At its Annual Meeting on December 8, Reaching Heights elected six new board members--Ketti Finneran, Sarita Thomas, Darrin Gamble, Beth Woodside, Miriam Stephens, and Dr. Nylajean McDaniels.
Five board members ended their three year terms and were celebrated for their contributions: Saroya Queen-Tabor, former board president, Alvin Saafir, Melissa Strouth, Audrey Wynne, and Richard Waugh.
A crowd of close to 50 filled every chair to hear the program titled Changing the Narrative: We are Many Stories. Krista Hawthorne, executive director, explained in the words of African writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We are victims of the ‘Danger of the Single Story’.” Adichie disdains the repetition of a single story or image which then comes to define a group of people. “Our people, our cities, and our schools cannot be accurately represented by any one story,” Hawthorne said. “We are many stories. And by telling our stories we humanize and celebrate our diversity, adding texture and dimension to the public’s perception of who we are as a school district”
Alvin Saffir, a parent, told his story. A parent of two graduates of our schools, he said he brags about programs for every kind of student. Adrienne Yelsky, a devoted history teacher from Heights High School, now retired, told of the joy of meeting her former students right here in the community where she lives. Julian Rogers remembered how Cal Rose’s Heights High School Political Awareness Club helped shape his career. Ashlie Dyer, a Heights High graduate, shared memories of trudging to and from school in the snow with kids who remain her close friends today.
Every year at its Annual Meeting, Reaching Heights celebrates one of its Thank-A-Teacher recipients. This year, Lisa Hunt thanked her son Jordan’s Roxboro Middle School science teacher, Paul Gustafson, for his “natural approach to teaching science in a hands-on and differentiated way that shows respect and provides an entry point for learners at all levels.”
John Hubbard, board president, reviewed dramatic changes within Reaching Heights this year---Passage of Issue 81, the capital improvement levy---a transition in executive directors from Patrick Mullen to Krista Hawthorne---the appointment of Lisa Hunt as Assistant Director---an office move from Lee Road to the Coventry Building on Washington Boulevard---a welcome for new CH-UH Superintendent Talisa Dixon---and a redesign of the Reaching Heights website.
In 2014, Reaching Heights celebrated its 25th anniversary. Formally known as the Cleveland Heights–University Heights School Foundation, Reaching Heights has never been a traditional, fund-raising, scholarship-generating school foundation. Reaching Heights has instead sought to build and nurture a partnership between the tax supported and voluntary sectors of the community to enhance educational excellence. In the coming year, Reaching Heights’ work will emphasize building deeper relationships; providing information and access to information via forums, community discussions, and articles about public education policy; and forming active partnerships with school district departments, school and community leaders, and for profit and non-profit businesses. “Our goal is to establish a system of clear communication so we can work better together on issues of equity across our schools and offer programs that meet real and current needs,” said executive director Krista Hawthorne.