Founder's Welcome Letter
Thank you for your interest in Orenda Education and our schools.
My name is Richard N. Rickey and I am the founder and C.E.O. of Orenda Education, the not-for-profit sponsoring entity for the Orenda Charter School District.
For almost 20 years I was employed in the healthcare field as a hospital C.E.O. and most recently as a multi-facility executive overseeing hospitals and clinics in multiple states. Prior to my healthcare career I was in the education field developing and delivering public health curriculum and programs to several school districts in Oklahoma. I come from a family of educators and have also been a volunteer in the classroom and coach youth sports. In the mid 1990’s I began to research public charter schools, and while a hospital C.E.O., I formed Orenda Education in 1995.
Here in Central Texas we have some good, but very large public schools. We all know that one school size does not fit all students. Some of our children do not feel a sense of belonging in a large school. There may be too many students at the school and in classrooms who are not serious about their studies. For many boys, in particular, while a large school may offer a great sports program, the culture of the school may not be conducive to cultivating an atmosphere that produces our ideal, which is "Citizen, Scholar, Athlete." Some students are not reaching their academic and human potential in these settings. Private school choices in the area are limited and, for some families, unaffordable.
In 1995 I incorporated Orenda Education and began the process that led to opening new public charter schools that would offer a different and innovative learning environment to meet this need. The idea behind our Orenda Charter Schools was to offer another public school choice for those students who want a smaller school experience that may be a better fit for their academic, social, physical and moral development.
Our Orenda Charter Schools offer what I call the “Essential R’s”:
With a high school enrollment capped at about 400 students, we offer a smaller public school experience. A small school allows our students the opportunity to feel like they really “belong”, can get the help they need, and have ample opportunities to be involved in extra-curricular activities. It is more difficult to get “lost” in our schools. Everybody knows your name and how you are doing.
We employ a "blended learning" environment that incorporates on-site teacher led instruction with off-site e-learning that is available to our students twenty four (24) hours a day. In this model we have groups of students working together with the teacher as coach, not just a lecturer. Blended learning also allows us to use the latest in technology to match the instructional content and delivery tools to the unique learning styles and interests of each student.
At our college preparatory schools we offer a rigorous college prep curriculum with numerous Advanced Placement (AP), Pre-AP and dual credit courses for college credit. We also have a mandatory advisory period each day so we can stay on top of student progress. Our flagship Gateway College Prep School in Georgetown, Texas was ranked 27th in Texas and number 2 in the greater Austin area in "America's Most Challenging High Schools", 2015 rankings by The Washington Post.
The Vision for the Future
Our vision is that our Orenda Charter Schools will be a premier public school of choice for families looking for a smaller school environment that prepares their child from kindergarten through high school graduation for success at a top tier college or university and/or career readiness.
Whether you are a potential student family member or an interested community citizen that cares about quality education, I encourage you to attend one of our campus specific informational sessions to meet us and to learn more.
Richard N. Rickey