WTH is going on with back to school?
Andrew E. Boy is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at the United Schools Network (USN). Boy began his career as a teacher at W.E.B. DuBois Academy, an urban charter school in Cincinnati. He served as the science lab director and designed the school’s science program and vastly improved students’ proficiency scores. During Andrew’s time with this school district he was twice awarded Ohio’s charter school Teacher of the Year, he facilitated several mentoring relationships between students and various Cincinnati professionals, and the academy earned Ohio’s top rating for academic performance.
On Tuesday, July 9 our CEO, Claire Coder, interviewed Andrew and asked him about his charter school network, COVID and the reopening of schools. The video of this interview has been edited and posted online on Claire’s Linkedin page. Below is a transcription of the interview.
[INTRO] - CLARIFICATIONS WITH CLAIRE CODER, SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR - FORBES 30 UNDER 30 - CHANGE MAKER
[CLAIRE] Andrew Boy, welcome to Clarifications. We are so excited to have you. I'm personally excited because your charter school system stocks Aunt Flow menstrual products, you are the founder and CEO of United School Network. You didn't just all of a sudden decide to be the CEO of an awesome charter school network. You actually did the job first. You started as a teacher at W. E. B. DuBois Academy an Urban Charter School in Cincinnati, Ohio. You served as the science lab director and designed the school’s science program vastly improving students’ proficiency scores.
You also were awarded the Ohio Charter School Teacher of the Year two times, not just once twice, and you facilitated several mentoring relationships between students and various Cincinnati professionals. That's a lot. You're pretty amazing Andrew. What did I miss? What makes you even more badass than how I just—all of the things that I just said? What did I miss?
[ANDREW] Thank you so much for that, Claire. It's really great to join you today. Huge fan of you, of Aunt Flow, Work Flow and all that you guys do. Excited to be here. I will share on this day that I turned 42, so you get me on a very special day and I'm just excited about it.
[CLAIRE] What a great way to celebrate hanging out with us and the Clarifications show. What are the unique challenges that you're facing as the CEO of a charter school system this time around?
[ANDREW] First and foremost we’re worried about the health and safety of our students and our community. And so, you know as we think about the restart, we're spending a lot of time on mask policies and paying attention to what mandates are out there and what the science behind it says and we feel pretty good about our ability to provide the masks and put systems in place, but we're also paying attention to social distancing and how we're going to be able to do that in our schools. Those are problems we've not had to worry about and so it just adds another layer of planning and making sure that we have the systems and procedures in place that make it as much of a non-issue as possible when students come back to school. So we spend a lot of time on that. You know, the good thing in all of this is you know, what stayed the same for us is the same talented educators with you know, this relentless commitment to our mission and so when we have these people and we're working tirelessly like we always do, I'm confident we’ll overcome these challenges.
[CLAIRE] Man, when I was in school, I neglected to realize how much stuff I consumed and went through as a student without COVID, but now with COVID there's all these extra things and I'm curious, Andrew, where does the budget come for all of this extra stuff? How do you think about that?
[ANDREW] We're going to tap into the public resources that are available for this and then we're going to work tirelessly to identify those individuals, corporations and foundations that support social services and families and organizations like ours to fill in the gaps. It's going to take some additional help.
[CLAIRE] Yeah, you know, what I love about your school system is you're really
committed to every single student regardless of their background where they come from economically, racially, whatever. I'm curious too, there's a lot of discussion around the requirement of masks. What if I'm a kid that can't afford a mask or don't come to school with a mask? How do you--how do you think about that?
[ANDREW] We made a commitment in the beginning that there is never going to be a time where students come into our buildings and don't have the resources they need to be successful and in this case that includes masks.
[CLAIRE] Andrew, from your perspective, what is something that folks are overlooking in this time right now like something that is not talked about enough, but you think should be talked about more. Yeah, you know, this is one that just recently came up for me. I think why on Earth are we not talking about COVID testing in our schools regularly and often? We want kids and staff to go back and do this the right way. Let's take a look at what science says and science says that testing often helps us to minimize the amount of exposure to an environment.
[CLAIRE] Andrew, what is one misconception in your industry that you want to CLARIFY?
[ANDREW] COVID-19 is a big issue and it's something that we're concerned about but it's also a threat that has a time limit. It's likely in 2021 some time we're going to be still talking about the financial impact and life's new normals, but the virus itself is going to wane and that threat is going to go away. I think what I want to just make certain right now is that we're focused on COVID but there's another pandemic that threatens our students and that's racism and I think it is our job, I know it is our job to be leaders in this and to be an anti-racist organization and so I guess what I want to clarify about United Schools Network is that we are in this for our kids, our communities. We're in this for the long haul and we are going to be the best anti-racist charter school that this country has ever seen.
By: Ally Williams