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A New Direction For Seven Cincinnati Neighborhood Schools

Tana Weingartner
Students at Pleasant Hill Academy will have an added focus on environmental sciences.

Cincinnati Public Schools is rolling out new focus areas for seven of its neighborhood schools in the 2016-2017 school year.

The curriculum adjustments are part of the district's Vision 2020 plan.Superintendent Mary Ronan says it  grew out of parent and community surveys that showed a desire for stronger neighborhood schools with additional programming.

Seven schools will focus on five areas:

  • Cheviot - Gifted (expands the current gifted program there.)
  • Pleasant Hill Academy - Environmental Science
  • Hays-Porter - High Tech
  • Chase & Woodford Paideia - Arts & Culture
  • Rothenberg Preparatory Academy & Westwood - Student Enterprise

Chase Elementary Principal Lynsa Davie says the focus areas draw on the strengths of the neighborhoods they serve. Her school, for example, is in Northside.
"Northside is rich with artsy people and there are a lot of different, innovative things are going on in the neighborhood," Davie says. "We have a lot of artists around us. We want the school to reflect the neighborhood, so in doing that we would have a lot of support from our neighborhood by focusing on the arts and cultures."

Currently Cincinnati Public's magnet schools draw a lot of attention and are often considered more desirable. There is high demand each year for magnet school slots and not everyone can be accommodated. Davie thinks the new focus areas will improve neighborhood schools and give parents more options.

And, she says, the new focus areas will "make the neighborhood (schools) more attractive so that those people that live in those neighborhoods have a more convenient way to educate their kids but still feel the pride, and feel the confidence, that they're being educated at a quality level."

The focus areas will be incorporated into regular school subjects, a concept Davie calls cross-curricular.

"The math and the reading can be incorporated into arts and music, as well as arts and music can be incorporated in the classroom," Davie says. "It gives those children who learn differently a way to be excited about coming to school."

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Hays-Porter Elementary students will experiment with all kinds of high tech learning tools.