CharterFolk Contributor David Akdemir – The Power of Collaboration: Charter Schools Uniting for Educational Excellence

Good morning, CharterFolk!

Today we are pleased to share a contributor column from Dr. David Akdemir, the Executive Director of Harmony Education Solutions.

Dr. David Akdemir, Executive Director of Harmony Education Solutions

I provide David’s bio below.

Dr. David C. Akdemir is the Executive Director of Harmony Education Solutions, the purpose of which is to provide support and consultation for international and national schools in implementing Harmony Public School’s proven and successful educational model. Previously, David served as the Director of Leadership Development at Harmony Public Schools for five years. He provided professional learning opportunities for current and aspiring school administrators and their supervisors and assisted school districts in implementing their performance management.

Before devoting his work fulltime to leadership development, David served as Area Superintendent of Harmony Austin District, which served around 4000 students at six campuses, for two years. Before this service, he served as Principal/Superintendent at LISA Academy, a one-school charter district in Little Rock, Arkansas, for four years.

David completed his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership at University of Arkansas in Little Rock in 2012 and his Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at Lamar University in 2016.  His dissertation topic was charter school teachers’ perceptions of administrator strategies that contributed to teacher retention, and his findings revealed 19 strategies administrators use that improve teacher retention. David published a scholarly article on the same topic on The Charter School Resource Journal Vol.12 No.1.

David presented at several conferences including AAIE, AISA, ASCD, ISCRC and TCSA on the topics of leadership development and establishing successful school systems. “Developing Aspiring Leaders: One Charter School District’s Approach” at ASCD Empower Conference, and “Teachers’ Perceptions of Administrator Strategies That Contribute to Teacher Retention” at Texas Charter School Association (TCSA) are two examples.

David has been married since 2006, and he has two daughters. He loves and enjoys family, friendships, music, and sports.  

The Power of Collaboration: Charter Schools Uniting for Educational Excellence

Charter schools have emerged as dynamic forces in the American education landscape, offering innovative approaches to teaching and learning. These independent public schools provide parents and students with choices outside of traditional district schools, specializing in unique educational models tailored to meet the diverse needs of their communities. While charter schools are celebrated for their flexibility and ability to drive educational innovation, an often-underappreciated aspect is the significance of charter schools supporting one another.

Strengthening the Charter School Ecosystem

When charter schools come together, they amplify our collective impact, share best practices, and, most importantly, provide better educational opportunities for students nationwide. In this article, I’ll explore the myriad ways in which collaboration among charter schools benefits not only our institutions but also the students we serve.

Promoting Innovation through Collaboration

Charter schools are synonymous with innovation, and when we support each other, we create a thriving network for the exchange of ideas and practices. This collaboration leads to the development of more effective teaching strategies, curriculum enhancements, and improved educational outcomes.

Resource Sharing

Charter schools often face resource constraints compared to traditional public schools. By supporting each other, we can pool resources, share facilities, and jointly access funding opportunities, resulting in cost savings and greater financial stability.

Advocacy and Policy Influence

Charter schools encounter unique policy challenges and opportunities that require collective action. When we unite and support each other, we can advocate for favorable policies, share lobbying efforts, and work together to overcome legislative barriers, shaping policies that promote charter school growth and sustainability.

Mentoring and Professional Development

Charter school leaders and teachers benefit from ongoing professional development and mentorship. Established charter schools supporting newer ones can provide guidance, share expertise, and ensure the success of new educational ventures, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Community Engagement and Outreach

Charter schools often serve as pillars of their communities. Collaborating with other charter schools allows us to expand our reach and engage with a broader audience through joint community events, outreach programs, and partnerships with local organizations.

Student Benefits

Ultimately, the main beneficiaries of charter schools supporting each other are the students. Collaboration leads to better educational opportunities, more effective teaching, and a stronger overall educational system, offering students access to a wider range of high-quality educational options.

The Symphony of Collaboration

The collaborative dynamics within the charter school community are akin to a symphony of innovation and shared aspirations. Experienced charter schools have a distinctive role to play in nurturing and supporting their emerging counterparts. My experiences, working in various capacities within both emerging charter schools and one of the most successful and the largest charter school networks, Harmony Public Schools, shed light on the importance of this vital collaboration.

Understanding the Charter School Ecosystem

My tenure in emerging charter schools as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent provided invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by these institutions. Emerging charter schools often operate on limited budgets and resources, making it essential for them to seek support and guidance to thrive.

The Strength in Unity

Transitioning to Harmony Public Schools, one of the most experienced and successful charter school networks in the nation, revealed the profound impact that large charter schools with proven track records can have on the sector. Collaboration among diverse charter schools, regardless of size, enhances our collective ability to influence policy, share innovative practices, and address shared challenges.

Empowering Emerging Peers

Experienced charter schools play a pivotal role in empowering their emerging counterparts through consultation, mentorship, resource sharing, and advocacy, providing them with the tools and guidance they need to navigate the complex educational landscape effectively.

Fostering Innovation

The dynamic synergy within the charter school community is fertile ground for innovation. Successful charter schools can facilitate the scaling and dissemination of innovative practices developed within emerging institutions, ensuring that groundbreaking approaches benefit a wider spectrum of students.

Advocating for Educational Choice

A unified voice representing charter schools of all sizes is a powerful advocate for educational choice. Large charter schools with proven track records, by standing alongside their emerging counterparts, strengthen the charter school movement’s ability to influence policies that promote diverse, high-quality educational options.

The journey through the diverse landscape of charter schools underscores the importance of experienced charter schools supporting their emerging peers. This collaboration, rooted in shared experiences and a commitment to educational excellence, has the potential to shape the future of education in ways that benefit all students, regardless of the size of their charter school.

Notably, Harmony Public Schools (HPS) has played a pivotal role in fostering educational excellence in Texas and beyond by offering invaluable support to numerous charter school systems. HPS’s commitment to education extends far beyond their own campuses, as they have actively collaborated with aspiring charter schools to help them lay the foundation for success. Through comprehensive assistance, HPS has assisted in the establishment of these schools, guiding them in administrative and instructional areas, offering vital resources, and providing unwavering support. As a result of this partnership, these charter schools have flourished and are now operating independently, standing as beacons of educational achievement in their respective communities.

The commitment to collaboration among charter schools, both experienced and emerging, is a testament to our resilience and a reflection of our shared vision of providing students with diverse, high-quality educational opportunities. In this spirit of unity, charter schools collectively contribute to reshaping the educational landscape for the better, ensuring that every student has the chance to thrive.

Reactions and questions welcome.  Please email David Akdemir, Ed.D, to discuss.