Michael Anderer's journey to becoming founding president of Cristo Rey De La Salle East Bay High School, which is scheduled to open in fall 2018, includes a bicycle ride.
After graduation from Princeton University, he stayed an additional year at Princeton High School on a teaching internship. He was, he said, "on the path to full-time teaching." He had a job offer to begin teaching and coaching the next fall.
That summer, he and a friend undertook a bicycle ride across country, to raise funds for adult literacy programs. From Seattle to Boston in 40 days, they stopped along the way at a dozen adult literacy agencies.
"What inevitably happened, the events were never big," he said. He and his cycling partner often found themselves meeting with a few agency staff members and some of their clients.
The stories of the clients — a 48-year-old electrician who was unable to read, for example — fueled his imagination as he rode.
"My life," he said. "What was I going to do about it."
Halfway across the country, he declined the job at Princeton High School and took a position at a public middle school in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Anderer, a graduate of a Lasallian high school in Philadelphia, recalled, too, that the Christian Brothers had been talking about opening new schools for low-income students.
"It captured my imagination," he said.
He became a Christian Brother for seven years. In 1997, he was part of the founding team for the Miguel Middle School in Camden, New Jersey. The Miguel schools are tuition-free schools for low-income students.
He spent a dozen years with Miguel Middle schools in Chicago. In his time there, the Cristo Rey high schools were beginning.
The Cristo Rey schools — which now number 32 nationwide — integrate rigorous college preparatory academics with a Corporate Work Study Program. Each student is employed one day a week by a local business or community agency to provide tuition assistance and complement the school's curricular program.
In 2012, Anderer moved to the West Coast, and serves as vice president for mission advancement at De Marillac Academy in San Francisco, a middle school in San Francisco's Tenderloin. He will leave there at the end of this academic year, and begin as president of Cristo Rey De La Salle East Bay High School on July 1.
Anderer's appointment was announced by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, District of San Francisco New Orleans, who were invited by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, to administer the high school.
Anderer said he is "humbled and honored" by the new role. "This opportunity to build a new mission in Oakland to serve lower-income and working-class families is a very exciting opportunity," Anderer said.
Cristo Rey De La Salle East Bay High School expects to name a principal by the end of April, Anderer said, and a corporate work study director by the end of May. Two other key roles, dean of admissions and director of development, will also be filled.
The school's success, Anderer said, "is going to require a sense of ownership and desire to participate" on the neighborhood, educational and corporate community of the Bay Area.
Anderer said he is looking forward to meeting alumni of St. Elizabeth High School, which is closing in June, and hopes that they, too, will have a stake in the new school's success.
Its success will require, too, people who value education as a gateway to a better life. The school will serve students who, by "chance of circumstances are living in a particular neighborhood context where they might have challenges," Anderer said.
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