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2022 was big year for big CMSD stories (Photo gallery)





CMSD produces big stories every year, but 2022 generated more than its share.

While the pending change in the CEO’s office leads the list, the runners-up were more than remarkable. And as usual, the pool of possibilities overflowed, leaving some contenders out of the Top 10.

Here are the results.

1. CEO Eric Gordon announced that he  will step down when the current school year ends on June 30, 2023. Gordon, the longest serving CMSD superintendent in four decades, said the timing and conditions were right for making the transition to a new leader. He said he still had passion for the job but wanted to put the long-term interests of the District first.

2. Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott gave the District an unsolicited, unrestricted $20 million gift that might rank as the largest private donation CMSD has ever received. The money will be used to create the Get More Opportunities Fund, which will pay for travel and other student experiences, staff development and one-time improvements – for example, athletic equipment, musical instruments and science labs.

3. Glenville won the first state football championship in CMSD history. The Tarblooders, who had made 18 previous playoff appearances and finished as runner-up twice, were honored with a parade that was followed by a community celebration at Public Auditorium.

4. The Board of Education renamed schools for the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, former District administrator and community leader Natividad Pagan and Mary Church Terrell, an internationally known lecturer, educator and activist for racial equality and women’s rights. The schools were the first renamed in a review the board initiated a year earlier amid nationwide scrutiny of buildings named for historical figures who were involved in slavery and oppression.

5. Foundations and other community organizations released Education Forward, a report detailing the disruption the pandemic and abrupt shift to remote learning caused after a decade of impressive gains made under The Cleveland Plan. A new state report card illustrated the impact of the pandemic but also indicated that the  District is rebounding and that it ranked as the top performer among Ohio’s urban school systems.

6. CMSD relaunched its “Get 2 School, You Can Make It!” attendance campaign in response to a resurgence in chronic absenteeism during the pandemic. The campaign began in 2015, and with help from the Cleveland Browns Foundation and other partners, had been making progress in fighting what is a national problem.

7. CMSD and partners announced formation of the Greater Cleveland Career Consortium, a  regional workforce development initiative that builds on the District’s Planning and Career Exploration, or PACE, program. Later in the year,  MAGNET’s Manufacturing Innovation, Technology and Job Center would open in a former CMSD school. The center includes a wing where CMSD students will learn about and prepare for futures in the industry.

8. The District’s Get More push rolled on with another CMSD Summer Learning Experience, installation of interactive Clevertouch screens in hundreds of classrooms and addition of Wi-Fi on yellow buses. New student ID badges will let parents monitor their children’s travel on yellow buses, a system developed with support from the Cleveland Browns Foundation. The badges will also double as Cleveland Public Library cards.

9. As schools nationwide struggled with staffing shortages, aggressive recruiting helped CMSD staff 98 percent of its positions heading into this school year, including 95 percent of teacher jobs.

10. The NBA All-Star Game came to Cleveland in February, and CMSD shared the spotlight. Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry  raised $108,000 for the District by scoring 50 points, including a record 48 on three-pointers, and being named the game’s MVP.

The following stories gained honorable mention:

  • The CEO’s Student Advisory Committee began working with Mayor Justin Bibb on solutions for community violence.
  • A revamped Parent Advisory Committee, which is to have a member from every school, is giving CMSD families more voice, adding to support already provided by parent ambassadors.
  • John Marshall’s highly skilled chess team finished in the top 20 in national competition
  • The Rock Your World With STEAM Festival,  Excellence in Teaching Awards and other events derailed by the pandemic returned in person, joined by new additions like the Tech Fest and Back to School Bash and Fall Festival.
  • The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation recognized six CMSD teachers as part of its annual statewide Educator Awards.
  • Community partners came through big again. For example, the Browns provided helmets or uniforms for three high school football teams. Verizon opened more Innovative Learning Labs in District schools and the Cavaliers and Goodyear announced that they will make sure every CMSD student will have a 3D printer in their school.
  • For a second time, CMSD and Cleveland State won a national award for their partnership, this time for the Cleveland Teaching Fellows program.
  • A clone of an oak tree presented to track legend Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics was planted at the site of the original on the James F. Rhodes High School Campus.