Featured alum: Ra'Chelle Spearman, Class of '03
Ra’Chelle Spearman ’03 is poised and confident as the leader of the Imagine Schools on Broadway in Fort Wayne, despite continual interruptions from those tall and small.
As the principal recently strolled a hallway of the charter school, a distraught young girl approached, announcing she had searched and searched and could not find the $4 she had brought for the school book fair. Spearman offered up the necessary funds from her own purse. After all, the child wanted to read!
Spearman quickly found her niche in charter schools. Before collecting her MC diploma in spring 2003, the RA of the Year and basketball Lady Spartan already had teaching opportunities, despite a highly competitive job market. She committed early to a new Fort Wayne inner city charter school, Urban Brightest Community Academy, wanting to teach in her hometown.
But plagued by enrollment and financial challenges, Urban Brightest closed the following year. After teaching for two years at another charter school, Timothy L. Johnson Academy, Spearman took some time off to decide if this path was the right one for her. In the end, she realized her commitment is to charter schools and to helping inner city children succeed, child by child. She worked as a substitute teacher, waiting for the right position in a charter school.
When Imagine Schools opened its charter in Fort Wayne – on the same site as Urban Brightest – administrators turned again to Spearman for the classroom. Before long, she found her seat in the Principal’s Office of the 420-student elementary school.
“I was hesitant to leave the classroom and working with the kids,” she explains, as she stoops to tie a child’s shoe. “But I am blessed to still get hugs daily.”
Spearman’s job today in the K-5 school requires her to wear many hats. She manages the budget, evaluates data, observes teachers, schedules professional development, and so much more. She is the administration for this charter school.
She’s also key in bringing year-round school to Fort Wayne – the first such program in the state’s second-largest city. The new calendar, begun last fall, gives students a three-week break every eight weeks. The “balanced” calendar is designed to keep students engaged in their studies and reduce student absences, burnout and re-learning time.
Spearman attributes much of her success in the classroom and in the principal’s role to her MC training and mentoring. While she knows she never can be fully prepared for what she will experience in the classroom, she says her professors gave her a sturdy foundation to stand on in times of need.
To learn more about Imagine Schools on Broadway, click here.
By Kathryn Miller ’13