UWM’s Office of Charter Schools names new director

Celeste Meyers

Celeste Meyers has been named director of the Office of Charter Schools at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

UWM’s Office of Charter Schools currently oversees 11 charter schools, independent Milwaukee public schools, which are authorized by the university’s Board of Regents under state legislation. A 12th school is being added in fall 2013.

Meyers has more than 15 years’ experience in urban education, working with traditional district schools, alternative schools and charter schools. Before joining UWM, she was an educational development consultant with Alverno College/Mount Mary in the Urban Education Fellow Program. She also served as program officer for contracted alternative and charter schools for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), working as a liaison between alternative and charter schools and MPS.

Meyers replaces Robert J. Kattman, who has headed the office since 2001. He is retiring at the end of June.

“While it’s almost impossible to replace Bob Kattman, Celeste Meyers’ experience in working with so many MPS charter schools makes her an excellent fit for this position,” said Carol Colbeck, dean of the UWM School of Education. “She understands the importance of both kinds of schools and the relationship of charter schools to public schools.”

UWM’s Office of Charter Schools has won high praise for its work guiding and evaluating the schools it charters. Alan Borsuk, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel education columnist, named Kattman an “unsung hero of the year” in a 2010 column.

While all of the UWM charter schools serve students from impoverished neighborhoods, seven of the schools are among the highest-ranked academically in the city as of January 2011, with standardized test scores as high as or higher than those of many of the 16 Milwaukee County suburban districts.

The charter schools are public schools exempt from many regulations that govern district schools, allowing them to test new ideas and share those that work.

“We will miss Bob Kattman because of his tremendous and successful leadership of this office,” says Colbeck. At the same time, she adds, Meyers brings a high level of energy and new ideas that will be important in dealing with a changing education climate.

Meyers earned her undergraduate degree in education from UW-Eau Claire and her master’s degree in Administrative Leadership from UWM. In addition to her experience with Alverno/Mount Mary and MPS, she was an eighth-grade math and science teacher and a site-coordinator for the GEAR-UP program.

She will start at UWM June 25.