What to expect at CMSD parent-teacher conferences

What to expect at CMSD parent-teacher conferences

Cleveland Metropolitan School District parent-teacher conferences for the 2017-2018 school year are on Wednesday, Oct. 25  for K-8 schools and Thursday, Oct. 26 for high schools. Parent-teacher conferences are a great way to start talking to your child’s teachers. When parents and teachers talk to each other, each person can share important information about your child’s talents and needs. Each of you can also learn something new about how to help your child succeed.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District offers some information on what to expect at parent-teacher conferences:

A two-way conversation. These meetings are best when both people talk and listen. This is a time for parents to learn about your child’s progress in school:PromiseNeighborhood12

  • Ask to see data about your child’s attendance, grades and test scores.
  • Find out whether your child is meeting school expectations and academic standards.
  • Talk with your child’s teacher about what your child is like at home.
  • Share information about your child’s skills, interests, needs and dreams so that you and the teacher can work together to help your child.

Emphasis on learning. Good conferences will focus on how well your child is doing in school. They also talk about how your child can do even better. To get ready for the conversation:

  • Look over your child’s homework, tests and notices.
  • Bring a list of questions to ask the teacher.

Opportunities and challenges. Teachers want your child to succeed. It is important to hear positive feedback about your child’s progress and also about areas for improvement.

  • Think about your child’s strengths and challenges before the conference.
  • Be ready to ask questions about ways you and the teacher can help your child with some of his or her challenges.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District parent-teacher conference guide for parents offers a checklist on how to prepare for the meeting and a guide on topics to discuss. Get the guide here. Make sure you attend parent-teacher conferences on on Wednesday, Oct. 25 (K-8) or Thursday, Oct. 26 (high school).

Frontline Services partnership puts trauma in the spotlight

Frontline Services partnership puts trauma in the spotlight

When compared to other Cleveland neighborhoods, Central has the second highest rate of aggravated assaults and the fifth highest rate of reported domestic violence incidents. Children witnessing or being victims of violence is common in Central and can have lasting impacts on children and their ability to go to school ready and prepared to learn. A traumatic event can significantly interrupt the school routine and the processes of teaching and learning. This is why Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood decided to partner with Frontline Services to offer trauma training in two Cleveland Metropolitan School District schools in the Central neighborhood.

Cleveland’s News Channel 5 WEWS-TV recently highlighted the partnership between Promise Neighborhood, Frontline and Cleveland Metropolitan School District:

Brain scans show how trauma affects development in children.
Brain scans show how trauma affects development in children.

It’s something most students living in or around the Cleveland Metropolitan School district can’t avoid — hearing or at least seeing trauma.

“In their homes, and in their community and even walking to and from school,” said Rosemary Creeden, Associate Director of Trauma Services at the non-profit Frontline.

Earlier this year, the CDC reported one in five high school students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District tried to take their own life in 2015.

Creeden says this just underscores the level of trauma they’re dealing with, in and outside the home.

So CMSD wants their students to overcome the odds and they’re working with teachers first. Teachers like Mr. Michael Phillips.

“For me, I just feel like I never dealt with that,” he said. “They have a different experience than I’ve got and I feel like I’m learning from them. But at the same time, they come in sometimes scared, or nervous.”

Teaching math to students grades 6th through 8th at Alfred Benesch Elementary School for the past three years, he said on a daily basis he hears his students talk about their fears and problems.

He listens but wishes there was more he could do.

That’s why CMSD has started trauma training for him and other teachers. The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood brought the idea of trauma training to CMSD.

Frontline, a mental health crisis non-profit, walks teachers through the warning signs, bringing awareness to the impact of trauma on kids.

Creeden said now that research reveals more about how traumatic events affect students ability to focus, they can help teachers see, spot, and deal with these tough situations before they get worse.

“Behaviors that they might see in the classroom, may look like misbehavior, but really it’s a reaction to the trauma’s that they’re seeing in their homes and in their community,” she said.

While students of all ages face different degrees of mental and emotional trauma, no matter the area they grow up in, Creeden said children in lower socioeconomic status areas typically experience higher levels of trauma-induced stress.

