Something a little sad

There's something a little sad about charter schools, says Claire Hamilton, sitting at the end of the day in her empty classroom. Chairs are piled on desks, journals are packed away on their shelf, and the walls are covered with student work.

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There's something a little sad about charter schools, says Claire Hamilton, sitting at the end of the day in her empty classroom. Chairs are piled on desks, journals are packed away on their shelf, and the walls are covered with student work.

Claire, an ICS fifth-grade teacher, was fresh out of college when she joined the school on its opening day six years ago. Since then, she's grown up alongside ICS - and grown into a devoted and articulate advocate for her students and the school's mission. Last year, she was named ICS teacher of the year.

Next month, she'll be married in the Methodist church where the school rents space, with fellow staff members in attendance. Many have been mentors, including founder Bill Moon and principal Laurent Ditmann.

"If I had to list the five most important men in my life, it would be my father, my fianc, my grandpa, Bill, and Laurent - in no particular order," she says.

Claire speaks passionately about ICS's potential to model change, both for its students and for other institutions. "If you're not teaching for a social revolution," she says, "you shouldn't be here."

But lately, she's been thinking about the poignancy of the school's position.

"I have a sadness, some days, that charter schools even exist," she says, "because they exist because a need hasn't been met elsewhere." Their very presence, she says, is a rebuke to their school systems.

"It's kind of a weird dynamic. This school was founded because all these refugee kids were falling through the cracks." While it's a wonderful place, she says, "I wish that need was already being met."

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