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Celebration of change at R.G. Jones 'Wraparound' School includes 'Efficacy' training (Video)

Thursday, 12/19/13
A simple Bring-A-Grownup-To-School Day at Robinson G. Jones School turned into an all-out celebration on Thursday – and a community lesson on striving consistently for higher achievement.

So, yes, there was some silly dancing in the pre-K room and some sloppy gingerbread-house construction in the cafeteria by teams of eighth-graders and first-graders (see videos, above and below).

But there was also plenty of serious learning going on as dozens of engaged parents and guardians were all over the building, learning the same materials that their students have been learning at one of CMSD's 17 new Wraparound Schools.

They crowded into classrooms with kindergarten students working on math and art projects, wrote poetry with first- and second-graders, worked on art projects and listened to directions with third-graders and struggled through complex geometry with fourth-graders.

Parent Dawn Osborn, who recently transferred her daughter Kourtni to the school, said she has been thrilled so far with the comprehensive approach at R.G. Jones.

“The reason I'm here is because of how well this school not only teaches my daughter, but how they keep in contact with me to let me know how she's doing in class and socially,” she said.

R.G. Jones Principal Melissa Watts said the event Thursday was set up to celebrate the changes that have come to the school over the last year, but particularly with the selection of the nonprofit Bellaire Puritas Development Corp. as the lead agency for the school under the District's wraparound program.

Earlier this month, CMSD and the United Way of Greater Cleveland, which is helping to manage the delivery of the community wraparound services, identified agencies that will pair with the low-performing schools.

Included among the 17 are the 13 Investment Schools – including R.G. Jones – that are targeted for immediate and dramatic improvement under The Cleveland Plan, a unique state-approved blueprint for reform.

Voters were promised reform before passing a four-year, 15-mill property tax last year. The District requires collaboration from the community if it is to deliver, Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon has said.

That ongoing reform was evident Thursday as the grown-ups also got a full dose of training by the Efficacy Institute, which aims to help “adults improve students' performance by offering a practical, results-oriented approach that focuses on the following three key areas: mission, mindset and method,” according to its website.

The Efficacy Institute website says its core belief is that “virtually all of our children can achieve high standards in school if they have the right tools and supports. This means it is the primary work of caring adults -- in schools, families, and community institutions -- to develop the intellectual capacity of every child.”

Janet Scott, director of school and district initiatives at the Efficacy Institute, said that principle extends across all boundaries.

“This works with no matter what kids we run across and creates in them the understanding that they can achieve and achieve at high levels,” she said. “The transformative power of what the mindset creates in both children and adults is that change in belief: 'Now that I know I can learn and I can learn at a high level through my application of my effective effort, I can work hard and create change.'

"Our mission is to produce a group of citizens who are capable and ready to create the kinds of tomorrows that they want.”