This week’s School Spotlight features a school that was mentioned in our recently released Cleveland, OH: Entrepreneurs at Work episode. The Near West Intergenerational School (NWIS) is a new charter school that was born of parents’ aspirations to obtain a better community and future for their children. (To hear this podcast segment, click Here.)
Modeled after a highly regarded school in Cleveland, NWIS is currently in its first year of operation as a publicly funded charter school, offering children in grades K-4 an opportunity to be involved in a better education right now. While there is availability in public schools around them, those schools didn’t exactly tout high expectations of students’ developmental achievements. And the schools that did have waiting lists that are ridiculously long. Instead of forsaking their neighborhood in search of a better school zone, these parents, and later founders, opted to create a school dedicated to the heart of their community’s future.
A brief explanation of the reinforcing reasons for starting NWIS resides in the Founders’ Statement found on Website. It states that school was “founded by a group of neighborhood parents who desire a school rooted in and reflective of the physical and social fabric of the local community it serves.” Its goal is to provide quality, free and accessible education to all children. The school intends to serve the children and families of that community, but not exclusively to that area. The founders want it to serve “as a cornerstone for continued community development, economic and neighborhood stability, and a gathering place for lifelong learners.”
According to an article from Cleveland.com, “Many of the parents are young professionals. At a time when Cleveland is emptying out, they are dedicated to urban life and have found a pocket where it thrives with historic houses and clusters of shops and restaurants.” You can read more about the school in the article here.
While opening a school is not the obvious or even right choice for others facing a similar situation, it is a working solution for this community of Cleveland parents. However, as wonderful of an accomplishment as this is, the school will need support to survive the rounds of voting and scrutiny it will encounter from city officials, sponsors and residents since it is publicly funded.
To that point, NWIS and its founders are the very reason that there will be money staying in and promoting growth in this Cleveland neighborhood area. Of course this situation begets controversy. Some wonder if this is an appropriate answer to the educational dilemma. The families whose lives have been positively affected through NWIS would say “yes.”
Is this a feasible solution for your community? Or is there another approach that could offer a better solution? Do you think your family or community would benefit from a program like this, or do you think public schools and the communities they serve would benefit from a different approach? We don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer, so we want to hear from you.