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 December 30, 2011   
 Vol. 2, No. 3 

To CMSD Friends & Supporters:


Eric Gordon, CEO
Eric S. Gordon, CEO

It is with excitement and gratitude that the staff of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District prepares for the start of the second semester of the 2011-12 school year. As we look back on the academic gains we have celebrated this year, we are grateful to the staff, citizens and community partners that have played a significant role in the success of our students.


During one of the most difficult times in the history of American public education, the CMSD staff worked together to meet our economic challenges and to move our district forward in the face of increased costs and decreased funding. In the midst of some of the greatest challenges our nation has ever faced, Cleveland's public schools have continued to improve, and the choices and supports we are providing for students and their families are accelerating.


Because we know how important families are to the success of our students and to the improvement of our schools, we are proud to launch our first winter session of CMSD's Parent University, formed in partnership with the Neighborhood Leadership Institute to engage families as partners in their children's school experience.


CMSD's Parent University, increased school choices and an ever-expanding portfolio of high-performing schools are only a few of the many reasons that families are selecting and supporting the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.


Working together, we are changing the face of education in Cleveland. As the new year approaches, we remain committed to earning our reputation as a vibrant urban community where our schools, our families and our communities work together to ensure a bright future for our children and our city.



 Eric Gordon Signature

Eric S. Gordon

Chief Executive Officer

SeasonBrightCMSD students make the season bright
with help from a valued partner
CMSD Decks the Halls Video Link
Students from John Hay, Cleveland School of the Arts, John Marshall and Washington Park help to strengthen the existing partnership with Hopkins International Airport by decorating trees in the main concourse and baggage claim areas.



SherwinWilliamsSherwin-Williams elves package holiday cheer

Sherwin Williams Christmas
(Top to Bottom) First-grader Cherrish Maxwell shares her Christmas wish with Santa. Samarah Mills, age 4, shows her new Barbies to classmates. Nadianne Redding, age 5, listens to students sing while seated on Lori Tvrdik's lap. North Royalton resident Tvrdik is a senior systems analyst at Sherwin-Williams.
Belting out "Jingle Bells" as loud as their little vocal chords would allow, the students at H. Barbara Booker were able to summon the big guy himself - Santa.

The audience, filled with eager students and dotted with 60 Sherwin-Williams "elves" in green and red T-shirts, erupted in a collective cheer when the Jolly Ole Elf made his grand entrance Dec. 15. It was a holiday program that made the months of planning worth it for Maria Haller and Paula Kasmer.

"We start planning in September," said Haller, Sherwin-Williams community engagement manager at the company's Cleveland headquarters. "It takes an army to make this happen."

Haller is referring to the hundreds of employees who donate money, shop for toys and clothes, wrap more than 1,000 gifts and then stuff hundreds of stockings.

Barbara Booker special education teacher Paula Kasmer and teaching assistant Diedra Dickerson handle the wish lists on the other end. The two work with the teachers and parents to gather every student's list of wants and needs. The "wants" are the toys. The "needs" are clothes, school supplies, socks, underwear, winter gear and other necessities.

Collecting the information begins at the school's open house. Kasmer will call parents the following months if she doesn't get a child's list. "My biggest fear is I will leave someone out," Kasmer said.

She is just as diligent with the attendance list, making certain even last-minute transfers each receive a box or stocking of goodies. No one is missed. For some of these children, these gifts are the only ones they will receive, Kasmer explained.

The late afternoon before the big celebration, a Sherwin-Williams semi-truck delivers 15 pallets of presents. Haller said the same driver makes the journey every year from Effingham, Ill. Eighth-graders help unload the more than 350 cardboard boxes filled with gifts. The boxes, each labeled with a sheet that shows the student photo and name, is then delivered to the preK through fifth-grade rooms. There they await the students' arrival the next day. The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students receive stockings filled with goodies and Target and McDonald's gift cards. The preK through third-grade students also receive Sherwin-Williams drawstring bags filled with school supplies and treats.

Colleen Carpenter, Sherwin-Williams vice president of human resources, said the employee-driven gift donations began 12 years ago with Tremont Elementary first-grade students. When Tremont Elementary closed, Sherwin-Williams adopted Barbara Booker, where the Santa project has grown over eight years.  

"It's important for us to support the community where we live and work," said Haller, who explained that Sherwin-Williams employees can see the school's West 67th neighborhood from their offices.

Carpenter noted that Sherwin-Williams employees have made a commitment to Barbara Booker. "These are our kids. We want to influence them in a bigger way than just one holiday," she said, adding that employees volunteer at the school every month.

For Kasmer, satisfaction comes the final day when all the work between the school and Sherwin-Williams culminates. Because many of the younger students don't go to the malls for pictures with Santa, Kasmer said her favorite part of the day is watching the little ones' faces light up when Santa arrives. She also takes pleasure in cooking and serving the volunteers lunch that day. "We want them to feel important. It's our way of giving something back to Sherwin-Williams."
To see Sherwin-Williams elves in action, watch this video.


