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How This Bay Area Charter School Network Is Reinventing Education

Diane Tavenner scanned the list of names a staffer at Summit Preparatory Charter High School had just handed her. She began to cry. They weren’t happy tears.

Where many would see signs of success, Tavenner saw failure.

“I taught those kids,” Tavenner said of that moment in 2011. “I was their principal, I was their mentor. I knew everybody personally — and their families.”

Tavenner had founded the award-winning Silicon Valley school in 2003. With its nontraditional approach to teaching, it quickly grew into a network of seven privately run, publicly funded charter schools across the Bay Area. The Summit network also has two schools in Washington state.