David James State of the Schools

Superintendent David W. James gave the state of Akron Public Schools address during the Akron Press Club’s luncheon at The University of Akron’s Quaker Station on February 15. Questions were asked following the speech regarding related issues. Click here to listen to and watch the speech.

(Following is the text of Superintendent David W. James speech, presented at Quaker Station on February 15. You may also download a Fact and Stats rack card, a College and Career Academies schedule of meetings and a State of the Schools brochure below.)


Welcome and thank you for being here today. Every year, I enjoy bringing to you the Akron Public Schools State of the Schools address; and I want to thank the Akron Press Club for once again serving as sponsor for this annual event and The University of Akron and Quaker Station, our hosts.

I would like to acknowledge our school board members:

  • Mr. Patrick Bravo, President
  • Mr. Tim Miller, Vice-President
  • Mr. Bruce Alexander
  • Mrs. Lisa Mansfield
  • Mr. John Otterman
  • Rev. Dr. Curtis T. Walker, Sr.
  • Ms. Debbie Walsh

If there are any former school board members with us, please stand and be recognized.

I would like our elected officials or their representatives here with us today to please stand and be recognized.

To all our honored guests, welcome.

Last year, I welcomed and congratulated Dan Horrigan as our new mayor of the city of Akron; and I pledged to be a partner in helping to build a better community. I also talked about some of the perils of leadership and the many leadership changes our community experienced. During the past year, one loss to our community that was especially difficult for me was the loss of County Executive Russ Pry.

Russ was the kind of person who was always there to help in any way he could. He would give me his many years of political experience whenever I would pose a problem or question. He certainly has left his mark on Summit County. To County Executive Ilene Shapiro, I also pledge my support to work with you to build a better community, especially through education.

I would also like to take this opportunity to honor the late Ann Lane Gates, who passed away on February 4 at the age of 92. A true pioneer, she was the first African American woman to be hired under contract to teach in an Akron high school. Ann was always eager to give of herself to help our children and our community. She will certainly be missed.

I believe that I speak for most us by saying that the past year was a year of excitement when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship. I must admit that I even shed tears when we beat the Warriors. Growing up, I never experienced anything like this. Seeing more than a million people lining the streets of Cleveland during the parade was awesome. Better yet, what about filling up Lock 3 and Canal Park — the Rubber Ducks stadium — and having LeBron bring the championship trophy here to Akron? Personally, I was scared to death speaking in front of that crowd! Honestly, I have never spoken in front of that many people. It was a moment that I will never forget. In my speech that day, I talked about how often LeBron exhibits courage AND commitment. If there is anyone who puts his money (and his heart) where his mouth is, it’s LeBron James.

I remember his returning to Akron; and, in front of an enthusiastic crowd at InfoCision Stadium in August 2014, he pledged his support for this community and our children; that took courage. His promise … his commitment … to bring us a championship took courage.

He stood up and made a commitment to better the lives of the children of Akron and northeast Ohio, and he has done that. Think about what it takes to make that promise and then actually make it happen.

Believe me, our kids love him. They know who’s honest and who has their best interests at heart. Kids are smart and intuitive. He’s the man, as far as they’re concerned; and for good reason.

Working with The University of Akron on a scholarship for students participating in his Wheels for Education and Akron I-Promise Network programs has taken courage and a LONG-TERM commitment to children.

Providing the opportunity for our kids to experience places like Stan Hywet, WKYC studios at Channel 3, the Polar Express, the Akron Symphony and Cleveland Orchestras, and the Akron Zoo to help expand their horizons took courage. The LeBron James Family Foundation continues to work on improving the lives of our students. This year the foundation started the LeBron James’ Hard Work Club.

For schools that are not served by our Akron After School Program, LeBron is filling that gap by offering our students homework help after school. With an initial investment of nearly $200,000, LeBron’s Hard Work Club will help students achieve their dreams of moving on to college and careers. Michelle Campbell, thank you for helping LeBron realize his hopes and dreams for our kids.

Believe me, I have learned a lot from LeBron during my time as superintendent of Akron Public Schools. I want him to know that I’m grateful that his career and mine have hit their stride at the same time!

So today, I want to get up enough courage to talk about the future, to talk about a vision for building upon all the good work going on in our schools and how to overcome the challenges that prevent student success.

