by Jeff McSweeney
I had decided to cover District 150 for this edition but ran into dead ends of how to wrap it with other subjects. My editor suggested I contact his good friend Dave Walty who has a great interest in education, among other high-minded pursuits.
Dave does not have a formal background in education and generally did not take a great interest in the subject for many years. After being an electrician for a number of years Dave founded Heart Technologies in 1987. He successfully ran that business until he sold it in 2008. Near the end of his role at Heart he was very involved with the Peoria Chamber of Commerce and the CEO Roundtable that had taken up the project of determining the viability of a charter school for District 150. In order to support the project he had to understand what was going on in the city and District 150. After he understood this relationship he supported Quest with financial and technical assistance.
Dave was inspired by what he learned about public education and how it applies to the clients he worked with and college courses he has taught at Bradley University, “With education, as technology, I like to turn light bulbs on so there is active education.” Quest Charter Academy was that light bulb for District 150. “Active involvement by the student and parent is the key success,” says Dave, “and Quest was that answer. Their children’s education is the responsibility of the parents.” He continued, “Students who are there wanted to learn. A charter school is not an end but is one mechanism that will get us there.”
“District 150 has many gifted schools that are successful, but District 150 needs to build new models where folks have selection criteria that allows them to participate. This would not necessarily be academic achievement but could be based on attendance, turning work in on time, attitude, leadership, etc. Attitude and engagement would be the driving criteria for placement in these schools,” says Dave.
Following further discussion Dave shared, “Eventually every student would be in these schools with the goal of having every student and parent buy in. Entitlement would be taken out of the schools.”
I almost said, “That would never work.”
Let the dreamer dream and be the hero no one expected.
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