This is the very first time Cleveland schools have done this particular type of training for teachers. Alfred Benesch Elementary is the second school that has gone through the training so far this year.

Watch the News Channel 5 story here.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District News Bureau also highlighted the program. Read more here.


Central teachers learn how trauma affects students, how they can help

Central teachers learn how trauma affects students, how they can help

Violence is prevalent in the Central neighborhood. When compared to other Cleveland neighborhoods, Central has the second highest rate of aggravated assaults and the fifth highest of reported domestic violence incidents. Children witnessing or being a victim of violence is not uncommon in Central and can have lasting impacts on children,which is why the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood decided to do something. Promise Neighborhood is providing teachers in two Central neighborhood Cleveland Metropolitan School District schools with training in how to address the unique needs of students who experience trauma.

In the coming months teachers at Marion-Sterling and Alfred A. Benesch Schools will receive six hours of training that will cover the psychological and physiological effects trauma has on children and classroom strategies for helping students overcome barriers to learning.

Richaun Bunton, education performance manager at Central Promise Neighborhood,  said teachers and schools feel the impact of violent incidents that happen weekly in the neighborhood.

“If that’s what students are seeing on the way to school, they’re not just worrying about if they did their homework or if they’re doing well in class,” Bunton said. “Now they’re thinking about the fact that they saw a dead body on the way to school.”

Students who grow up in Central often face more challenges than those in other areas. The child poverty rate (81.2 percent) is higher than any other neighborhood in Cleveland, according to Center for Community Solutions. Children there are also more likely than others to be exposed to gun violence, sexual violence and, most prevalently, domestic violence.

These are some of the statistics that Marion-Sterling School teachers learned during their first, hour-long training session with crisis intervention specialists from FrontLine.

Teachers at Marion-Sterling practice chair yoga as a mechanism for students to relieve trauma-related stress.
Teachers at Marion-Sterling practice chair yoga as a mechanism for students to relieve trauma-related stress.

Frontline is a local outreach agency that specializes in behavioral health, homelessness and trauma. They spent an hour with the Marion-Sterling teaching staff discussing the effects that violence can have on children’s mental health and academic performance and what teachers can do in their classrooms to alleviate some of the symptoms that make it harder for the children to learn.

Rosemary Creeden, a licensed social worker and the associate director of trauma programs at FrontLine, is one of the three trainers working with CMSD teachers.

“We want to help teachers understand the impact of trauma on the children they are teaching and some of the reactions to trauma that children may exhibit in the classroom,” Creeden said. “They can look at these behaviors through a different lens, through a trauma-awareness lens.”

These behaviors include difficulty focusing, increased anxiety, restlessness, irritability and withdrawal, among others, Creeden said. Students might also come to school feeling very tired because they had difficulty sleeping.

“When we read about shootings in the news, we have to remember there are children who live in those neighborhoods who hear those gunshots, and the people being hurt in these gun exchanges are people they know,” she said.

Many CMSD teachers are keenly aware of what their students go through. Lakesha Boyd, first-grade teacher at Marion-Sterling, said she sees the effects that Creeden described almost every day in her classroom.

Last year, one of Boyd’s students had a family member who was shot to death, and Boyd noticed a major shift in the girl’s behavior. The girl experienced emotional highs and lows and seemed to suddenly be attached at Boyd’s hip.

Boyd attended the first training and is hopeful that she’ll learn strategies to help her students.

“Working in a community where you see students struggle with different things from home, I think that the training will be very beneficial,” Boyd said. “It already gave me some ideas for what I can do in the classroom to help with the different issues I see.”

While most of the first training focused on informing teachers about how trauma affects students, Creeden and her colleagues also took some time to go over some helpful classroom activities.

Some activities centered around mindfulness in the classroom, like chair yoga and breathing exercises. Another, called “thumb ball,” involves writing fun or academic questions on a beach ball. The participants gather in a circle and throw the ball. Whoever catches it must answer the question that his or her thumb lands on. It’s a way to promote movement and help children relieve stress.

