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Imagine Clay Community School, Hosts Annual Back to School Celebration


By Megan Davis

Sojourner’s Truth Reporter


Imagine children excited about starting school, and parents engaged in locating and reviewing their child’s schedule. Imagine a school that is designed to meet children where they are, offering them an opportunity to learn, grow and develop based on their individual needs. Picture a school where students, especially those with learning disabilities, are improving each year, adding value to their education and accountability with the state of Ohio.


Clay Community School is a place that children are working through their many challenges, striving for greatness; and it’s in the heart of Toledo’s North End.


On Thursday, August 16, Imagine Clay’s staff partnered with community organizations and businesses to bring forth a wealth of resources for students and their families as the new school year commenced. Whether you were a parent seeking employment, or a little boy who needed a haircut, these resources were available to parents and students as they attended the back to school fair.


When you make a turn off Stickney Avenue onto Clay, you can feel the difference as you drive down toward the school. The doors and windows were open and you could hear music, playing, children’s voices ringing. Immediately upon arriving inside the school, there were teachers and staff members greeting students and their parents with smiles, all set with important information for the celebration.


The overall culture of the school exudes positivity, hope and commitment. It is seen throughout the halls and in the classrooms, and on the faces of the students and staff of the school. During the back to school celebration, each family was given an outline of all the resources available as well as tickets for a free meal consisting of a hot dog, chips, a drink and free ice cream from the ice cream truck stationed in the back lot of the school.


They also provided a bounce house for the children with DJ Doww Jonez providing an exciting soundtrack for the families to enjoy. Because the school has two campuses – the second being on 2729 124th Street at Summit St. (grades 5-8) – the school even provided a shuttle from one campus to the next periodically, for families who have students at both locations.


According to Jamin Sullivan, the dean of Culture, the school serves approximately 400 students between the campuses. Their partnership with Brightside Academy gives families with children at the preschool level an opportunity to have a place for their younger children to attend who shares the same positive culture Imagine Clay has.


The school staff were thoughtful in setting up an air-conditioned mobile barber shop in one of the classrooms where several area barbers lent their services, free of charge, for students to receive. Other community resources available at the schools were Fed Ex which is now hiring for their distribution center as well as Brightside Academy, A Step Beyond Mental Health Services which also is housed inside each of Clay Community’s campuses throughout the school year and The Kitchen Salon, natural hair care resources for parents and their children.


Establishing a positive culture for personal growth, self discipline and academic achievement is the mission Sullivan is implementing daily, utilizing shared values such as justice, integrity and fun.  He believes that children need support in all those areas in order to thrive in school. Although he is responsible for disciplining students who struggle with behavioral challenges, he stated that ,“One of the biggest challenges youth are facing today is overcoming difficult situations, sometimes within their home or community environment, knowing they have to still  come to school and perform. Although they tend to carry their pain or frustration to school, we remind them that our school is a safe place and we encourage them to find ways to cope with their feelings so that they can focus, get motivated and be productive each day.”


This why, when referring to the shared value of justice, he ensures that each student is held to the standard that best suits the individual; meaning that two students who have displayed similar negative behaviors may not be held to the same level of accountability and responsibility. In that, the school is able to maintain its integrity in providing appropriate accommodations for each of its students without bypassing their shared values and measures of excellence. This too, is what makes the partnership with A Step Beyond an important piece to the puzzle. They are an on-site resource directly assisting students with coping with and moving beyond their circumstances to achieve their personal and academic goals.


Sullivan also stated that it is common with the charter school, that several of the students enrolled are one to two grade levels behind. But they commit to students that, if given at least two years, those students will see growth and improvements in academic and personal performance. With the leadership of principal, Sarah Bennett at the elementary school and Jodi Johns, leader at the middle school, they follow Six Measures of Excellence:


      Academic Growth, which is the belief that students’ progress toward proficiency and beyond is the most accurate indicator both of a student’s and a school’s academic strength.

      Academic Excellence Framework, whereby Imagine educators design their instruction to empower each student to make significant academic progress that is both measured and celebrated.

      Character Development, which is lead by the teachers who help students set personal and academic goals so that they may grow in becoming responsible while pursuing academic success.

      Parent Choice, which is a privilege in that parents have chosen their school to nurture and cultivate their child’s academic career. Teachers and staff work with the parents to fulfill a collaborative responsibility for the academic and personal growth of their children.

      Economic Sustainability, which requires the stewarding of public funds to optimize the students’ educational outcomes as well as taking care of the building and facilities. With these responsibilities, the school provides free transportation for its students.

      School Development, dedicating resources to improve the schools and enhancing their ability to serve students in a safe, ethical, joyful culture for learning.


Imagine Clay Community School is located at 1030 Clay Ave. Toledo, Ohio 43608. To learn more about the school, please call 419-727-9900 or visit www.imagineclayavenue.org.


Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/13/18 05:59:41 -0700.

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