Turning struggling schools into vibrant community hubs was the focus of Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Michael Yudin’s Wednesday morning stop on the back-to-school bus tour.
Yudin visited Lincoln-West High School (home of the Wolverines), met with students and teachers, and hosted a roundtable discussion with fifteen principals working to transform some of Ohio’s persistently lowest-achieving schools, with federal dollars from the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program.
Yudin’s tour was led by students from the school’s themed academies: international studies, wraparound services, and computer programming and software development. The school also houses academies that provide support for ninth-graders and immigrant families.
The principals who joined the roundtable lead a wide range of schools, covering grades P-12. All are in their first or second year of a three-year SIG grant. As the principals shared their vision, challenges, and successes thus far, Yudin connected their work to Ohio’s future success – and the nation’s. “All of you are strong leaders, and I applaud your commitment to improving outcomes for your students,” he told the group.
The panel discussion brought out several strategies that can help turn around low-performing schools, including offering students extended learning time, improving students’ access to educational technology tools, using data to drive instruction and decision-making, improving instructional practices, and building strong teacher-led accountability teams. All the principals noted the importance of creating safe, welcoming learning environments for students and their families.
“These school teams are working to build positive cultures and climates for learning,” Yudin said. “They are coordinating all the supports and resources they can, to make these schools the strong centers – the beacons of hope – of their communities.”