The next sessions will delve further into classroom techniques and how teachers can build resiliency in both students and themselves.
Boyd, the first-grade teacher, has been following some of the news around neighborhood crime and is keeping it in mind as she welcomes her students back from summer break. She is glad she found a use for the bag of beach balls she brought to her classroom over the summer. The “thumb ball” activity, she said, might be a good way to break the ice.

Reading paves way to new bicycles for students

Reading paves way to new bicycles for students

A dozen first and second graders in Central have brand new bicycles to enjoy this summer thanks to a program called Read and Ride. Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and the Knights of Pythias Owatonna Lodge #62 host Read and Ride at the three Cleveland Metropolitan School District elementary schools in the Central Neighborhood: Alfred A. Benesch, George Washington Carver and Marion-Sterling. Open to first and second graders, the reading program aims to encourage young readers to increase their reading by awarding a bicycle to students who read books during the school year. Students receive one raffle ticket for every book read and then two names per classroom are drawn at the end of the year with winners receiving a new bicycle.

This year’s program set a record for most books read and most scholars participating since 2014 when Read and Ride began in the Central neighborhood. A total of 240 Cleveland Metropolitan School District scholars participated this year with an astounding 1,260 books read, with a dozen bicycles being awarded. In 2016, 612 books were read as part of the program and 165 first and second graders participated.

Miguel Nieves, second grade student at George Washington Carver Elementary
Miguel Nieves, second grade student at George Washington Carver Elementary

“This is my first bike without training wheels,” said Miguel Nieves, second grade student at George Washington Carver Elementary and winner of a Read and Ride bicycle. “I read ten books. My favorite book is Snails and Slugs.”

Read and Ride focuses on the first and second grade students because reading ability and comprehension is a necessity when a student enters third grade. Reading at grade level is meaningful at any age, but third grade is the  year when students make the leap from learning to read to reading to learn. It’s an academic hurdle that, if missed, can leave kids in lagging behind for the rest of their academic career. Research shows that once this type of learning lag exists, it’s difficult for kids to catch up. On a national scale, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s analysis of 2009 NAEP data 83 percent of low-income students test below proficient in reading at the start of fourth grade, as do 55 percent of moderate- and high-income students, leaving the U.S. with a grim overall gap of two-thirds of children testing below proficient in reading.

“The bike raffle really motivates the students to read because it offers them a chance to win something that many of them wouldn’t normally get to have on their own,” said Ms. Robinson, second grade teacher, George Washington Carver Elementary.

The Ohio Department of Education Third Grade Reading Guarantee is a program to identify students from kindergarten through grade 3 that are behind in reading. Schools will provide help and support to make sure students are on track for reading success by the end of third grade. Therefore, one of the goals of Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is that every third grade student in Central reads at third grade level. Promise Neighborhood works closely with community partners such as the Knights of Pythias and Cleveland Metropolitan School District to create educational support systems outside of the school day.

“I love working with the schools on Read and Ride every year. I was an avid reader during elementary school and rode a purple and white bicycle similar to the bikes we give to participants. It brings me joy to see the long list of book titles turned in by the students and the smile on their faces when we conduct the awards ceremony,” said Dawn Glasco, engagement coordinator, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. “Last year, a parent said that her first grader had begun to read at a third-grade level.  That’s what Read and Ride is all about – progress.  I’m thankful to be a part of such an exciting and rewarding experience.”

Marion-Sterling Read and Ride 2017 winners.
Marion-Sterling Read and Ride 2017 winners.

The Read and Ride program started in Longview, Texas in 2008 by Pythian Lodge #28. Over the years the program has expanded to several other Pythian Domains, including Ohio. In 2014, Supreme Chancellor Keith Stookberry expanded the program and made it nationwide. The Knights of Pythias has a long history of working in the community, both locally and nationally.

“What I enjoy most about the program is the enthusiasm of the children despite all the disadvantages they endure. My heart goes out to them. I see myself in them. I admire them,” said Stan Wolski, chancellor commander of Owatonna Lodge #62, domain of Ohio, Knights of Pythias.

All bicycles for the elementary Read and Ride program are provided by the Knights of Pythias.



