10th Anniversary SpeechPosted by Lauren Manfreda on 3/15/2018 3:00:00 PM
Mrs Whitside's 10 Year Anniversary speech from March 9, 2018:
To make our world record attempt official, we needed some special guests to serve as observers. I’d like to introduce our special guests:
State Senator John Alexander
Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones
Dave Machado -Director of Office of Charter Schools
Joel Medley, Director of NC Virtual Academy and our original Office of Charter Schools consultant
Tom Miller, founder of Leaders Building Leaders, our former Office of Charter Schools consultant
Cory Draughon, CEO of Charter Success Partners
Paul Davis, regional Accountability Coordinator with the Dept of Public Instruction
Liz Simpers, Associate Branch Director for Youth Programs with YMCA and a new Commissioner for town of WF
Ross McVeigh, a Youth Director for YMCA
Ralph Whitehurst & Shawn Southard, Whitehurst Strategic Partners
Jeff McCarthy, Nicole McCarthy, and Samuel Perrin from Mathnasium
I would also like to recognize Steve McAdams and Maija McAdams with whom I am very proud to have founded this wonderful school.
Thank you all for helping make Endeavor great! This year we celebrate 10 years, a decade, of excellence at Endeavor. Every one of you here today has been a part of our success! More than 425 Endeavor graduates are in high schools and colleges across the state and the country – Endeavor Alumni please wave to the crowd! Almost 100 educators have served the students of Endeavor – current and former Endeavor staff - please wave!
Hundreds of volunteers – Board of Directors, PAWS, Boosters, Foundation, lunch/recess support and field trip chaperones have helped create our culture– please wave! And of course our wonderful 510 students. You are why all of the adults here do what we do! During our 10 years together we have educated around 1000 students. Together we have created a school known throughout the county and across the state as a place of excellence. This year we had 1437 applications for around 15 open seats for next year. If we had a time capsule from our first year to open today, we’d see the beginning of Endeavor. We’d see a small rented building with a parking lot for a playground. We’d see tiny classrooms. We’d see families and teachers scrubbing the 2 semi-trucks of used furniture we were so happy to purchase. We’d see the entire ECS community coming together to figure things out. How could we offer hot lunches? Could we have sports teams? What fine arts courses were best to offer? Would anyone apply to teach here? Would any students apply?
Now, 10 years later we know how all of those things turned out. And we are proud! Now we embark on our next 10 years, and I can’t wait to see what they bring! But for now, we will leave some memories of life in 2018. Today we will dedicate a time capsule of what life is like right now at Endeavor and in our community.
The teachers have gathered and contributed items on display here. Mrs. Rogerson, Mrs McConnell, Mrs. Ketchum, Mrs Haught, Mr Burt, Mrs. Gaines and Ms Mosca contributed items about Endeavor including ECS shirts, photos of our campus, space camp souvenir, an audio of kindergarten students talking, posters from the art show and book fair, ECS team photos, a class photo, a basketball uniform, and a copy of last year’s yearbook. Officer Graham contributed a DARE shirt and bear. Mrs. Dalton, Mr Ezzell, and Mrs McAdams contributed items about Wake Forest including maps, newspapers, restaurant menus, and brochures. Mr Raitano, Mrs Carson, Mrs Clemmons, Mrs Wilson, Mrs Dougherty, Ms Nielsson, and Ms Comstock contributed items about the world around us including world news, current technology, transportation, sports winners and music favorites. Mrs Hester, Ms Starkey, Mrs Johnson, Mr Clemmons and Mrs Rafferty contributed items about fun and entertainment including an entertainment magazine, a fidgit spinner, Pokemon cards, Mickey Mouse ears, current music favorites, and pictures of students traveling. Ms Keune and Ms Mueller contributed items representing daily life including current clothing and photos of student homes. We invite you all to join us on or around March 9, 2028 when this time capsule will be opened and students 10 years from now will see what life was like at Endeavor in the year 2018.
I will now turn the time over to Lauren Manfreda, our talented Director of Development to help us with an aerial photo to commemorate this occasion. At the conclusion of our photo, we will disperse, so this is my final opportunity to thank you all for what you have helped us build here together.
