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K-12 school to close educational gap

BY TRAVIS BARKER
MAY 6, 2010

A partnership between the College of Education and Human Services and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will to create a K-12 school on campus.

The Campus International School opens in August at the First United Methodist Church on East 30th Street and Euclid Avenue, with kindergarten through second grade classes.

Curriculum will be based on the International Baccalaureate program, a rigorous curriculum designed to prepare children for a future beyond college. “[the IB program] is focused on college and career readiness that has a global perspective to it,” said Christine Fowler-Mack, senior executive of the New and Innovative Schools for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

First United Methodist ChurchOne of CSU’s contributions to this perspective is the Confucius Center, which will give the school a Chinese connection by offering Mandarin Chinese starting in kindergarten.

Fowler-Mack says the accreditation process for an IB school takes several years because the organization closely controls the quality of the program, and the teachers receive extensive training.

“Right now the focus is on becoming an IB school and using the curricular strategy of an IB school,” says Fowler-Mack. “It is important to expose the children to key concepts and terms that will allow them to view themselves in relation to the wider world.”

Upon accreditation, the school will issue a coach from the IB organization to monitor and help the school develop.

“At the heart of this innovative school is the relationship between CSU and CMS,” said Fowler-Mack. “So while the school district is excited to use the [IB] curriculum, one of the things we are thrilled about is the opportunity to say that we are both focused on education [and] how can we bring our two organizations together [to] achieve innovative practices.”

The partnership will provide student teachers and education professors opportunities to work on teaching strategies in real-life settings.

“[It’s] analogous to building a plane on the runway while trying to take off,” says Abate describing the process. He notes that the major organizations, the CMSD and the College of Education, must address particular needs based on specific information to move forward.

The teachers union has been on board from the beginning, said Fowler-Mack, who has signed a memorandum of understanding with the school district that allows for the autonomous selection of teachers.

This will also include an interview with representatives from all the stake holders—the principal, master teachers, representatives from the university, parents and the community.

According to Abate, between 35 and 50 teachers have expressed interest for the six teaching positions at the new school. Selection will occur before June to allow time for training before classes start.

An immediate concern, Abate notes, is how quickly students can enroll. All children in Cleveland schools are eligible to enroll. Some slots will be designated for children of CSU students and faculty. Other slots will be reserved for transfer students from other IB schools.

“Equal representation from the district at large as well as the  campus community is important,” says Fowler-Mack.

Fowler-Mack adds that Cleveland ’s leaders have been very supportive of having this school in the heart of the campus, which may increase downtown residential population.

Abate adds that CSU President Ronald Berkman plans to expand the campus’s influence by capitalizing on the international success of local corporations such as the Cleveland Clinic to draw young professionals and their families to the area.