Phoenix Collegiate Academy, Building Excellent Schools Affiliated Charter School, Named 2012 Charter School of the Year

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School was founded by Building Excellent Schools Fellow Rachel Bennett Yanof

Phoenix Collegiate Academy is one of the top performing charter schools in Arizona.

In November, the Arizona Charter Schools Association named Phoenix Collegiate Academy, founded by Building Excellent Schools (BES) Fellow Rachel Bennett Yanof, the 2012 Arizona Charter School of the Year. An honor bestowed annually to one charter school in Arizona, the Association recognized Phoenix Collegiate Academy for the following quality standards: Unifying School Culture; School Support Structures; School Wide Data Monitoring; and Community Impact.

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, Eileen B. Sigmund, noted, “Phoenix Collegiate Academy is one of the top performing charter schools in Arizona. About 96 percent of PCA students live in poverty. Many schools would see that as a barrier for success, but the PCA staff—led by Rachel Bennett Yanof—see it as an opportunity. PCA gives students the help and support they need to succeed in college and be leaders in our community. They are a model for what is working in public education.” Currently serving fifth through ninth grade, Phoenix Collegiate Academy is delivering on its mission to ensure all students succeed and become leaders in their community.

Since opening in 2009, Phoenix Collegiate Academy has received numerous awards and recognitions from the state of Arizona. Yanof is proud of the hard work her staff and scholars have put forth, saying, “I am honored that Phoenix Collegiate Academy was chosen to receive this recognition. The staff that has been here working hard every day is the reason we succeed, and this is a true acknowledgement of their work. Every day we are getting closer to proving that every child can achieve at great levels regardless of what they look like or where they live, and we are all inspired to make that a reality.”

Before founding Phoenix Collegiate Academy, Yanof was accepted into the BES Fellowship and spent a year training and observing best practices of high performing charter schools across the nation. She now serves as executive director of Phoenix Collegiate Academy and was awarded the ATHENA Young Professional Award in 2010 presented by the Greater Phoenix Chamber. In 2011, Phoenix Collegiate Academy was nominated for Charter School of the Year, and teacher Carrie Wypiszinski received the Teacher of the Year award from the Association. Additionally, for two years in a row, Phoenix Collegiate has earned an “A” from the Arizona Department of Education under the AZ LEARNS state accountability system.

Phoenix Collegiate Academy is also a founding member of the BES Excellent Schools Network (ESN). Established in 2012, the ESN is a select group of BES schools that have demonstrated strong academic results, sound organizational practices, and the genuine ability to close the achievement gap in their communities. Phoenix Collegiate Academy now serves as a model for new school leaders designing, founding, and leading charter schools in urban areas.

Arizona is home to 535 charter schools that enroll an estimated 144,802 students. Fully at least 25 percent of the state’s public schools are charter schools, and 14 percent of all public-school students are enrolled in charter schools – the highest percentage for any state, and second only to Washington D.C.

For more information, please contact Samantha Silberstein, BES communications manager, at 617-227-4545 x220 or ssilberstein(at)buildingexcellentschools(dot)org.

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Building Excellent Schools (BES) is a trailblazing nonprofit that raises the quality of urban charter schools by supporting entrepreneurial individuals to design, found, lead, and sustain schools in underserved communities. The flagship BES program is the BES Fellowship—a rigorous, yearlong, comprehensive training program in urban charter school creation and leadership. In both starting a school (the BES Fellowship) and sustaining a school (Connect to Excellence from BES, BES Emerging Leaders, and the BES Excellent Schools Network), BES holds the core belief that academic performance drives every element of a school, including design, leadership, culture, decisions, and governance.

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Samantha Silberstein
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