To help with implementation, a Lighthouse committee has been formed. The members are: Allison Richardson, Karole Requilman, Jennifer Griffin, Sharla Reynolds, Kasey Johnson, Hope Angell, Audra Floyd and Michelle Holland.
Leadership Prep School students release balloons in celebration of National Charter School Week on May 9 in Frisco. The school, which opened in 2011, is housed at Elevate Life Church and has more students on its waiting list than on its rolls.
By RUTH HAESEMEYER
“We had not originally anticipated that we would ever be as large as where we are currently headed,” said school superintendent Stacy Alton, who was part of the original task force that started Leadership Prep.
Now wrapping up its third school year, the kindergarten through sixth-grade academy, the only charter school in Frisco, is preparing to expand to include seventh grade in the fall.
Growing by a grade each school year was always part of the plan for Leadership Prep, which is housed at Elevate Life Church in Frisco. But what was not anticipated originally, Alton said, was the high demand the school received from the start. Even in that first year, no advertising was needed to fill the classrooms.
Now, without the use of advertising campaigns, the school has grown from an original enrollment of 250 to an anticipated 520 next year, with more than 850 children on its waiting list.
Taught to lead
Leadership Prep was founded with one primary goal in mind, Alton said: to develop young leaders.
“Ultimately, our goal is to have leaders for our communities for life,” she said.
A task force, which she said included members of the Elevate Life and Frisco area communities, came together in 2010 to shape what a school dedicated to that idea might look like. They also wanted to provide educational options for parents, Alton said, and, at the time, there were no charter schools in the immediate area. Leadership Prep is listed as the only charter school located in Frisco on the Texas Education Agency’s website, tea.state.tx.us.
Jacob Makuvire, a member of that task force and current school board member, said much of this initial vision to promote leadership principles among young community members came from task force member Sheila Craft. She is one of the pastors at Elevate Life and a current board member of the school.
“We wanted to provide that platform, that opportunity, so it’s our passion to give back and create that environment for kids,” Makuvire said.
Though the school has some leaders and community members in common with the church, and has the church as landlord, Alton said Leadership Prep has no religious affiliations and operates under the same parameters as any other public school.
What does set it apart is its focus on that initial goal, which it works to reach through the schoolwide implementation of the FranklinCovey program, The Leader in Me. Based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the program teaches Leadership Prep students principles like leadership, accountability and teamwork.
Tony Tarell of McKinney, a parent of two Leadership Prep students, said he’s seen his kids apply these ideas outside the classroom.
“I definitely see it coming out in everyday life,” he said. “They teach them to think on a higher level as far as thinking about how you can help others and lead people.”
Yolanda Quevedo was feeling lost. Faced with bullying and other issues in her son’s Little Elm ISD school, their family was considering moving out of the house they had just built in Frisco and into a different school district. But then, someone told her about Leadership Prep, and after a year of being on its lottery-based waiting list, her son was accepted. He is now in his second year at the school.
“I cannot even begin to tell you how thankful we are every day,” Quevedo said. “It’s drama-free here, and the kids are focused on what they’re supposed to be focused on, and so are the teachers.”
Leadership Prep parent Thomasin Pinto said she’s been impressed by the atmosphere at Leadership Prep.
“The culture there is one of diversity, and the tone is one of understanding, or willingness to investigate to understand,” she said.
It’s also one of family togetherness. Leadership Prep parents are encouraged to take advantage of “servant leadership” opportunities to help out at the school, Makuvire said.
Alton said she thinks that family-friendly atmosphere and the fact that Leadership Prep is one of the only charter schools in the area are both factors in its high demand. But mostly, she said, it’s the results it shows.
“I think that now our biggest draw is just that, it’s the outcome of what our families are seeing in their children through those leadership skills, through their academics, through their love of education,” Alton said.
Leadership Prep will soon face some challenges with space. Alton said the Elevate Life campus is expected to accommodate their growth through eighth grade. Last month, Leadership Prep launched a campaign to begin focusing energies on plans beyond that. Alton said they will probably eventually establish a secondary location for the middle or high school grades.
Whatever the school’s future, Pinto said she wants her son to be a part of it.
“I feel like I won the lottery,” she said.
Ruth Haesemeyer, a Carrollton-based freelance writer, can be reached at email@example.com.
Leadership Prep School is located on the campus of Elevate Life Church, 8500 Teel Parkway in Frisco. For more information, call 972-294-6921 or visit lpsfrisco.com.