CSMI recruits Top Educators to fill New Posts

For Immediate Release
July 23, 2014

Contact: Max Tribble

Chester-Based Education Company Builds on Success in Chester, Welcomes Two New Leaders in the Field of Education

CSMI Recruits Top Curriculum Support Specialists, Expands Partnerships with Camden and Atlantic City Charter Schools

Chester, PA   - The education management company that has helped to change the face of education in Chester, PA through its partnership with Chester Community Charter School -- now in its 15th year and educating more than 3,000 K-8 students on three campuses -- is building on its success and expanding its offerings by partnering with new schools opening in challenging New Jersey neighborhoods and providing the deep support and innovation teachers and principals need.

The company has brought on education innovator Dr. Richard Best as Senior Vice President of Learning and Academic Development and learning specialist Donna Runner as Vice President of Learning Development.  Additionally, CSMI has partnered with two new schools, Camden Community Charter School which opened its doors last September and Atlantic City Community Charter School which is opening this fall. 

Dr. Best will lead the instructional design and continuous innovation process to improve the effectiveness of the curriculum used in CSMI-partner schools.  Dr. Best  is an accomplished educator and innovator with more than 25 years of experience in a wide variety of school communities including public, private, religious and charter.  He has served as a charter school CEO and District Superintendent. 

“What CSMI provides is a platform on which to build and innovate,” said Dr. Best.  “I couldn’t be more excited about this next phase in my personal journey to help improve education outcomes.”

As Vice President of Learning Development, Donna Runner brings to CSMI a wealth of experience as a Philadelphia principal and administrator.  Mrs. Runner specializes in working hands-on with principals and teachers to reformulate, revitalize and redesign programs that are tailored to the specific needs of the schools and the children.  “The folks at CSMI are not intimidated by big problems.  They are problem solvers and that is why I want to be on their team.  I am excited to take on the challenges that await us as we strive to improve public education in disadvantaged communities,” said Mrs. Runner.

CSMI’s unique, business-oriented approach helps lift the burden of non-education functions off of teachers and principals and provides them with the support and resources they need to succeed in some of the most challenged communities.  .  These two new instructional and curriculum specialists joining CSMI this summer promise to do just that.

CSMI founder and CEO, Vahan Gureghian, noted that one of the fundamental promises of charter school education was and is to be centers for innovation, places to find ways to overcome structural barriers to education success.  “The people that are attracted to a company like CSMI and who are willing to work in the neighborhoods where we manage schools understand that this is hard work,” said Gureghian.  “But they also see working at CSMI and undertaking the challenges we’ve taken on as an opportunity to effect meaningful change and profoundly impact the destiny of children from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.  I’m very proud that both Dick and Donna have chosen to become part of the CSMI team.” 

This past year CSMI’s innovative approach was welcomed in New Jersey.  Last September, Camden Community Charter School opened the doors of a brand new state-of-the-art facility to 150 children in grades K-5.  The school will be expanding this September to include grades K-6 and 400 students. 

Final plans are in place to launch Atlantic City Community Charter School (ACCCS) this fall for 150 students in grades K-5.  ACCCS will start out in high-quality temporary facilities before moving into a brand new state-of-the-art building to be built over the winter and slated to open in September, 2015.

“We’re bringing our experience and what we’ve learned in Chester, and our culture of high-expectations, to the kinds of neighborhoods that need break-the-mold strategies,” added Gureghian.  “That is the promise and the mission of charter school education.”