Rick Anderson brings a breadth of education administration experience to his hometown of Indianapolis as he sets out to found and lead an excellent school.
Rick is a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and earned his M.Ed. from Christian Brothers University. His ambition is inspired by his mother, a single parent putting herself through college at age 50, who taught him the importance of education. From her, he learned not only a relentless work ethic, but also a deep respect and appreciation for education. After a couple of years in corporate America immediately following college, Rick felt a need to redirect his career toward his true interest – education.
Rick served as the dean of students at a Building Excellent Schools (BES) Middle School in Memphis, Tenn., after spending time teaching first and sixth grades. As a dean, he developed and implemented a school-wide culture and behavioral standard. In addition, he coached novice educators, communicated with students’ families, and devised professional development objectives for the faculty. Rick’s next step in school leadership was as head of school at the 6-8, then head of school at the elementary school shortly thereafter. In these roles, he led 60 teachers and over 750 students.
With this experience under his belt, Rick is prepared and eager to open his own school. In doing so, he is determined to foster a community that embodies operational effectiveness, a strong academic culture and a commitment to college readiness.
How long have you lived in Indy?
I was born and raised in Indianapolis, after graduating from Florida A&M University I worked in corporate America for a few years before applying to Teach For America. I have spent the last six years in Memphis working as a teacher and then principal of an inner-city, public, tuition-free K-8 charter school. This past summer I returned to my hometown with my wife and 19-month-old daughter, and I am working to found and lead Allegiant Preparatory Academy, a K-8 charter school.
Why have you focused on using your skills in the nonprofit sector?
I believe education is the most important profession that one can be called to do. Being an educator is my life’s work, and I have seen first-hand what the power of a college degree can do in an individual’s life. Starting in kindergarten I believe ALL students deserve access to a quality college preparatory education. It is my responsibility to ensure Allegiant Prep is a school where students are equipped with the academic, character and social skill sets necessary to gain college entrance, successfully matriculate and graduate with a degree that will allow them to access upward mobility in their personal and professional life.
How did you find your current position?
I am currently a Fellow with Building Excellent Schools (BES), a national non-for-profit with over 20 years of experience identifying, training, and equipping high-capacity individuals to found and lead urban, public, tuition-free charter schools. BES has north of 40+ schools all across the country being led by individuals who have completed this highly competitive and prestigious fellowship. At this point, I am halfway through the first year of the fellowship, next year will be my planning year, and Allegiant Prep will open in the fall of 2018 with 120 kindergarten and first-grade students.
What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?
I would say just do it! I spent two years in corporate America and while it was very lucrative, I did not feel I was serving a true purpose. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, and see a need or lack of service that needs to be addressed, it is our collective responsibility to act to eliminate problems that our community is facing.
If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?
My wife is an amazing cook, I am incredible at eating! In the next few months I would like to take a few cooking classes to build my culinary skills.
If you were an inanimate object, what would you be and why?
A good book! They are timeless and learning from the past can always be applied to modern times. My favorite book growing up was The Great Gatsby, it is still a great book that is usually part of middle-school literary text list.
What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
To earn the charter for Allegiant Prep, to open and be a quality education option for families in Indianapolis.
Share a little-known treasure of Indianapolis with us.
Indy Tacos off of 54th and Keystone has delicious poblano tacos.
Most important question: If you could be any character from any movie, which character would you be and why?
To be honest I do not watch a lot of movies, but I do enjoy watching documentaries. I typically enjoy any ESPN 30 for 30, “Winning Time: Miller vs. The Knicks” is a classic. I have vivid memories of begging my mom to buy me the gold and blue wrist bands that Reggie Miller used to wear on his wrist when I was a kid. He was the definition of composure under fire.
Want to support Rick's work?
Keep an eye out for Allegiant Preparatory Academy (Allegiant Prep), a proposed K-8 public, tuition-free charter school slated to open in the fall of 2018. The mission of Allegiant Prep is to educate all students in grades K-8 with rigorous academics, character development and a commitment to community necessary for college success and a life of positive action. Proposed Founder and Head of School Rick Anderson is an Indianapolis native, and is humbled to have the opportunity to create a school where the staff, families and the community will work together to ensure the academic success and growth of each student. Allegiant Prep is founded on the notion of “It Takes a Village.”
Rick is actively seeking volunteers and potential founding board members to lend their time, expertise and networks to this cause.