Looking at the big picture, our schools are charged with preparing our young people for the future. Because we are a tax-funded organization, all of you in this room are paying for it. If you own property in the City of Akron, a portion of your real estate taxes and a portion of your State of Ohio and federal income taxes all help fund our schools. In terms of fiscal responsibility, we owe it to our taxpayers to operate our schools in an efficient manner. Ryan Pendleton, our CFO, and I have been keeping a keen eye on our budget.

Our general fund budget is approximately $325 million. The current five-year financial forecast shows our expenses starting to exceed revenue by an estimated $942,000 this year. However, we are projected to have an ending cash balance of nearly $47 million. Over the next five years, expenditures are expected to rise by $49 million. Revenue, on the other hand, is expected to rise by only $24 million. At the end of our current financial forecast in 2021, we are projected have a negative cash balance of $5 million. In addition, as the state budget moves through the Ohio legislature, we must adjust these figures. Working with our Ryan and the board finance committee, we must keep a close eye on expenditures, especially employee costs, including wages and health care.

The truth of the matter is that our employee benefits program is still not in line with other public and private organizations. In our general fund budget, health benefits make up 22 percent; and these costs keep rising. Although no one likes to pay more, we must take the position that our employees, from the top down, will have to share more of the cost of their health care.

As a large tax-funded public organization, transparency is important.

This year, our CFO worked with the state of Ohio to roll out our participation in the Ohio Checkbook program. Just go to, and you will see information on Akron Public Schools expenditures in a variety of formats. From finance reports on specific vendors to reports on specific spending categories, it’s all there. Another critical area of focus is right-sizing the district.

This past year, the school board and I had to make some difficult decisions regarding school consolidation because of declining enrollment. Our city is changing. Our population has fallen and shifted within the city itself. That is our reality.

No one wants to close a school; but, when we have seats for nearly 30,000 students and only have 21,000 students enrolled, something has to give. So we made the decision to merge Garfield and Kenmore high schools, Kent and Innes middle schools, and Bettes and Harris elementary schools. I admit, it was not comfortable taking the heat from these communities about these closures. I understand the frustration. As we implement this consolidation plan, we are working with Project Ujima to facilitate meetings with groups of students from the affected schools to hear their voices and to help inform our decisions moving forward. Our hope is to build new legacies while honoring the past. I have also charged Project Ujima to reach out to the community to engage group discussions regarding the merger as well, to get their input. I want to thank Crystal Jones and her staff for supporting this effort.

Speaking of facilities, we opened the new Firestone and Litchfield CLCs this year. The combined community learning center houses our largest student population and houses our Akron School of the Arts, International Baccalaureate, robotics, swim programs and a planetarium that serves the entire district.

Currently, Harris, Case and Ellet community learning centers are under construction. Our last state-funded CLC will be the combined Garfield-Kenmore project to be located at the site of the current Garfield High School.

Four buildings — Miller-South, Firestone Park, Pfeiffer and North High School — will not receive funding from the state for reconstruction. Based on our current enrollment and student population projections, the State of Ohio will only fund 1,400 or so high school students. We will continue to monitor our enrollment figures moving forward and will develop options for how to handle these four unfunded buildings. Along with these challenges, APS continues to provide strong and creative educational opportunities for our students.

Right here on this spot, last year, I discussed new graduation requirements for the class of 2018. Whenever new rules are pushed down to local schools, there is a period of adjustment. It’s never easy.

Now, students must take a series of seven end-of-course exams covering algebra I, geometry, US government, ninth- and 10th-grade English, physical science and US history, administered at the end of each course. Students earn between one and five points per exam and must earn a total of 18 points to graduate.

As we make this transition to the new requirements in Akron, roughly 50 percent of current high school juniors have already met these requirements. Another 18 percent are highly likely to meet these requirements, leaving about 32 percent needing additional assistance to meet the required 18 points to graduate. This isn’t just an Akron problem. Many school districts throughout the state have voiced concerns about the class of 2018.

Even though this feels insurmountable, our principals and teachers are doing everything in their power to get each one of those students to graduate. If we don’t get it done in four years, we stick with them to have them graduate in five years.

In December, the state board of education passed a resolution requesting that the state superintendent of public instruction convene a work group to review this current graduation requirements issue and to consider alternative approaches. As a matter of fact, I need to be out of here by 1:30 p.m. because the work group is meeting in Columbus today at 4 p.m.

