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Written by Tyisha Blade // Illustrated by Erin Butkiewicz


State Takeover and The Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization



After a state takeover, The East Cleveland City School District is taking measures to restructure education methods to better prepare for state assessments. According to education.ohio.gov, these state assessments measure how students develop knowledge and skills described in Ohio’s Learning Standards. Results help rate each school’s performance reflected on its annual Ohio School Report Card. East Cleveland, Youngstown and Lorain are the three local school districts in a state takeover controlled by the Academic Distress Commission. According to publicschoolreview.com, in a takeover, the state department of education forms a committee responsible for overseeing changes the school needs to make for academic sufficiency. In response, the East Cleveland City School District created the Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization initiative. City leaders embrace the need for change and work diligently to make changes. Goals include an increase in The District Performance Index (PI) to 66.0 by June 2020, trauma sensitivity and engaged learning. To reach these goals, the school district’s newest Chief Executive Officer, Henry Pettigrew II Ph.D., implements strategies that manufacture educational techniques to improve state testing scores. Pettiegrew, a Cleveland State University alumnus, has also worked with faculty members to create better lesson plans. The Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization also has a documentary which follows the district’s progress. The documentary shows, not only strong leadership, but also a united community effort to encourage and support the students of East Cleveland.


An East Cleveland Story

Pettiegrew learned at an early age what it meant to “turn around” a school district from his father who was an administrator for decades. His father was commissioned to help schools improve education standards and when he finished aiding in deficient areas, he was commissioned to go to another school. “He would come home and talk about how he interacted with the staff, parents, community and children...and how a sense of school spirit and culture is important,” Pettiegrew said. Pettiegrew also wants children to know that, even though they walk past buildings and houses that are boarded up, there’s still hope through education. Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization | An East Cleveland Story


Dr. Pettiegrew’s First 30 Days

Pettiegrew immediately introduces new methods of teaching. He also addresses the need to find out what the students are passionate about. Meetings with community members in locations such as McGregor Homes, The Salvation Army City Hall, and Case Western Reserve University, engage the entire community. “The most important measure for me in this entire district is instructional hours,” Pettiegrew said. “It is precious. How many instructional hours can I get into this child in this subject area. That will determine how successful that child will be.” Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization | Dr. Henry Pettiegrew's first 30 days


“The most important measure for me in this entire district is instructional hours,” Pettiegrew said. “It is precious. How many instructional hours can I get into this child in this subject area. That will determine how successful that child will be.”

Mindfulness and Trauma

The district takes a closer look at mindfulness and impacts traumatic experiences have on students' ability to learn. Director of Learning, Teaching and Engagement, Andratesha Fritzgerald, addresses “mindful teaching.” She explores topics such as the conditions of the student’s nervous system while in the classroom. “Are they in-tune? Are they present? Are they empathetic?” she asked. “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose and without judgement.” Students should be able to assess how they feel and remain comfortable with letting teachers know when they aren’t well. Pettiegrew expounds upon trauma and building a curriculum that teaches students how to self-regulate at an early age. Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization | Mindfulness and Trauma


“Are they in-tune? Are they present? Are they empathetic?” she asked. “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose and without judgement.”

Summer School

Curriculum Specialist at Caledonia Elementary, Felecia Curtain, talks about Dr. Pettiegrew’s 20-day cycle. Piloted in summer school 2019, students took a pre-assessment. Based on results, lesson plans were created to help the students master standards. Weekly checkpoints were then made to ensure that students were mastering material. At the end of summer school, students took post-assessments. Staff members came together to discuss successes and areas of struggle. Summer school programs also expose students to diverse extra curricular activities. These activities include soccer, drama, yoga, dance, and entrepreneurial classes to name a few. Denise Watkins, in her fifth year with the program, teaches in the areas of visual arts and photography. “I think I have made a difference in some of the students,” Watkins said. “Particularly in the area of photography, [teaching] them how to see the world [through] the lens of the camera.” Summer Enrichment Program Coordinator, Eugine White, rewards students that complete their assignments and are well-behaved. In this episode, White passes out pop-sicles walking from class to class. End goals included better assessment scores, student sporting events and more. Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization | Summer School


“I think I have made a difference in some of the students,” Watkins said. “Particularly in the area of photography, [teaching] them how to see the world [through] the lens of the camera.”

I See What I See

Lawrence Perry, Intervention Specialist and East Cleveland native, has worked for the district for 13 years. “There’s something extra special when you’ve lived here. You’ve seen the ups and downs,” said Perry. “Unfortunately, you do see the negative, but when you are actually from here, you can see the positive, too.” Andratesha Fritzgerald, Director of Learning, Teaching and Engagement mentions that great things happen in East Cleveland everyday. “Seeing the teachers get excited about lesson planning and participating in the design lab has been life-giving for me,” Fritzgerald said. She mentions the community, pride, unity and togetherness of East Cleveland continues to awe her. Director of Special Education, Courtney Bean Jones, expresses her thoughts about the state takeover. “Initially, with the takeover coming in to play, I was very concerned,” Jones said. “I was very nervous, and afraid of the unknown. The takeover has not been what I expected. It has brought about a positive change not only for the East Cleveland City School but for the East Cleveland community as a whole.” Jones has been with the district for 20 years. She mentions change and Dr. Pettiegrew’s determination. “He has a vision of what he knows we can be.” Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization|I See What I See


The takeover has not been what I expected. It has brought about a positive change not only for the East Cleveland City School but for the East Cleveland community as a whole.”

Back to School Rally and Opening Convocation

The back to school rally included a DJ, food, bounce houses, information tents and family-friendly entertainment. Shaw High School’s principal, Lori Crum-Whittenburg mentions the action-packed curriculum the school has planned. “We will be a trauma sensitive school,” she said. “We are creating design labs for the students and we have been lucky enough to have Illuminate, a data housing software.” During the convocation, President of the Academic Distress Commission, Rev. Stanley Miller mentions how East Cleveland Schools are further in progress when compared to Youngstown and Lorain. Several guest speakers included President of the East Cleveland School Board, Judge Una Keenon; Academic Distress Commission Member, Karen Winston-Carpenter; and more. There were also several performances including a song from emcee, Mario Riley, and a dance performance from staff and students. Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization|Back to School Rally


The Students Voice

The season finale takes a look at the student’s typical day at school and how they are adapting to new leadership. The students express how their mornings begin and the enthusiasm they feel when teachers greet them. Students also reflect on the donut, a model that assesses how proficient they are in certain skills and where they need improvement. They notice differences in the curriculum as well as social and cultural differences. Better interaction between students and teachers are also notable features.Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization|The Students Voice


Major improvements have been made with the introduction of the Road to Academic Recovery and Revitalization. The resilience of the East Cleveland community is phenomenal and the want to help the students is commendable. Season two will be coming up soon!


Executive Producer

Donshon Wilson


Editing

Arthur Hill


Videography

Donshon Wilson

Arthur Hill


Production Manager

Chavone Taylor-Nash


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