KinderKits help Central children prepare for kindergarten

KinderKits help Central children prepare for kindergarten

Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is helping Central children prepare for kindergarten by providing KinderKits to 100 Pre-K students who will be entering kindergarten in Fall of 2017. Pre-K students at George Washington Carver Elementary and Marion-Sterling Elementary will have the summer to explore and learn using their KinderKits, a child development tool meant to help children learn basic concepts ahead of entering kindergarten.

Supporting families throughout their journey from cradle-to-career is the core mission of Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. KinderKits are an accessible, easy-to-use resource that supports a fundamental skill such as reading and can impact the future of a child’s academic future.

“By distributing KinderKits, we are empowering families to transform their homes into an extension of the classroom,” said Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. “The KinderKits allow both parent and child to reinforce the skills learned in Pre-K to hopefully deter summer learning loss so that children aren’t starting Kindergarten with a deficit.”

In 2015, when 26 kindergartners walked into Benjamin Colas’ classroom for their first day of school at Alfred A. Benesch, Colas was surprised to learn that only one of them knew the alphabet. Two of the students recognized numbers, and many had never held a pencil before.

KinderKits are stocked with household items that families can use for learning.
KinderKits are stocked with household items that families can use for learning.

This meant that instead of preparing the students for first grade, Colas had to spend months trying to help catch students up on basic concepts like counting and categorizing.

As the school year went on, he came up with an idea to create a child development tool families could use at home to help make incoming kindergartners more likely to succeed at school. So Colas developed a kit that comes in a drawstring bag and consists of everyday items — like shaving cream, cereal and beans — that most families have around the house.

KinderKits are designed to empower parents and caregivers to take an active role in their children’s education. Each KinderKit comes with instructions for parents and caregivers on how to use the items for educational activities. One activity instructs them to smear shaving cream on a surface and help children use their fingers to draw numbers and letters. There’s also Play-Doh and a mat with different shapes, which children can use to mold the Play-Doh, and start to recognize and identify shapes. Parents and caregivers can use Froot Loops to help children sort by color, count how many pieces are in a pile, and calculate how many are left after the child eats some of the cereal.

Colas noticed that even though his students didn’t seem prepared, it wasn’t because their parents and caregivers weren’t concerned. He said one mother told him she wished she had known the expectations for her child upon entering kindergarten.

Colas is working with Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood partner Starting Point, a childcare and early childhood education nonprofit to distribute the kits to families as well. Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood early learning navigator Tatiana Wells said the kits have the potential to give incoming kindergartners the boost they need to keep up with their peers.

KinderKits come in a drawstring bag that can also serve as a first book bag.
KinderKits come in a drawstring bag that can also serve as a first book bag.

“If they are failing in kindergarten, they are not going to be able to succeed in other grades, and it could hurt their chance of success throughout their academic career,” Wells said.

In 2016, Starting Point helped Colas distribute about 250 kits to childcare centers and families in Central. The long-term plan is to distribute Kinder Kits to the families of every incoming kindergartner in Cleveland.


Cleveland takes next steps to be considered for Say Yes to Education

Cleveland takes next steps to be considered for Say Yes to Education

Cleveland and the Say Yes to Education non-profit have begun working to offer free college tuition to all graduates of the city school district by 2019. Say Yes to Education, a national nonprofit organization that partners with communities around the goals of college readiness and affordability, announced today that Cleveland has satisfied some of the earliest milestones on the extensive path to becoming a Say Yes chapter.

The bold promise of Say Yes is to bring together an entire community to ensure each of its children has the opportunity –and the support – to go to college. Using last-in-dollar scholarships as a catalyst, Say Yes partners with communities to create systems intended to help every child progress along the pathway to post-secondary success. If the school district and several local agencies clear key benchmarks in the next year to 18 months – including raising large amounts of money – Cleveland will become the fourth city to partner with Say Yes to provide scholarships that allow graduates to attend public colleges, trade schools and a few private schools without tuition bills or loans.

girl_chalkboard“If selected as a Say Yes city, we can create an opportunity for Cleveland students, regardless of economic circumstance, to go to college. Say Yes would help support their growth and aid in high-quality educational opportunities for those who traditionally would not have access. This is an excellent example of community partnerships contributing to equitable prosperity for all Clevelanders,”City of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement.

