Organizational Culture Of A High-Quality Charter School: An Interview With The Instructional And Administrative Support Team

 

 

The current pandemic has helped many of us better understand what public schools provide for our children as we are faced with homeschooling our children. In recent publications, a public charter school in the Twin Cities, Noble Academy, has been featured. We’ve taken a look at the school from the perspective of a parent and from the senior administrators of the MDE identified high-quality charter school. In the next few issues, we will be exploring what makes this school stand out from the rest by gathering the perspectives of the different stakeholders. In this issue, we interviewed some of the main administrative and instructional support staff at the district.

Denise Cook, Primary School Leader

  1. Talk about the leadership at Noble Academy.

There are so many levels of leadership at Noble it makes it easy to get support whenever needed. I have been able to receive a lot of support from teacher leaders as well as admin. Dr. Chang is amazing at making sure she is always available with ideas and tools to be used in the classroom. Superintendent Thao is constantly making sure that everything is working well and that there is nothing that we need. Our administrative leadership is compassionate and kind. They are always working to make our students have a better experience and ensure that we do give a world-class education.

  1. What is the organizational culture of Noble Academy?

The culture of Noble is one of openness and honesty. There are a lot of ways that we as a staff are able to solve conflict in a respectful manner and ensure that we are going straight to the source of the problem. Our organization has an innate drive within each one of us to not only give our best sometimes but to give our best, and then some, every moment of everyday. We are not only fully committed to the mission of our school but to the bettering of ourselves and the more importantly, the growth of the students.

  1. Talk about what it’s like working for Noble Academy? What sparked your interest in joining (and staying with) this organization?

I initially joined Noble Academy due to the website. Before I interviewed at Noble Academy, I was looking through the website to find out even more information. I immediately was hooked. It is a High Quality Charter School, which means it has an incredibly high standard of professionalism and of dedication to the students. That dedication to the students immediately made me interested in joining Noble. I have been thrilled to be asked back each year (this is my fourth year) as there is something so much bigger than myself going on. There is magic going on in these classrooms, there is growth of the students that is awe-inspiring, there are teachers who are going above and beyond daily to ensure that their students’ needs are met. I want to be a part of that magic.

  1. Talk about professional development and advancement opportunities in the school district. 

There is a PLC – Professional Learning Community – meeting every Tuesday or Wednesday as a whole staff. In addition, we have book studies, planning and data meetings throughout the week. During these times we are able to come together as teachers and coaches and really get down into it. We look at what we are doing well when serving our students, what we need help on and how we will get that help. It is great to learn with so many other professionals in an environment that is both safe to make mistakes in and willing to challenge you to grow. There is a career ladder at Noble Academy that we follow. After one year with the school you are able to apply to be a PLC leader – this means you are the one facilitating the meeting and accountable for actions and reactions. You can continue to grow into the ‘lead teacher’ which is like a PLC leader only you are also responsible for the PLC leaders’ actions and reactions as well. From there they also have school leaders/academic coaches who are able to be out of a classroom in order to best serve families, students and staff. The career ladder is posted throughout the year to remind us of who to go to for what issues as well as to remind us of what opportunities there are. I have never been a part of an organization that has so much room for growth in such a transparent fashion.

Michael Thao, Operations Specialist

  1. Talk about the leadership at Noble Academy.

Leadership at Noble Academy focuses on developing individuals beyond their limitations. The key to Noble’s success has always been motivation and leading by example. My reason to continue learning is because of the great leadership we have at Noble Academy. Our administrators have an attitude towards learning that is contagious. This attitude corresponds to the motivation on having a positive impact in the community and the world as a whole. For this reason, I am able to continue the work of our administrators and leading a highly sustainable education system for students and families of multicultural backgrounds.

  1. What is the organizational culture of Noble Academy?

At Noble, open communication and teamwork is essential to the success of our students. For example, coordination between teaching staff, IT and administration is imperative to successful testing proctoring.

  1. Talk about what it’s like working for Noble Academy? What sparked your interest in joining (and staying with) this organization?

Working for Noble is exciting and rewarding. My interest for working at Noble Academy is the vision and mission: To provide a quality, relevant and multicultural education for all students. I come from a family with a tradition in education. My father spent his life educating and leading others. Therefore, working for an educational institution such as Noble was ideal.

  1. Talk about professional development and advancement opportunities in the school district. 

Professional development is provided by the school and through individual training. Noble encourages individual training where you can develop new goals while support Noble. Noble also provides a set number of days to train staff on proven procedures and quantitative data analysis. There are always opportunities for advancement such as leadership roles for the teaching staff.

Anita Moua, Executive Coordinator

  1. Talk about the leadership at Noble Academy.

The senior school leaders truly focus on serving the staff and students. They emphasize the law of abundance – sharing knowledge and developing their employees to perform at high levels. While doing so, they themselves collect feedback on how they can better serve and grow as leaders. The administrators are willing to do the unpleasant work and jump in to help when needed, setting an example and earning the loyalty of the staff. Overall, leadership here takes the form of mentorship, and the school district is bound by commitments.

  1. What is the organizational culture of Noble Academy?

Clear communication of systems and high expectations are prominent in the school. The administrative team sets standards for timeliness, professionalism, communication, and conflict resolution. I would say one highlight of the school’s organization culture is that it is growth oriented. The goal is that our staff embracing a growth mindset will also encourage our students to do the same.

  1. Talk about what it’s like working for Noble Academy? What sparked your interest in joining (and staying with) this organization?

Working with a group of high-caliber staff has been rewarding. Having accountability systems in the workplace allows everyone to be responsible for their actions and performance. Teachers are proactive and their commitment to the cause of the school shines through in their work with students.

I was initially drawn to the idea of supporting the district’s vision on providing a rigorous, quality education to underserved students. I’ve continued to do the work I do with this sense of purpose. Staff at different levels are valued for their contributions to the greater goal of closing the achievement gap.

  1. Talk about professional development and advancement opportunities in the school district. 

Professional development activities are well thought out. Dr. Chang and Superintendent Thao are strategic about embedding learning activities in the day-to day environment while planning months in advance. The idea is to create conditions that support and foster staff members to grow professionally and for teachers to be intellectually stimulating. Instructional strategies and specific competencies training are selected with feedback from teachers and once implemented are supported by different levels of the leadership team.

What I appreciate about the senior administrators is that they willingly invest in the development of their staff, even for those who do not plan to stay with the district for long term. We’ve had many former employees – teachers especially express their gratitude for an effective training program that they’ve applied to their current position.

In the midst of the pandemic the school continues to operate. Meals are delivered to the door steps of families on a weekly basis. The district provides learning devices and other type of support to families in need. Teachers are fully prepared to deliver lessons online and make themselves readily available to assist students.

In times of uncertainty like this, schools go out of their way to continue providing essential services. We hope that the community gain a different level of appreciation for public charter schools. It was educational to hear what some of the main administrative and instructional support staff had to share about their organizational leadership and culture that has contributed to it being a renowned school in the community.

Noble Academy is currently enrolling grades K-8 for the 2020-2021 School Year. Please visit their website www.nobleacademy.us or www.nompengacademy.us to learn more, or call 763-592-7706 or 763-204-8406. Questions can also be sent to enrollment@nobleacademy.us

Michael Thao, Operations Specialist

Denise Cook, Primary School Leader