This week a new parent at the school asked me: So do you all get a paycheck? Or are you all volunteers? Short of a discourse about how we each have justified working at what amounts to being a burger flipper, I just smiled and said: some of both. After all, as most individuals who work for non-profits, we are passionate about our work at Makarios.
Makarios Community School has been a labor of love for the founders and staff
Makarios Community School has been a labor of love for the founders and staff. The planning stage for Makarios began in January 2015 and the school opened August 2015. For seven months the founders worked tirelessly searching for a location, negotiating a lease, soliciting funds, interviewing families, moving LOTS of furniture, collecting educational materials, painting, laying carpet and setting up the first democratic, free school in the DFW area! It was really hard work. Some of the hardest we had ever done. All hours volunteered; true sweat equity! Imagine all that hard work and the first history making day of school. Most “Democratic Free Schools” launch with just a handful of students. The hard work and dedication of a few founders realized 33 students enrolled that very first day. Everyone was a little nervous and very shy, but it was truly exhilarating!
Within a couple of weeks, the school had begun to settle into a routine, with two minimally paid staff, two unpaid interns and a full-time volunteer. The year carried on with the support of tuition and generous donors.
There was just something about the place, the students, the energy that was unique and special.
So what kept us motivated? The students. Their joy, exploration, challenges and successes. We learned as much from them those first few months as they did from us. When one of us would take a long weekend, we all agreed that the return to Makarios gave us happy butterflies! There was just something about the place, the students, the energy that was unique and special, so special that the students could not face a summer without Makarios and voted to have summer school. The staff negotiated a four-day weekend, and Makarios again made it’s mark as an institution where students petition to attend summer school! It’s an amazing feeling to work at a place where young people want to be. Thus, we began the Fall 2016 semester with three part-time mentors, a full-time mentor, an intern and sufficient enrollment to allow for a slight increase in wages (Now we are managers in training, not just burger flippers. Would you like fries with your burger?).
Our goal is to continue to offer exceptional mentorship, encouragement and support to our students and families through increased awareness and financial support.
Our mission is that students leave Makarios as lifelong learners with the confidence to make choices in pursuit of their unique interests and goals. Our staff has demonstrated the Makarios mission to our students for the past two years. We stepped out in confidence and pursued the goal of establishing the first “Democratic Free School” in North Texas. As the Board of Trustees representative to Makarios Community School, a non-profit corporation in the state of Texas, I wish to say that it is our goal that these amazing and dedicated staff members began to experience the compensation they so richly deserve. We could just raise tuition. However, that would severely impact the affordability of Makarios and the students’ families that have benefited from this unique education model. It is our purpose that Makarios Community School be an option for families regardless of their financial wherewithal. With that end in mind, our goal is to continue to offer exceptional mentorship, encouragement and support to our students and families through increased awareness and financial support from the North Texas community at large. The capital campaign that we will launch on #givingtuesday through the end of 2016 is designed to support our staff with living wages, rebuild our scholarship fund for families in need and create outdoor play spaces for our creative and active students.
Please consider supporting the Makarios vision with an end-of-year donation! Every dollar counts towards the continuations of this amazing place where kids love to learn! If you have any questions about our unique learning environment, please give me a shout. As a lifelong learner, I love to chat about educational alternatives, and of course, the vision and mission of Makarios Community School.
Donella Cecrle, Administrator