Best Wishes to First Place for Youth

On Sept. 2, First Place Scholars Charter School will officially ring in the Washington State Charter Law. This small Seattle public school will be the state’s first charter school to open, and the eyes of Washington will be on board chairman Dan Seydel, Principal Evie Livingston, and the 100 students and staff who will be asked to fulfill the promise offered by the law, parents, children, and educators throughout the state.

Washington was the 42nd state to pass charter legislation, and in the eyes of many of the state’s residents, it’s been a long time coming. As the superintendent of the San Carlos School District, I had the privilege of launching the first charter school in California, and the second in the nation. The challenge of being first adds to the desire to do well. In the case of First Place, not only have the initial group of families made a conscious choice to enroll in a charter public school, but the school also will serve as a concrete symbol of implementation. It’s true that the other charters granted in the first round will open in 2015, but First Place will be the proof point for many.

First Place Scholars Charter School seems poised to succeed. Through Family Support Services, it will offer children and families “wrap-around” support, such as rental assistance, case management and health services. In addition, the school will offer a “STEAM” curriculum (think STEM plus an “A” for the arts) and have a personalized learning delivery plan. Finally, the school’s leadership engaged Ron and Linda MacDonald, two veteran education consultants, and the highly regarded Puget Sound Educational Service District team to ensure that fiscal systems are strong and the operations mirror the instructional commitment to the students.

I offer both congratulations and best wishes to the First Place team, and hope you join me in a round of applause for their pioneering effort and for this additional option available to youngsters in central Seattle.