First 100 Days At Winfree Academy
Brandy Schott is the Superintendent for Winfree Academy Charter Schools. She has been working at Winfree Academy for 9 years.
When I look back at these first 100 days, I am filled with pride, and honored to be leading such a great school. Our campuses serve students from 43 school districts across DFW. That is not easy task of our staff to relate to such a diverse geographic group. It takes great teaching staff, tireless support personnel, effective leadership, and a determined administrative office to manage the needs of our students from all over DFW. I am grateful that we have such talented and dedicated individuals. It is through this service of working with the exceptional parents, students, and staff of Winfree Academy that I have learned what an amazing experience it is to build a future for At-Promise youth.
The amount that Winfree Academy and its community have accomplished these first 100 days could not be more impressive. A few of those highlights are: student-run campaigns for blood donation for Carter Blood Care, our students dancing to raise awareness for National School Choice Week, teachers earning grant money through the Winfree Schools Foundation to help facilitate their innovative ideas into the classroom, Be the Tree donating $5000 to aid students and their families this past holiday, and participating in 6 holiday parades. We have also relocated our sixth campus to Dallas, close to the Duncanville/Desoto border. I am pleased to say that the campus is blooming and as of the 100th day, sits at 164 students. The campus will continue to grow throughout the year thanks to the dedication and care from our determined Dallas staff.
Our accomplishments have been plenty, while simultaneously we continue educating, training, and motivating At-Promise students to graduate.
Winfree Academy met the 2014 alternative standard for charter schools for the 15th consecutive year. We were pleased to receive our accreditation rating from the Texas Education Commissioner, Michael Williams. Having said that, there is still much to be improved upon. Unfortunately, we received a Substandard FIRST rating this year, which represents our financials for the 2012-13 school year. Along with a new Executive Director of Business, Sharay Boynton, we have made many changes in our financial policies and procedures, which includes a new budgeting process for this year. We are being proactive in forecasting and making adjustments to prepare for future financial growth. We continue to work with the Texas Education Agency in all areas of the school to find ways to better serve our students. We have learned so much, not only of our financial operations and academic operations, but also about the needs of the students and communities we serve across DFW, and I am confident in our success going forward.
Enrollment was down at the beginning of the year, but has slowly climbed. There has been a recent surge closing to the 100-day mark, and we have exceeded our enrollment number from this time last year. Although this is positive, we are not where we want to be. We are working to push for new students and have enrollment strategies we are actively pursuing throughout the rest of the school year. We need to keep in mind that there are thousands of potential Winfree students out there who do not even know what we do and they need our help. Each and every one of us has an opportunity to change the life of a person who may be struggling at their current school. So tell your friends, family, and acquaintances where you work, where you go to school, or where your child goes to class: Winfree Academy. Maybe they or someone they know could use our help.
Another area of focus for us is student retention. We have implemented components to help increase our retention including building relationships with students, crafting clear and more frequent communication, and better education on how the different graduation plans can help prepare learners for their desired career. We want our students and parents to be proud to call Winfree Academy their “school of choice”.
Student performance has been an essential benchmark that we have focused on all year as well. We want our students to not only graduate, but also to graduate with the skills and abilities necessary for college, career, and life.
Student performance is not just based on test scores, but how well our students are prepared for the future. Winfree Academy believes that a strong, healthy relationship with learners allows them to succeed. We are constantly working with staff to provide them with what they need to build a personal connection with students and help them achieve. We strive to build individualized graduation and curricular plans that meets learners where they are at academically.
As an Executive Team, one of our primary focuses for all administrators has been on building relationships through strengths-based leadership. I believe the stronger we are at understanding those we work beside, as well as those we serve, the better we will be in the classroom. We work with some of the most amazing educators and supporters of At-Promise students, and it is this drive to improve the lives of all students who cross our doors, which will be our premise for the future of Winfree Academy. I am looking forward to graduation and what the end of the year will bring. Winfree Academy will continue on our distinct path, will focus on financial strength, and will continue to seek to provide a high-quality education for all of our At-Promise students. We must stay true to our core beliefs:
1) All learners have promise and the right to multiple opportunities for success.
2) Staff, parent, and community connections are essential.
3) Everyone has value.
I value each and every individual that walks through our doors. Thank you to the parents, students, and staff for your dedication during the first 100 days of school. Winfree Academy and its students will continue to grow, learn, achieve, and GRADUATE through the rest of the school year. I am so proud to call Winfree Academy my home, and am anxiously awaiting Graduation to witness all of those smiling faces of our students who have mastered their high school journey! Until then, best wishes throughout the spring semester!