Charter School Authorizing
The University of St. Thomas Charter Authorizing Program is housed within the College of Education, Leadership and Counseling. Since it was founded in 2001, the UST portfolio has grown to 12 schools.
Each of our partnering schools brings unique characteristics to the Charter School Authorizing portfolio:
Academia Cesar Chavez1800 Ames AvenueSt. Paul, MN 55119Phone: (651) 778-2940Fax: (651) 778-2842
Academia Cesar Chavez opened in 2001 and serves students in grades K-6. The school’s mission of providing a quality dual-language education which prepares critically thinking, socially competent, values driven, and culturally aware bilingual and bi-literate learners is accomplished through advocacy for Latino culture in an environment which values family and community. Students of all backgrounds are welcomed into the school.
Community of Peace Academy471 Magnolia Avenue EastSt. Paul, MN 55130Phone: 651) 776-5151Fax: (651) 771-4841
Community of Peace Academy was founded in 1995 and serves students in grades PK-12. The school seeks to be a racially and culturally diverse community of students, parents, and staff, dedicated to creating a peaceful environment in which each person is treated with unconditional positive regard and acceptance. To create such an environment, a non-violent perspective is intentionally taught and all members of the community strive to practice a non-violent lifestyle. The school has been named a National School of Character (2003), PeaceBuilder Model Site (2005), and National Charter School of the Year (2007). The Community of Peace High School was also identified as a Bronze Medalist in U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best High Schools in America’ ranking.
Face to Face Academy1165 Arcade StreetSt. Paul, MN 55106Phone: (651) 772-5544Fax: (651) 772-5621
Face to Face Academy serves an at risk student population in a small, thoughtfully designed school environment. The school outperforms state, district, and local school averages in all areas for comparable students and has been named a High Performing Charter School by the Minnesota Department of Education for three of the last four years. The school offers a rigorous curriculum and a system for earning credit that is recognized as a model program for re-engaging high school students. The school’s vision of graduating those most at-risk for dropping out of high school by integrating the highest quality of educational and support services is realized in part through its award-winning wilderness and outdoor program, which gives students the opportunity to earn credits and life skills while exploring the natural world.
Global Academy4065 Central Avenue NortheastColumbia Heights, MN 55421Phone: (763) 404-8200Fax: (763) 781-5260
Global Academy opened its doors in 2008 and seeks to serve a diverse group of students in grades K-8. The school employs an International Baccalaureate (IB) program and is committed to service in the broader world…empowered by academic rigor, graduates of Global Academy will be fully prepared for success and leadership in challenging high school programs. The school emphasizes the character traits identified in the IB learner profile, such as being reflective, open-minded, and knowledgeable, while also placing value on students’ development of technological skills and providing opportunities for second-language acquisition.
Hiawatha Academies is a five-site (as of SY2019) network of schools focused on closing the opportunity gap in Minneapolis. The school’s college-preparatory program is based on inquiry, intellect and character, in keeping with its mission of empowering scholars with the knowledge, character, and leadership skills to graduate from college and serve the common good. The school has been recognized nationally for its gap-closing model and for outperforming local schools serving similar student populations, and several sites have been recognized by the Star Tribune as "Beating the Odds" schools.
Hope Community Academy720 Payne Avenue Saint Paul, MN 55130Phone: (651) 796-4500Fax: (651) 796-4599
HOPE Community Academy was founded in 2000 and serves students in grades PK-8. The school’s mission is to provide students with a rigorous academic foundation, focusing on the mastery of fundamental and higher-order thinking skills that prepare them for life-long learning, while instilling in them the finest Hmong and American values. HOPE welcomes students of all backgrounds.
Main Street School of Performing Arts
Hopkins, MN 55343
Phone: (952) 224-1340
Fax: (952) 224-2955
Main Street School of Performing Arts was founded in 2002 and serves grades 9-12. The school strives to provide students with a rigorous education which includes Advanced Placement course options in all academic areas, as well as numerous entry-advanced level courses in music, theatre, and dance not available at most traditional high schools. The school boasts small class sizes, personalized attention to students, and the fullest production schedule of any four year Arts High School in the Twin Cities. Information on the school’s numerous performances is available on the school’s website. All students are welcomed into Main Street School of Performing Arts and auditions are not required for admittance.
