By Rena Youngblood, GCSA Director of Membership:
It’s that time of the year again — testing, end-of-year banquets, summer reading lists and the GCSA membership drive!
The Association exists because of you and for you. In fact, you (and your fellow members) ARE the Association. Your membership is vital because of the strength of our unity and efforts. Without all members, we would be divided and much less effective. In both good and challenging times, the Association stands ready to support its members. So, we urge you to renew your commitment, renew your membership and remain a part of the strongest force for our charter movement in Georgia.
Here are some of the ways our staff continuously strives to earn your GCSA membership and renewal.
Advocating For You All Year Long
Charter school advocacy is a year-round activity for us. Last year our advocacy team provided opportunities for ten delegations of charter school students, parents and teachers, to visit their legislators during the 2014 Session.
They’ll be on the road all summer building charter school allies in communities across the state. This coming fall, Andrew Lewis will facilitate two leadership meetings for member schools previewing our priorities for the 2015 session.
“I just want to thank you and tell you what a comfort it is to know that you’re down at the Capitol every day to make sure our interests are protected.” – David Jernigan, Executive Director, KIPP Metro Atlanta and GCSA Board Member
In addition to legislative advocacy, Legal Advocacy has become one of the more powerful benefits of membership. Through your Legal Advocacy Fund, members have been able to preserve funding, access facilities, and resolve conflicts between authorizers and schools. The Legal Advocacy Fund is only available to current members. To utilize this fund, our policy states that “member schools must maintain continuous membership and ….any lapse of membership will result in a one-year waiting benefit before benefits can be accessed.”
Helping Teachers Earn Certification
This year GCSA’s non-traditional certification GaTAPP program helped over 30 charter teachers earn state certification. Contact us for more information on this pathway that helps all charter teachers become more effective and, ultimately, certified by going to the new website, http://www.gcsagatapp.org/
We are also helping individuals gain employment in the charter sector through our Aspiring Teacher Institute program. These promising candidates work with our teacher preparation team to become highly qualified and ready to teach in a charter school. We have even launched a database of highly qualified aspiring teachers seeking employment to provide a potential pool of teachers ready for hire. You can even watch them teach sample lessons!
With these programs and our annual Job Fairs, and website job listings, we’re committed to helping you find outstanding professionals to staff your schools.
Building Strong Charter School Boards
GCSA is building an impressive statewide reputation for board training. In addition to training over 45 start-up charter governing boards this past year, the Georgia Charter Schools Commission asked us to train all Commission approved school boards, and we have been asked by the state to work with at-risk schools as well. Our trainings are so well respected we’ve now been asked to work with traditional district boards, conversion charter boards, and potential charter cluster boards. There’s also been a surge in requests for operational assessments, assistance with renewals, and pre-operational consulting through CharterLaunch for the time between approval and the first year of operation.
Our Board Bank program is actively training a pool of highly motivated and highly qualified community leaders with diverse skill sets, to join charter school founding boards and operational boards. They’re available to you too, as a GCSA member.
Strengthening Charter School Leadership
Have you heard about GCSA’s CharterLeader program? We’re working with a terrific group of charter school leaders, and other professionals interested in taking on greater responsibility where they currently lead or possibly even launching their own charter schools. Candidates are matched with mentors and executive coaches and learn both the academic and business sides of running and sustaining a charter school. We’re filling Georgia’s pipeline with superbly trained leaders to scale up our movement in every corner of the state.
“Members Only” Content
GCSA Membership entitles you to all of the valuable resources on our web-based Members Only portal. If you forgot the member password, just send me a note firstname.lastname@example.org. The password will change at the end of this year’s membership drive. Only current 2014/2015 GCSA members will receive the new one.
Conferences, Summits & Special Meetings
We have scheduled three, one-day Summits on important topics for charter school
teachers and leaders, with tremendous savings for GCSA members. The content areas
You can register now!
In January 2014, we held our first Charter Schools Leadership Conference. Feedback was so positive we’re doing it again in 2015! Plan to have your leadership team, governing board members and rising teacher leaders attend this event.
We also host several discussions for various member groups like business managers throughout the year at no additional cost. The GCSA weekly newsletter is the best vehicle for keeping an eye out for upcoming events and opportunities. If you’re not receiving it, go to our subscription page and sign up. You should also follow us on Facebook at Georgia Charter Schools Association and on Twitter, @GAChartersRock.
GCSA Membership Fees Have Not Gone Up
We are pleased to be able to offer membership at the same rate for the 5th year in a row. Membership is $5 per student and does not exceed $3,000. Petitioning and pre-operational membership remains at $500. And now you can join/renew online. Go to www.gacharters.org and touch on the Membership tab. You can request an invoice or pay by credit card.
Please feel free to contact any member of the staff regarding member benefits. I am sure you will agree that membership in the Association is not an expense—it is an investment in your school and its future.