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Tag Archive | "Michigan Association of Public School Academies"

CTA celebrates 20th anniversary


L to R:  Dan George, CTA School Leader/Superintendent; Ron Rizzo, Director, Ferris State University Charter Schools Office; Lexie Coxon, former Superintendent; Dr. Richard Halik, Consultant for Board Policy, National Charter Schools Institute; and Dan Quisenberry, President of Michigan Association of Public School Academies. Courtesy photo.
This ceiling in the auditorium at CTA (which was formerly Jordan Chapel) is made up of planks from area barns. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

This ceiling in the auditorium at CTA (which was formerly Jordan Chapel) is made up of planks from area barns. Post photo by J. Reed.

When Lexie Coxon was told in May of 1998 that Ferris State University was going to issue a charter to Creative Technologies Academy to become a school for grades 7-12, she wasn’t sure how they were going to get the 120 students they needed to open. But they did it by the skin of their teeth—and opened with 122 that September.

“It was a tremendous challenge,” she said.

Coxon and others spoke about the school’s journey during CTA’s 20th anniversary celebration on Friday, May 11.

The property at 350 Pine Street, in Cedar Springs, was originally the home of Jordan College, founded by Lexie and her husband DeWayne. In 1966, they bought the property, and in 1967 they built their first building. Coxon explained how back then, they got building materials from area farmers who were tearing down their barns. A good example is in the planking in the chapel roof—it all came from area farmers.

In those early days of charter schools, Lexie and DeWayne’s son, Rob Coxon, told them to get a charter, they would need to have something unique. So they decided to go into being a computer based program. “We were one of the first schools to have computers for all students,” said Lexie.

She also noted that while most charter schools were for-profit, they wanted to remain a non-profit. And needing to have 120 students was tough—they had no money and no resources. But they made it work.

As time went on, they added in grades K-6. This year the school had 319 students K-12.

Lexie was also proud of the fact they have had 100 percent compliance with all of the paperwork that is needed. Ron Rizzo, with FSU, backed her up on that. “I don’t think there is any other academy that has had 100 percent compliance for 17 years,” he said. “It’s amazing. That means every document turned in on time.”

Rizzo said CTA was one of their original class of nine academies. “I’ve been here for 16 of those 20 years. It’s very welcoming. You truly are here for kids, doing what’s best for the trajectory of their lives. You should very proud of what you have accomplished here,” he said.

Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies noted that CTA feels like family. “Charters were intended to be that—partnerships. Think of the kids’ lives you’ve impacted here. You are doing something important.” He also noted that charter schools are the “R&D” (research and development) of education. “Dan (George, current school superintendent) doesn’t view CTA as a competitor, but as a partner,” he said.

He noted that CTA teacher Kayla Campbell, who was recently named one of the top 5 charter school teachers in the state by MAPSA, represented CTA well. “We did a Facebook live announcement and I think you had every student in here. When we announced it, I thought this place was going to fall down,” he said.

Former teacher and coach Gary Bailey shared both some funny stories and some more serious thoughts. “Most coaches know that our success is measured by #s (winds and losses) after our name. But we know success is more than that.” He went on to share how a former student had sent him a video at 1:40 a.m. that morning, thanking him for being a mentor.

Kurt Mabie, a former educator who retired five  years ago from public education, said he’s been involved with CTA for 15 years. And he has been happy to work with Dan George and CTA via the Community Building Development Team. “Through collaboration, great things can happen,” he said. “Nothing happens on its own.”

One of those things is the recent donation of 10 acres to CTA by Fred and Carolee Gunnell. The property will be the future home of a new gymnasium for the school with a soccer field, and a couple of classrooms. And when it is not being used by the school, it will be open to the community, which fulfills one of the goals of the CBDT—to have a recreation center. 

George said that the planning, fundraising, and construction of that facility would be a major undertaking and their biggest project over the next five years.

The Post asked George what he is most proud of accomplishing at CTA. “I can answer that in two ways, institutionally and personally. First, we are proud to be able to give the families of the communities we serve a quality choice for the education of their children while partnering, not competing, with our neighboring traditional public schools. That produces a shared focus on doing what is best for kids. Personally, I’m proud of the staff that has become my team over the last 8+ years. Their dedication, love of kids, professionalism, and pursuit of learning is unsurpassed,” he said.

For more on CTA, visit www.ctachargers.org.

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CTA Teacher named Michigan Top 5 teacher of the year


Mrs. Kayla Campbell was recognized as one of the top 5 teachers of the year by MAPSA. Photo by Becky Carlton of MAPSA.

Kayla Campbell, third grade teacher at Creative Technologies Academy (CTA) in Cedar Springs, has been named one of the finalists for the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) Teacher of the Year award. 

In her classroom, Mrs. Campbell develops strong relationships and reaches her students in innovative ways by turning learning into an adventure. This year, for example, she turned her classroom into a spy lab and turned all of her students into spies—complete with secret-agent badges and mustaches—and had them use their language, math and other skills to solve a series of mysteries. When it was done, she had a classroom full of engaged learners who couldn’t wait to start reading mystery novels. That’s what true innovation looks like.

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher since preschool and I grew up playing school,” shared Campbell. “I had really good examples of great teachers throughout my education and now I’m teaching students and growing good people.”

“She makes things more interesting so it’s fun and not boring,” shared one of her current students, Jayden Danks.

And Campbell gets results. Each year her students regularly reach their annual learning goals in just a few months.

“Because of her work ethic and her love of kids, she’s become a master teacher,” praised Dan George, CTA Superintendent. “Her love of learning, her love of teaching, and her love of kids motivates students.”

At the end of April, Campbell was celebrated in Lansing along with the other four finalists, where she met with MAPSA, district legislators, and was presented with a joint proclamation from State Senator Peter MacGregor and State Representative Rob VerHeulen.

The others honored in the ceremony were:

  • Kristina Price, a third-grade teacher at Trillium Academy in Taylor, who was named this week as the 2018 Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year; 
  • Joe Griffith, middle-school social studies teacher at Honey Creek Community School in Ann Arbor;
  • Dave Sarkipato, math teacher at Wellspring Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids;
  • Jennifer Villwock, third-grade teacher at Woodland Park Academy in Grand Blanc.

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Chargers Join Charter Day at The Capitol


CTA-Charter-Day-At-The-Capitol-B

CTA Chargers let their voices be heard as they joined other charter schools at the Capitol.

Chargers had the opportunity to meet with Senator MacGregor during their visit to Lansing.

Every year, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) facilitates a charter school advocacy day. This year CTA was able to bring approximately 60 individuals – students in 8th – 12th grades, parents and staff members. During the day, they had the opportunity to let members of our Michigan government know that our ability to choose our schools matters. We heard Representative Kelly speak, saw the Michigan Supreme Court in session, and spoke with Senator MacGregor.

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