David Patterson-Interim School Leader for Charlton Heston Academy

Interim School Leader David Patterson sits center of the Charlton Heston Academy Board at their first meeting on May8th. Left to right: Joe Roush, Amy Hesse, Richard Wood, Dave Patterson, Jennifer Jarosz, Dave Fultz, and Robert Olschefski

As the venture of the Charlton Heston Academy moves forward, the recently appointed Board of Directors arrived at the point that they needed to choose a school leader. This school leader (known as a superintendent in the standard public school) would need to be someone with experience in the business of operating a school, understanding both sides of the business which is school operations and finance as well as children and education.

Nearly three years ago when this organized effort began three men were introduced to the community to offer advice regarding charter schools. Of those three men was David Patterson, a former resident of Roscommon and St. Helen. Patterson was recently the school leader for Woodward Public School Academy in Detroit.

Patterson grew up in Roscommon. He graduated from Roscommon High School in 1996. Following high school Patterson began his college studies at the University of Detroit Mercy before moving on to Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) where he graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice.

While Patterson completed his final year at SVSU he took a job at the Wolverine Human Services Department working as a social worker in the Juvenile Delinquency Division.

In 2001 Patterson moved to Florida where he had an opportunity to play semi-professional soccer for the Palm Beach Pumas. Having played soccer for three years on the Roscommon High School Bucks varsity soccer team Patterson enjoyed the opportunity to play soccer in a more professional setting however he still had a yearning to do something more. In 2002 Patterson returned moved to St. Helen and took employment with the Child and Family Services of Northeast Michigan as a social worked. Patterson also returned to SVSU to pursue a graduate degree in “Leadership and Public Administration”.

While completing his graduate degree Patterson was offered a job at Davenport University as a Career and Education Advisor. He became educated in the school’s nursing program and was appointed as the Senior Advisor for the program. Patterson also taught Professional Etiquette and Professional Ethics at Davenport. He remained with Davenport for three years.

During Patterson’s venture he had learned of charter schools. At the time Patterson notes “I was not a supporter. Oversight seemed a little loose but I was interested because parents had options. I knew there was work that still needed to be done”.

Patterson served on many committees through his early career and was able to monitor the progress and growth of charter schools. “I knew we had to bridge gaps between high school and college. We needed to create partnerships between schools and colleges. I realized charter public schools had more oversight but also more autonomy…ability for more out of the box thinking. A charter school has the ability to individualize for the community”.

Patterson was later hired by Central Michigan University (CMU) as a Charter School Liaison and Contract Analyst with the university’s charter authorization board. He trained new boards, conducted full school reviews, taught boards and administrative personnel the school compliance, and provided additional school management and board management skills. “I was assigned a portfolio of schools, most in southeast Michigan. I worked directly with the schools to ensure they met the terms of the charter contract and followed all applicable laws.

For three years Patterson continued working for CMU. While at CMU he also taught Introduction to Political Science, Introduction to Professional Ethics, and Finance at University of Phoenix as well as Introduction to Political Science at Henry Ford Community College. Patterson also participated in a program called “Leadership Detroit”. The program consisted of 60 executive level applicants that the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce invited into the program. The year long program gave Patterson an opportunity to be involved in many of the societal issues in the region. He currently has A.B.D. status in Western Michigan University’s Ph.D. program of Public Policy and Administration.

As Patterson continued his work with the CMU Authorizing Department he noted “I had a lot of great mentors”. He wanted to figure out how he could be most impactful to kids. “It got to the point that I needed a position to help kids even more, especially underprivileged kids.” Soon after, Patterson received an offer by Woodward Academy for an administrative position. Having worked with Woodward through the CMU authorizing department Patterson knew the school and those associated with it.

Patterson took the position with the Academy knowing that there was much work ahead of him.

 

The school had originally had 780 students and as he took the position the school was  experiencing severe declines in enrollment with only 558 students when he started. It was necessary for the school to begin making cuts and finding ways to increase revenue.

Patterson began applying for grants for after school programs. He found that there are many grants that are state and federally funded and the funds are designated for academically and financially low achieving schools. Today Woodward Academy is back to 725 students not including the pre-kindergarten program (Great Start Readiness Program) offered by the school. The school serves the students breakfast, lunch, and dinner and they have received a $28,000 fruit and vegetable grant. The school also recently received a 5 year, one million dollar grant for the professional development of teachers, data analysis, and incentive pay. Only 20 schools received this grant.

Patterson has been at Woodward Public School Academy for four years.  In 2011 Patterson was one of five finalists named Charter Public School Administrator of the Year by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA).  Under Patterson’s Leadership Woodward Academy was awarded the Gold Award by the Michigan Department of Education for increasing student participation in breakfast by 333%.

Having advised Rural Education Matters throughout their process of obtaining a charter authorization and agreeing to serve on the board of directors for the Charlton Heston Academy it became evident that the school would be better served if Patterson would accept the leadership role of the Academy. To the Board’s delight he accepted the position and was appointed as Interim School Leader pending a formal contractual agreement. Jennifer Jarosz stated at the last meeting “Dave Patterson has been a huge asset in this endeavor since the beginning. Dave brings a lot of expertise and we plan to hit the ground running fast.”

At the last CHA meeting on May 8th Patterson explained that Charlton Heston Academy “is not going to be a school for families that do not hold education as a top priority in their households”. Patterson went on to explain the importance of family support and encouragement. Patterson and the Board of Directors anticipate a year round school model with 2 week breaks each season, a school dress code, extended school days, and three available each day. He further explained that many parent concerns would be addressed through community meetings to be held through the summer. Sports, music, and other extracurricular activities would be part of those discussions. “Everything is dependent on a blend of what parents and families want, and how to best prepare students for college, work, and life. We will discuss what makes sense for all of the families affected”. He also explained that CHA, as required by state law, will hire licensed, credentialed teachers, provide services for students with disabilities, and aspire to exceed state achievement requirements.

Charlton Heston Academy is currently accepting pre-enrollment forms in order to obtain an accurate count of expected fall enrollment.  Forms can be obtained at the Hen House Restaurant, Richfield Township, or online at www.rem1234.com. For questions you can call Jennifer at 989-632-1114 or Dave at 313-622-9173

Reprinted with permission of The Roscommon County Weekly May 16, 2012 issue