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Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Metro West Community Development Organization, Stockyard, West Park

Clark and Newton D. Baker schools honored for academic growth

(Plain Press, January 2017) CMSD NEWS BUREAU Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Clark School, at 5550 Clark Avenue, and the Newton D. Baker School of the Arts, at 3690 W. 159th Street, have received state awards for exceeding expectations in student academic growth.

The State Board of Education presents the Momentum Awards annually to schools that receive straight A’s on “value-added” measurements on their state report cards. Clark and Newton D. Baker are two of just 174 schools in Ohio that won the award this year.

Value-added measures whether students met or exceeded expectations for the year as a school and in subgroups that include students who rank in the lowest 20 percent in achievement, have disabilities or are considered gifted.

On Nov. 29, 2016 the awards earned both schools a visit from Ohio State Board of Education member Mary Rose Oakar. She said she was impressed with what she saw during a tour of the buildings and during her interactions with teachers, students and administrators.

“What I saw today was a lot of dedication and love,” Oakar said. “When you like what you do and the students love being here, that is very, very special and that contributes to their learning ability.”

Oakar said, the awards are a reflection of success and improvements happening in schools across the District.

“Not only are Clark and Newton D. Baker fine schools, but Cleveland has a lot of fine schools,” she said.

In a letter to Clark Principal Amanda Rodriguez, State Board of Education President Thomas Gunlock praised the school for its gains in reading and mathematics.

“This is especially commendable because you no doubt have a diverse array of students whose educational backgrounds and learning needs vary,” Gunlock wrote. “As a winner of a Momentum Award, you are part of a group of schools that is showing that children of every background and ability level can achieve.”

Rodriguez credits the academic growth to the high expectations she sets for everyone who walks into the school, including students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members.

“Our number-one focus is building relationships with the students,” Rodriguez said.  “If you don’t have a relationship with them, you can’t educate them.”

Newton D. Baker Principal Wendy Rose-Geiling also says a positive, inclusive school culture contributes to her students’ gains. Every teacher has a personal investment in the success of every student, the principal said.

“We have an environment where they’re not ‘his’ students, or ‘her’ students,” Rose-Geiling said. “They’re ‘our’ students.”

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