Countdown to Annual Conference

Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” -Chinese Proverb 

Isn’t change challenging? We spend so much of our time wanting to stay in what is comfortable. To be honest, I have been there too. I have wanted to teach the same lesson because it was comfortable. I have wanted to stay with the same curriculum because I had taught it for years. I have wanted to stay on the same team because they were my friends. I have even rolled my eyes when my former Principal asked me to move classrooms at seven months pregnant. The truth is, she knew I would find joy and growth in the new hallway. I just did not have the ability  to recognize it at the moment. 

However, change pushes us to be more. Sometimes, the push feels like a tap, and other times it feels like a drop off the side of a mountain. No matter what your change feels like, know that there is beauty on the other side of the push. 

This week is National School Choice Week. We celebrate our School, and how far we have come in a year and a half. There are several misconceptions about Charter Schools. This is the perfect week to clarify those misconceptions. 

“Charter school is private.” We are a public charter school that serves potentially all of North Carolina-tuition free! We currently serve students from Caldwell, Catawba, Burke, Hickory City, and Alexander counties. 

“Charter schools just do what they want to do.” Actually, we abide by NC Charter school guidance and legislation that is tougher in many ways than the traditional public school setting because we do not have a district to fall back on. While we do have greater autonomy, it does come with greater responsibility, especially with academics and finances. 

“Charter schools do not have certified teachers.” The majority of our teachers are certified or are actively seeking certification. Our teachers are lifelong learners who have a strong desire to grow in their own professionalism. Our teaching staff is very diverse from retired teachers to beginning teachers and every area in between. 

I could not be more proud of the teachers and staff at OHCS. They are the hardest working, encouraging group I have ever worked with. They pivot daily to meet the needs of students, challenge growth, and work with families to create a strong support system for students. What an HONOR to lead such a great team! 

“What makes a charter school different?” Charter schools have flexibility in who they hire and the curriculum they teach. Our curriculum is rigorous and classical in nature, but we are still held to testing accountability by the state of North Carolina. Vetted into our day is a clear focus on strong character values and respect. 

So what about the walls? We get it. Charter schools are a relatively new idea for our area. Change is hard. But there is beauty in creating something from the ground up! We have no time for walls. 

What about windmills? Windmills are where we are living. The promise I can make to you is that your child will be known at our school. In an overall smaller school setting, your child will be supported, challenged, and loved. Are we the perfect fit for every family? No. And that is ok too. That is what makes school choice so great. Education should not be a one size fits all system. 

This school year, we send our first group of eighth graders back into their district schools as freshmen. We are thrilled to see where life will take them, and also excited to support our local schools as we encourage their growth outside their nest of Oak Hill. This is a unique opportunity because we do not send them back to one feeder school, but MANY schools and districts. 

When you walk into our school, you will hear the creak of old wooden floors, the laughter of children, teachers teaching, and support staff actively meeting the needs of students. Old yearbooks line the entrance shelves of students from long before us, and I am sure those students would smile to know their beloved school is active and thriving again. Although we look back at what was, we are not the same. We are moving forward with a strong purpose-to break barriers and build bridges for the future of our students. 

No time for walls, only windmills. 

Meggan Eckard

Principal of Oak Hill Charter School 

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