Metro Deaf School
Phone: (651) 964-1631Video Phone: (651) 964-1630Fax: (651) 222-0939
Metro Deaf School was founded in 1992 and opened its doors to students the following year, making it the second-oldest charter school in the nation. A partner school, Minnesota North Star Academy, opened in 2004 to serve students in grades 9-12. Over time, Metro Deaf School expanded to include an Early Childhood Special Education program for 3-5 year olds, and in 2009 the boards of the PK-8 and 9-12 schools completed a merger, with the PK-12 school moving forward as Metro Deaf School. Today, Metro Deaf School provides a rigorous, high quality education to students from across the metro area and parts of Wisconsin. The school uses a Bilingual ALS/English model.
Spero Academy, formerly known as Fraser Academy, is a public K-5 elementary charter school located in Northeast Minneapolis. The school strives to be a national model of inclusive and tailored education for all children with an emphasis on small class sizes and individual attention. Through a continuous progress and a responsive environment, Spero Academy cultivates a high standard of academic and personal excellence, while creating a sense of respect, responsibility and community. In session 11 months out of the year and averaging a 1:4 educator/student ratio, the school’s mission is to provide individualized educational programs for students of all backgrounds and abilities.
St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts16 West 5th StreetSt. Paul, MN 55102Phone: (651) 290-2225
The St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists (SPCPA) opened its doors in 2005 and has repeatedly been recognized for its students’ superior academic achievement and for the caliber of its arts education program. SPCPA has been recognized as a High Quality Charter School by MDE and serves grades 9-12. The school lives its mission to provide the highest caliber of academic and artistic education for aspiring pre-professional performing artists in the areas of instrumental and vocal music, theatre and dance and to fully prepare students for college and conservatory. Teaching staff in all academic subjects are traditionally trained and licensed, and the school’s arts departments are headed by a full-time ‘chair,’ and additionally contract with working artists for courses relevant to their area of expertise. The school’s arts faculty have worked in many of Minnesota’s most known and respected venues/companies including the Minnesota Opera, Guthrie Theater, Illusion Theater, Southern Theater, and the Ordway Center.
Twin Cities Academy
Phone: (651) 205-4797
Fax: (651) 205-4799
Twin Cities Academy was founded in 1999 and serves grades 6-12. As a college preparatory middle and high school, Twin Cities Academy is committed to providing opportunities and experiences that will allow our students to be and do their very best, assisting all our students to meet educational goals and begin developing important and lifelong skills. The school has been the recipient of numerous awards, particularly for high academic achievement. The school was one of only a handful statewide to be identified as a Reward School for six years in a row and for several years the high school program was the only Reward High School in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Twin Cities German Immersion School1030 Como AvenueSt. Paul, MN 55103Phone: (651) 492-7106Fax: (651) 330-2270Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twin Cities German Immersion School was founded in 2005 and serves grades K-8. The school’s mission is innovative education of the whole child through German immersion, and in recent years 100% of graduating students have passed reading, listening, and speaking standards for German proficiency as measured by the German state’s language assessments. The school values intercultural engagement and employs a variety of staff including interns from German-speaking countries. The Twin Cities German Immersion School has a long track record of strong academic performance and has been recognized as a Reward School by the Minnesota Department of Education.
Q: What is a Charter School?
A: A charter school is a free, public school open to any student who wishes to enroll. Charter schools receive additional flexibility under Minnesota Statutes 124D.10 and in return are held accountable for results by authorizers. Charter schools are independent and have their own school boards separate from those of traditional district schools.
Q: What is an authorizer?
A: Authorizers provide oversight to charter schools by using a clear performance framework to monitor their financial, academic, and organizational outcomes, as well as compliance with the law. Authorizers protect charter school autonomy by leaving management decisions to schools’ boards and directors. Authorizers push mediocre schools to improve, set high expectations for new schools, and close underperforming schools, all with the hope of improving students’ access to a great education. As articulated by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, “effective authorizing is critical to the quality of the charter school movement and to the lives of the more than two million children who attend charter schools nationwide.”
Q: Why does the University of St. Thomas authorize charter schools?
