“At Explore, our teachers genuinely care about us, but there are no passes either. We are expected to achieve.”
Fifth Grade Teacher at Explore Charter School
Karen Hicks joined the team at Explore Charter School in 2011 as a Teach For America corps member. Her son attended Explore from 2009-2011 for his 7th- and 8th-grade years. Karen received her undergraduate degree from the New York City College of Technology and is currently pursuing a Master's degree from Relay Graduate School of Education.
Q: How are Explore Schools different from other schools?
“Explore Schools are different from other schools in several ways. Student achievement is at the core of everything we do at Explore Schools. There is great emphasis placed on teacher development with teachers receiving actionable feedback to improve their craft. Next, teachers are held accountable, and receive the necessary support to help their students achieve. Additionally, Explore leverages the co-teaching model to provide targeted instruction to students."
Q: What does ‘continuous improvement look’ like across the Explore Schools network?
“Continuous improvement looks like sharing best practices across the network, by examining what is working in one school, why it is working, and seeing how it can be duplicated in other schools. At Explore, teachers are encouraged to reflect on their actions in the classroom for what they are doing well so that they can continue doing those things, as well as on their areas of growth so that they can receive the support needed to improve their craft."
Q: What does the tagline ‘Community Schools. Outstanding Results.’ mean to you?
“Community Schools mean that everyone - teachers, administration, ops staff - is invested in the success of each individual student, and this is exactly what happens at Explore. Additionally, it means that students are aware that they are part of a larger community. With this sense of community, we are bound for outstanding results, both academically and as responsible citizens."
Q: Can you describe a memorable experience your first year at Explore?
“At the end of last year, my first year teaching, my students and I reflected on the year. One of my students who struggled all year long with completing classwork and self-confidence said, "When I came to 5th grade, I didn't think I was going to make it through the whole year. The math was so hard, but you pushed me, and now I'm ready for 6th grade." Often times, you talk to your students, individually or as a whole class, and it seems as though they're not listening, but over time their actions show you that they are listening."