As a member of this work group, I will continue to promote pathways to graduation for all students, especially those who face many issues outside of the classroom through no fault of their own.

Many of you know that I have been very frank about our academic progress. Well, I’m going to tell you right now, on our state report card, current data shows little or no improvement over the previous year. Our graduation rate increased slightly from 74 percent to 74.7 percent for a grade of “F.” On the kindergarten-through-third-grade reading measure, we received a grade of “D”; however, by the spring semester, 98 percent of our third-graders met the requirements, allowing their promotion to the fourth grade.

In 2018, the state report card will list an overall district grade. Although I am not happy with our results, the metrics by which we are measured keep changing. Over the last four years, we have seen state tests change multiple times; and we have met the challenge by not giving up on students and offering the opportunity to make up credits, retake the graduation tests and provide additional supports so students can graduate.

So, let me be clear. High school education does matter because the diploma is not the end; it is only the beginning. More of our students must do a better job of being prepared for what comes after high school. In a report published by the Center for Education and Workforce at Georgetown University, 72 percent of all jobs in the United States in 1973 required a high school diploma or less. By the year 2020, it is estimated that only 36 percent of jobs will require a high school diploma or less. Thirty percent of all jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, including certifications, associates or bachelor degrees. Thus, ensuring that our students are prepared for college and career is very important. Last year we celebrated more progress toward this goal.

In May, I was honored to participate in the first National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School graduation ceremony. This event brought tears to my eyes because I have followed these students from the start of their journey with STEM education. Even former Mayor Don Plusquellic got teary-eyed. Our STEM program is a great example of where government, academia and businesses like Goodyear can collaborate for the benefit of our students. This past fall, both Case Elementary and Litchfield Middle schools were accepted into the International Baccalaureate Program, joining Firestone CLC as IB schools. Congratulations to Dyan Floyd, principal at Litchfield CLC, and to Danjile Henderson and Sharon Jones, the current and former principals at Case Elementary School, along with their dedicated teaching staff. Moving forward, we will be working with King, Resnik and Portage Path CLCs to become IB schools.

Now, getting back to academic progress, one bright spot on the state report card is the graduation rate of our career and technical education students.

For students participating in our career technical programs, 89.2 percent of them graduate in four years, earning the district a grade of “B.” In fact, upon review of the state report cards of Ohio’s eight urban districts, the four-year graduation rate for career and technical education students exceeded the overall graduation rate in similar fashion. From my point of view, we need to better understand why these students are graduating at higher rates.

I have discussed the connection between education and economic development in my previous addresses to the community. From the work done by CEOs for Cities, the Greater Akron Chamber and our regional economic development organizations, we know that there is a strong correlation between the quality of the workforce and the quality of life in a community. Higher levels of education and training in a community make it more attractive to new business. Through the work of Dan Colantone and the Greater Akron Chamber, some of us have seen how cities like Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Omaha, Nebraska; and Greenville, South Carolina, have met the challenge of building better communities by collaborative efforts among, government, business and education. I have frequently mentioned the work going on in Nashville, Tennessee, with Ford Next Generation Learning and the Career Academies of Metro Nashville Schools. Governor Kasich and his staffhave discussed the importance that the State of Ohio is placing on workforce transformation. These experiences from my education lens have made me even more committed to building better graduates. This is my focus for the remainder of my speech today.

You have some information at your tables that covers what I’m about to tell you. There is also a schedule of upcoming meetings where you can learn more. This is exciting news, by the way.

Last year, I reported that we have started the process of converting North High School into a college and career academy. In partnership with Ford Next Generation Learning, ConxusNEO and support from the GAR Foundation, we are mobilizing educators, employers and community leaders to engage with teachers and students in a deliberate and strategic way.

I want to personally thank Christine Mayer from the GAR Foundation for her exemplary support of Akron Public Schools as we’ve honed our strategies to transform our secondary schools starting with our STEM schools and now through expansion of those best practices to other schools across the district.

Under the leadership of Sue Lacy, ConxusNEO is serving as the convening organization for this planning process. ConxusNEO also provides relevant workforce data to ensure that decisions are driven by the demands of local companies. We have embarked on a collaborative effort involving more than 50 community, business and education leaders to develop a college and career academy model. What does this mean?

College and career academies will transform the traditional high school model to prepare all students for careers, linking academic subjects to workforce themes. Students and teachers use experiential learning to make lessons come alive. Different pathways designed and supported by community partners are created to introduce students to a variety of college and career options and help build transferable skills and competencies.