A: The Authorizing Program is one way in which UST can work to meet its mission of educating morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good. In its current strategic priorities document The University of St. Thomas expresses its desire to be ‘in and of the city,’ and to ‘seek to find ways of being educationally relevant and responsive to the changing needs of our community.’ We believe that quality authorizing assists in the creation and maintenance of quality schools and work toward a reality in which all students and families have access to high-quality educational options. UST is uniquely positioned to offer a high quality authorizing program due to the large number of faculty members with expertise in areas relevant to authorizing. The current Charter Accountability Board brings together experts in school finance, accounting, gifted and special education, general education, and governance from across the various colleges and schools that make up the broader University.
Q: What criteria does UST use to select the schools in its network?
A: When determining whether an existing or developing charter school is a good fit for the UST authorizing program a rigorous, multi-step application process is employed and the areas of academic, financial, and organizational health are assessed. For existing schools, this includes an examination of the application narrative, three years’ worth of data on student performance, audits, annual reports, and a variety of other information. UST also conducts a site visit and interviews key school stakeholders. Developing schools hoping to secure their first charter undergo a similar process with a detailed application and founding-team interview to assist UST in determining whether the proposed charter has a high potential for success. The processes for both existing and developing schools are available in the Authorizer Manual posted in the Charter School Resources section of the website. Once a school’s quality or potential quality has been established, the authorizing program works to determine whether the school’s mission and vision are compatible with that of UST: Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good. UST expects the schools in its network to have strong mission statements that answer community needs and offer something unique. The schools in the UST Charter School Network are expected to use their mission statements to drive their programmatic success.
Q: Are the charter schools authorized by the University of St. Thomas ‘lab’ schools?
A: The schools in the UST Charter School Network are not ‘lab’ schools and are not obligated to partner with UST in any way. Schools that are interested in relationships outside of authorization, for example, serving as a host site for student teachers or receiving volunteers through the Tutor-Mentor program, may reach out to the appropriate staff in those departments. In order to prevent conflicts of interest, the Authorizing Program does not coordinate or oversee these additional relationships and utilizes a Conflict of Interest Policy (available in the Charter School Resources section of the website) to ensure that UST charter schools maintain their full autonomy.
The University of St. Thomas Charter Accountability Board (CAB) meets monthly to discuss the progress of authorized schools and makes recommendations to the Dean of the College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling. Members of the board, including ex-officio, non-voting members are:
Robert J. Brown, Ph.D. -- Professor Emeritus and Board Member
Dr. Brown previously served 10 years in the Minnesota State Senate and is a founding member of the Minnesota State Charter School Advisory Board. He has also served on several other advisory committees such as the Board of Advisers to the St. Thomas College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling, the Minnesota Department of Education, the Board of the Constitutional Education Foundation, and the Minnesota State Board of Medical Practice. While serving as Chairman for The National Association of State Boards of Education, Dr. Brown was a member of a NASBE study group that prepared the report A More perfect Union: Building an Education System that Embraces All Children. In December of 2000, he published (with co-author Jeff Cornwall) The Entrepreneurial Educator, a book to help school leaders function in today’s competitive marketplace. In addition to completing (with Joe Scherer) Six Ways to Make Government Work for You, a book to assist educational leaders in dealing with policy makers at all levels of government, Dr. Brown is the editor of the book series Innovations in Education for Rowman Education Press. He holds a B.S. in math and speech from Winona State University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in education administration and psychology from the University of Minnesota.
Stephanie Grimm, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Accounting and Board Member
Stephanie Dehning Grimm received a Ph. D. degree in business administration (accounting) and a Master of Accountancy from the University of Minnesota in 2009, and a B.S.B.A. degree from Boston University in 2000. Grimm also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2003. Dr. Grimm's research interests include accounting quality issues, internal controls, the role of the internal audit function, corporate governance and incorporating writing in the accounting curriculum.
Jan L. Frank, Ph.D — Associate Professor of Education and Board Member
Dr. Frank is currently an Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Teacher Education. Before joining the faculty at UST in fall 2011, Dr. Frank was a faculty member for twenty-one years at St Cloud State University, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher preparation and professional development and serving as department chair. Dr. Frank is a Wisconsin native and taught at the high school level in English and speech prior to moving to Minnesota. She received both her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and her doctorate in Urban Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her areas of professional interest include culturally responsive teaching, social justice, teachers and change, and curriculum development.
