Friday, August 27, 2010

Guerrilla ed

A great story about the Chesapeake Science Point Charter School in Maryland and its principal:


He arrives on time despite awful traffic on Interstate 97, parks his dented Toyota in front of a roomy Millersville home and springs out, black binder at the ready.

It's a week before the start of school in Anne Arundel County, and Fatih Kandil, leader of one of the most academically successful schools in Maryland, is wrapping up his summer the way he always does: by being proactive.

Like other county principals, Kandil — director of the 330-student Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School in Hanover — has been up to his eyebrows in staff meetings, bracing for the arrival of students Monday.

But he's the only one known to visit each of his middle school's students — at home — before classes resume.

"[This] lets everyone know how seriously we take education," he says, ringing the doorbell at the home of Kristofer Burkowski, a new sixth-grader, and his parents, Mark and Cindy.

It's part of the mind-set that has helped Kandil, 36, turn CSP from shaky experiment into growing educational gem.

Inside, at the family's kitchen table, he lays out his school's expectations for homework (2 1/2 hours a night), lost assignments (automatic zero) and accountability (parents can check a 24/7 database for up-to-the-minute grades). He invites questions, cracks a few jokes.

"I've never seen a principal who cares enough to come to your house and [set] expectations, not just for the child but also for his whole family," Mark Burkowski says.

Kristofer, 11, claims to welcome the biggest workload he has ever faced.

Kandil shakes everyone's hand, gathers up his papers and heads back to the old Camry. He has three more visits to go tonight. "If a [traditional] public school is like an established army, we're a highly motivated guerrilla force," he says. "We move quickly and use everything we've got."

'Showing off'

When your school receives less than half the funding per pupil that traditional public schools do, you have to be willing to drive events. If Kandil didn't, CSP — one of just two charter schools in the county and 42 in the state — would never have earned the title of Maryland Charter School of the Year in 2009, its fifth year of existence.

Growing up in Adana, Turkey, Kandil didn't always have such a sense of direction. He was such a brilliant student, especially in the sciences, that he rarely had to push himself. He failed, in fact, to appreciate the talents of his teachers, whom he saw as a miserable lot.


Guerrilla ed

As a new school year beckons, the principal of resourceful Chesapeake Science Point charter school rallies his troops

August 20, 2010

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