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Meet Alexa Greenland of Kavod Elementary Charter School

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexa Greenland.

Alexa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I initially began in public education in Massachusetts, but after a turbulent first year teaching, I decided a change was needed. I packed my bags and drove across country to San Diego with no job or place to live. When I first moved to California, I began teaching in private schools and was impressed with the instructional flexibility that allowed my students to thrive. I was promoted into administration at the age of 26. At that time, I was also active in the Junior League of San Diego, which helped me build leadership skills and understand logistics of board operations. After working in private schools for 8 years, I went back into the public sector through charter schools as a Principal and then Executive Director of an online school that spanned five counties. I helped that school through its start-up phases for three years and then returned to open Kavod, a site-based charter school, which is where I am now. I began with Kavod in the Spring of 2013; it opened that Fall with 54 students in grades K-2 and we currently serve 180 students in grades K-5.

Kavod is a perfect fit for me because I am a strong advocate of social responsibility and international cultural awareness. I authored a children’s book, The Cerulean Lion, which emphasizes the value of kindness and appreciation of individual differences. These are fundamental values at Kavod. Additionally, I am an advocate of school-choice and improvement in our current educational systems.

Has it been a smooth road?
Of course not, but every challenge has been a great learning experience.

Recruitment for new schools is challenging, but Kavod proved exceptionally challenging as there are frequent misconceptions about our program solely due to the Hebrew language focus of our school. Kavod is a public non-religious school; however, common, though inaccurate, beliefs are that it is a private school or that we are a religious school. We are a hidden gem that is frequently overlooked because parents do not initially connect with the value of learning Hebrew. The fundamental aspects of our program benefits almost all children, including the value of learning any language. Students of diverse backgrounds and cultures enroll at Kavod regardless of any family connection to the Hebrew language.

Another obstacle we have is the recruitment of our Hebrew teachers. Though we now have a phenomenal Hebrew team, finding qualified Hebrew teachers in San Diego was not always easy.

Additionally, during the school’s first year of operation, my husband and I were expecting our second daughter to arrive during the summer. Due to pregnancy complications, I was required to stay in the hospital beginning in early May, which was a challenging way to end the first year of the school’s operations. Missing the last day ceremony to celebrate our first year of operation was devastating.

Lastly, and most significantly, Kavod faces the same challenges that many charter schools face: a lack of adequate funding and facilities. On a yearly basis, we are navigating these complexities.

I am fortunate, though, to work with a phenomenal team who make the Kavod program thrive despite these challenges.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Kavod Elementary Charter School story. Tell us more about the business.
Kavod creates a community of respectful, globally conscious citizens who strive for academic excellence through perseverance. Kavod’s focus on dual-language, with students learning Hebrew daily and Spanish weekly, supports students in appreciating diversity and other cultures. Kavod’s values are embodied in our mascot, Libby a Kavod Explorer; Libby, in Hebrew, means “my heart.” At our heart, Kavod students are explorers who explore new concepts, challenging ideas, and various ways to positively contribute to their communities.

I am proud of the community we have created, which, to most, is a second family that is always supporting one another. The faculty, staff, board and our Kavod families, have all been instrumental in molding Kavod into the exceptional program we offer.

I am proud of the community we have created, which, to most, is a second family that is always supporting one another. The faculty, staff, board and our Kavod families, have all been instrumental in molding Kavod into the exceptional program we offer. The faculty as a whole is phenomenal – they are the foundation that makes Kavod an amazing school.

They are passionate about the success of our students, and truly care about our community.

I am proud that our students give back to their communities. When our students ran their first Fun-Run they raised money not just for Kavod, but also $3,000 for Make-A-Wish San Diego in memory of one of their fellow classmates. For Good Deeds Day last year our school community came together to support Sharon’s Ride for Epilepsy. In previous years for Good Deeds Day, our students have cleaned shoes and made no-sew blankets for those in need.

I am proud that we graduated our first fifth grade class last year and that they thrived in their academic performance by out-performing the averages of the district, county and state on the state assessments.

I am proud every day that a student comes into the office having earned a HERO Super Spot for being someone who Helps, Encourages (or has Empathy) and Respects Others.

Mostly, I am proud every day when I walk into the school that I am greeted with students and faculty who are excited to be there, are ready to explore new ideas together and who collaboratively create a wonderful place for children to thrive.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Public education is being driven by parent/student choice. By providing more public options, all current school systems are being required to make improvements and adjustments to enhance the programs they are offering to better serve our students for the jobs of the future. As every child has a different learning style and different interests, I hope to see more public choices being offered to families throughout the state via more charter schools. Offering more school options provide a variety of instructional models and concepts that meet the needs of all learners. A great education for any individual child shouldn’t be contingent on neighborhood or tuition fees. Every child deserves and should have access to and a great public education and public charter schools are leading this initiative.

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