CLEVELAND, Ohio — We're heading into the second year of our groundbreaking Education Station initiative. As part of it, we make a point of adopting a local school, to give us perspective on what's going on in classrooms and the impact that the pandemic has had on students, staff and parents.
Last year, we really got in the trenches with our adopted school Charles Dickens in Cleveland's Mount Pleasant neighborhood, even creating a tutoring program to help lift the children's reading scores.
This year we're adopting another Cleveland school. It's Harvey Rice Wraparound school in the Buckeye neighborhood.
Jason Tidmore is in his 8th year at the school -- sixth as principal. "To be that first positive influence that our kids might see in the morning, just to be able to help them shape their day, to welcome them, make this feel like a place that they want to be. a part of that is our morning meetings that we conduct," he said.
The school's "morning meetings" which take place in every classroom, are an important part of that positive influence.
It makes us like get ready for the day and what we have ahead of us and, makes us like basically good energy and good vibes in the classroom and everybody can bond," said 8th grader Justin Carter.
"It make me feel happy, like I have more energy," added Sha'Lonna Dickerson, who is also an 8th grader and in the running for class president.
Those who learn at Harvey Rice are "scholars" instead of students. Daily details are purposeful.
"We are here are trying to create just an equitable system of teaching and learning where our scholars are inspired and encouraged to dream more, learn more, do more, become more. I can't take full credit for that. That's John Quincy Adams, but a lot of what he said in that quote is about what we're trying to do here. Just motivate the mind to try," said Principal Tidmore.
Success also means removing barriers to learning. And in the surrounding Buckeye neighborhood, there are plenty.
The housing market never fully recovered from the foreclosure crisis two decades ago.
And more than half of all residents live below the federal poverty line.
This is why Harvey Rice models itself as a "wrap around" school, with programs and 35 community partners in place, to lend support.
"If it's food, if it's shelter, if it's housing assistance, clothing, you name it, whatever it takes to kind of get rid of some of those barriers that may, um, like I said, impede the scholar's ability to learn," Principal Tidmore explained.
And literacy, which can be a stumbling block in economically challenged communities, is top of mind here.
Harvey Rice is the only CMSD school with a Cleveland public library adjoining it. The opportunities are here -- as is the belief, that if you can dream it, you can do it.
"I want to be a musician when I grow up because I play by ear, um, and I could play, you know, if I hear a note, I can play it. So I feel like Mr. Minor, our, uh, music teacher he's helped me a lot," said Carter.
"We gotta get back to that place where we're dreaming about what tomorrow can look like. Dreaming brings about hope, hope, brings about reality if you apply yourself. And so I'm hoping that we're encouraging our scholars to try, just try," said Principal Tidmore.
More Education Station coverage: