As I begin my tenth year as the Administrator of Colorado Early Colleges, I want to say how honored I have been to lead this organization for ten years. The Governing Board has been very supportive. The leadership of the CEC Network office and the leaders of the schools have been wonderful to work with. Most importantly, the teachers and the school staff have caught the vision of believing that our students can accomplish more when given the opportunity. It is now time for me to begin a process of transitioning the leadership of this organization to the next generation. It comes with mixed feelings, but with total mindset that I am doing the right thing.
I have had four careers: a school teacher, a business person, a politician and a charter school founder. In each case I have had a philosophy that the organization must be customer-driven.
My focus — whether it was teaching students how to build a house in Salem, Oregon; solving customers’ sleep and back problems with 18 Waterbed Palace stores; serving constituents in 20 years of elected office; or empowering students in six charter schools (when CEC Aurora opens) — has always been, and will continue to be, on how our service or product produces customer satisfaction.
My wife, Sandi, and I have lived the American dream. She has also been a great wife, mother, now grandmother and she has accomplished a lot. She currently is the Governing Board President of International Students Inc., a ministry dedicated to welcoming international students in colleges and universities across the country.
Customer satisfaction is based on two components: how our service or product makes our customers feel and how it provides solutions for their lives. We must compete and we must be successful. That is why I have chosen the Grit and Growth Mindset theme with Hope being added this year. Combine that with the fact that we provide the early college model where high school students can earn an Associate’s Degree, and you have the No. 1 high school in the state – Colorado Early College Fort Collins.
During my next three years of transition, I am first going to work with our Governing Board, CEC Network and school leadership to continue creating the foundation for this organization that focuses on student success.
Some of the issues that we will process are: What is the best way to educate our students? How should we govern the schools? Where authority should be vested? What should our division of labor be? How do we honor our employees? How do we keep our organization healthy financially? How do we work with our authorizer? How do we impact laws at the state and national level that govern us? Many of these areas have considerable definition. Most still need additional work. These are a few of the areas where decisions will “Build the Future” for this organization.
The Governing Board will begin addressing these issues at our annual retreat in October. We will be asking for help and input. The Governing Board will then find the right leader that will honor our culture.
I am looking forward to our Grand Opening Celebration in Aurora next Wednesday, August 3.. This year we will be bringing a message of hope to our students; our message will highlight all the great opportunities they will have when they take advantage of our unique early college experience.
Finally, this past weekend we had our four-year-old granddaughter Ellie over for two days. Monday evening we were playing basketball together, and after beating me three times in a game of HORSE, Ellie said, “I love playing basketball with you, Papa!” That is what life is all about. I look forward to spending more time with my wife and family. I will continue to work hard to make this organization better. I am committed to bringing hope to the next generation.