2019-20 Annual Report

57 Schools
2,000 Teachers
28,000+ Students
287 Board Members

Celebrating 25 Years

For the past quarter century, Michigan students and families have been able to choose the learning options that are right for them thanks to the creation of charter public schools. At Central Michigan University, we have been pioneers in helping shape essential K–12 charter policies and in authorizing successful schools. We build opportunities for students and help ensure a thriving, dynamic educational network for the families of Michigan.

Historic Beginnings. Brighter Futures.

Pioneers of the Charter Movement

As the first charter public school authorizer in the state, and the first university authorizer in the nation, CMU knew the impact charter public schools could have on driving innovation and performance in public education. In the 25 years since we have paved the way, leading the movement with the development of best practices, cutting-edge concepts and the founding of professional organizations.

A Tradition of Innovation and Excellence

We continue our growth by expanding supports for our partner schools. We launched our new podcast to have a platform for discussion of important education topics. We continue to explore new ways to connect our partner schools with the world-class resources at CMU. We also stepped forward to be a place for support and resources as our partner schools navigated the pandemic.

A Vision for the Future

We are motivated by the impact charter public schools can continue to have on the lives of the students they serve. We seek to partner with schools that focus on innovative ways to provide an education, including unique educational models and specialized curriculum. We also look to explore what school accountability means through the research of potential differentiated measures that could supplement traditional student assessments.

When I joined the charter school movement, I very much enjoyed the freedom that I had as a school leader to implement whatever was good for the child without the need to go through the complicated red tape. This allowed me to nurture and encourage teachers' creativity to implement great ideas that would've taken a long time or never been finished in traditional schools.
Dr. Luay Shalabi, School Leader at Central Academy since 1997
The six founders of Countryside were all farmers in Berrien County with children attending various school systems. We felt that the charter school concept would allow us to create a learning environment for our kids that closely reflected our values as parents. We developed a theme based on agriculture and environmental science.
George McManus, Board Member at Countryside Academy since 1995
As I reflect, I realize that if my family did not have a school of choice option then I could have easily been one of those lost students, forgotten due to my lack of self-esteem and confidence in my academics. My experiences as a bi-cultural, bi-racial learner in the educational system ignited my passion for educational equity for all students.
Stephanie Yassine, Alumna of The Dearborn Academy and Executive Director of Sanga Consulting, the educational service provider for Escuela Avancemos!
We have always focused on where our students were academically and emotionally and built our program around that. We did not let a canned curriculum guide our actions. We used data and best practices to guide us. We always were committed to studying about our environment and showing the students that they can care for it.
Allan Pall, Teacher at New Branches Charter Academy since 1994

Making History Happen.

  • CMU Leading the Way

    CMU Leading the Way

    In January 1994, Michigan became the ninth state to enact a charter school law. In August 1994, CMU became the first authorizer in Michigan, and the first public university in the nation, to charter a public school when our first three schools opened.
  • National Charter Schools Institute

    National Charter Schools Institute

    CMU launched the Michigan Resource Center for Charter Schools, which became known as the National Charter Schools Institute in 2001.
  • Innovating with Technology

    Innovating with Technology

    CMU launched AOIS – an innovative web-based digital document management system that was used to manage and oversee each school’s progress
  • Cutting-Edge Evaluation

    Cutting-Edge Evaluation

    CMU led the way in the use of computer-adaptive assessments among its schools.
  • Center Receives Accreditation

    Center Receives Accreditation

    The Center for Charter Schools was one of the first charter school authorizer offices in the nation to be accredited by AdvancED/Cognia.


CMU’s partner schools are leading the way. They innovate, specialize and empower parents to select the best option for their child.

57 Schools

Learn more about the 57 CMU partner schools by clicking on a city. Each school has a link where you can view additional school-level information, including student demographics, performance data and board members.

