Changing Lives & Making a Difference: Inside the Mind of Choice Board Members

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At Choice, we carry out our mission in a cooperative and open relationship with each of our Academy Boards to ensure that each Board’s respective vision is brought to life.

Choice shares a deep passion for serving children with our Board members. Together, we put kids first as we empower educators and one another.

Whether a Board dreams of booming enrollment, rock solid financial stability, low teacher turnover rates with high engagement, all students learning at high levels regardless of their background, a school culture that has parents knocking on the door to enroll, or a healthy environment that supports learning, our team of experts does “whatever it takes” to make those dreams a reality.

As part of Board Appreciation month, we’ve asked our Board members a few questions about “life” in this volunteer service role. Their honest answers paint a clear picture of the dedication Choice has to their Board members and the Board members passion for their responsibilities in serving the families in their community.

Athena Cronberg

nbcaNew Branches Charter Academy (NBCA)
Serving on the board for 4 years; current Board Secretary
Business Management BA; Management and Human Resources experience with the US Postal Service

Why did you decided to volunteer your time and serve on your Board?

I originally joined the Board at New Branches Charter Academy as a parent looking to participate in my daughter’s educational experience in a meaningful way. Even though my daughter no longer attends New Branches, I still enjoy serving on the Board, and feel like I still represent a parent’s perspective for the school.

At Choice, a great part of our mission is to help Boards carry out their vision/dream for their school. What is an example of Choice supporting you in taking your school to the next level?

I want to see NBCA students succeed in life and find themselves with excellent educational opportunities when the time comes for them to leave our school, and I believe that Choice feels the same way. By creating a positive learning environment within the school, teaching our children how to be responsible and engaged, and by creating partnerships with other schools and also with the community; I see Choice leading us in the right direction already!

What do you love most about serving on your Academy’s Board?

I absolutely love hearing about the positive changes happening and how it affects our students in such a meaningful way. I also love working with my fellow board members. We have had to make some difficult decisions over these last few years and I feel very grateful to work on a board with such caring and diligent members.

Next week, January 24-30, is National School Choice Week. What does school of choice mean to you?

School of choice means that parents have the ability to choose the very best school for their children, and that means schools are more accountable and competitive, and must strive to be that school; to be the best!

Pete Vandersluis

wmaesWest Michigan Academy of Environmental Science (WMAES)
Serving on the board for 5 years; current Board President
Marketing and Sales background; Sales Manager with Meerifield Machinery Solutions

Why did you decided to volunteer your time and serve on your Board?

Because my wife said it was a good idea (he laughs). But it’s honest… we had three children enrolled at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science at the time and it made sense. Now, two have graduated from WMAES, and our third is a freshman this year!

How has your background/expertise helped you in your role as a Board Member?

My background is in business. As opposed to looking at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science as an institution, I think of it as a product. Looking at it from this lense helps me view it as something the community needs to buy into. We are trying to offer (as a charter school) a higher quality, ever-changing option to families in our community.

What do you love most about serving on your Academy’s Board?

I love being able to see the results… We get to know the students personally, and see the results of these kids really implementing everything we are offering them. Knowing that we are making a difference in their lives. They aren’t stuck. They have options. They can come and really flourish here. When I’m thinking about the kids, it’s all positive!

Next week, January 24-30, is National School Choice Week. What does school of choice mean to you?

As a business person, I’m a big fan of the free market. If you build a better mousetrap, the world will do the same and paths will open to new doors. To have a tuition-free opportunity and an option for these children is amazing. It raises the community to do better. When the bar goes up for one, the bar goes up for everyone.

Michael Coykendall

bcmaBattle Creek Montessori Academy (BCMA)
Serving on the Board since 2013
Works for the U.S. Department of Defense as a division chief

Why did you decided to volunteer your time and serve on your Board?

I decided to participate in Battle Creek Montessori Academy’s Board because I was interested in finding an alternative to the traditional school setting. I wanted to assist with building a high-performing school in Battle Creek, MI.

At Choice, a great part of our mission is to help Boards carry out their vision/dream for their school. What is an example of Choice supporting you in taking your school to the next level?

The support from Choice is HUGE! From 2003-2007, I served on a previous Board under Choice’s management, which is why I felt compelled to join a Choice Board again. BCMA is a startup school, and the entire startup process is difficult – if not nearly impossible. The expertise that Choice has given to BCMA, and the entire process of hiring staff, financing, their overall expertise… they handle it all and bring everything to the table. It is definitely like a one-stop-shop.

What do you love most about serving on your Academy’s Board?

Watching the students grow and achieve is one of my favorite things. Look at our test scores, the progress we have made since we’ve started… it’s amazing! And we are creating an alternative education in the community that we were lacking.

Next week, January 24-30, is National School Choice Week. What does school of choice mean to you?

It means being able to send my child to the best school for my child, wherever I want. Parents deserve to have the power and freedom to do that.

Hriday Prasad

bradford-academy-choice-schools-associatesBradford Academy
Serving on the Board since 2012
Senior Executive; Professor of Engineering and Business at Oakland University and University of Detroit Mercy; Background in management, strategic planning, operations, marketing, education, and global leadership

How has your background/expertise helped you in your role as a Board Member?

My diverse professional experience with both business and educational institutions on a global basis has given me great knowledge of business needs, educational organization needs, what it takes for our students to become global leaders, what is needed for our teachers to educate our students, how to make an organization grow and become best-in-class, and lastly, the importance of business ethics.

What do you love most about serving on your Academy’s Board?

Being able to help our students, their families, our teachers and administrators in making our school the best-in-class is what I love! Of course, we also have an outstanding team of Board members and supporting members which makes being a volunteer on a school board a bit easier. It is a pleasure to work with such a group.

At Choice, our board members are our biggest champions. We value the relationships we’ve established with them through our hands-on approach. If you’re interested in learning more about our full service charter school management services, please contact us for a free consultation.

Thank you to all of our board members for your dedication to the academies you serve. We value your partnership as we champion for children together.

Our schools are always looking for new board members. If you’re interested in serving your community and its children, please click here for more information on how to apply.

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