New head of school to expand education to high school
by Morgan Smith
As one south Charlotte charter school develops plans of adding a new high school, they’ve hired a new leader to make sure they get there smoothly.
Beth Warshauer was recently named head of school at Charlotte Secondary School, currently a sixth-through-eighth-grade charter school.
Warshauer will lead the school when the campus adds a high school in 2013-14.
The school, which has a college preparatory-type curriculum, recently went through several changes, beginning with the resignation of the previous principal in December. Now, with Warshauer in place and several other administration changes, Charlotte Secondary is on the right track to successfully transition to a campus of sixth- to 12th-graders.
Warshauer said if you told her this time last year she would soon be the head of school, she wouldn’t believe it.
“Even in August and September of last year… even then it wasn’t on my radar,” Warshauer said.
That’s because Warshauer has never been a principal before. She first became involved with Charlotte Secondary when she enrolled her daughter in sixth grade almost two years ago, when she wanted an alternative to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
“I was looking for something a little smaller,” Warshauer said. “I was really worried about her falling through the cracks.”
Soon Warshauer found herself as a parent representative on the school’s board, and just this past fall, the school was finally in the position to begin recruiting more students and hired her onto the staff in October to do marketing and development.
The board brought in John Silva in January, a well-known education consultant, to work with the school’s staff to find a collective vision of leadership in order to move toward eventually adding a high school.
“We picked his brain on where to start with that and kind of what the process needs to be and when he finished, a couple of us on the board met with him,” Warshauer said. Silva’s number one suggestion, Warshauer added, was the school needed a visionary leader, someone who understands the school and can see how it can grow.
“His ultimate recommendation for the board was that I take the position,” she said.
So in March, Warshauer hit the ground running, continuing her work to raise funds and recruit students, as well as beginning work on a strategic plan for the school and focusing on how the school fits into the community.
And although she doesn’t have a master’s in administration, Warshauer said it’s her life experiences that have really prepared her for the position.
With an undergraduate degree in English from Mercer University in Georgia – Warshauer also spent two years at Davidson College – and a master’s in education from the University of Georgia, Warshauer said it’s her nonprofit work with organizations like the Junior League and her time with the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce that have really prepared her for the position. Add to that her work on boards such as the president of the parent-teacher group at Sharon Elementary.
“I just feel a responsibility to the people around me,” Warshauer said. “Justice is a tricky thing. There are certain things that people don’t have any control over – everybody deserves a chance and opportunities.”
And that’s exactly why Warshauer took the position at the school.
“I think the things that really hook me about the school is the charter. It’s a very powerful document… very motivating and it speaks a lot about things I’ve struggled with and the things I’ve seen in the world,” things like equal opportunities for all students and pushing for the highest level of success possible in students throughout all walks of life.
“I think our children have aspirations. I want to make sure we give our kids a truly meaningful, academic rigorous experience so they have a sense of purpose and maybe even a sense of urgency.”
Right now, Warshauer is working with her staff and board to come up with a strategic plan for the new high school by mid-August, as well as various details like a new location for the school, funding and specific details on curriculum.
“High school is a totally different animal – it’s not just middle school squared. We’re not manufacturing a product here,” Warshauer said. “We’re dealing with children’s lives.”