Three Things I Learned During My Internship as a Charter School Alum

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I’ve always been a strong advocate for public charter schools. That's because I went to KIPP King Collegiate, a public charter high school in San Lorenzo, California. I’ll always be grateful to my school for changing my life for the better.

As a proud charter school alumna, I’ve never felt more prepared and supported to advance my career as a first-generation college student. I am honored to be a part of the charter community, and I will eternally be grateful to my parents for making the best decision for me.

It was KIPP’s Alumni Internship Program that helped me connect with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools as an intern this summer. The internship not only provided me with valuable experience for my future career, but it also reinforced my belief in the critical role that charter schools play in public education.

Every month has taught me something new and I’d like to share some of my highlights and lessons learned:

There is always more to learn. 

As part of my internship, I had the opportunity to attend and be behind the scenes at the 2021 National Charter School Conference, an annual event for charter school educators and advocates across the country held by the National Alliance. I learned firsthand how the National Alliance plays an important role in the community of charter schools and in providing resources to all students and teachers. 

One session that stood out to me was “Teaching While Traumatized,' presented by educators from the Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys in Washington, D.C. In this session, I learned about adverse childhood experience scores, why they matter, and how charter schools can support teachers. Returning to the new normal can be mentally taxing on everyone and, with teachers being one of the important components, there needs to be a focus on mental wellbeing. Teachers deserve to be appreciated and checked in on. 

Charter school students, leaders, and teachers are changing the world. 

Earlier this year, the National Alliance recognized 30 Under 30 Changemakers--students, alumni, teachers, and school leaders at charter schools who are changing the world today. To amplify their efforts, I wrote and published a blog post, Words of Wisdom From 5 Under 30 Changemakers

My blog post demonstrates the positive world-changing effect of the individuals in the charter school community, including in their own communities. I hope through my writing at the National Alliance, I have contributed a positive voice to the charter community alongside parent, teacher, student, and leader advocates.

Charter schools need advocacy more than ever.

I also assisted with the blog post, Celebrating State Charter School Legislative Success in 2021, which gave insight into the landscape for charter schools in states across the country. To my surprise, there is a strong opposition towards charter schools in legislative houses across states, despite the fact that charter schools work for students like me.

I am against the actions that are taking place to stop charter schools from getting the resources they need and recognize the National Alliance’s role in protecting charter school students from political headwinds. I have come away from this internship able to be a better advocate for these schools and students as well. 

I firmly agree with the National Alliance’s mission and values that every student deserves an excellent education. As a student who attended both district and charter schools, I am so glad my community had both options available to my family. 

Often, I am reminded of my charter school experiences and how without them, I would not be the person I am today. Now I can add the national organization advocating for charter schools to that list too.

 

Jasmine Guan is the 2021 summer communications intern at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and an alum of KIPP King Collegiate Charter School.

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