When Endeavor took over the William Morris Agency, one of the upstart agency’s brilliant founding partners Tom Strickler departed. He had been expected by everyone, including Ari Emanuel, to join the combined company even though the motion picture lit agent had vociferously argued against Endeavor changing from David into Goliath. So it came as a shock when he announced his resignation just before Endeavor voted on the merger. As a result, that vote was unanimous. Since then, a week doesn’t go by when someone doesn’t email me asking to know what Tom is doing. Here’s the answer in an email he sent around to friends today. It’s, in a word, inspiring. It also should remind Hollywood players who find themselves at a voluntary or involuntary career crossroads that following a different path can be just as rewarding — and maybe more so:

From: Tom Strickler
Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2011 4:40 PM
To: Tom Strickler
Subject: Good News

I am happy to report that this afternoon at 3:40 PM, the Los Angeles Unified School District voted to grant a charter to Extera Public Schools.

Classes begin on August 15th with 264 students (K – 3) in Boyle Heights – an area of our city burdened by great poverty and failing schools. Although getting a charter is a challenge, it pales in comparison to the challenge of building a great school.  We are looking forward to all the hard work that lies ahead.

I am deeply grateful to my family and friends who have been so enthusiastic and supportive of this new endeavor.  And I am deeply appreciative of all the educational leaders from around the country who gave freely of their time and wisdom.  We never found a door that was closed to us.  I am most amazed by Jim Kennedy, our CEO, whose hard work and commitment to excellence got us to the finish line.  And am equally thankful for the Extera Board – who gave generously of their time and resources.

When I set out on my journey into public education, it was with a simple goal.  To help 10,000 disadvantaged kids get a first class education and an opportunity for a better life.   Admittedly, the 264 kids at Extera is a far cry from 10,000.  But it is a beginning.

9736 kids to go!

Onwards.

Tom Strickler
Chairman of the Board
Extera Public Schools