For more than two years, an exploratory group in Cleveland has been working to secure an affiliation with Say Yes for Cleveland’s youth. Six partners – City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Cleveland Foundation, College Now and United Way – are leading the effort. These partners are seeking to make the case that Cleveland would be a good fit for the Say Yes approach, leveraging the ongoing success of the Cleveland Plan, the region’s strong history of collaboration as demonstrated by innovative and committed public sector leaders, and an organized and robust philanthropic and nonprofit sector committed to enhancing the lives of all Greater Clevelanders.

Already, the public-private partnership that submitted the application has participated in extensive vetting, including on-site visits in Cleveland, by Say Yes’ senior management and advisory board.

“Under the Cleveland Plan, CMSD is graduating more students, and students who are better prepared for college; however, the number of Cleveland students enrolling in postsecondary education is declining. If we succeed in being selected, Say Yes can help Cleveland reverse that trend through scholarship access and support services students need from kindergarten through 12th grade. The potential of Say Yes provides hope and opportunity for the people of Cleveland to play a significant role in the revitalization of the city and the region,” Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon said in a statement.

The Cleveland group, along with others, will now spend the next 12 to 18 months working with Say Yes to determine the possibility of Cleveland becoming a community-wide affiliate. This work includes, but is not limited to, determining scholarship parameters and criteria, raising a significant portion of the funding required to support the scholarship endowment, and identifying necessary in-school and out-of-school supports and services and related public and philanthropic funding sources to meet the development needs of every child.

This next phase will require input and work from all aspects of the community – parents, children, teachers, school administrators, social-service organizations, businesses, government officials, residents, and more. Cleveland’s potential selection as a Say Yes partner community would enhance the work already being done to improve all the factors that influence Cleveland children’s academic success and to ensure they are ready for college or career.

Read more about how Say Yes work on Cleveland.com.

CMSD summit showcases attendance strategies

CMSD summit showcases attendance strategies


The problem is plain, the effects indisputable. Achievement suffers when children miss excessive amounts of time in the classroom.

On Thursday, Cleveland Metropolitan School District convened the Northeast Ohio Chronic Absenteeism Summit, bringing together districts and other agencies to share strategies for dealing with their mutual dilemma. More than 300 people huddled at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns Foundation is the lead partner in the District’s ongoing “Get 2 School. You Can Make It!” attendance campaign. Last school year, the campaign raised average attendance by 1.5 points, to more than 91 percent, and cut chronic absenteeism by 6.3 percent, leaving it at 29 percent.

Ohio defines chronic absenteeism as missing 10 percent of the 180-day school year. CMSD’s campaign seeks to prevent students from being absent even 10 days, citing internal data indicating that is a threshold at which students grow more likely to drop out of school and score markedly lower on state reading and math tests.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon speaks at the chronic absenteeism summit.
Cleveland Metropolitan School District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon speaks at the chronic absenteeism summit.

CMSD is making strides under The Cleveland Plan, a state-approved blueprint for education reform in the city. But Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon said that to make the reforms effective, the District still had to confront “one big problem.”

“Our teachers can never teach a kid who isn’t there,” he said in opening the summit. “In large numbers, kids weren’t there.”

 Chronic absenteeism, which is particularly high in low-income areas, can result from factors such as a lack of transportation and proper health care. Speakers said schools need to track attendance data and get at the reasons why students are absent.

Hedy Nai-Lin Chang, executive director of the national group Attendance Works, was one of the summit’s headliners.

Chang warned districts not to focus on their daily average attendance, saying a high figure can conceal a rotating corps of kids who are out two or more days per month. She said statistics show that chronic absenteeism spikes in kindergarten, when children are building their academic foundations and again in high school, when struggling students give up.

“We lost them in kindergarten,” she said. “But we never realized we were losing them because we were worried about truancy.”

American Institutes for Research Vice President David Osher said schools need to build relationships with parents and not wait until their children’s absenteeism reaches extreme levels.

