Q&A with Paramount Schools of Excellence Community Enrollment Manager Anthony Moore
The Mind Trust’s Behind the Mind series seeks to elevate the perspectives and experiences of school-based support staff. These are the people who do family engagement, manage enrollment, oversee operations and facilities, and more. Without these professionals, the great work that happens in the classroom would be impossible.
Anthony Moore is a Community Enrollment Manager at Paramount Schools of Excellence, a network of four Indianapolis schools that serve K-8 students. He has been with the network since early 2022 and has over a decade of previous experience in the education field supporting school enrollment and family engagement. Our discussion ranged from Anthony’s philosophy to relationship building to what misconceptions families have about charter schools.
Q: What led to you choosing a career in the education field?
A: I’m one of seven kids. My parents preached education from the get-go. They couldn’t afford to send us to college. They always said athletics or academics is what will get you there and the latter, academics, is really what was preached. I saw that education from a young age is the great equalizer. From the time I got my first professional role in education, I was sold.
Q: How does your role as Community Enrollment Manager contribute to Paramount’s mission?
A: Being the community enrollment manager, what I do is seek out families who would be a good fit for our school. I’ll often pinpoint a place where I know parents will be. Let’s say for example with us being K-8, starting in kindergarten, daycares and preschools are gearing their kids up to be in kindergarten. So making those connections is very important.
We want people to know there’s a quality option in Paramount available to them. I also network with churches and organizations like 100 Black Men because parents may not know they have options and I want them to know we are one of those great options.
Q: What is your approach when connecting with families?
A: My first and foremost priority when connecting with families is to be a servant and serve the family. In doing that, you have to know who you are serving. Connecting on a level that says, “I want to know who this person is” before I try to tell them about Paramount. There’s an old saying: nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. I live by that.
Q: What are the biggest concerns parents raise when you talk to them about school options?
A: The biggest thing that I run across is a lot of people have the misconception that because of the amenities and structure that Paramount offers that we cost money to attend. I see that on a daily basis. Somebody may have taken a tour or heard about us from a friend and they think it sounds great but they wonder, “Man, how much does that cost?” There’s a persistent myth that charter schools in general cost money. But public charter schools are free, they don’t cost families a penny.
The other thing that we run into is, “Does Paramount have before and after-care”, which we do. Some other things they want to know is do we offer athletics? I know growing up, that’s one thing that helped keep me in school. Athletics is still a hook for students and we offer that at Paramount too.
Q: Why do you think that myth about charter schools not being free is so persistent?
A: I believe that it is because charter schools as a concept are still foreign to what families are used to. You know, growing up, the only schools I knew were public schools and private schools. We all knew the private schools cost money. Now you have this other player on the field, which is not the exact same as traditional public schools, so they automatically put us in this category with private schools where there is a price attached, but that is false.
I think the missing piece is just educating the public on that on a wider scale. Every day I’m out in the field, I meet someone who thinks there’s a price attached to attending a charter school. I then have the opportunity to clarify that schools like Paramount are absolutely free to families.
Q: What has Paramount done to help families navigate the challenges of the past two years?
A: Transportation continues to be a challenge for families in accessing the school that is best for them. We’ve been looking into revamping transportation for our families to offer more options and more ways of accessing quality transportation options. That could involve carpooling and it will also likely involve adding buses as well. Those things are in the works. Being able to do that will be huge in helping parents out.
Q: What makes Paramount the best fit for certain families?
A: A lot of our families are looking for a little extra. Paramount offers an agriculture element with our farm on two campuses. Also the STEM piece is something we focus on in a big way. And then being able to give families a blueprint for where students can go in the future with the opportunities Paramount provides.
Q: What informs your perspective toward enrollment in recognizing Paramount may not be the best fit for every single family you interact with?
A: It all goes back to service. I am serving the community and the parents. I would be doing a family a disservice if I knew that a student was not the best fit for Paramount and I still tried to plug the round peg into a square hole. I honestly wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because the child would get lost. I look at it, having two daughters myself, if I was not in this role as a community enrollment manager, and I didn’t know anything about the Indianapolis education system, how would I want someone to approach me? How would I want them to deal with me in regards to being truthful and honest about if this school is the best school for my child?
I would want them to tell me, if I was looking for A, B, and C, and they had A and B but not C, and I needed all three, I would want them to be 100% honest with me. In the long run, I have seen in the past that not being honest bites school enrollment people in the butt. Yeah you get the child in there for the first semester, but the parent and child quickly realize that it’s not a good fit and that complicates everything.
Q: Why is it important that Paramount offers the array of opportunities that it does for students?
A: I believe it is important to keep up and stay ahead of the curve. For our kindergarteners, one of their specials is Spanish. Having that be something they learn with the Spanish-speaking community growing in Indianapolis, what that does, is it says Paramount is looking at the future and has taken the time to understand what skills our students will need when they get there.
Then if you think about the agriculture piece that we have invested in, the self-sufficiency students learn through that programming can sustain someone for the rest of their lives. Why not offer that to stand out?
Q: What makes Paramount stand out in your opinion?
A: The results that we achieve on a yearly basis separate us. Being A-rated year after year and always at the top ranks in terms of ILEARN. If you do it once, it could be a fluke. If you do it three, four, five, six times, it’s not a fluke anymore. I believe we have a proven system that says we know what we’re doing, we’ve found our sweet spot with what we offer our families and students.