Joseph Kreitzer, Ph. D. – Dean of the College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling
Dr. Kreitzer came to the College of St. Thomas in 1981 as a member of the Economics Department faculty. Over the next 20 years, he was promoted to full professor in 1997, served as the department chair from 1997 to 2000 and was active in numerous faculty and university governance committees.
In 2001, Ralph Pearson, vice president for academic affairs, asked Kreitzer to join the Office of Academic Affairs as an associate vice president, primarily responsible for oversight of the academic finances. He has a Ph.D. and a M.A., both in economics, from the University of Iowa and a B.A. in business and economics from the University of South Dakota. During the last 14 years, Kreitzer’s responsibilities grew to include oversight of most faculty matters. Last fall, Plumb promoted Kreitzer to the title of vice provost for faculty affairs with a re-envisioned primary role of providing support for all faculty matters
Molly McGraw Healy, M.P.P. – Director of Charter School Authorizing and Ex Officio Board Member
Molly McGraw Healy joined the University of St. Thomas in 2011 after serving, first as Program Coordinator, and later as Senior Manager of the Volunteers of America, Minnesota (VOA-MN) charter school authorizing program. Prior to this assignment McGraw Healy worked in the Minnesota Legislature’s House Research Department as a research assistant specializing in education policy. McGraw Healy earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Education, with a concentration in French, at St. Olaf College. In 2010, after several years of classroom teaching in charter and traditional public school settings, she earned her Masters of Public Policy, with an emphasis on education and charter school policy, from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. As an active member of the authorizing community, McGraw Healy has presented at National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Conferences, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference, and served as a consultant to the District of Columbia Charter School Board, the Ohio Authorizer Collaborative, Nevada Public Charter School Authority, the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, and the Indiana Charter School Board. In 2012 McGraw Healy was one of ten authorizers selected by NACSA to participate in the inaugural cohort of their Leadership Program. She currently maintains Minnesota teaching licensures in both English and French and was recently re-elected Chair of the Minnesota Association of Charter School Authorizers.
David Peterson, Ph.D. – Clinical Faculty and Board Member
Dr. Peterson is currently a clinical faculty member in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Administration at the University of St. Thomas, and formerly served as the Charter School Coordinator. Dr. Peterson has extensive experience as a school leader, having served for 25 years as a principal in public school settings, and for one year as a principal in a charter school setting. His work in the Department of Leadership, Policy and Administration focuses on the development of critical skills in future school leaders as they pursue administrative licensure. Through his leadership a partnership was formed between the University of St. Thomas and the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools to focus on the assessment and development of charter school directors and administrators. Dr. Peterson attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, Minnesota State University-Mankato, and received his Ph.D. in 1988 from Iowa State University. His research efforts have focused on appraising the performance of teachers and administrators in school settings and he has served as a trainer and consultant to several charter and traditional public schools regarding implementation of alternate teacher performance appraisal systems.
Eleni Roulis, Ph.D. -- Professor of Education and Chair UST Institutional Review Board
A full professor in the School of Education, Dr. Roulis has been working with Charter Schools in a professional development capacity for the past 10 years. She applies her considerable knowledge and background in literacy, technology and diversity to the specific professional needs of charter school teachers. Dr. Roulis is the former chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and while under her leadership, developed a doctorate in critical pedagogy, a master’s in learning technology, a master’s in reading, and a master’s in curriculum and instruction for teachers in the Bahamas. Currently, she is the faculty chair of the St. Thomas Institutional Review Board and also oversees the student volunteer and community involvement programs at the undergraduate level. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Dr. Roulis has been honored with a Distinguished Service Award for Leadership by the University of St. Thomas, an Outstanding Curriculum Award for the Voyager Curriculum by the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce as well as a Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Work in Education by Educational Testing Service.
Lynn Stansberry-Brusnahan, Ph.D -- Professor and Board Member
A 2007 Ph.D. graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dr. Lynn Stansberry-Brusnahan used to train Delta Air Lines flight attendants. The birth of a son with autism pointed her to her next career. Now, she is one of just a handful of faculty members in the country with a specialty in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Under her guidance, the University of St. Thomas has developed a highly successful certificate program in autism spectrum disorders. Appointed by Governor Jim Doyle, Dr. Stansberry-Brusnahan currently serves on the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and is a member of the Autism Society of America Board of Directors.
