Enrollment for 2024-25 is open Click For Enrollment Info
enroll icon color med
Enrollment for 2024-25 is open
date icon

November 1, 2016

4 min

Mark Holley

Be Open: Plan A Doesn't Always Work

Dr. Jessica Spallino’s blog The Emerging Doctrine of Schoolism illustrated how prejudice can get in the way of progress and can lead to elitism. This is true whether it's trying to find a job, run a school, or do pretty much anything in life. We live in an era of strong, polarizing opinions that often force us into stereotypical groups.

Being open to other options, other ideas, other ways of doing things, etc., is critical. Most things aren't mutually exclusive; that is, we don't need to compromise our own beliefs to have an open mind. I've seen this firsthand, and I'm sure most of you have too. I hope you'll humor me as I share a personal story about closed-mindedness.

I worked full-time in the finance department of a school district while I earned my bachelor’s degree. When I finally graduated with a degree in business, I was excited to join the business world. I applied for job after job, but very rarely landed interviews. This went on for many, many months. At times, I would make it through the hiring process and get down to the end, only to be told I wasn’t a fit for the position because I worked for a school district.

I needed a Plan B, and I figured my best option was I to go back to school and get an MBA, so that's what I did. Upon graduating with an MBA I was excited to finally get my chance to work for a prominent company – preferably a prestigious Fortune 500 company of course. Yes, I was naïve.

With my new degree in hand, I saw a little more interest from employers, but again was disappointed as I was turned down over, and over, and over again. And over again. Sure, part of this could have been due to Great Recession, but mostly I kept hearing the same thing I heard previously before putting in all the extra work to get a master's degree – I wasn’t a fit for the positions I was applying for, even though I was careful to only apply for positions where I was qualified and met the requirements for the jobs as posted. But again, hiring managers didn't see how someone who worked for a school district could add value to their companies.

I’ll always remember one particular experience with rejection. After getting through a rough recruiting process for a role working directly with K-12 education customers (perfect!) at a large, well-known tech company. I was convinced I was getting the job...feeling pretty good about things. After getting down to the wire, one higher up shut me down, saying I “didn’t fit the hiring profile” of that company. I was devastated.


That last rejection was enough – I’d had it. I decided then I would go out on my own to build something…Plan C. I was already keeping busy with my regular job at the school district, and at nights and on weekends I had been working as a freelance marketer for 2-3 clients at a time. I had experience as my own boss, and it seemed to work for me.

Plan C is Method Schools. After working for a short time with Dr. Spallino on another project, we set out to build Method. We believed education was stuck in a holding pattern, treating students as outputs in a mass production factory rather than as individuals with unique abilities, learning patterns, and needs. Method was built to be an “unfactory” solution, where students would work in an environment with increased personalization, smaller class sizes, and projects that reinforced learning. Less time wasted in 20th century activities that didn't work. And definitely none of the "we've always done it this way" nonsense that is so prevalent in education. We'd build a network of schools that matched how individual students learned.


So we did it.

Fast forward to today. Our students, on average, do better than students in traditional schools. We believe it's because we've found a way to meet individual student needs better than other schools.

This July our summer school program reached a milestone – over 1,000% enrollment growth from the previous year, as we served students from 61 different high schools throughout Southern California. We’re expecting to double our enrollment next year.

Almost every day we hear from families who are grateful for this new option of educating their students. The biggest compliments we get are for our teachers, who themselves don't fit the mold of traditional teachers. It's incredibly gratifying to see teachers and students who don't fit the profiles of other schools do so well and succeed in such a big way.

successlogo5_trans copy.png

As Dr. Spallino’s blog makes clear, we still face a discrimination and prejudice as a company because we believe in a different approach to educating students. The discrimination typically comes from school districts who see us as competitors rather than collaborators in educating students. Yep, you read that correctly - most discrimination we face at Method comes from the same group I was discriminated against for being a part of several years ago. But in many ways, I/we have the luxury of not really caring what the other groups think, which is one of many silver linings inherent with Plan C.

At Method, we’re charting our own path, and it works for our students. Based on student academic growth, and our enrollment growth, it appears Plan C works for others too. Have you had experiences with Plan B, Plan C, or even Plan D (or beyond)? Let me know in the comments.

5 Differences Between Charter and Public Schools

7 Differences Between Charter and Private Schools

Education 101: What is a Public Charter School?

The Progressive Movement: An Enduring Inspiration in Public Education

Related Articles

Group 427324659

July 27, 2023

9 Compelling Reasons To Enroll Your Child at Method Schools For 2023-24
Group 427324659

May 30, 2023

Embracing Educational Freedom: Utilizing School Choice For Your Child's Success
Group 427324659

February 24, 2023

Charter Schools Offer Families Choice, Access, And Equity
Group 427324659

June 3, 2021

Thanks to Supporters of School Choice Like You, California AB 1316 is Dead