Lock-down Drills and Walk-outsPosted by Christi Whiteside on 3/1/2018 4:00:00 PM
The world seems to be moving very quickly lately. As we look for ways to keep up, we find comfort in clarity. We spent some time as a staff Monday afternoon discussing our lockdown drill procedure and reviewing new guidelines sent by the Department of Public Instruction. In preparation for this drill, the teachers walk a fine line between preparing students for the drill and not scaring them about the reasons for such drills. Our goal as a staff is to ensure that we have thought about many different scenarios and how we’d respond to each. When we hold our lockdown drill tomorrow we will “lockdown in place” which means each classroom will be secured, darkened, and students will be moved to the safest spot within the room to sit silently. We will announce this as a drill over the speaker, so all in the building realize that we are not in danger. Some students will be in a fine arts class, the book fair, or the restroom when this happens. They will be directed how to respond in each situation. We fully expect that Endeavor will never encounter the type of emergency that would require a real lockdown. However, we want to prepare our students for all situations. If any of our students or staff are ever in such a situation at our school or out in the big wide world, we want them to be prepared!
As I am discussing our school response to recent events, I also want to talk about our student response. A group of our 8 th graders approached me about finding a way for our school to support the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida who experienced last month’s horrible attack. That horror took place during the same week that our 8 th graders were hearing about their acceptances or wait list status at charter and magnet high schools, so it felt very close to them. After hearing the student wish to show support and be involved in making the world a better, safer place, the teachers and I worked with them to make a plan. So, on March 14, our 8 th graders will participate in the national walk-out. Our walk out will be little bit different than some others. Our group is not walking away from something; they are walking toward something. The 8 th grade teachers and students will walk outside together to meet with a panel of local experts. Our experts are still being confirmed, but we’ve reached out to a guidance counselor, mental health professional, DARE officer, and high school administrators. Next week, the week prior to the walk out, morning meetings in 8 th grade will focus on ways students can change the world, become involved in a charity, be an advocate, etc. The message we hope they take from this experience is that they have powerful voices individually and collectively; and that they absolutely can make the world a better place. We hope this may begin a tradition of speaking with our 8th graders about making their mark on the world. If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com.
Director, Endeavor Charter School
A message from Christi WhitesidePosted by Christi Whiteside on 2/23/2018 2:55:00 PM
The news out of Florida last week has weighed on our staff as much as I know it has weighed on every parent in our nation. The horror experienced by those students and that community is more than I can bear to think about. However, please know that we ARE thinking. Monday’s staff meeting will focus on re-examining our lockdown procedures in light of new recommendations. We will hold our annual lockdown drill soon and will begin holding them more than once a year starting next year.
As you are in our building, if you see vulnerabilities in our security or have ideas for increasing the safety of our building, please email me. I appreciate fresh eyes! I also encourage you to be engaged in your students’ social media and speak to them (or us) about any concerns that arise. I believe in our staff’s ability to respond to an emergency. I also believe in your children’s ability to respond to urgent directions. Please know that the staff and I will never stop examining our practices and seeking ways to be ever vigilant. We love your children and appreciate your support!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
Morning Meeting at ECSPosted by Christi Whiteside on 2/16/2018 11:30:00 AM
Morning Meeting has been an essential part of ECS since its opening. This opportunity for staff and students to interact in a casual way is a part of the familial environment we strive to create. This year we added a new focus to our meetings. The Positivity Project is a movement to help students recognize the good qualities in themselves and in others because, as their hashtag says, #otherpeoplematter. Each week our school focuses on one of twenty-four character strengths. These are not just character traits, which can be positive or negative. These are all character strengths and great qualities anyone would be proud to show.
I am hoping to visit every grade during their Morning Meeting this quarter to document some of the best practices out there and share them with you. This week I visited 4th grade and Mrs. Haught’s kindergarten class.
In Kindergarten, students work on polite greetings, how to be patient, and how to participate in a conversation. They also work on understanding the Positivity Project (P2) character strength words through stories and videos. They even tie in their phonics lessons and model letter formation.
