Why I Chose Charter

Why I Chose Charter
By Teresa Sale

The buzz around charter schools is growing. Instead of being the cure-all replacement for the existing public school system, charter schools have proven to be a valuable and much needed compliment to public education throughout the state. As the population grows and the state budget struggles to keep up, the need for alternatives has arisen for parents and students like never before. I have seen first-hand over the last 15 years how charter schools fill the gap in needs that otherwise would go unmet, particularly in historically under-served communities.

Behind the students at each school, are great teachers, HR folks, principals, administrators and many others whose commitment is to provide ALL students with a quality educational experience. They are able to do so with the assurance of knowing their family will be taken care of. Good pay and benefits are something that should not be sacrificed when choosing to work at a charter school. It is my job to help schools balance the lesser funding available with the need to provide charter school teams with high quality benefit programs.

When people ask me what my professional passion is, my usual response is “Working with charter schools!”. When asked why, I reply that it is the kids, empowered parents, and dedicated schools that inspire me to continue my work.

Students at the forefront
We can never forget that the focus of any school is, first and foremost, the kids! They are why we do what we do. From the spark of interest that is lit in a class by a new area of discovery, to the ideas brought home to their families after school, a student’s classroom experience has impacts far beyond the school grounds. Every student deserves the equal right to a quality education. What that looks like for kids should be determined by the parent(s) and accessible through the public school system.

Power in the parents
If anyone knows kids’ educational needs best, it is their parents. Parents should be empowered to send their child to the public school of their choice, based on their child’s educational needs and in consideration of varying factors related to zip code, location, language and other factors. No parent should have to watch their child fail in school because their learning style is entirely different than the educational style of the public school they attend. Given the broad diversity of California’s student population, it is no wonder that cookie-cutter solutions fall short in providing quality education.

Determined to educate
Dedicated, innovative schools who see a need and make it their mission to create unique and challenging programs for learning are to be recognized and valued. There are many different areas served by charter schools that often go overlooked. To name one type with the greatest impact would be impossible. Charter schools afford teachers the opportunity to hone-in on specialized areas: math, science, performing arts, language immersion, project-based learning, Montessori, Waldorf-style, environmental science, social justice, place-based, and various others offer students the opportunity to pursue and excel in their unique academic interests. Erasing the achievement gap between students with diverse backgrounds and experiences is a main focus of many charter schools. Priority is given to teaching positive self-awareness with a focus on serving others in their community.

There are schools specifically focused on serving students in need of second chances. They focus on credit catch up, high school graduation and college or trade programs. Others provide adult students above a certain age who’ve not graduated high school a chance to do so. Then there are those specially focused on aiding special needs students to excel in a setting where they are able to focus, free of the social stigma and potential bullying found in mainstream public school classrooms. These kids are so often put into classrooms labeled “special education,” and not much is expected of them as students. Not to mention those in the inner cities who provide students with no hope to succeed in a system that is failing them the confidence to excel and believe they can go on to make a true difference through education. Specialized charter schools are changing the game for those who matter most – KIDS!

The buzz around charter schools is not likely to stop anytime soon as public schools continue to be impacted across the country. Through all the hype and debate, educating the students, empowering the parents and having dedicated schools will shine the way towards a better future for California’s educational system. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is my mission to be there to serve amazing, innovative teachers, principals, HR professionals and administrators, in their mission to improve the lives of students throughout California!

Filed under: Charter Schools — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 5:13 pm October 15, 2018

Frequent Check-ins: Rethinking Performance Reviews

It’s no secret that employees and employers alike have reservations about annual performance reviews. Some employees view them as a waste of time and many employers find it difficult to argue against that. According to management research firm CEB, 42 percent of employees consider annual reviews ineffective, mainly due to the feedback coming at the end of the year when it has almost no relevance. What’s more, 95 percent of managers are dissatisfied with their company’s performance review process, too, according to the same study.

How Reviews Have Evolved

The shift from praising annual reviews to loathing them has ebbed into the HR realm gradually over the last couple of decades. Modern performance reviews are largely based on the merit system used by the military in World War I—a system that has not grown adequately to suit the needs of today’s corporate structures. The original idea was that workers were so plentiful that poor performers needed to be identified from efficient workers so the former could be replaced and the latter promoted.
This mentality is slowly dying as the labor market tightens up. Employers are now more concerned with coaching poor performers instead of replacing them immediately. Annual reviews are less effective in this regard, since their primary purpose is to hold employees up to a (typically) quantitative standard, not to assess granular performance and insert coaching opportunities. That’s where frequent check-ins come in.

