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10 Episodes of Charter School Insider... 10 Lessons & Tactics

10 Episodes of Charter School Insider... 10 Lessons & Tactics

One learning and one tactical tip from each of the first ten episodes of our podcast... Charter School Insider: Lessons from the Nation's Top Charter School Operators.


Episode #1 - Learnings from 100M in bond financing with Mark Kalpakgian

  • Lesson: If you rent your facility, your school is the best tenant your landlord could ever ask for (think about the incentives you have to constantly improve their property!). Consider buying if you plan to stay for 5-7+ years.
  • Tactic: Proactively build a team of experts so when the time comes you aren't starting flatfooted. Get to know the bankers, financial advisors, facilities experts so when the time comes your "team" is ready to mobilize.

Episode #2 - Why community engagement should drive your enrollment strategy with Bill Knous 

  • Lesson: Regardless of whether you are a new school founder or a CMO with a proven model of previous success, locking arms with the community that your school serves is the only path to sustainable growth.
  • Tactic: Sometimes your existing students are your best brand ambassadors, find ways to amplify their voices in reaching the rest of the community.

Episode #3 - How an operational challenge became an EdTech product with David Berg 

  • Lesson: Don't be afraid to pursue creative solutions to operational challenges. You never know what might come of your efforts!
  • Tactic: Consider non-profit and philanthropic funding sources to incubate unique projects. More people than you realize want to see you succeed.

Episode #4 - Listen to your teacher! Top 5 takeaways for administrators from the Alliance’s nationwide teacher sentiment survey with Debbie Veney

  • Lesson: Your teachers are your greatest asset and more than anything they want to teach... sounds obvious right?
  • Tactic: Keep weaponized political issues out of the classroom and get back to the basics (91% of teachers support this according to the survey regardless of their own political affiliations - which happen to be ~50/50)

Episode #5 - Strategic planning and the role of the board with Peter Gudmundsson. 

  • Lesson: Use 'desired end state' as a north star during strategic planning and work backwards when evaluating priorities and growth investments.
  • Tactic: Don't take data points at face value, challenge assumptions and whether or not the data are reflective of school level trends towards your desired end state.

Episode #6 - Values based leadership with Kennedy Hilario, CEO of Ace Charter Schools 

  • Lesson: Adults, just the like students you serve, want to be heard, seen, involved, given agency, pushed to learn and grow, etc. By modeling these values as a leadership staff it sets a model for the rest of the organization.
  • Tactic: Have a rule at your organization that hard conversations are always had in-person, face to face.

Episode #7 - How to 'talk the talk' of school operations with Anders Lindgren, Founder of SchoolOps

  • Lesson: Asking good questions and over-communicating solve 70-80% of issues when looking to improve operational practices (whether that be managing service providers, internal staff, board expectations, etc.)
  • Tactic: Put the ownership back on your service providers to explain to you what success should look like, what metrics to track, examples of excellence at other schools, and so on. Then build an agenda around those findings and hold them accountable to their own bar.

Episode #8 - More than the numbers... with Daniel Bell, Deputy Chief of Finance at Mastery Charter Schools

  • Lesson: Understanding "the finances" doesn't have to be kept under lock and key.
  • Tactic: Meet with building level leaders and walk them through their P&L, explain the macro budgetary goals, invite them into the process of financial planning. Translate the language of finance if needed - it will help you do your job better.

Episode # 9 - Founding & growing a CMO aimed at significance with Colleen Mullen of Propel

  • Lesson: Leaders...don't forget to invest in your people, client service is important but ultimately your team delivers that service and when they are engaged and fulfilled your clients will feel the impact. Significance > Success.
  • Tactic: Roll up your sleeves and do the work to fully understand the needs of your team... don't just manage them to outcomes.

Episode # 10 - Developing a framework for grant management with Kim Tarin of CIES

  • Lesson: Grants (and ultimately revenue) can be the lifeblood of your school's mission. Build a system to capitalize on every dollar.
  • Tactic: Have a single place to visualize and track everything (like Kim's awesome spreadsheet template that she shared for free here)


You can listen to Charter School Insider: Lessons from the Nation's Top Charter School Operators on your favorite podcasting platform...






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