In 4th grade, Morning Meeting starts to look a bit different. The entire grade level often meets together to ensure that all students hear the same messages of encouragement and support. They also focus on the character strength of the week and its meaning. They use stories and videos to explain them. However, at this grade level, there is a lot of conversation between peers when students are asked to turn and talk to a partner and get everyone engaged. The teachers share examples from their own lives to explain the character strengths in the real world. It is important at this age that the students understand what these character strengths look like within the context of real lives.
Finally, I’ll leave with a great message from the 8th graders. One of their recent morning meeting tasks involved a current event. The photo of alligators with their snouts sticking out of frozen ponds reminded Mrs. Clemmons of the character strengths hope and optimism. Her students were challenged to create a caption for the photograph below that provided a message of hope or optimism. This was the winner:
I hope you keep your head up and have a great weekend!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
Safety at EndeavorPosted by Christi Whiteside on 2/2/2018 8:25:00 AMECS families,Many of you may have seen the story on WRAL last night about charter schools and emergency drills. The story stated that charter schools are not required to hold emergency drills. I want to reassure you that Endeavor does hold emergency drills. We obviously want to meet any state requirement, but our greater focus is on the safety of our students and staff.Here are some of the safety measures we take:
School safety is a subject dear to my heart. Every person on staff at Endeavor values the safety of our students. We will continue to evaluate our procedures and welcome your suggestions.Christi WhitesideDirectorEndeavor Charter School919-848-0333
- We hold a fire drill each month. These drills are held at varying times of day including during lunch and recess. The teachers follow the posted emergency escape map to lead their students to exit quickly. Students are taught to exit silently. Once in their designated evacuation site, teachers quickly take attendance using our specially designed attendance sheet which has teachers identify students who are present, those who are missing, those who are absent from school, and extra students who have evacuated with the class. To add some challenge to each drill, the office staff generally “borrows” a few children to simulate students being missing during the drill. They then compare the attendance sheets to ensure that the missing child was noticed. After evacuation, a staff member verifies that lights were turned off and doors were closed on each hall.
- Each year we also hold two lockdown drills. The first is a “tornado” drill during which all students are relocated to an interior room with no windows such as the interior office area and the drama room. Again, attendance is taken using the same emergency form. The second lockdown drill secures students inside their classrooms. This is “lockdown in place” type of drill. Teachers lock classroom doors, shut the blinds we installed in all windows, and close the curtains we made to cover each door window. Lights are turned off and students are gathered away from the door. Both these drills are timed and supervised by office staff.
- Over the last few years, we have installed the front door buzzer and two emergency buzzers which silently call the police. We have a series of video cameras which provide views of the interior and exterior of our building. These are monitored at the front desk. We are currently seeking an upgrade to our front door buzzer which would allow us to speak with visitors without opening the door.
- The background check service we use provides constant monitoring. This means that if a volunteer has a vehicular or criminal report filed, we will be notified. Many schools do an annual check which only provides a glimpse of a volunteer’s legal status up until that date, but not moving forward.
- We require any carpool driver that we do not know by sight and who does not have our school issued carpool tag to show a driver’s license which we compare to the emergency contact names each family provides at the beginning of each school year. If the driver is not listed, we call and get verbal consent from the parent before we release a child. We follow the same practice when someone comes to the front window to pick up a student.
- In addition, we seek opportunities to invite local first responders into our building. The members of the Wake Forest police, fire, and EMS teams are incredibly generous in their desire to serve and support us. We have sought their advice on many situations and have never been disappointed. We have established a relationship with a DARE officer who teaches a middle school elective with Mr. Burt. We also have a three minute response time when we call 911.
Endeavor's Mission and VisionPosted by Christi Whiteside on 1/25/2018 1:20:00 PM
We are eagerly anticipating the final step in our 18 month Charter Renewal process. Each charter school goes through this process at the end of their charter cycle. Our original charter (permission from the state to operate) was issued for 10 years, which was the longest time allowed, so last year was time to begin the renewal process. Many forms, interviews, and site visits later we were happy to receive a recommendation from the Charter School Advisory Board for another 10 year renewal. Charter schools that have not shown stability in finance, academics, safety, etc. can have their charters revoked or can be issued charters for a shorter period of time. We have shown stability in all areas. Go team, ECS!
