Marilou Strangarity, Board President
Teacher and Youth Pastor, Bowmansville, Pa.
Mrs. Strangarity brings a unique, personal and professional perspective to the Achievement House Cyber Charter School Board of Trustees as a recent college graduate and teaching professional and as a parent and former foster parent. Mrs. Strangarity, who joined the board in 2009, became an advocate of school choice as a parent and a foster parent to children with various educational special needs. She has experience in special education services, including emotional diagnoses, teaching methodology and youth treatment adaptation. Her six children, including three adopted children, and many foster children benefited from being able to choose between homeschooling and private, charter and cyber schools. Mrs. Strangarity finished her bachelor’s degree at Franklin & Marshall College in 2012. She has also completed several courses in the Family and Marriage Counseling Master's Program at Lancaster Bible College.
Jim Bowers, Board Vice President
The Hay Group, Philadelphia, Pa.
A board member since February 2010, Mr. Bowers brings decades of experience and knowledge of human resources management and development as well as experience serving on the boards of various nonprofit and professional organizations. His expertise in human resources has been invaluable to the Achievement House Cyber Charter School Board of Trustees in evaluating the efficacy of the school’s leadership team and achieving the goals of the board. He chairs the Human Resources Committee and previously served as board treasurer. Mr. Bowers graduated from Penn State University in 1967 with a degree in Industrial Psychology. After graduation, he attended the U.S. Naval Officer Candidate and Justice Schools and served for two years as a lieutenant on the U.S.S. Saratoga, an aircraft carrier decommissioned in 1994. He also holds a master’s degree from Cornell University in Industrial and Labor Relations with a minor in Business Administration.
Mr. Bowers has a lengthy record of public service as a board member and chair of the Human Resources Committee for Philabundance, a food bank in Philadelphia since 2010; an executive partner of the Philadelphia Museum of Art since 2009; an advisory board member since 2000 for Penn State University’s School of Labor & Employee Relations Alumni Program Group, which strives to provide opportunities and a sense of community among students, faculty, staff and alumni; and a former board member and past president of the PENJERDEL Employee Benefits & Compensation Association (PEBA), an organization for human resources professionals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As an executive with the Hay Group, Mr. Bowers has authored position papers, book chapters and professional articles. He also is a frequent speaker on human resources and reward topics.
Mr. Bowers has always been a supporter of school choice and charter schools. He joined Achievement House Cyber Charter School at the invitation of his former high school friend and the school’s former CEO, the late Dr. Timothy H. Daniels. Mr. Bowers believes cyber charter schools are needed in the public education system because they serve a niche population of students who, for various reasons, are unable or uncomfortable attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school or require the more individualized special education services of Achievement House Cyber Charter School.
Kristin Chettle, Board Treasurer
Controller, Carbochem Inc., Wynnewood, Pa.
Since joining the board in 2011, Mrs. Chettle’s expertise in financial management and broad-based accounting experience and business knowledge have been critical assets to the board in evaluating sound fiscal policies. She has been the controller at Carbochem Inc. since April 2012. For the previous four years, she was employed as a general accounting manager, senior accounting manager and controller of Thomson Reuters Co., formerly the Institute for Scientific Information Inc., in Philadelphia. For the 10 years prior to joining Thomson, she held investment accounting, statutory reporting and auditing positions for various insurance and accounting agencies, including Philadelphia Insurance Co., Reliance Insurance Company and Arthur Andersen. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Penn State University and a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from Villanova University.
Mrs. Chettle previously volunteered at the Ithan Elementary School in Bryn Mawr, Pa., serving as co-chairman of the Teacher Appreciation Dinner and Science Fair committees and for Ithan Publishing Company, which publishes 250 student books per year. She also previously volunteered for six years in the children’s ministry at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. She and her husband live in Villanova with their three sons, who range in age from 10 to 16. Her sons are very active in sports and are enrolled in the Radnor School District. Although her sons attend traditional, brick-and-mortar schools, Mrs. Chettle said she is a firm believer in charter schools and especially Achievement House Cyber Charter School. Mrs. Chettle said it has been a pleasure serving on the board under the exceptional leadership of former CEO Tim Daniels, who died in February 2015, and his successor, former Chief Information Officer and current CEO Don Asplen. Together, they helped to create a supportive and nurturing online learning environment that Mrs. Chettle said is especially needed for children who sometimes have few other educational options available to them.
Donald Fraatz, Board Secretary
Adjunct Instructor at West Chester University, West Chester, Pa.
Adjunct Instructor at Immaculata University, Malvern, Pa.