What is a Frequent Check-in?

Think of frequent check-ins as microscopic evaluations. In this process, managers evaluate employee performance periodically throughout the year, not just at its end. Managers are checking in on employee performance as it happens, not giving a rating months later.

Employees can, and should, still set attainable goals for themselves each year related to their performance, but examining that growth annually may do them a disservice. Frequent check-ins (think monthly or biweekly) allow employers the chance to nip any emerging issues in the bud and lets employees receive that coaching when it’s actually relevant. Moreover, checking in with an employee more frequently can build a lasting rapport with the company and strengthen company culture.

How Can I Implement This?

Since frequent check-ins are essentially periodic meetings tailored to employee performance, implementation is minimal. To get started, employees should first develop a goal for themselves for the year. It could be related to performance or some other aspect that’s important to your company, like growing a particular skill. Next, managers should schedule individual meetings at set intervals throughout the year to check in on the progress of the goals. The meetings are also an opportunity for employees to receive feedback in any areas where they’ve fallen short, like not achieving a goal milestone on time.


Frequent check-ins might not be the best option for your business, but having even a few meetings before an annual review could improve employee growth and rapport. These check-ins, which are often paired with a final annual review, show employees that you care enough about their development to give them time to discuss it throughout the year.

On average, you spend around 260 days at work each year. As an employee, wouldn’t you want your manager to take an interest in your development more than just once a year?

Reach out to your Warren G. Bender Co. representative to request a full version of our toolkit on performance reviews.

Filed under: HR — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:24 pm October 12, 2018

OSHA is Taking Heat for Ignoring a Safety Issue

Although OSHA has established many standards to protect employees in the workplace, the agency doesn’t have any official regulations regarding everyday heat exposure. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 250 people die from exposure to excessive temperatures every year, and many more experience injuries from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. As a result, over 130 organizations have recently petitioned OSHA to create a standard that provides at-risk employees with rest breaks, access to shade and other protections.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that OSHA create a heat standard three times—in 1972, 1986 and 2016. Even though OSHA has supported NIOSH’s framework for the standard and created heat exposure guidelines, the agency can only examine heat-specific hazards under its general duty clause for employers to provide a generally safe work environment.

All businesses need to take care to protect their workforces from dangerously high temperatures. Here are some strategies you can use to protect your employees from the heat:

• Increase ventilation at your workplace by using air conditioning, setting up cooling fans or installing insulation around hot surfaces.

• Encourage employees to download the OSHA-NIOSH heat safety tool on their iOS or Android smartphone.

• Train employees on how to recognize the early signs of heat-related illnesses, such as red skin, nausea, confusion, heavy sweating, cramps and dizziness.

• Schedule physical work during times when the temperature is lower, such as the early morning or late afternoon.

• Make sure that your employees have access to water in their work areas, and encourage them to take small drinks every 15 minutes—even if they aren’t thirsty.

• Let your employees take more frequent breaks as the temperature rises.

• Keep in mind that anyone who hasn’t been exposed to excessive heat for a long period of time may need to allow extra time for their body to reacclimatize.

Filed under: OSHA,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:16 pm

Coverage for Your Vacation Home

Owning a vacation home has many benefits that both you and your family can enjoy for a lifetime. However, many don’t realize that insuring vacation homes is complex and often very different than coverage for primary homes.

In fact, the way you utilize a property and how often it’s occupied has a direct impact on the kinds of insurance you will need. Vacation property insurance is typically provided as a “named perils” policy. This essentially means that coverage for vacation homes is not comprehensive, and owners must secure coverage for specific risks, like fires or explosions.

In order to properly protect their investment, vacation homeowners should consider the following types of coverage:

Contents coverage— Typically, standard home insurance policies protect any property that you transport back and forth between homes. Contents coverage fills in the gaps and protects any items that are permanently kept at your vacation home.
Replacement cost coverage— This type of insurance works in conjunction with contents coverage and reimburses the cost of repairing or replacing an item.
Coverage for detached private structures— Many vacation homes have private structures like boathouses and sheds you’ll need to account for.

Coverage for certain risks, like water damage, sewer backup or vandalism, may be difficult to secure or excluded altogether. As such, it’s important to contact a qualified insurance broker to help assess your needs and build a custom policy for your vacation home.

Filed under: Personal Insurance — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:10 pm