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Teaching Cleveland, CMSD and CSU: Defining a Sense of Place

Teaching Cleveland and CSU: A Perfect PairingCollaboration pays dividends for students by connecting educators, youth and community to Cleveland history

The famous quote, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” is often mentioned when learning from the past. When it comes to the partnership between Cleveland State University and Teaching Cleveland, they are doing everything they can to ensure a bright future.

Teaching Cleveland bridges the gap in connecting educators, youth, and community members to the city’s history, providing a collaborative forum for examining and addressing the current challenges facing the Great Cleveland area.

“Teaching Cleveland is a local organization that has been working to get individuals – we started with teachers and students – now we are starting to work with adults to understand that this place matters,” said Greg Deegan, Executive Director of Teaching Cleveland.

“We provide place-based experiences that root individuals into the historical context of this place so they have an idea of what took place, what could be some options about the future of Northeast Ohio.”


CSU hosted a special two-day Teaching Cleveland seminar for students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and other area school districts on May 19 and 20, attendees not only had the opportunity to participate in sessions to explore their relationship with technology but also understand issues of the digital divide both right in their backyard and across the globe, along with understanding real struggle when it comes to cyber security, democracy, and national security.

It’s the type of program that Deegan says goes hand-in-hand with the mission of making teens aware of the world, even though world issues might exist thousands of miles away.

Teaching Cleveland and CSU: A Perfect Pairing“The German Marshall Fund [nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank] is relatively new, and they came to Teaching Cleveland because they had this sort of quandary of how you connect high school kids to understand the importance of transatlantic relations in particular,” he said.

“We have worked with the approach we take, which is to center participants – in this case, high school students – in these larger questions while getting them to think about their own experiences and place here in Cleveland and get them to draw that out to what it means to be global citizens,” he added.


The appeal of what Teaching Cleveland offers extends far beyond a two-day seminar. Deegan stated that it truly is a blessing that CSU has opened its doors to this, and the fact incoming high schoolers get a chance to be on campus and see what the university is all about first-hand has an opportunity to leave a lasting impression down the road. Participants might well see themselves back on campus post-high school, as CSU students.

“Having CMSD students (and other students from area districts) be in this space at CSU [and] having CSU be so kind to open up that space and be supportive of this kind of programming allows students to be able to see themselves here at CSU and connect with an institution that is right in their backyard,” he said. “To us, it is important to ground them in these experiences.”

“The real attraction to this sort of programming is to make the connection between a person living, breathing, working, and going to school here in Cleveland and to understand how they can connect with not only their country but the world,” added Deegan.

While the program is blossoming with CMSD, there might be students on the fence about whether to investigate the program and, ultimately, participate. Deegan says being able to challenge oneself to think outside the box and their current situation is essential to ensuring a bright future for others in the years to come.

Teaching Cleveland and CSU: A Perfect Pairing“So often when we hear about global issues, it is very easy to have your eyes glaze over because it just seems so far away,” he said. “What we think is a unique challenge is to make those issues very personal, so the participants feel like they are getting a sense of the challenges of the globe while understanding those same challenges are in their own lives.”

He added: “A big thanks to CSU for supporting it, along with College Now, the Cleveland Foundation, and the German Marshall Fund all came together to support this program where by the end of this program [that took place], you will have high school kids who would have met individuals who are important, ask them questions, and meet individuals who are both leaders here and abroad.”

For more information on Teaching Cleveland, please visit