Communities of Practice

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The virtual and hybrid world provides new opportunities to engage charter school educators and staff at a national level. To help school staff and advocates communicate, problem solve, and collaborate, the National Alliance created three Communities of Practice:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • Trauma Informed Educators
  • Charter School Operations

These communities of practice engage members as a community and in an agile, learner-centered environment. The peer-to-peer connection helps members learn and work together to address their common needs and interests.

The Early Childhood Education Community of Practice is a community of practitioners and experts in charter schools currently providing or interested in learning more about early childhood education. This community of practice is open to practitioners of all levels of experience, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced content for schools and educators.

Hundreds of charter schools across the country currently offer pre-k programs, and many more are interested in doing so but face policy, funding, facilities, or other barriers. The Early Childhood Education Community of Practice is an effective way to bring interested and experienced practitioners together to share best practices and resources that support holistic and strong academic practices and increase the number of charter school leaders implementing high-quality early childhood education program in their own communities.

The community will engage as needed through various formats including course cohorts, virtual meetings and an in-person gathering at the National Charter Schools Conference learn and network and prioritize content. The Early Childhood Education Community of Practice has engaged a diverse and robust Steering Committee that is helping to define the direction of the Early Childhood Education Community of Practice. It is comprised of highly accomplished individuals in both the charter school and early childhood space. They will lead the way in developing the content and making other key decisions that will result in the skills development of fellow participants.

The bedrock of the Early Childhood Education Community of Practice is its robust curriculum. In coordination with the Steering Committee, we have been developing courses in line with our core goals. Selected topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Operational planning (securing space, furniture and materials, exemplar hiring documents, budgeting, etc.)
  • Programmatic planning (vision setting, developmentally appropriate practices in Pre-K, systems for coaching and supporting Pre-K, family engagement, early literacy and math standards, vertical alignment to kindergarten, etc.).

We expect to have a virtual platform selected to present and house curriculum and have course development completed by the end of August 2022.


  • Aaron Brenner, General Partner, Seton Education Partners
  • Cathleen Sims, Head of Policy and External Affairs, Success Academies
  • Xanthe Jory, Chief Operating Officer, Achievement First
  • Kia Murray, Director of Academic Services, Colorado League of Charter Schools
  • Charlotte Brantley, Chair, Board of Directors, Rocky Mountain Prep
  • Anna Williamson, Agenda for Children, Managing Director Early Childhood, New Schools for New Orleans
  • Jack McCarthy, CEO and President, AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation
  • Sara Mead, Assistant Superintendent for Early Learning, Office of the State Superintendent of DC
  • Chrisanne Gayl, Senior Director, Policy and Programs, Trust for Learning
  • Allison Barjracharya, Principal, AGB Consulting
  • Scott Moore, Executive Director, Kidango
  • Kaleem Caire, CEO and Founder, One City Schools
  • Albert Wat, Senior Policy Director, Alliance for Early Success
  • Eliza Halsey, Founder, Elm City Montessori
  • Daniela Rubio, Chief Community Officer, Austin Achieve


To join this community of practice, please complete the following form:

The Charter School Operations Community of Practice is for operations professionals working in charter schools. Over the years, we have recognized a need and desire for operations professionals to have specialized learning opportunities, foster community and connections, exchange research, quality practices, insights, and identify shared concerns. We want to expand access to information, methods, and systems to sole operations professionals within small networks or single-site schools and create a national network of experts and practitioners to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas.

Members of the Charter School Operations Community of Practice are practitioners. Our goal is to develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, tools, and ways of addressing recurring problems. Through time and sustained interactions and the development of shared systems and methods, we will grow and create a strong practice.

The community will engage as needed through various formats, including a private listserv for internal communications in real time, webinars for timely information on trending topics, a newsletter to share valuable information, and an in-person annual meeting at the National Charter Schools Conference. 

The Charter School Operations Community of Practice is managed by the National Alliance’s Jake Custer, senior director of HR and operations, and Sindy Pierre-Noel, director of programs, with input and help from a planning committee with direct school operations experience.


  • Jake Custer, Senior Director, Human Resources & Operations, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
  • Sindy Pierre-Noel, Director, Programs, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
  • Bulent Coban, Chief Operations Officer, Harmony
  • Lyman Millard, Partner, Bloomwell Group 
  • Suzette Ruiz, Vice President, Somerset Academy, Inc
  • Jana Wilcox Lavin, Executive Director, Opportunity 180


To learn more about this community of practice or to sign up, please visit the Operations Community of Practice listserv landing page.

The Trauma-Informed Educators Community of Practice is by, of, and for practitioners to support peer-to-peer learning and collaboration and share and create trauma-informed educational practices and models. The Trauma-Informed Community of Practice is open to all K-12 schools.

The content and tools provided seek to meet the needs of schools and educators across a wide spectrum of trauma-informed expertise to provide beginner, intermediate, and advanced content for schools, ranging from those who are just coming to understand the impact of trauma on their work, to those who are designed and fully staffed to provide trauma-informed education and support services.

The Trauma-Informed Educators Community of Practice will:

  • Create a collaborative peer-to-peer learning model for the K-12 professional community to share, develop, codify, and disseminate best practices and models, and provide professional development to address trauma.
  • Increase the number of schools and educators who understand the impact of trauma on education and the number of schools adopting trauma-informed competencies and resources.
  • Create and codify the practices of whole school models that address trauma.


If you’d like to get involved or know more about the Trauma-Informed Educators Community of Practice, please fill out an Individual Survey if you personally want to be involved or fill out the Survey for Schools if you want to be engaged as a school and you’re the school leader.

Otherwise, sign up to receive emails about the Trauma-Informed Educators Community of Practice:


The essence of Trauma-Informed Education is that it seeks to be comprehensive in the engagement of the whole child, recognizing the totality of influences and impacts (physical, social and emotional) on each child at any given time and how those impacts may support or inhibit the critical sense of safety that undergirds any potential for learning.

Unaddressed trauma is ubiquitous in personal impact, with measurable and negative outcomes in every sphere of existence for individuals impacted by it. This is especially true where education is concerned. Trauma-Informed Education respects the biology of the brain in that the need to feel safe correlates with brain science in that the lower systems of the brain that regulate survival are as important as the higher reasoning cortex where learning takes place. The sequence of the brain is the need to regulate stress first (to feel safe with predictability), to then relate well with others to open up the brain’s cortex to be able to reason, create, and reflect (to learn).

One significant part of the work of approaching trauma in educating our youth is the assessment of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). These early and often unaddressed experiences of trauma are most commonly correlated to negative impacts throughout life. We know that children who have had or are having these experiences are significantly more likely to have moderate to severe issues in school. While there are many more experiences that can be argued to have similar effect, these have received the most significant study.

In her groundbreaking 2011 study “The impact of adverse childhood experiences on an urban pediatric population,” Dr. Nadine Burke Harris found a powerful link between the number of childhood ACEs and the onset of learning and behavioral issues.

The 10 ACEs were defined as the following childhood experiences:

  • Physical, sexual, or verbal abuse
  • Physical or emotional neglect
  • Separation or divorce
  • A family member with mental illness
  • A family member addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • A family member who is in prison
  • Witness to a parent being abused



Questions about the Trauma-Informed Educators Community of Practice? Please contact Angela Christophe

The communities of practice are part of a larger shift toward providing year-round learning opportunities. They build on existing programming including the National Charter Schools Conference, our webinar offerings, and other peer group programs. They leverage our expertise and ability to convene and create forums for engagement.