Reynoldsburg schools earn national acclaim
A national education plan to invest in programs to "redesign" the nation's high schools mentioned only three existing model high schools -- and Reynoldsburg's was one of those models.
President Barack Obama's plan for the redesign would invest $300 million in a competitive grant program to support partnerships among school districts, colleges, businesses, nonprofits and other local organizations to increase college and career readiness, mainly by allowing students to earn college credit while still in high school.
The three model high schools mentioned in his plan are Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn; Reynoldsburg High School; and Loving High School in New Mexico.
Reynoldsburg Superintendent Steve Dackin said Reynoldsburg schools are "way ahead of the curve" in terms of partnerships.
Students at BELL (Business, Education, Leadership and Law) Academy currently are earning college credit through Columbus State Community College, which opened a branch learning center at the East Livingston Avenue campus early in January.
Another major partnership is with Mount Carmel Health Systems, which opened a Mount Carmel-operated health center at Reynoldsburg's HS2 (Health Sciences and Human Services) Academy and provides patient care classes for students and mentorship/internship opportunities in hospital settings.
Other district partners include Knowledge Works Foundation, BalletMet, Opera Columbus, the Granville Studio of Visual Arts, Central Ohio Technical College, Ohio Dominican University and the OSU Arts Initiative.
Dackin said he was "surprised and pleased" that Reynoldsburg High School was mentioned in the president's education plan.
"We do really good work in Reynoldsburg and people have been paying attention to what we do," he said. "This honor reflects the hard work of our staff and students."
The description of the district in the President Obama's plan named all four of Reynoldsburg's high school academies and said they provide "hands-on learning experiences in personalized environments that are aligned with students' interests."
"Mastery learning ensures students gain essential knowledge and skills and strong partnerships with local universities, health providers, local and state government agencies and businesses enhance student learning and expand enriching opportunities," stated information about Reynoldsburg in the plan.
Dackin said the district has had a number of visitors from national education associations.
"Word travels," he said. "I am very pleased that our district is being held up as a model high school. It is a tribute to all of our hard work and to our district partners who are helping us improve opportunities for students."
The goal of Obama's education plan, according to information at www.ed.gov/highschool, is that "all adult Americans pursue at least one year of higher education or career training and that America regain its role as world leader in college completion."
State Superintendent Richard Ross, who led the district as superintendent from 1988 to 2008, said he has watched Reynoldsburg schools "with great interest and great pride."
"State and national leaders are also taking note of the happenings at Reynoldsburg and the district's progress," Ross said recently at BELL Academy. "There are about 240 early college high schools in the nation; 10 of those are in Ohio, including Reynoldsburg High School.