In April, when I visited Great Hearts Academies at their home base in Phoenix, Arizona (earlier post), school culture made a big impression on me. Great Hearts America CEO Dr. Daniel Scoggin and the entire management team are sincere when they say that their goal is to graduate “great hearted” young men and women.
At the Great Hearts Monte Vista informational meeting last week, I got a sense of how Great Hearts Texas will be able to replicate that culture in San Antonio: by bringing some of their most talented, most committed school leaders and teachers from Arizona to Texas.
Dr. Peter Bezanson is the Superintendent of Great Hearts Texas. The first time I heard Bezanson speak was at the Great Hearts informational meeting on February 6, 2012 at the Radius Center. He has worked very hard to explain to parents and leaders (including the State Board of Education at the charter interviews) what Great Hearts is all about, including irony-free discussions of truth, beauty, and goodness. Dr. Bezanson has also been working on the expansion to Dallas; in September, the Education Commissioner recommended approval of their charter application, as mentioned in this earlier post.
Dave Williams is the Executive Director of Great Hearts San Antonio, and has been serving as Headmaster at Glendale Prep. Williams offered that Great Hearts is “not against public education, but for the transformation of public education.” He presented a vision of education that forms the soul, rather than being the first step on a quest for high test scores, four years at a selective college, a high-paying job, and early retirement. Read more: “Meet Dave Williams”, Patti Tindall, Great Hearts Texas blog, October 3, 2013.
Peter Crawford will be the Headmaster at Great Hearts Monte Vista. Crawford has been working with Williams at Glendale Prep for five years; recently, Crawford has been on the leadership team at Glendale Prep. Crawford explained what is revolutionary about the Great Hearts model: a liberal arts education at a public school, where students can have direct contact with the great books. Read more: “National High Performing Public Charter School Network identifies Headmaster for its first Texas campus”, Great Hearts Texas news release, October 28, 2013. UPDATE: “Meet Peter Crawford”, Great Hearts Texas blog, November 27, 2013.
Roberto Gutierrez is the Chief Development Officer of Great Hearts America. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University and has longstanding ties to San Antonio. Gutierrez opened the informational meeting with an offer to provide Spanish language interpretation for any families who needed it. More about Gutierrez in this earlier post.
At the Q&A session, pictured, left to right, are Dr. Peter Bezanson, Dave Williams, Leanne Fawcett, Peter Crawford, and Stephen Gordon.
On the far right, Stephen Gordon is the Director of Academics and School Policies for Great Hearts San Antonio; Dr. Bezanson recommended that parents direct their curriculum questions to Gordon. Read more: “Meet Stephen Gordon”, Patti Tindall, Great Hearts Texas blog, September 6, 2013.
I feel like the Great Hearts school culture is a good fit for my family, and I hope my kids have the opportunity to go there. I want my kids to grow up to be well-rounded people, even if I have to invest extra time and energy (carpooling, volunteering, etc.) to make that happen. Bekah McNeel, an acute observer of schools who contributes to The Rivard Report, notes:
[Great Hearts leaders] are prepared for the challenges of bringing the liberal arts to the inner city. In Phoenix, parent education has been crucial. They recognize that personal relationships are key to convincing parents to actively support such a rigorous curriculum.
“Great Hearts Charter Coming to San Antonio: Tuition-Free, Secular, Classical School”, Bekah McNeel, Rivard Report, October 31, 2013.
If you are a parent thinking about enrolling your child at Great Hearts Monte Vista, I encourage you to get to know the school culture. Try to attend the next Great Hearts event: the best way to stay informed is to go to their website and sign up for the interest list—look in the left-hand column, and scroll down. (Great Hearts Texas is also on Facebook and Twitter.) This video also gives you a glimpse:
- Open-enrollment period through December 6, 2013—more information here and on the admissions tab of the Great Hearts Texas website
- State Board of Education member Marisa B. Perez at the Great Hearts Monte Vista open house—read more here
- Sneak peek at Great Hearts Monte Vista school uniforms—see the photos here