Linda Brown, Lagra Newman and Chris Manning at the CharterFolk Oxygen Bar – Resiliency, Persistence and Just Plain Stubbornness in Support of Improved Public Education For Those Who Need it Most

Good day, CharterFolk.

Today we are delighted to share with you the second in a series of short video interviews we are calling the “CharterFolk Oxygen Bar,” extraordinary leaders helping others find new levels of resiliency during this moment of great challenge for charter schools and for all of public education. When I thought of people who have most helped bring oxygen into the rooms where I have worked in support of charter schools, Linda Brown, the founder of BES and member of the National Charter School Hall of Fame, immediately rose to the top of the list. And so, when I reached out to her and learned that she would be willing to join us at the Oxygen Bar, I was thrilled, but I became even more so when she requested that we include in the interview two other extraordinary leaders – Lagra Newman, the Founder and CEO of Purpose Preparatory Academy in Nashville, Tennessee and Chris Manning, the Founder and CEO of Buffalo Creek Academy in Buffalo, New York.

It turned out to be such a great interview. I hope you have a chance to view all 22 minutes. But for a few highlights, I offer the following:

  • At minute three, bringing that endearing irascibility that only Linda has, Linda takes issue with my use of the term “resiliency” and educates us all about how it’s actually her “persistence” and down right “stubbornness” that has been her special source of strength through moments of great challenge, characteristics she has seen in Lagra and Chris as well.
  • At minute eight, Lagra shares how the history of Black people being forbidden to achieve literacy in the past fills her with passion to make sure that this generation of students is able to achieve high levels of literacy now.
  • At the 12:30 point, Chris shares that observing how his mother was supported at home during her battle with ALS sparked an idea for how students and families could be supported in their homes to access improved education during the pandemic (during Buffalo Creek’s first year no less).
  • At the 19:45 mark, inspired by Chris’s comments about his mother, I share again the promise that I made to a special friend which has become a commitment that motivates all that I do here at CharterFolk and I do to support charter schools more broadly.

It was an extraordinary conversation with three extraordinary leaders.

For those of you wanting to learn more about Lagra, Linda and Chris, I provide links herein to great profiles of their work, and I commit to do even more in the months ahead to make sure that their stories are even further elevated here at CharterFolk.

Meanwhile, I offer thanks to our three guests for providing a great blast of oxygen that’s helping to keep me going with all I’ve got. I hope the rest of you find Linda’s, Lagra’s and Chris’s stories as inspiring as I have.