In exchange for this increased freedom, the schools are held accountable for student achievement and strong academic results that are outlined in their charter contracts.  Charter schools that fail to meet these standards are forced to close.

 

Public Perception

 

Public opinion on charter schools is mixed.  While there exists strong support for the successes of charter schools closing achievement gaps in failing public school districts, there are still numerous oppositions.  The major criticism surrounding charter schools relates to accountability and transparency.  Although they receive public funding, charter schools often are not required to share where they are allocating funds.  In Ohio, the state Congress is currently examining legislation that would address issues related to charter school finances. 

 

Bottom Line

 

Although we may see some changes in the way they operate in the coming months and years, it’s safe to say that charter schools will not be going away any time soon.  After 15 years of successfully educating millions of privileged and underprivileged children alike, they have cemented themselves in the educational framework of our country. 

 

In next week’s post, we’ll take a more detailed look at the congressional battle over charter school law in Ohio. 

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