Our team had the pleasure of visiting with our friends at New Dawn Charter School in Brooklyn. New Dawn is one of several "transfer-like" charter schools (for a long time there was really only one, Wildcat Academy—but we now have five others). Running a transfer high school is hard. Starting one is even harder. The problems that the kids bring in from the streets (including gangs and the drugs and violence that follow) don't just disappear at the school house door. Only with incredible grit and perseverance can you build a culture in the building where the street is left behind (at least for the most part).
What we saw were engaged, polite and serious students who I think are grateful to the staff for believing in them. We also saw them doing yoga. The great leaders and teachers who build these schools and work in them (whether on the charter or district side), deserve our enormous thanks and appreciation. They are gutsy, savvy, loving folks with huge hearts and the kind of optimism that we could all use more of.