Education Innovators Leading The Way

LA MESA -- Visiting the modest campus of La Mesa's College Preparatory Middle School, it is clear from the moment you arrive that this is a focused institution.

There are few frills.

No gym. No lunchroom. The students, their mascot is the Tiger, are dressed in uniforms and move quietly between church basement classrooms that often have no windows. Yet no one is complaining.

And in 2011, these 200 or so students produced test scores that put this school in rarified air, among the best in San Diego County.

In an age crying out for educational innovation and in need of the entrepreneurial spirit, this charter school is still too young to declare it the answer to all challenges, but the hard work and sacrifice its founders have put in on this community's behalf make them worthy of being named La Mesans of the Year for 2012.

Anyone driving down Jackson Drive on La Mesa's southeast side can see the cars of Christina Callaway and Mitchell Miller (and their staff) in the school's parking lot at all hours. In addition to pursuing their educational goals, these school co-directors have had to learn a lot about local politics and zoning laws in securing even this modest location for their school. The process was not always smooth, but while building a curriculum and recruiting student familiies to their vision, they made their way through noise and traffic concerns which have been managed. The gains on the educational front have been clearer, with a long line of cars from throughout La Mesa and East County making the effort to get there each day.

In a recent interview about the school's high test scores, Miller credited family involvement with the school's early success.

"This isn’t an issue of school location or student population but an issue of school expectations and accountability,'' he said. "We work closely with our families to assist them in supporting their children as many families are unaware of how best to support their children.''

Some do see the charter school movement as a threat to the financial stability of traditional school districts. Each student that attends a charter like College Prepatory Middle, does drain some resources from the district school that student might otherwise have attended. But watching this school's early growth and success suggests there is more at play here. If the recent decision by the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District to study adding "magnet" programs wasn't inspired by College Prep's success, it certainly could have been.

For moving this discussion forward in a concrete and constructive way, Callaway and Miller are 2012's La Mesans of the Year.

CLICK HERE to see the full list of 2012 nominees.







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Tags: Christina Callaway, College Preparatory Middle School, La Mesa, La Mesa news, La Mesa newspaper, La Mesan of the year, Mitchell Miller


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Comment by Mitchell S. Miller on January 3, 2013 at 12:39pm
Chris Callaway & I are so honored by this recognition! As evidenced by the list of nominees, we feel humbled to even have been considered! Thank you so much! Good things never happen in isolation, the success of CPMS is due to the incredible support of so many, from our amazing staff, families, and students, to the wonderful people of the La Mesa Church of Christ, particularly Pastor Troy Wagner (who believed in us when we were a plan and a powerpoint!)...and, of course, the people of La Mesa! We are so proud to be a part of "The Jewel of the Hills!" Our warmest wishes to all of you for a Happy & Healthy New Year. Go Tigers!
Comment by chris shea on January 2, 2013 at 10:12am

Nothing like starting off the year with a nice pat on the back.  Congratulations to Christina and Mitchell and the school.  All best wishes for a great 2013!

Comment by Kathy Kinsella on January 1, 2013 at 8:32pm
Absolutely the best codices for this award.
Comment by Kristine Christensen Alessio on January 1, 2013 at 4:45pm

Interesting choice.  Kudos the the student and teachers there.  Perhaps the School itself should have been the person of the year?  

Comment by Scott H. Kidwell on January 1, 2013 at 12:22pm

Congratulations to Christina Callaway and Mitchell Miller (and their staff) on this selection and best wished for continued success.

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