A Day in the Life: Human Capital Manager for Denver Charter School

December 17, 2013

This post highlights the work that Travis Lockhart does for STRIVE Preparatory Schools in Denver. Are you a public employee with a story to tell? Send us an email at dimecontact@copera.org

Hometown: Hillsborough, NC
Current residence: Denver
Employer: STRIVE Preparatory Schools
Title: Human Capital Manager
What he does every day: Works to recruit and retain teachers to join STRIVE Prep, a network of public, open enrollment, college-prep charter schools in Denver.
Length of time in PERA: Two years
Best part of the day at work: Inspiring others from our state and across the country to join the transformative work we are doing in our communities here in Denver, CO.
Best part of any day not at work: Spending time with family enjoying all that Colorado has to offer.

When Travis Lockhart began teaching in North Carolina, he paid little attention to the retirement benefit he was earning with each paycheck.

“I had some awareness of a pension – I knew I was in the North Carolina teachers’ plan, but I didn’t know much about it,” Travis said.

In fact, it wasn’t until he was moving to Colorado to start a new job with STRIVE Prep, a network of charter schools in Denver, that he realized he had accrued savings through the North Carolina teachers’ retirement system that he could roll over into his own IRA.

He had to quickly come up to speed though. As Human Capital Manager for STRIVE, it’s Travis’ job to convince prospective new teachers to consider STRIVE as a top charter school network where they can begin their careers as educators.

STRIVE Preparatory Schools are public charter schools in Denver that focus on providing each of their students with a rigorous college-preparatory education. Since its first school opened with 100 sixth graders in 2006, a STRIVE Prep school has led Denver middle schools each year in academic growth.

Travis must convince his teachers, both new and returning, that not only does STRIVE provide a phenomenal work environment and opportunity to provide students with an exceptional education, but that their wages, benefits and resources are competitive with other schools across the state and across the country.

Nearly half of Travis’ recruits are straight out of college, working on a STRIVE campus as part of their two-year commitment to Teach for America. Others are experienced veteran teachers from other states. With eight campuses and 2,300 students, most teachers have about two years of experience in a STRIVE Prep school and two or three years in education outside of STRIVE Prep.

Like Travis, many new teachers face financial pressures – paying off student loans, building a savings safety net, maybe saving to buy a house or go to grad school. Saving for retirement may be important, but it is not at the top of the list of financial priorities. Many new teachers at STRIVE come from out of state and are unfamiliar with PERA and the benefits it provides.

For Travis, knowing that PERA maintains a retirement account of employee and employer contributions for every member, regardless of the length of their employment, gives him peace of mind. He knows that retirement savings will be there years or decades in the future, even as he is focusing now on other financial goals and priorities.

Retirement is one less thing for him, and other staff at STRIVE, to worry about. This gives them that much more energy to focus on how to make an impact on the lives of their students.