By leveraging a student’s personal interests, lessons become relevant and directly linked to a student’s post-secondary plan, increasing academic achievement, attendance and graduation rates.

These academies will catalyze and grow the regional talent pipeline by preparing graduates to work in high-demand, sustainable fields. Graduates immersed in relevant coursework will develop valuable skills that align college and career preparation to local workforce demands.

Our goal is to implement a strategic plan that will prepare all graduates of Akron Public Schools to enroll in a college or other post-secondary training option, enlist in military service, or become employed in a sustainable career with opportunities for growth.

Successful College and Career Academies are built upon three major elements:

  • Teaching all courses through a career lens, by linking core subjects and career technical courses. Students will explore multiple career, college and post-secondary training options, building a future that best fits their skills and interests.
  • Students are enrolled in small learning communities, providing students with a sense of belonging, helping to develop strong teacher-student relationships.
  • Increased business and community engagement in the academies will help teachers relate their courses to authentic problems being faced by companies. Workplace learning opportunities such as job shadowing and internships will give students hands-on experience, increased understanding of career options, and increased technical and soft skills.

Under the excellent leadership of Rachel Tecca and the support of Annie Hanson from ConxusNEO, we selected North High School to be the district lead in transforming the traditional high school experience by adopting the college and career academy model, after participating in concentrated professional development.

In 2016, we introduced all ninth-graders at North to the very first Freshman Academy, just to get them in the stream for academy learning!

Next fall, all 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade students at North will select from eight career pathways in either the Academy of Health and Human Services or the Academy of Global Technology and Business.

More than 100 teachers, administrators, students and community leaders attended two master planning sessions to provide strategic input on elements that will be incorporated into a master plan or the blueprint for College and Career Academy implementation in Akron.

In addition, we created 14 tactical teams with broad representation from academia and business to prepare tactical plans that will deal with critical issues related to how we implement this — plans such as workplace learning, college and career exploration, data and shared accountability, and student leadership.

The resulting blueprint and master plan will be submitted to the Akron Board of Education for approval in April, after community-wide feedback sessions in February and March. Then it will be presented to Ford Next Generation Learning.

Upon approval by Ford NGL, Akron will become an official Ford NGL community in a formal designation ceremony tentatively set for May.

If approved, we believe that Akron will be the first community in Ohio to be named a Ford NGL Community. We will join more than 30 communities across the country as part of the Ford NGL Network and will continue the process of converting all Akron public high schools into the College and Career Academies.

This shift will give purpose and relevance to our educational program. It will help change the perception of college being the destination with little insight as to why, to one where college and other post-secondary options are tools along the path to obtaining a meaningful career and employment.I want to thank our partners from Ford NGL who have been helping us in this endeavor: Scott Palmer our Ford NGL Community Coach, who is here with us today; Paula Barkley; and Charley Mojkowski. The three of them are helping us follow the Ford NGL implementation road map.

Our work with Ford NGL is directly related to our work with Summit Education Initiative, with the goal of promoting a college-going and workforce-ready culture among our students. We continue our partnership with Derran Wimer as students make their way from cradle to career. Before you think I’m done talking about College and Career Academies of Akron … stay tuned. I have one more little nugget for you in just a minute.

But I want to make sure I mention a few other items before we take your questions.

Mentoring is critical. It has become an integral part now of APS education.

iCARE Mentoring, under the leadership of Jonathan Greer, and now part of United Way of Summit County, continues to expand with the mantra of mentoring one child, for one hour, once a week for one school year. We now have 389 mentors mentoring 424 students across grades K through 11 at 45 schools. My challenge to you today is to join with iCARE Mentoring, sign up and mentor a child; their future may depend on it. In addition, Project GRAD Akron has been cited as an exemplar implementation of the State of Ohio Community Connectors grant which supports mentoring at Buchtel CLC. To Jackie Silas-Butler, I say thank you.

As I stated last year, we want to help our students avoid negative influences and learn how to solve problems peacefully. We want to build student confidence in their academic ability and increase chances of graduation, so they can move on to college and/or a career.

I would also like to recognize the support of United Way CEO Jim Mullen and his staff for understanding how important education is to this community. I look forward to expanding our partnership moving forward.

