The Charter Friend Awards were established in 1997 and have been awarded at the Colorado Charter Schools Conference every year since.
These prestigious Awards recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to Colorado’s charter schools. Many people were nominated by their peers.
The Charter School Leadership Award recognizes a charter school leader who demonstrates significant influence in developing or maintaining a charter school, improving school accountability and performance, or driving other aspects of school excellence.
This year’s winner is Sharon Collins from Westgate Community School. Sharon is the Executive Director for Westgate Community, a K-12 charter serving gifted and creative students in Adams 12 Five Star School District.
Westgate was encountering many obstacles after its opening. The school’s infrastructure was straining to accommodate growth, district expectations, and the inevitable transition from founding teachers to fresh faces.
Sharon has taken a small visionary school to new heights. After she was hired, this leader was able to navigate the school through these struggles which resulted in a ranking of 13th in the state for academic growth, the highest ranked charter in their district, and placing in the top 1% of schools in the state.
There was much involved to turn around this school. She asked teachers to step into leadership roles and created a system for teacher coaching and evaluation. As a result, the faculty took more ownership of the school and found more opportunities to improve their craft. The “whole child” education program has been incorporated into every day instruction - reducing anxiety, and giving students more tools to cope with emotional and social challenges.
Sharon implemented a bullying prevention program, the elements of which include contemplative practice, restorative justice, peer mentorship, and teacher advocacy on behalf of students. The curriculum now successfully meets both state standards and is flexible enough to meet students at their ability level.
Congratulations to Sharon Collins the 2018 Charter School Leadership Award winner.