Today we’re sharing a Member spotlight featuring one of our original members, Alex Teece. Alex is the founder of Dreamhouse ‘Ewa Beach, a public charter school focused on empowering homegrown leaders for our island community.
The mission of DreamHouse ‘Ewa Beach is to “[open] doors of opportunity through high expectations, consistent support, and a culture of achievement.” We chatted with Alex, the Chief Education Officer, to learn more about what he’s building and how his school hopes to bend the trajectories of our islands’ most disadvantaged children.
Andrea Bertoli (AB): Tell us more about the vision of the school? What does this charter school offer that’s different than the public schools available in Ewa Beach?
Alex Teece (AT): At the core of the vision is empowerment. We believe that children have incredible potential that can be unlocked through putting them in situations to develop positive practices and leadership skills. Our work is to build a culture and environment where developing unique, individual potential is a focus of every single day.
While we can’t speak to what all public schools in Hawai‘i offer, what we offer is a smaller environment that focuses on leadership and identity development with a core curriculum that is grounded in inquiry and personal growth. Our learning philosophy centers around children making choices, studying those choices, their impacts, and altering their decisions, behaviors, and life based on learning new things every day.
AB: How does this fit into the bigger picture of Hawaii’s school system?
AT: Our hope is that DreamHouse ‘Ewa Beach becomes an example of how leadership and identity development can unlock academic potential in an unprecedented way in public school. We believe that children who are grounded in who they are, and feel like they are in charge of their lives and the trajectory of their lives, can perform better in their classes and schools.
We are small and nimble, and offer an opportunity to try new things in our school; we have the capability to find what works, revise it, share it, and scale. This is where we fit into the larger system and hopefully will be able to share and spread innovative solutions for our islands’ school.
AB: How did you get involved in education? Has this always been your passion?
AT: I joined Teach For America right from college, in 2008. I joined the organization because of my interest in positively affecting the lives of others. I did not see myself as a teacher or an educator really, but over the years I have been able to blend education, business, leadership, and community service into one. This is not only a passion project of mine, but it is my job, my work, my responsibility, and really, it is my calling.
AB: You’ve just opened your doors for the first year of 6th grade students! Congratulations! What’s enrollment like and what are you goals for attendance?
The founding 6th grade class of DreamHouse Ewa Beach is 100 seats. Our goal is to provide an opportunity to all families who are interested in our school, but per our charter, we only have 100 spaces allocated to us each year. We do keep an active waitlist, and we will let families know if and when they are next up on the list if another student/family decides not to attend.
AB: What are some of the big wins you had this year and what are the goals for 2020? What good things can we expect in the coming years from Dreamhouse?
AT: Our big wins including hiring all of our founding team, finding and renovating a facility to launch, and most importantly – welcome 100 families in our founding class. 2020 will be the first year a class promotes from one grade to the next, and we will add a 7th grade; essentially we double in staff, students, space, and supplies – it is a big growth for the first year!
And there are more good things coming:
- An innovative partnership with Good Clean Food Hawai‘i (healthy food for the kids!)
- STAFF POSITIONS OPEN! We will be growing and hiring, so please have a look at our website to consider joining the team!
- Changing locations – year two will feature us moving to our new space over in the Kalaeloa region of Kapolei – this will be our long-term home.
- Children creating and leading change in Hawai‘i! Keep an eye on the socials (Facebook + Instagram) to see our keiki growing into impactful leaders across our islands.
Watch our video below to see Alex and the Dreamhouse kids in action: