start-up bootcamp

Startup indie charter schools face enormous hurdles and don’t have the resources provided by CMO’s. But startups can generate great energy. Let’s share some of our greatest startup stories for the benefit of all the new startups out there.

monday, november 18
monday, november 18

Title: Flexible Leadership for Successful School Launch

School/Organization: Lafayette Preparatory Academy and FIT Academy Charter School

Time: 9:05-10:05am

Presenter(s): Susan Marino; Claud Allaire 

Description: This presentation will explore the challenges of navigating the unknown and unexpected when launching a new school. We will discuss strategies for keeping your community focused on the school's mission and developing a collaborative culture. We will also explore operational lessons learned during facility transitions, renovations and expansions. The presentation will include best practices as well as real-life examples from two start-up school leaders.

Claud Allaire is the Executive Director and Founder of FIT Academy Charter School in Apple Valley, Minnesota. He earned a teaching degree from the University of Michigan, a masters’ in sport psychology from Ithaca College, and completed the Education Specialist program for principals from the University of Minnesota.

Susan Marino is the founding Head of School and Executive Director for Lafayette Preparatory Academy, She has a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from the University of New Mexico, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lindenwood University, an Educational Specialist degree in leadership from Webster University, and is currently pursuing her Educational Doctorate.

Title: Can you Afford It? The Cost of Ineffective Board Meetings

Presenter(s): Tina Smith 

Time: 10:10-11:10am

School/Organization: Highmark Schools Development 

Description: Time is our most precious commodity and finite resource-only 24 hours in a day and yet the demands continue to increase. With everything a new board has to accomplish in the first few years in operation, setting up processes and systems to ensure effective board meetings can maximize the resources within our control. In this workshop style session, we will discuss specific strategies that set boards up for long term success and sustainability. Using real examples of “good, bad and ugly”  board meetings, we will review the power of implementing simple yet effective tools to streamline preparation and lead to productive decision making. 


Tina Smith is the Director of Portfolio Management with Highmark School Development. As a former educator, founding team member, and board chair of a successful charter school, and most recently as the Chief Operations Officer at the Utah Association of Public Charter Schools, Tina has over a decade of hands-on charter school experience.

Title: Facilities, Finance and the 5th Grade

Time: 11:15-11:30am

Presenter(s): John Dewey

School/Organization: Santa Ynez Valley Charter School 

Description: What can you do with a limited budget and a lot of upkeep? This is the story of a small independent Charter School in Santa Barbara County that turned to students for help with custodial and landscaping needs. This presentation documents students in fifth and sixth grade who turned their hand to making facilities improvements on campus and in the 2-acre garden attached to the school. They’re learning just as much outside the classroom as they are inside; measurements, physics, the natural world. And they’re framing a new philosophy for the school, a do-it-yourself mentality with hands-on learning and tangible results. 


Dr. John Dewey joined Santa Ynez Valley Charter School as Director a year ago, after a decade in progressive education and representing WASC as visiting chair for independent schools. Dr. Dewey began his career teaching Spanish before earning his master’s in Linguistics and pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership and Organizations.

#icss19 #indiecharters