ParentUniversityCMSD's Parent University engages parents as partners in education
Parent University Book
Parents of students attending Cleveland's public schools will attend school themselves from Jan. 9 through March 1 in Cleveland Metropolitan School District's first session of "Parent University," offered at eight schools on the East Side and West Side.
Parents and caregivers of CMSD students that enroll in classes will be better equipped to assist children with math, reading, computer skills, test preparation and study skills through classes designed to help parents become partners in their children's school experience, said Tracy Hill, executive director of CMSD's Family and Community Engagement (F.A.C.E.).
"Technology, teaching methods and nutritional standards have all changed since the days when many of our parents were students," Hill said. "Parent University will bridge the gap that makes it difficult for today's parents to help their children with unfamiliar concepts or coursework and with ever-changing technology."
In cooperation with the Neighborhood Leadership Institute, F.A.C.E. launched Parent University to help students succeed in school and prepare for education beyond high school.
"Most students are more technologically advanced than their parents," said Hill, whose staff is devoted to engaging CMSD families in all aspects of their children's education. "Our students are learning techniques in math that didn't exist when their parents attended school," Hill said. "If we want our students to be successful, we need to show their parents how to help them."
Information about ACT and SAT exams, financial aid and college applications can be overwhelming, said Hill, who noted that Parent University will simplify test preparation and the college application process in ways that will benefit all families.
Hill said she is encouraged by calls she is already receiving from parents eager to enroll in Parent University's first session on Jan. 9.
"As soon as we began promoting Parent University, people were already asking how to sign up for the first session," said Hill, whose work in Cleveland was inspired by similar programs in Baltimore, Boston and Philadelphia.
Parent University offers 19 workshops that are scheduled in afternoons and evenings on weekdays to accommodate parents' schedules. Topics focus on education and partnering with the schools, basic computer skills, college applications, financial aid and promoting reading. There are even two cooking classes that promote healthy food preparation at home.
To ensure uninterrupted workshop training for parents, the Neighborhood Leadership Institute is providing recreational activities for children ages 5 to 18. Dinner for families attending evening workshops will also be provided.
As an added incentive, participants' names will be entered in raffle drawings to win wireless PC tablets, gift cards and other prizes. Drawings will be held for each site at the end of the winter session on March 1.
Only parents and caregivers of CMSD students may register for the free classes, scheduled at eight schools. Registration information, mailed to all Cleveland households at the end of December, is also available on the CMSD website and at the F.A.C.E. Office: 216-858-0117.


BigAppleStudents will travel to Big Apple for Poetry SLAM
America Scores
Two Buhrer Dual Language students have a lot to look forward to in 2012.

On Dec. 2, fourth-grader Sebastian Miranda and fifth-grader Tamia Bonilla learned they were chosen to represent America SCORES Cleveland at the 6th Annual America SCORES National Poetry SLAM in New York City. Both winners will receive a four-day, all-expense paid trip to the Big Apple this spring. SCORES coach and staff member Angie Velez-Arias will chaperone the budding artists, who will will perform their original works of poetry at the competition.
"Buhrer Dual Language is fortunate to have a program like America SCORES Cleveland to give our third- and fifth-graders a safe place after school, while also providing several additional hours of physical activity and creative expression," said Principal Sandra Velazquez.
As part of America SCORES, students participate as "poet-athletes" on teams. For 10 weeks, they play soccer, participate in creative writing sessions and compete in poetry competitions.

On Nov. 18, Buhrer boys and girls teams participated in a local Poetry SLAM and earned gold medals for their poetry presentations. 

BrownsReadingBrowns players promote reading to first-graders
Browns players won over young fans when they visited William Cullen Bryant on Nov. 29.
Defensive players Auston English, Scott Paxson and Usama Young read to nearly 40 first-graders in the school's library. After reading from some Christmas-themed picture books, the players fielded tough questions, such as, "What's your favorite number?" The students also received some Browns fan items.  
The players hope their one-hour visit will encourage reading among the students. 


School Board Recognition Poster

In January, school boards throughout Ohio will be recognized for their service to children and their communities.


Few people fully understand the scope and far-reaching implications of a board member's responsibilities - the endless string of late-night meetings, numerous school functions to attend, volumes of documents to read and a host of difficult decisions to make. Like many other boards throughout the nation, the Cleveland Metropolitan School Board faced a challenging year and will continue to address important issues as they strive to move our district forward in the face of increased costs and decreased funding.


As we begin 2012, we will recognize our board members' unwavering dedication in a variety of ways throughout January, and we will share those stories with you in our next issue of "Premier."

StateSuperintendentState superintendent notes teen's accomplishments
Stan Heffner, Ohio's superintendent of public instruction, recognized Krystal Milam, a 14-year-old student at John Hay Early College High School in his Dec. 5 e-newsletter, "EdConnection."  
The daughter of CMSD board member Willetta Milam, Krystal met Heffner during the Ohio School Boards Association's conference in November and, apparently, left a positive impression on the state superintendent. Heffner referred to the 4.8 G.P.A. John Hay student as an inspiration and a role model.
He wrote: "Krystal was recently crowned Miss Buckeye State Teen America and will compete in an April pageant for the title of Miss Teen America. She has served as a student ambassador with the People to People Program, traveling around the United States, as well as Japan and Australia. Krystal also was awarded a grant by the Cleveland Browns for a community service project to design arts, crafts and cards for members of the U.S. Army. She aspires to attend Yale or Cornell and hopes to be a constitutional attorney and, eventually, a U.S. senator from Ohio."
Verizon encourages students to make right choices
Vorizon Video Box

Known for its slogan, "We never stop working for you," Verizon Wireless takes that message to heart as it supports the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. From donating 150 DVD copies of the "Inside/Out" documentary to sponsoring The Choice Bus for summer school students, Verizon wants students to stay in school.

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