“A great organization is one that delivers superior performance and makes a distinctive impact over a long period of time. For a business, financial returns are a perfectly legitimate measure of performance. For a social sector organization, however, performance must be assessed relative to mission, not financial returns. In the social sectors, the critical question is not ‘How much money do we make per dollar of invested capital?’ but ‘How effectively do we deliver on our mission and make a distinctive impact, relative to our resources?’”
- Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors
This quote reflects the core philosophy of Distinctive Schools. At the heart of our organization is the strong belief that given sufficient and customized support, schools can move from good to great, even in a climate of diminishing resources.
Distinctive Schools was founded on the backgrounds of expert practitioners Mary Stafford and Joseph Wise, who each bring strong leadership and results from many years of successful work with students, educators, and school leaders. In 2011, after decades of work with public schools, they formed Distinctive Schools based on core beliefs including: all children deserve a rigorous public education regardless of zip code; teachers know best what children need to thrive and grow and should have a strong voice in a school; families are essential in creating a love of life-long learning and supporting the whole child, and finally, that communities can be transformed and a bright future created by the presence of an excellent school. Distinctive Schools sees education as the social justice issue of our time that can only be addressed by ensuring equity, access, and excellence via school choice.
In 2011, Distinctive Schools began operations by assuming management of three existing campuses within theChicago International Charter School network. From 2012 to 2016 the Distinctive Schools network grew to four schools in Illinois. In August of 2015, Minnesota Early Learning Academy, a Distinctive Schools campus, opened in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.