Beverly Hills

(2018) NexTech High School of Metro Detroit
Final year of operation was 2017-18


Highland Park

(2021) ACE Academy
Final year of authorization was 2020-21
(2023) ACE Academy
Final year of authorization was 2020-21


(2020) Lakeside Charter School
Final year of operation was 2019-20
(2022) Lakeside Academy
Final year of operation was 2019-20
(2023) Lakeside Academy
Final year of operation was 2019-20


(2023) Explore Academy-Livonia
Final year of operation was 2022-23


(2019) The Midland Academy of Advanced and Creative Studies
Final year of operation was 2018-19


(2020) Global Preparatory Academy
Final year of operation was 2019-20
(2022) Global Preparatory Academy
Final year of operation was 2019-20
(2023) Global Preparatory Academy
Final year of operation was 2019-20


(2018) Jefferson International Academy
Final year of operation was 2017-18

Enrollment by Grade

Serving more than 28,000 students in grades K-12.

Grade Enrollment
K 2,857
1 2,530
2 2,413
3 2,490
4 2,433
5 2,257
6 2,299
7 2,175
8 2,073
9 1,867
10 1,754
11 1,590
12 1,633

Two New Schools Joined the CMU Portfolio for 2019-20

Escuela Avancemos! Detroit – Grades K-6
Ivywood Classical Academy Plymouth – Grades K-5

Innovation & Vision Award

The inaugural Innovation and Vision Award contest was launched in the fall of 2019 as a way to give CMU partner schools the platform to showcase the ways they approach education with an eye for innovation while providing an inspiring vision for the future. Voted on by the attendees at our 2019 annual conference, the 2019 award winners were the FlexTech High Schools from Brighton and Novi. The winner and finalists received award money for their school to utilize in furthering their innovative practices. To learn more about their innovative approach to learning, listen to The Charter Central Podcast episode that featured the FlexTech High School leaders as our guests.

Adapting and Excelling in the Face of a Pandemic

CMU partner schools went above and beyond in serving their students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Charter public schools excelled with their ability to quickly adapt and innovate to ensure students were engaged during distance learning while also continuing their critical services that included food distribution and providing resources to families. The wide-ranging portfolio of schools that we partner with varies from cyber schools that continued to serve their students virtually, to in-person schools with specialized or themed-curriculum finding innovative ways to bring learning to their students’ home that aligned with their unique mission.


Our mission is to transform public education. That is why we provide students with opportunities to choose the education that fits their needs best—because lasting change happens one child at a time.

Student Demographics

Demographics CMU Average State Average
Free and Reduced Lunch 70% 51%
Students of Color 61% 35%
Special Education 11% 13%

Spirit of the Future Scholarships

Because learning doesn’t end with a diploma, graduates of CMU partner high schools can receive financial support to attend CMU. Scholarships offered include the Dr. Leonard E. and Louise A. Plachta Public Charter School Scholarship and The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools Scholarship.

“Receiving this scholarship has reduced my financial difficulties, gave me the motivation to continue my education and to put aside my doubts during my academic journey. My college career was supported by having a team of individuals who are checking up on me during the semester and asking if I need any additional resources.”

– Shelby Hollins, CMU Student and Graduate of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy


The teachers in CMU partner schools are dedicated to transforming public education and delivering extraordinary outcomes.


Approximately 2,000 teachers work every day to ensure the students at CMU partner schools are receiving an education that sets them up for success in college, work and life.


Charter School Educator Award

CMU is committed to furthering the education of teachers and school leaders in CMU partner schools. That’s why we offer a 50 percent tuition award to pursue graduate degrees in education at CMU. To date, 63 award recipients have received graduate degrees.

"The prospect of paying out of pocket for my education was overwhelming, making furthering my education feel out of reach. Fortunately, the tuition assistance I received from CMU through the Charter School Educator Award ensured my goal was attainable. The skills and the new credentials I have gained have impacted my performance in my current role by increasing my knowledge base and setting me up for future promotion."

– Uche Uchendu, ELA Academic Specialist at Pembroke Academy

Boards and School Leaders

The board members that serve at CMU partner schools are instrumental to student success. These diverse individuals are dedicated to a common goal: ensuring all students have access to quality educational opportunities.

Board Demographics

There are 287 board members transforming public education through their service at a CMU partner school.

Professional Development

We equip charter public school board members and school leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to fulfill their schools’ missions and support quality educational growth. We adapted these opportunities this year to ensure we provided timely resources to support the unique needs schools faced as they navigated the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic on education.

