After those first few weeks of stagnant blah, (Interesting band name maybe?) I started to slowly creep toward my goal. I talked to my fabulous friend, Amanda, who inspired me to get started. She talked me through writing down specific goals on which to work, with a deadline of 9:00 pm that evening. I complained that I already had dinner plans, so she agreed to a midnight deadline, but when I got off the phone with her, I was so inspired, I got to work right away. I completed my research goals within a few hours and emailed her the results before I went to dinner, per our agreement on my accountability.
Good friends help you move forward and hold you to it! This got the ball moving from stagnant to jalopy, but most days I was taking small steps toward my new school goal.
I reached out to the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) and was contacted by the director of the organization Jerry Mintz. I told him about my idea of an Summerhillesque school in Georgia, and he was very excited about opportunities for alternative education in the South as there are fewer schools of that kind here.
We discussed the overall program I want to create. I had wanted to have a totally free high school for students from low socioeconomic homes, maybe just working with a particular “failing” school population building it up.
He advised against this as the school needs to generate revenue to sustain itself, and while free for all students sounds great, it also means more ongoing revenue than what might be reasonable to keep the school successful. He suggested having a slide pay scale which introduces diversity automatically into the school, diversity being one of the key components to a more effective school environment. He also suggested opening it to all ages for the same reason.
I have mulled these two points over in my mind quite a bit, and I am seeing how these two options would benefit the school and the students.
He suggested I sign up for the “Start Your Own School” class AERO offers. It was quite expensive to get Master’s level credit, so I opted to audit the class. After getting off the phone, I realized this is a great marketing ploy, since I paid for the class within 24 hours, but the information available in the class is amazing so far. I am still in the class, so I will continue to evaluate the information and share my thoughts on the material. Having an open forum to discuss opening a school, with people that have experience opening and running their own schools, as well as others who want to open a school, has been a great resource so far.
But I still wasn’t moving forward as quickly as I wanted. I was telling people I wanted to open my own school, but wasn’t really making any progress. I was researching the background of the educational philosophies instead of the nuts and bots of running an institution.
So, I signed up for a business boot camp. A wonderfully energetic and positive woman, Abigail from Sweetspot Strategies, did a presentation for SCORE, (remember, SCORE services are free, find a SCORE chapter in your area) and I reached out to her about her business boot camp, a full day of planning and getting professional feedback about my business plan (yummy lunch included). I realized at the boot camp that I was basically going in every direction without sticking to my vision, or having too many visions. I was able to get everything narrowed down and start serious work on my plan.
Now, I feel like a Train moving quickly toward my destination. It is still slow going with frustrating stops and slow starts, but my momentum is greatly increased and I know I will get where I want to be.
Now, everyone is caught up in my process of opening a school thus far, and I am moving forward every day. I hope this information helps others who want to open their own schools as well.
Education is so important to our society, we have to be proactive in order to build a better future, rather than depend on others who may be going in an ineffective direction.