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More time needed to plan Old Brooklyn model

To ensure the highest quality possible, CMSD has decided to open a new high school model in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood in 2017 instead of this year.

CMSD will continue developing the small school to satisfy demand in the James Ford Rhodes High School community. But addressing all of the design and operating details involved in such a critical effort will require more time.

Much progress has been made in planning the model: An advisory committee that included District and community representatives has established guidelines that will help the school accomplish its mission, and a design committee, primarily made up of educators from James Ford Rhodes and other District schools, has been formed.

The thematic focus of the new model is environmental studies. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo; Bio-Med Science Academy, a successful STEM high school on the campus of the Northeast Ohio Medical University; the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corp.; and many other groups have participated in the planning.

“We continue to be very excited about this new opportunity for students and staff and aren’t willing to launch the new school until all of the aspects of design, facility needs and student engagement and partnerships are solidified,” said Christine Fowler-Mack, CMSD’s chief portfolio officer. The Portfolio Office develops and supports the District’s new school models.
City Council President Kevin Kelley, whose ward includes the Old Brooklyn neighborhood, supports development of a new model but said he understands the decision.
"Change has to happen," he said. "But it has to be the right change." 

For 10 years, CMSD has been involved in developing new high school models to support Cleveland’s students in meeting their college and career goals. The Cleveland Plan, a customized blueprint for education reform, calls for providing students with a variety of school options so they can find the right fit.

Carnegie Corporation of New York provided support for planning the Old Brooklyn model and two schools planned for Lincoln-West – School of Global Studies and School of Science and Health.. The Lincoln-West models will open this summer as scheduled.

CMSD won a competitive grants process that supported locally developed innovative new high schools aligned to 10 research-based design principles. The principles emphasize a tailored approach to meeting the specific needs of an individual school, its students and the community, including a focus on personalized learning and mastery of a rigorous curriculum.

While continuing to lead the design process for the new school, Principal Tara Drouhard will observe other CMSD schools and the two new Lincoln-West models, an experience not often afforded to a founding principal, Fowler-Mack said.

Drouhard will focus in particular on the principles of positive youth development and mastery learning. Mastery learning calls for students to advance as they show evidence of mastering content.

Formerly an assistant principal of a large traditional high school in Raleigh, N.C., Drouhard is committed to Carnegie Corporation of New York's charge to “do school differently.”

“Kids are telling us that the traditional high school model we all grew up with isn’t working for them,” Drouhard said. “They are seeking alternatives. We can either bend to their needs, or they will find something that does.”

Carnegie Corporation of New York previously funded development of JFK PACT (Problem-based Academy of Critical Thinking) and JFK E³agle Academy, which are completing their second year. The E’s stand for envision, engage and excel.