The University of Akron, Kent State University and Stark State College continue to offer dual-enrollment courses through the College Credit PlusProgram. This past year, more than 700 students took college-level coursework while still in high school, earning 8,412 college credits.Having close relationships with these fine institutions will provide our students a more seamless transition to the careers that require college-level work.

The success of the College and Career Academies of Akron will depend on our students moving into this post-secondary world to earn an industry-recognized certificate, an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and beyond. To President Matthew Wilson, Dr. Para Jones and Dr. Beverly Warren, I say thank you for being such willing, creative and wonderful partners. I look forward to future innovative partnerships to continue to expand the opportunities for our students.

To promote greater learning and access to technology, we are implementing something we call our “One to World” initiative to provide each of our students with a computer device that they can use 24/7, at school AND at home.

For some of our students, participation in sports keeps them interested in school; and I want to thank Tom Cousineau for his continued support in making improvements to our co-curricular athletic programs. With Tom’s advice and under the leadership of district Athletic Director Joe Vassalotti, we have implemented mentoring programs for our coaches, successfully navigating issues with Ohio High School Athletic Association compliance.

As I stated last year, student behavior is always a work in progress; and our schools are a reflection of the community. But it is a sad state of affairs when young lives with so much promise are taken so soon. It was particularly hurtful several weeks ago to have one of our students from East Community Learning Center lose his life. This senseless violence in our community must stop.  Our hearts also went out to the family of APS students who perished in a house fire on Tallmadge Avenue. We must do even more to ensure thesafety of our children and continue to seek out creative solutions in our partnerships.

Judge Linda Teodosio and the Juvenile Court continue to work with us to address issues with court-involved youth, truancy and alternatives to juvenile detention. We have expanded the use of restorative discipline practices by implementing Peace Circles to support student collaboration to solve problems and disagreements. Over the last year, I participated on an interested-party committee with State Senator Peggy Lehner, looking into the problem of chronic truancy. The partnership with the City of Akron Police Department that places resource officers in our middle and high schools continues to be a success.

To help those students who face significant barriers to achievement, we implemented a program called the Path to High School Success, with the goal of disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.

We focused on our lowest performing students who struggled in eighth grade and were projected to not be successful in their ninth-grade year. The program provided the following support by way of seminars and field experiences in the areas of English, math, social and emotional issues, physical fitness, and college/career pathways.

We identified 150 students who met the criteria for the program, and almost 100 students consistently attended the multiple classes. We also gave each student a Chromebook to support their instruction and project-based learning. This also supported our One to World program implementation, and here are the results:

Eighty-three percent of the students are on track to earn an English credit as opposed to 76 percent of their peers who did not participate. Ninety percent of the students are on track to earn a math credit as opposed to 80 percent of their peers who did not participate. We are excited about the future of this program! There are a couple of new partnerships that I would like to bring to your attention, as well.

I also have breaking news today. As of this moment, we have had 1,064 students apply for free transportation via Metro RTA!

Students in grades 9-12 can now ride a Metro bus to get to school. Our Board recently approved a service agreement with Metro for passes that we are distributing at no cost to our students. Our thanks to Richard Enty, executive director of Metro, for working this out with us.

Now our students can get to school or The University of Akron. We can also now work with the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA) and Stark Area Regional Transportation Authority (SARTA), allowing students to go to places like Stark State College and Northeast Ohio Medical University, where we look forward to developing partnerships with Dr. Jay Gershen and NEOMED.

As we change to a career academy model, students need to job-shadow and have a way to get to such opportunities they may not have not otherwise had. Oh … and this applies to non-public and parochial students as well.

Thirty-one years after the space shuttle Challenger disaster took the life of Akron native Judith Resnik, I am happy to report that, in January, the Akron Board of Education voted to transfer the Judith A. Resnik Memorial Scholarship Fund to the Akron Community Foundation. The community foundation will manage the nearly $200,000 in assets. This means that the fund can now grow through fundraising and the community foundation’s prudent long-term investment management, which has produced an annual net return of 8.7 percent for community foundation funds over the past five years.

Gifts to this scholarship fund will offer donors the maximum charitable tax deduction available from any nonprofit under IRS law. The Akron Community Foundation will process, acknowledge and invest all donations and will administer the scholarship. Akron Public Schools will nominate a scholarship committee to review scholarship applications submitted by our students pursuing mathematics, science or allied fields. I would like to thank John Petures for his support in helping us achieve this important milestone.

