November 22, 2016

Recognition and construction highlight academic year for International School

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and Cleveland State University together received the 2016 Shirley S. Schwartz Urban Impact Award for educational innovation.

They received the award in October from the Council of Great City Schools, the largest national organization of urban public school systems. Its mission is “to educate the nation’s most diverse student body to the highest academic standards and prepare them to contribute to our democracy and the global community.”

CMSD and Cleveland State first won the award in 2011. This year, the award recognizes their joint efforts at the Campus International School (CIS). CIS is a K-8 urban public school that opened in 2010 as a professional development school to prepare students for college.

Like other public schools, CIS offers programs including music, art, physical education, orchestra and band. In addition, it offers computer programming and a Mandarin Chinese language course, taught as early as kindergarten.

CIS educates K-8 students in two separate buildings on Cleveland State’s eastern campus. The North building of the school houses grades K-4 and features vibrant-colored classrooms with walls decorated in murals, students’ artwork and flags from countries where students and their families originate.

The absence of a public high school downtown inspired the concept of CIS six years ago, said Ronald Abate, Ph.D., professor in residence.

Cleveland State President Ronald M. Berkman, Ph.D., and Eugene Sanders, former CMSD chief executive officer, led the effort to open the school. The partnership includes supporting research about education and providing opportunities for education students at the university to observe children and gain practical experience.

Cleveland residents comprise 65 percent of the student population and receive priority admission. Children of Cleveland State students make up 20 percent of the enrollment, and the school has a sibling policy to keep families together.  

Abate said that the high demand for enrollment results in long waitlists for prospective students. He explained that the student population will continue to increase as the school adds another grade each year, and will continue to do so until it becomes a K-12 school.

What distinguishes CIS is its curriculum which emphasizes student inquiry, said Abate. It is an authorized International Baccalaureate World School and offers the Primary Years Programme for children ages three to 12, and is a candidate for the Middle Years Programmes for ages 11 to 16.

According to its website, authorized schools that follow these programs teach “the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.” IB programs emphasize developing natural curiosity, expressing ideas in more than one language and having a strong sense of justice and fairness.

Abate explained that CIS also has an innovative approach to classroom discipline called “Love and Logic,” in contrast to zero-tolerance policies.

“You want to give them reasonable consequences that are firm, but not overwhelming,” Abate said.
CIS incorporates the concept of a Self-Organized Learning Environment in instruction, which allows for students to come up with and discuss queries like “Why do people vote?” and “How does culture shape society?”

In her Principal’s Message on the school’s website, Principal Julie Beers explained that the school emphasizes individuality and independent learning.

“We provide our students with an international education that addresses the social, physical, emotional, cultural and academic needs of its students,” Beers said.

Since March, a third CIS school building has been under construction on the corner of East 22nd Street and Payne Avenue, which will open in August 2017. It will feature four floors, three skylights and an elevated gymnasium floor that prevents sound pollution.

The new school will include a teaching kitchen, in which chefs will teach students how to cook food from different cultures, and a Mandarin studio, where children will receive instruction from the Confucius Institute. Dongping Zhang, one of four Mandarin instructors at the school, explained the importance of preparing children for a rapidly globalizing economy.

“I am sure it is important for [the children] as in the future there are more communications globally,” Zhang said. “Whether you are willing to take part in the competition internationally or not, it is a trend.”

The building is Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified for its environmentally sustainable design. It features a storm water collection system, large windows to use sunlight for heating and light, and a white roof to reduce the trapping of heat.

Jeremiah Forbes, project administrator of construction company Icon Ohio, said that the design could have an impact on the city of Cleveland’s sustainability efforts by setting an example. He added that the features, like the large skylights, also create more of an open, illuminated learning atmosphere for students.  
“The light is going to make their days a lot brighter,” Forbes said.

Icon Ohio is building the new school in partnership with a team of architectural and engineering companies. Michael Tanksley, field operations manager, said that part of what motivates his work is the reaction of students when the school opens.

“That is one of the things that I do enjoy about it,” Tanksley said. “No matter how hard the project was, to see the teachers and the students when they walk into the building for the first time... and seeing all of their smiles, it makes what you went through worth it.”



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