Best in Class: Celebrating Outstanding Teachers During National Charter Schools Week

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The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools honors Seven Teachers and Eight Lawmakers during a special event on Capitol Hill

Washington, D.C. — Today, during a special event on Capitol Hill, the seven teachers and founders who earned the 2023 Changemaker Award spoke about their commitment to the charter school community and what drives their passion to educating students and advocating for families. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is honored to celebrate these exceptional individuals during National Charter Schools Week, which coincides with National Teacher Appreciation Week this year.  

Award recipients spoke on a panel today to share why they became educators and advocates, what charter schools mean to them and their communities, and why fighting for this unique type of public school is so critical. Here are some quotes from the seven 2023 Changemakers who were honored at today’s meaningful, inspiring event:  

  • When discussing why they became teachers, Cielo Acosta of SLAM! Miami, where she is an alumna, said, “They [her teachers] were able to provide a sense of hope. I saw how impactful and moving that was for me and who I am as a professional and I couldn’t wait to provide that to other students,” and Coach Jermar Rountree of Center City Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C. said, “Being able to bring my students' passions and my passions to life in the classroom is the best part of every day.” 
  • Regarding teacher retention and support, David Singer of University Prep in Denver, CO, said: “We need to radically rethink teacher compensation to exponentially increase salaries in the first five years,” and Tiffany Ortego with One City Preschool in Madison, WI said: ““Let us be part of the conversation. If we feel seen, heard, and respected, we’ll keep doing our darndest.” 
  • Andrea Thomas of Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock, NM said that she looks to a future where we can create “schools in communities where students come from. A future where students don’t have to leave their community to access high-quality education.”   
  • Nathaniel Dunn III with i3 Academy in Birmingham, AL, celebrated his cohort of Changemakers and charter school teachers nationwide, and said, “We are the trendsetters of education.”  
  • And finally, Dr. Alissa Russell of Life High School Oak Cliff in Dallas, TX, encouraged her peers and the audience to: “Get out there and advocate and demand our students are educated.” 

“We are humbled to honor these exceptional and hardworking teachers who do the vital work of educating and supporting rising generations of students,” says Nina Rees, CEO and President of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Teachers are the backbone of education and deserve our support, encouragement, and recognition for continuing to serve students even in the face of ongoing challenges.”   

The following eight federal legislators earned the 2023 Champion for Charter Schools Award for their commitment to advocating for policy that will enable charter schools to thrive: Representative Rick Allen (R-GA-12), Representative Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29), Representative Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-7), Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Representative Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-8), Representative Julia Letlow (R-LA-5), Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).  

“This bipartisan group of lawmakers has fought for students and families, not just in their home states and districts, but also at the national level,” says Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “We celebrate and commend their work in Congress which puts the interests of students first. The ability for public charter schools to innovate and serve more families and communities is possible due to the sound policy put forth by lawmakers like our 2023 Champions.” 

We commend this group of lawmakers and dozens more for signing the 2023 Senate Resolution to celebrate National Charter Schools Week, a meaningful action to celebrate charter schools’ contributions to public education. The resolution was led by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Michael Bennett (D-CO).