CMSD welcomed 600 teachers to a four-day conference Monday, and more than 40 percent of them are new to the profession, new to the District or, in a few cases, returning after time away.
Of more than 300 teachers joining the system this year, 256 signed up for CMSD's four-day BLUE Institute, which continues through Thursday at Cuyahoga Community College’s Corporate College East in Warrensville Heights. For them, the conference counted as required orientation.
Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon and Chief Academic Officer Michelle Pierre-Farid greeted the teachers, noting that they have arrived in the midst of the rapid and sweeping reforms spelled out in The Cleveland Plan. Those reforms include searching the country to recruit the best possible educators.
“Our bet is on you,” Gordon told the audience. “We are really, really excited that you are here with us today.”
Pierre-Farid said the teachers, whose large numbers stem from a wave of retirements and other departures, have a rare opportunity to be part of movement that is “going to change a city.”
The new teachers also watched a 2014-15 year-in-review video produced by CMSD-TV. See video below.
The teachers are a mix – some homegrown, others from out of state, some familiar with urban education, others experiencing it for the first time.
Cody Lind, 22, came from Las Vegas via Penn State University and will begin his career by teaching special education at John Adams High School. He said he wants to do his part to ensure that every child has a “fair and equitable education, no matter what your ZIP code is.”
“I just think there is a great opportunity here,” he said after signing in for the conference. “CMSD seems like they are on the right path forward.”
Delilah Montague of Solon previously taught two years in Cleveland charter schools and will now help second-graders at Patrick Henry School.
“Working with urban kids, that’s what I do,” said the 30-year-old Montague, who described herself as a strong classroom manager and mentor who also builds relationships with students.
Music teacher Kraig Brock, Collinwood High School Class of 2004, joins CMSD after teaching four years at charter and traditional public schools in Cincinnati.
Brock, 29, will be based at Bolton School, where he plans to start steel and marching bands. He said he will draw inspiration from his former high school band director.
“I’m picking up where he left off,” Brock said.
The second annual BLUE Institute -- (BLUE stands for Build, Lead, Utilize and Engage) – was designed to bring a national-caliber teachers conference to Cleveland.
The agenda offered the teachers more than 80 presentations to pick from each day. It also gave them a chance to hear from noteworthy speakers, including Greg Walker, Midwestern vice president for the College Board; Karen Mapp, a researcher who focuses on family engagement and home-school partnerships; Dr. Michael Rozien, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic; and Samuel Bentances, a diversity consultant who talks about reaching all students. (Watch Samuel Bentances on YouTube.)
More than a dozen sponsors combined to provided $80,000 in support for the conference. The dollar amount is double last year’s total.