“If your only contact with the parent is ‘David’s a problem,’ that’s not a winner,” he said.

A keynote speaker, State Sen. Sandra Williams of Cleveland, backed The Cleveland Plan but insisted it include a requirement that parents have face-to-face contact with teachers at least once a year. Nearly 91 percent of CMSD parents met with a teacher last year.

Williams talked about a new state law that decriminalizes truancy and shifts the emphasis to intervention. She said legislators are working on legislation that would increase the obligation of schools to report and prevent bullying, another reason that children may avoid school.

The summit registration list showed school, social-service and court representatives from as far away as Dayton.

Bruce Chamberlin works with the Parma Area Family Collaborative, an alliance of social workers led by the Parma schools.

Chamberlin said the social workers meet with parents whose children frequently miss school and are developing an academy that will teach parenting skills. He came to FirstEnergy Stadium to collect more strategies.

“We really want to impact absenteeism,” he said. “I want hear other ideas so we can continue to have solid prevention work.”

Pancake breakfast serves-up parent’s guide to special education

Pancake breakfast serves-up parent’s guide to special education

On Saturday, March 4, 2017 dozens of families gathered at East Technical High School for a pancake breakfast, but the main course was an informational seminar on special education. The half-day event featured sessions designed to help parents and families get a better understanding of how to support children on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and how to get more academic support for children in school.

Families enjoy breakfast at East Technical High School .
Families enjoy breakfast at East Technical High School .

A partnership between Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Cleveland Transformation Alliance, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and Cuyahoga Community College, the event was designed to raise awareness of the important role parents play in a child’s education and to increase participation in parent-teacher meetings. Research shows that parent involvement in education can predict a child’s academic success. The benefits of parent involvement increase dramatically if a student has learning differences or is on an IEP.

After enjoying a family breakfast, attendees split into groups with adults heading to seminars and children attending drumming and dance classes with the help of City Year Cleveland volunteers.

Timothy Goler, founder and chief executive officer if HBCU Preparatory Schools Network, served as keynote speaker and delivered a passionate, inspirational and personal account of how parental involvement is the most essential factor of a child’s success at school, and often, in life.

“More than anything else in this city, we need conscious, committed, loving parents. Spend quality time with your kids. Don’t just tell them you love them, show them you love them. Give them affection,” Goler said in his address. “Whether you believe it or not, you are the example of success your children will envision. The best way to make our schools stronger is to make our families stronger and more loving. The foundation for school success starts with the family.”

After hearing from Goler, adult attendees chose from a variety of workshops hosted by experts from the CMSD special education department, Cuyahoga Community College Access department and Milestones, an organization dedicated to providing resources to families of children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Children get a lesson on African drumming.
Children get a lesson on African drumming.

Workshops were held on the following topics:

  • Middle school to high school transition: how to prepare and what to expect
  • Choosing a high school that meets the needs of your child
  • High school to college transition: How Tri-C supports children and adults with making the jump to higher education
  • Parenting children with challenging behaviors and building the parent-teacher relationship

“We hope the event is able to eliminate some of the stress and intimidating factors that can often go along with the special education process,” said Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. “It’s really special to see the community, school district and residents rally around this cause and put this event together because ultimately we need educators and parents working together. This event was a true demonstration of the parent-teacher partnership we want to happen.”

The day concluded with giveaways, including 20 Dave’s Supermarket gift cards courtesy of Cleveland Transformation Alliance, one iPad Mini and one Beats by Dre headphones set.

The pancake breakfast was part of a larger initiative by Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance to build better partnerships between schools and families.

East Technical High School earns national certification for engineering program

East Technical High School earns national certification for engineering program


East Tech High School has received national certification for its Project Lead the Way program that prepares students for careers in engineering and opens their eyes to career possibilities in STEM.

Since 2011, East Tech has offered a rigorous curriculum through Project Lead the Way, which allows students to apply what they learn in math and science courses to real-life engineering projects. Project Lead the Way is the nation’s leading provider of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programs.

East Tech is one of eight District high schools that offers Project Lead the Way courses and part of CMSD’s commitment to broaden access to career-technical education programs, as stated in The Cleveland Plan.

