- Our Mission
- Promising Principles
Propel Schools, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a not-for-profit federation of charter schools, dedicated to the mission of catalyzing the transformation of public education so that all children have access to high performing public schools.
This mission is pursued by opening and operating high performance schools of choice in educationally underserved communities. Propel has become one of the largest, fastest-expanding set of charter schools in the state, with the highest levels of student achievement among Pennsylvania public school districts serving high poverty, resource poor areas throughout the Pittsburgh region. Across all its schools, 75% of students qualify for the federal free/reduced cost lunch program, 73% are a minority and 13% have special needs. Propel is serving 3,600 students at ten Allegheny County locations; 3,700 students are on the waiting list.
Propel has become both a regional asset and national model, providing measurable evidence of how innovative public schools can expand opportunity for children and families and can revitalize communities.
Propel does not accept the premise that poverty or family structure determines education performance or life outcome.
Propel’s six Promising Principles and supporting Powerful Practices provide the structure and common language that are used to speak of the reasons that we have been able to achieve such high levels of success. When Propel first opened its doors in 2003, our “Pioneers” did not have such a framework upon which to base their work. Instead, Propel’s founders opened a school in the basement of an old hospital with a vision of operating high performing public schools and providing choices to families who otherwise would not have them.
Promising Principle 1: Agile Instruction
Each learner has distinct and changing needs. Teachers and teacher teams continually and flexibly adjust instruction to meet learner needs.
1.1 Continuous use of data shapes and guides instruction.
1.2 Planning reflects various learning styles.
1.3 Instructional methods vary with learning needs.
1.4 Technology is embedded in teaching and learning.
Download a one page article on Agile Instruction.
Promising Principle 2: Embedded Support
Everyone in the organization is guided, nurtured, and encouraged.
Everyone is a coach. Everyone is coached.
2.1 Coaching is structured at all levels.
2.2 Extensive support is provided to parents and families.
2.3 Teachers support students beyond the classroom.
Download a one page article on Embedded Support.
Promising Principle 3: Culture of Dignity
Relationships, built upon a fundamental appreciation for the unique experiences of each individual both in school and beyond, anchor the Propel community.
3.1 Expectations are clear, high, and universal.
3.2 Success is built upon strengths.
3.3 Democratic norms are evident.
3.4 Consequences are restorative.
3.5 All voices are valued and acknowledged.
3.6 Family and community are assets.
3.7 Relationships are meaningful and valued.
Download a one page article on Culture of Dignity.
Promising Principle 4: Fully Valued Arts Program
Artistic expression and creativity are essential components of a complete education.
4.1 Teaching Artists in residence provide extended experiences.
4.2 Full-time Art and Music teachers integrate learning.
4.3 Arts Education is provided to every student, every day.
4.4 Culminating Celebrations of Learning highlight student accomplishments.
Download a one page article on our Fully Valued Arts Program.
Promising Principle 5: Vibrant Teaching Communities
Propel Schools are extraordinary places for educators to work. Continuous professional learning and growth are both expected and supported.
5.1 Recruitment and hiring process is rigorous.
5.2 Induction and mentoring programs strengthen new staff.
5.3 Professional Development is collaborative and systemic.
5.4 Collaboration and sharing of best practices is expected and supported.
Download a one page article on Vibrant Teaching Communities.
Promising Principle 6: Quest for Excellence
Good is never enough. Administrators, faculty, and staff are constantly striving to reach an
ever-rising standard of excellence.
6.1 Success targets are explicit and always evolving.
6.2 Vision and culture are clear and reinforced.
6.3 Advisory Committee and Board of Trustees drive a research-based approach.
6.4 University and educational research partnerships are sought and sustained.
Download a one page article on Quest for Excellence.
Download a one page overview of our Promising Principles and Powerful Practices.