These partnerships have one thing in common: they promote student success and engagement. Perhaps none is more focused right now than the College and Career Academies of Akron. But, I have another goal.

To make this transformational change, we must more fully partner with local business. My dream is for our local companies to invest in our kids so they truly become the workforce of tomorrow. This requires people to step up to the plate and engage us, challenge us, to build a better graduate.

To that end, today, I am proud to announce an expanded partnership between Akron Public Schools and Akron Children’s Hospital. I would like to invite Bill Considine to come up and provide more information about this exciting new partnership. (Here, Bill Considine gave his comments.)

This commitment from Akron Children’s Hospital includes a monetary contribution of $250,000 for North to further develop their Health and Human Services Academy over the next few years. I want to thank Akron Children’s Hospital and Bill Considine for their leadership, vision, generosity AND lifelong commitment to the children of his community. I will be submitting a recommendation to the school board to rename our Academy of Health and Human Services to the Akron Children’s Hospital Academy of Health and Human Services at North High School, to honor this wonderful commitment to our students and community.

It is my sincere hope that other organizations, many with solid relationships with Akron Public Schools, will deepen their relationships with us. Over the next several months, please keep an eye out for more exciting partnership announcements to further benefit our young people.

Every year, I must remind our audience that there is not enough time to mention all of the people and organizations that continue to work with us. Many of you are in the audience with us today, and I say thank you. Public service would be a thankless job if it were not for all of you.

Last, but certainly not least, to our teachers who come to work every day ready to help foster learning, ready to collaborate with your peers, going that extra mile for our students, I say thank you. Thank you for your commitment at a time when public education has come under attack, where some question your dedication and competence. They don’t see what I see. I respect and appreciate the work that you do each day. Because of you, my daughter will graduate from the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School in May.

She is already taking courses at The University of Akron, through the College Credit Plus Program; she has already been accepted and will become a Zip this fall, majoring in music. Believe me when I say that raising children is not easy — the terrible twos, adolescence, dating, getting a driver’s license, college selection, you name it.

But what made this journey easier for my family has been the excellent teachers who serve all students in Akron Public Schools. To Dr. McWilliams-Woods, my senior staff, our principals, supervisors and administrators, to all our support staff, I cannot do my job without you. For what you do every day, I am eternally grateful; and you all have my utmost respect.

Oh, and since I have still the microphone …

In my fifty-five years on this planet, I have seldom seen so much controversy at the national level. I want our national leaders to focus on helping students avoid and eliminate student loan debt, allowing high school students who take college-level courses to be eligible for Pell Grants nationwide. I want all parents to have quality choices, whether that choice be a traditional public school or a charter school. I want student testing that directly correlates to college and career readiness and removes the stigma of failure in the current “high-stakes” system. For all of what may be wrong with our country, and all the rancor, I wouldn’t trade these United States of America for anything.

We as a nation have overcome so much, yet we have so far to go. Today, I think of our refugee and immigrant population here in Akron — from places like Nepal, Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq — people who are escaping oppression, coming here with the hope of a brighter future.

These parents show up to school, parents who are trying to fit in, parents who want a new start — without someone looking over their shoulders — and parents who want the best opportunity for their children.

I do understand the balance between security and opening our arms to help those in need. The America that I believe in can do both.

In compliance with existing laws, and barring any further federal action, we will continue to provide educational services to all students, regardless of immigration status. We will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender identity or national origin; and students will not be barred from enrolling in Akron Public Schools on the basis of their citizenship or immigration status or that of their parents or guardians. We are deeply committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment that is responsive to each student.

So, before I conclude, can you bear with me for a moment?

If you would, close your eyes, relax and think back to the time when you were in high school. For those of you who can remember that far back, what were your dreams? What goals did you set for yourself? Did you realize those dreams? I want you to now open your eyes and see the enthusiasm and energy of some of our students at North High School, excited about the future, their future, thanks to the new College and Career Academies of Akron.

It is my goal to make sure that Yalina, Kusum, DavYan, Hsa, Jade, Chandra, Lucas and Susmita can realize their dreams. Students, please stand. Folks, these are real people, just like you and me, who have dreams of what their world can be.

I can’t do this alone; our schools can’t do this alone; our entire community is responsible for the success of these and all students.

Thank you, and God bless.


Read original here.

Garrett, Rene. (2017, February 15). David James State of The Schools. Akron Public Schools. Retrieved from