Offerings this year included:

  • Webinars providing timely guidance on topics related to the pandemic, including board governance, school finances, developing state-required plans and the navigation of new requirements.
  • School Leader Online Forums focused on the response to the pandemic, in which we celebrated successes and shared best practices.
  • Roundtables for board presidents to have an open dialog regarding topics important to their work.
  • Academic professional learning opportunities focusing on assessments, instructional rigor, literacy and math.
  • Orientations for new board members to provide key information and resources so they can be successful in their new role.
  • Expert presenters on a diverse range of topics, including trauma-informed schools, governance and school finance.

Annual Conference

Every year, the Center hosts an annual conference that brings together board members, school leaders and education stakeholders around topics important to schools. For the first time we expanded this opportunity out to teachers as well. We had an overwhelming response and our annual conference this year was the largest in our history. Conference attendees gained valuable resources from a diverse group of speakers. The theme for the annual conference was The Power of Partnerships.

A Legacy of Service

From the beginning of the charter public school movement in Michigan, the strong leadership of each school’s board members was vital to the success of the school. The vision these early leaders had to embrace this innovative way to drive the conversation for the betterment of public education has paved the way for lasting success. They continue this leadership today and their historical perspective is invaluable to the communities they serve. The following board members have served in this role for more than 20 years.

  • Mr. Edmond Azadian, A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian School
  • Mr. Patrick Barbour, Cross Creek Charter Academy
  • Mr. Charles Cayo, Countryside Academy
  • Ms. Barbara Evers, Cross Creek Charter Academy
  • Mr. Darwyn Fair, Plymouth Educational Center Charter School
  • Ms. Barbara Gruesbeck, Island City Academy
  • Mr. Richard Kurjian, A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian School
  • Mrs. Esther Lyons, A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian School
  • Dr. Richard Marburger, A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian School
  • Mr. George McManus III, Countryside Academy
  • Ms. Alice Nigoghosian, A.G.B.U. Alex and Marie Manoogian School
  • Ms. Onia Pilgrim, Eaton Academy
  • Mr. David Price, Charyl Stockwell Academy
  • Mr. Najim Saymuah, The Dearborn Academy
  • Mr. Max Smith, Cross Creek Charter Academy
  • Dr. Philip Wheeler, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science

Celebrating Excellence

In classrooms and board rooms statewide, local charter public schools are delivering excellence each and every day.

Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year and Administrator of the Year

Award-winning leaders serve the students in CMU partner schools—nine amazing teachers and three inspiring administrators from CMU partner schools have been recognized by the state’s charter public school leadership organization since the award program began in 2002. This year’s award winners were unique because it was the first time that both the administrator and teacher honorees were from CMU partner schools.

Jennifer Melero Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year
Holly Academy
Jeremy Brown Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year
Woodland Park Academy

National Trailblazer Award

In September 2019, Jalen Rose was recognized by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools with their inaugural Trailblazer Award. Jalen co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in 2011 where he continues to serve as the board president and remains dedicated to providing opportunities for the school’s scholars to excel in high school and beyond. This national recognition shows the impact of his hard work on behalf of the students of his hometown of Detroit.

National Blue Ribbon School

In October 2019, Eagle Crest Charter Academy was named a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School. The U.S. Department of Education announced the 362 schools recognized nationally for the prestigious honor. Eagle Crest Charter Academy was one of 13 schools in Michigan recognized this year, and the only charter public school in Michigan to be recognized.

Michigan Farm Bureau Educator of the Year

In March 2020, Steve Rigoni of Countryside Academy was named the 2020 Michigan Farm Bureau Educator of the Year. The award recognizes teachers who excel at integrating agriculture and natural resource concepts into school curricula and who challenge students to develop critical thinking skills through the analysis of agricultural issues and information. Mr. Rigoni was nominated for the diversity in his teaching of courses like Botany, Zoology, and Fundamentals of Agriculture while also incorporating food science, natural resources and wildlife management concepts.

We are proud to be a part of Central Michigan University, one of the 100 largest public universities in the nation

When the Michigan Legislature responded to Governor John Engler’s call for the establishment of charter schools in Michigan in 1994, CMU was prepared to lead. Believing charter schools could serve as a catalyst for educational improvements benefiting all Michigan children, CMU stepped forward to authorize charter public schools that would provide families with quality educational opportunities.