Certification as a Project Lead the Way school provides students with the opportunity to apply for college credit or receive college-level recognition at PLTW affiliate universities.

East Technical High School students participate in Project Lead the Way.
East Technical High School students participate in Project Lead the Way.

East Tech teacher LaShawn Manuel, who runs the PLTW program at the school, said the pathway draws her students to engineering and technology courses and gets them thinking about college and careers.

“My students are building, developing and creating,” Manuel said. “It’s the kind of hands-on experience that will engage students in STEM fields that they might otherwise never consider.”

The engineering pathway at East Tech is a four-year program that guides students through increasingly complex engineering concepts. Starting from ninth grade, the students use 3D printers and 3D modeling software to complete hands-on projects. They learn the basics of technical writing and drawing that they will need to complete projects in the next phases of the program.
In 10th grade, students dive into the world of robotics and coding. Eleventh-graders focus on digital electronics and learn soldering — the process of joining items together by melting them.

Senior year includes a project where students learn about building design and architecture and create a design for affordable housing.

The Project Lead the Way program is supported by several community partners who provide funding, field trips, scholarships and internships. The partners are Rockwell Automation, Junior National Society of Black Engineers, Cleveland Water Department, Regional Information Technology Engagement Board and General Motors.

Manuel said that even if students decide they don’t want to pursue engineering as a career, many of them stick with the pathway because of the universal skills they gain, including technical writing and research, that they can use in college and other careers.

“I want them to get a better idea of the scope of career opportunities in STEM fields,” she said. “If they become interested in similar fields, like computer science, many of the skills they learn in this program can apply to that.”

Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance partner to support families and schools working together

Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance partner to support families and schools working together

Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance have joined forces to raise awareness of the importance of family involvement in the education process. Research shows that parent involvement in education can predict a child’s academic success. The benefits of parent involvement increase dramatically if a student has learning differences or is on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Working together with Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance hope to raise awareness and increase understanding of the following:

  • How families can work with schools when there are concerns about a student’s academic or developmental growth
  • When and how to schedule a parent-teacher conference
  • How to navigate the IEP process

“Meaningful parent education and involvement is just as important as academic rigor. By partnering with CMSD and Cleveland Transformation Alliance, we are able to work with our ambassadors and other resident leaders to help parents advocate for their children,” said Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood.  “We want to help parents understand their child’s individual needs and use this understanding to successfully partner with their classroom teacher, which will ultimately shape the best learning environment for their child. Initiatives like this create and support quality school – parent – community partnerships which cultivate student academic growth.”

School partnership flyer
School partnership flyer

To start to raise awareness of the importance of families and schools working together, Promise Ambassadors will canvass the Central neighborhood supplying educational materials to residents on how families can successfully work with schools on student achievement. The project will also train a group of volunteers, called education partners, to serve as in-person support to families throughout the IEP process or during parent-teacher conferences.

Currently, the project will focus on the Central neighborhood schools: Marion-Sterling Elementary School, George Washington Carver STEM, Alfred A. Benesch Elementary School, Stepstone Academy and East Technical High School. If the program is successful, the plan is for this model to expand to neighborhoods and schools throughout CMSD.

“Our community engagement and outreach work has deepened our understanding of the integral role school, family and community partnerships play in supporting student success. Collaborating with Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood on parental and family advocacy for students with learning disabilities allows us to serve as a catalyst to strengthen the bonds between the school and the community in the Central neighborhood,” said Steven Lake, school quality project manager, Cleveland Transformation Alliance. “It is our hope that this initiative provides the foundation for a scale-able campaign that can be infused throughout the many neighborhoods across the city of Cleveland.”

Community canvassing with begin in early 2017. Training of volunteer education partners will start in early 2017 with the goal of having education partners available to support students and families in April 2017.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer education partner please contact Richaun Bunton, education performance manager, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood at rbunton@socfcleveland.org.

Cleveland Transformation Alliance is a public-private partnership dedicated to growing a portfolio of quality district and charter schools. The Alliance works for ensure every child in Cleveland can attend a quality school, and every neighborhood has great schools from which families can choose.