A message from Superintendent Charles Smialek, Ph.D.
November 11, 2019
We visited Akron’s Harvey S. Firestone Community Learning Center this weekend to continue to learn about the exciting possibilities inherent to constructing schools in our near future.
This marks the fourth campus we have toured, with Strongsville Middle School, North Ridgeville Academic Center, and North Olmsted Secondary Campus being the others. Each visit has helped us to expand our vision as we look forward to the opportunity to design schools that will serve our current students and the generations of families that follow.
The visit to Firestone was particularly inspiring for several reasons. First, the very name, “Community Learning Center” connotes the exact spirit we are working to cultivate. Public schools should be assets to our neighbors well beyond the traditional learning day.
On the morning we visited Firestone, a neighborhood association met in the cafeteria, a local theater group practiced in the fine arts wing, and youth basketball coaches conducted practices in the gymnasium. Many of these programs already operate within our schools, but we will continue to work to expand the opportunities available to our communities so that we can realize our vision of featuring “18 hour campuses.”
Second, Firestone is strategically divided between middle school (6-8) and high school (9-12) grade bands. The cafeteria features one kitchen with a very large dining area segmented by a collapsable wall into middle and high school spaces. This efficiency allows for savings in both construction and, eventually, operating costs.
An additional advantage of the combination of grade level bands is the resulting ability of middle school students to access the best facilities within the district with no need for wasted travel time. For example, musical groups can schedule class periods to conduct lessons and rehearsals in the high school’s performing arts center so that they can experience the best possible conditions as they hone their crafts.
These sorts of opportunities strengthen the culture of the secondary campus by allowing students to feel more connection with their school as they will learn under the same roof for seven years.
We hope that you, too, will participate in these learning experiences. We tour Wadsworth High School this Saturday (November 16) at 10:00 AM and continue to conduct community meetings throughout the rest of the month.