We are excited to share that the nationally renowned Building Excellent Schools (BES) Fellowship program is in Columbus this week to visit and study the United Schools Network (USN). USN is comprised of Columbus Collegiate Academy – Main, and Columbus Collegiate Academy – West. Both schools have been recognized for producing outstanding academic results in schools where a majority of students are economically disadvantaged (92 percent at Main, 100 percent at West).

Building Excellent Schools’ core work is to raise the quality of urban charter schools to ensure that all students have the opportunity to receive the education they deserve. Their highly selective fellowship has seeded more than 60 schools in 20 cities serving 20,000 students nationwide. Over the next two years, those numbers will grow to over 130 campuses in 30 cities.

Individuals selected as fellows focus on closing the achievement gap in some of the highest need communities across the country. Fellows spend a year studying how to design, found, and lead a charter school. During that year, fellows master school design and leadership, operations, governance, and external relations. Fellows also visit over 30 high-performing schools around the country, engage in a month-long residency in an excellent school, and interact with subject-area experts.

On-site study, such as that taking place at the Columbus Collegiate schools this week, is one of the lynchpins of the practice-based BES Fellowship. Columbus Collegiate Academy – Main, the flagship school, was founded in 2008 by 2006 BES Fellow Andrew Boy. In 2011, the school was one of only four nationwide to win the prestigious Gold Star EPIC award from New Leaders for New Schools, recognizing Columbus Collegiate’s extraordinary student achievement results. Columbus Collegiate Academy – West opened in 2012, and this August the network’s first elementary school, United Preparatory Academy (also located in Columbus), will open.

The selection of USN as a study site speaks to the outstanding quality of United Schools Network, the good work of the trustees of the schools, the caliber of the school leaders, and the excellence with which the teachers execute their work every day. While we regularly highlight the great work going on in USN schools, we are grateful that the BES fellows have this opportunity to learn from USN as well, and to apply that knowledge to their own plans to found and lead their own excellent schools. 

May 16, 2014
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