A retired elementary school principal, Mr. Fraatz joined the Achievement House Cyber Charter School Board of Trustees in November 2009. He brings an understanding of educational delivery models and provides expertise on education management, student performance, state regulations and human capital management. Mr. Fraatz retired from the Great Valley School District in 2008 after a 37-year career that began as a teacher in the Charlestown Elementary School. Early in his career, Mr. Fraatz worked as a Title I teacher in Great Valley’s summer program and later became director of the program. He became a principal in 1979 at Sugartown Elementary School, which earned the U.S. Department of Education’s distinction of excellence award under his tenure. In 2001, he became principal of the General Wayne Elementary School, a position he held until his retirement. Fraatz earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from West Chester State College in 1971. He received a master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from Villanova University. He also has taken courses toward his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been an adjunct instructor at Immaculata University since 2009 and at West Chester University since 2011. He has been an avid Philadelphia Eagles football fan since the 1960s. He and his wife, Mary, live in Malvern, Pa., and they have two adult children, Matthew and Elizabeth.
Robert Maranto, Phd.D.
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark.
A nationally-recognized expert on charter schools and education reform, Dr. Maranto provides key insights to the Achievement House Cyber Charter School Board of Trustees in evaluating the efficacy of the cyber charter school model and education reform. As a board member since September 2010, he disseminates research findings related to the impact of charter schools and other educational topics and leads efforts to identify areas of research within the school. Since 2008, he has served as the 21st Century Chair in Leadership and a professor of Education Leadership in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. He has previously taught at 10 other universities or colleges, most recently at Villanova University near Philadelphia. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1980 and his doctorate in Political Science from the University of Minnesota in 1989. In the 1990s, he worked for the Washington, D.C., nonprofit think tank the Brookings Institution.
He has written widely on civil service, university and school reform, particularly on charter schools. He has produced 12 scholarly books on education, including several with his wife April Maranto, an independent writing and editing professional. He most recently co-authored the book, “Education Reform in the Obama Era: The Second Term and the 2016 Election,” which will be published in December 2015 by Palgrave Macmillan. Other titles under his name include, “President Obama and Education Reform,” “A Guide to Charter Schools,” “Beyond a Government of Strangers,” “School Choice in the Real World” and “Radical Reform of the Civil Service.” In 2009, he co-edited the books “The Politically Correct University” and “Judging Bush.” He also has written more than 70 scholarly articles for various educational and scholarly publications, and he is the current editor of the Journal of School Choice. He has been published in School Administrator, Social Science Quarterly, The Journal of Educational Research, Journal of School Leadership, Education Next, Computers & Education and Public Administration Review. He has had more than 100 op-eds published in major daily newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Houston Chronicle.
In addition to serving on the Achievement House Cyber Charter School Board of Trustees, Dr. Maranto has served on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission Arkansas Advisory Committee since 2010, the Accord Education Advisory Board since 2012 and the Journal of Educational Policy, Planning and Administration advisory board since 2011. As the son of a career bureaucrat, Dr. Maranto is fascinated with efforts of public bureaucracies to serving the public. He and his wife have two children, Tony and Maya, who attend public schools in Fayetteville, Ark.
Educational Specialist, Curriculum Designer, and Charter School Advocate, Malvern, Pa.
As an educator who has held a variety of administrative and teaching positions and as a parent of children who attend both cyber and brick-and-mortar schools, Mrs. Sweeney brings a broad educational perspective to the Achievement House Cyber Charter School Board of Trustees. Mrs. Seeney, who was appointed to the board in July 2015, currently is a full-time mother to three school-age children. She grew up in North Carolina and Virginia and holds bachelor’s degrees in English and physics from Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va., and a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Sweeney initially delayed her career in education to care for her aging grandmother in Cary, N.C., and later to own and operate a bistro in Hilton Head Island, S.C. She began her teaching career at the former Mosaica Academy Charter School in Bensalem, Pa., before joining the administration of the Mosaica Education company as a curriculum specialist. In that role, she assisted with hiring and training new teachers and principals. She later served as a vice principal, teacher and director of gifted education at the Avon Grove Charter School in West Grove, Pa., where she launched a K-8 gifted program for students who needed more advanced curriculum than grade-level curriculum provided. In 2005, she founded the University Scholars Program at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School. The unique performance-based gifted program initially served about 75 middle and high school students in a learning center in West Chester. At the time, it was the only cyber charter school in Pennsylvania to blend cyber and brick-and-mortar classrooms.
Mrs. Sweeney remained with the scholars program for four years until
relocating with her husband to South Carolina, where she continued teaching
until retiring about six years ago. Her husband, the late Tim Daniels, was the
founder of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools and served as
CEO of Achievement House Cyber Charter School until a few months before his
death in February 2015. Mrs. Sweeney resides in West Chester, Chester County, with
her husband, Terry Sweeney, and their three adopted children, daughters Ilealei and Hui Hui, and son, John Er Jun
Mrs. Sweeney believes cyber schools provide a more natural way to educate
gifted students because young gifted students do not have to be in a classroom physically
with much older and mature students. The flexible scheduling of cyber schools also
benefits students who, like her competitive gymnast daughter Hui Hui, are
pursuing interests outside of school.