Spotlight: Dr. Richard Halik

Spotlight will highlight a National Charter Schools Institute team member. This month we highlight Dr. Richard Halik.

Dr. Richard J. Halik is an Associate with the National Charter Schools Institute. He was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan, and attended the Lansing School District, graduating from Lansing Eastern High School. He attended Lansing Community College (and received their first Distinguished Alumni Award in 1991), graduated with a B.S. degree from Western Michigan University, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He became Superintendent of Lansing schools in July 1985 and served for 15 years.

In 2000, the Board of Trustees of the Lansing Educational Advancement Foundation (LEAF) created the Dr. Richard J. Halik Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarship award is presented to a graduating senior from one of Lansing’s three high schools on a rotating basis.

If you had a magic wand and could change the education landscape in the US what would you do?
“I would properly fund school districts, ensuring that funding per-pupil is equal in every zip code.”

Who was your favorite teacher and why?
“My 10th grade biology teacher got me enthused in science and encouraged me to be a science teacher.”

What was your favorite class?
“All of the biological sciences.”

What book are you reading now?
“Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley.”

Who was your hero?
“My Uncle Bill. He was my mother’s brother, he had no children, and paid for my college tuition. He even gave me a car so I could drive to college!

“Uncle Bill was a self-made man. He had an 11th grade education. When WWII started he joined the U.S. Navy. After he left the service he worked his whole life. He had his own businesses and he made sure I went to college even though my parents couldn’t afford it.

“Lansing is the city where I was born, the city where I went to school, from kindergarten to high school, and the city where I started my teaching career. Lansing is also the city where I retired as superintendent—all in one city and one school district—that’s pretty rare! The average tenure of a superintendent is about 2.7 years so I’m a walking miracle. When Uncle Bill encouraged me to go to college, neither one of us dreamed I would be superintendent of the Capital City for so many years.”

How did you get started in charter schools?
“Charters started in Michigan when I was superintendent in Lansing. Lansing had the School for the Blind. It consolidated with Flint’s School for the Deaf and became a large charter school in Lansing. Instead of fighting them I coordinated with them to provide a food service contract. I sponsored their school leader for membership in the Lions Club. This confused many, because they thought traditional public schools and charters were competing with one another, but we worked together to serve the children of Lansing.

“When I retired as Superintendent in 2001 Dr. John Reynolds asked if I would help draft policy for charter school clients. I drafted policy for over 80 charter schools all over Michigan.”

Tell us something interesting about yourself.
“I’m a huge Michigan State sports fan—Go Green! I’m also a deer hunter so during deer season you will find me in the woods in a deer blind. I go to the same place every year, an 80 acre hunting property our family owns south of Baldwin, Michigan.”