In the Spring of each year, I get the opportunity to see the impact of my work. Success walks across the stage at each graduation ceremony for an KnowledgeWorks partner school!
Last week, 429 seniors graduated from Reynoldsburg High School. This marks a significant accomplishment for the students – the culmination of four years of hard work as they prepare for college and career. The event also marks a huge success for Reynoldsburg City Schools. This was the first graduating class of students who spent all four years of high school within one of the interest-based academies: BELL Early College Academy, Encore Academy, eSTEM Academy and Health Sciences & Human Services Academy, also known as (HS)2.
Not only are students achieving in this interest-based academy model, they are excelling. There were 44 valedictorians at Reynoldsburg High School – all tie as the highest performing graduates.
Community Partnership and Interest-Based Academies
By partnering with community organizations, Reynoldsburg City Schools have been able to offer an educational experience to their students that is both more rich and more tied to community economic growth.
- Mount Carmel Health System partners with the district for Health Sciences & Human Services (HS2). In this Academy, which is also an Ohio-designated STEM platform school, students focus on two career pathways: bio-medical engineering, health information technology and emergency medical technician. Students benefit from the partnership by having a curriculum co-developed by professionals in the medical field. Students at HS2 have access to learning opportunities like mentoring, internships and lunch-and-learns. Mount Carmel Health System benefits by leasing space on the school grounds at no cost beyond utilities. They operate a health center that is a primary care resource for the community.
- Arts, communication and design are the focus of Encore Academy at Reynoldsburg High School. Students can choose to start on a digital design degree at Central Ohio Technical College while still in high school. The BalletMet Columbus also partners with Encore Academy, providing qualified instruction to high school students during the school day. This innovative partnership provides new opportunities for students to earn physical education or fine arts credits required for graduation. The BalletMet Columbus also offers dance academy classes to children and adults at the Reynoldsburg High School Summit Campus outside of school hours, helping to promote the arts throughout the community.
- At BELL Early College Academy, students can earn up to 60 hours college credit while still in high school at no charge to students and families. The academy caters to students interested in business, education, leadership and law, providing related degree and certificate programs in partnership with Columbus State Community College. Nearly half of BELL’s first cohort of students are on track to complete at least one year of college before high school graduation. Columbus State Community College opened a branch campus called The Reynoldsburg Center in January 2013. In addition to this partnership making the early college high school a more accessible option for students, it brings new educational opportunities to the area for all community members.
- eSTEM Academy was the first to open at Reynoldsburg High School and it relies on successful partnerships with business, university and community leaders. These partners include Battelle Memorial Institute, Granville Studio of Visual Arts, KnowledgeWorks, MAD Scientists, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Dominican University and more. These partners act as mentors and resources for both students and teachers.
KnowledgeWorks Partnership at Reynoldsburg
KnowledgeWorks started partnering with Reynoldsburg City Schools on the creation of eSTEM, a STEM-focused interest-based academy in 2009. Planning work on the other three academies started soon after.
As of Spring 2014, Reynoldsburg has implemented pipeline that makes STEM-focused curriculum available to students from Kindergarten to High School. This work was done in partnership with KnowledgeWorks and spearheaded by then-Superintendent Steve Dackin. Dackin is now on the Board of KnowledgeWorks.