Next week when the State Board of Education meets, we anticipate their acceptance of the recommendation for another 10 year charter. This is an exciting time! As we celebrate 10 years of excellence, we also begin to look at what has led to that success, how we can maintain those successful qualities, and how we can move forward.
One thing that jumped out at me during the renewal process was the outdated sound of our mission statement. It is fine, but was written for the charter application in 2007 when our school was just an idea. If it were one of many mission statements, it would not stand out as representing ECS. Over the last ten years, this school has developed an identity that should be reflected in our mission statement.
I believe that mission and vision statements are important tools in guiding the decision making and future direction of any organization. I reached out to the Board to discuss the possibility of updating our mission statement. With their full support, I’d like to also include you in this process. At the top of the page, you’ll find two brief questions about ECS. Pease take a moment to respond.
Thank you for your input!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
Winter Weather WishesPosted by Christi Whiteside on 12/8/2017 8:35:00 AM
It is the time of year I most dread… the time when snow is in the forecast! I like a beautiful snow fall as much as anyone else; however, I dread having to make decisions about closing or delaying school. It seems that snow usually falls in NC during the middle of the night, so I spend those snowy nights jumping out of bed every 5 minutes to check the roads and the weather updates! I go from window to window peering into the darkness as if there will be some new information on one side of my house that I couldn’t see from the other side. The children want to make such nights easier for me, so they always suggest I just go ahead and cancel school and make it easy on myself. They are sweet to care so much! I take the safety of our staff and our students very seriously, but I also realize how difficult such decisions are for our working parents. It is also difficult for our teachers to replace a regular school day with a snow make-up day when attendance is notoriously low. We make weather decisions in as timely a manner as possible while trying to wait for the most accurate information.
This week’s potential wintry weather is not expected to impact us much. However, it is a good time to remind you of our procedures and to ask for your help. If we have a schedule change due to weather, we will post this information on WRAL’s closings list, on our website, and on Facebook. We will also send an email out to our entire community. Please check those locations if any wintry weather is forecasted.
I hope you will join me in my winter wish every year – for snow to only fall on Friday evenings or Saturdays when school won’t be impacted and to always be gone by Sunday evenings. So far, I have not convinced the kids to share this wish! Here’s hoping for a mild winter!
Director, Endeavor Charter School
Amazon Smile Shopping Benefits ECS!Posted by Lauren Manfreda on 11/7/2017 10:00:00 AMIt’s that time of year when the days start moving rapidly toward winter break. I find that each fall not only do I have holiday shopping to do, but there also seem to be an increased number of birthdays, weddings, and other gift giving occasions. With the dark coming earlier and the temperatures dropping, I always prefer to go home and shop on my computer rather than run around town. Each time I go online I have to remind myself that if I am shopping through Amazon, I should instead go to Amazon Smile.This small change costs me nothing more than what I’d already spend through Amazon, but it portions off a bit of my total expense and directs it to a non-profit. Endeavor is one of the approved non-profit organizations! If you haven’t set Endeavor as your non-profit of choice on Amazon Smile, please do so today. Please also encourage your extended family and friends to use Amazon Smile and Endeavor as they do their on-line shopping. Using Amazon Smile with Endeavor as the non-profit focus is really doing a service for the school. So, you’ll be helping us out when you buy yourself that extra treat as well!Thank you for all you do to support Endeavor Charter School!Christi WhitesideDirector, Endeavor Charter School
World Record Announcement!Posted by Lauren Manfreda on 11/3/2017 11:35:00 AM
The Day AFTER Halloween!Posted by Christi Whiteside on 11/1/2017 4:20:00 PMWhat is ECS like on the day after Halloween?After the bleary eyed students dragged themselves in the doorway this morning, it was business as usual. The kids brought us their best as did the teachers! Take a look!...and even some crab walk practice...Isn't it great to know that no matter how tired you feel, no matter how much more candy was eaten last night than you'd hoped, and no matter how late the bed times were, today your kids had a great day of learning at Endeavor! Thanks for getting them here on time and without candy! Have a great Wednesday!