John Spry, Ph.D. — Associate Professor and Board Member
John A. Spry is an associate professor in the Finance Department. He earned his B.S. in economics at Ohio State University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics at the University of Rochester. His current areas of research are state and local public finance, the economics of state lotteries, the effects of tax rates on tax bases and applied non-parametric econometrics. He was a member of the Minnesota Governor's 21st Century Tax Reform Commission.
Karen L. Westberg, Ph.D., Professor of Special and Gifted Education and Board Member
Dr. Karen L. Westberg is a Professor at the University of St. Thomas (UST) where she teaches graduate coursework in the Gifted, Creative, and Talented education program. Before joining the faculty at UST, she was a principal investigator at The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented and a faculty member in gifted education at the University of Connecticut. She has been actively involved with the National Association for Gifted Children by serving as Member of the Board of Directors, Finance Secretary, and member of the Editorial Boards for the Gifted Child Quarterly and Teaching for High Potential. She has published articles in several journals including Parenting for High Potential, Journal for the Education of the Gifted, Gifted Education International, Gifted Child Today, and the Gifted Child Quarterly. Earlier in her career, she as a teacher and gifted education specialist in the Burnsville/Eagan/Savage school district.
Dana J. Peterson
As the director of Education for the 21st Century at LEED-Sacramento, Dana guided the development of research-based redesign plans for nine high schools in Sacramento City Unified School District. She next supported the establishment and growth of St. HOPE Public Schools, a K-12 charter school system in Sacramento, CA. While at St. HOPE, Dana served in a variety of capacities including small school principal, director of operations and director of new site development. She managed the chartering process for two new schools and led two schools through successful charter renewals. These experiences led her to serve as an advisor to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson where she oversaw initiatives in the areas of homelessness, arts, community service and education. Dana returned home to Minnesota after serving as the development chief of staff for an education policy nonprofit. Most recently, Dana has been working as a consultant for education, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations undertaking projects such as the development of charter school accountability plans and the design of a funded program to disseminate charter school best practices. She currently serves as the vice president of the board of directors for Girls on the Run Twin Cities and the board chair for the newly authorized Phillips Community School.
Dana grew up in Apple Valley, MN. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College and a Master of Education degree from Harvard University. In her free time, Dana enjoys being outdoors, running, cooking, and walking her chocolate lab Oliver.
A native of the Twin Cities Metro Area, Griff Merry earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Washington, Seattle. After working as a bar manager for a year, Griff returned to Minnesota to study at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where he is expected to earn a Master of Public Policy degree in the spring of 2016. In line with his fellowship duties at the University of St. Thomas’s charter school authorizing department, Griff’s main policy interests relate to education reform. In his free time, he enjoys reading history, studying German, and building furniture.
Molly McGraw Healy
Molly McGraw Healy joined the University of St. Thomas in 2011 after serving, first as Program Coordinator, and later as Senior Manager of the Volunteers of America, Minnesota (VOA-MN) charter school authorizing program. Prior to this assignment McGraw Healy worked in the Minnesota Legislature’s House Research Department as a research assistant specializing in education policy. McGraw Healy earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Education, with a concentration in French, at St. Olaf College. In 2010, after several years of classroom teaching in charter and traditional public school settings, she earned her Masters of Public Policy, with an emphasis on education and charter school policy, from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. As an active member of the authorizing community, McGraw Healy has presented at National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Conferences, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference, and served as a consultant to the District of Columbia Charter School Board, the Ohio Authorizer Collaborative, Nevada Public Charter School Authority, the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, and the Indiana Charter School Board. In 2012 McGraw Healy was one of ten authorizers selected by NACSA to participate in the inaugural cohort of their Leadership Program. She currently maintains Minnesota teaching licensures in both English and French and has served as Chair of the Minnesota Association of Charter School Authorizers since August of 2013.
If you are interested in joining the UST Charter School Network, please view our UST Charter School Authorizing Program Manual to learn more.
University of St. Thomas 2016-17 Charter Authorizing Program Manual
The program manual is a comprehensive description of the university’s authorizing program. In addition to background information and department policies and protocols, the program manual also includes descriptions and necessary documents for every procedure—both mandatory and optional—that a new or existing charter school may undertake. A printable PDF version can be accessed by clicking the link above.