Beachwood Schools recently graduated an outstanding senior class that exemplified our district mission: to develop intellectual entrepreneurs with a social conscience. As their parents proudly send them on to universities around the country, to serve in the United States military and to enter the workforce, those of us who work for Beachwood Schools turn our attention to next school year. Our focus remains on academics, intercultural awareness and mental health, as an organization and for each of our students individually.
Beachwood’s initial results on the spring state tests should place us among the top school districts in Northeast Ohio and in the state. It is gratifying to see our students make such a strong showing for our district’s ranking. These scores, when viewed as a whole, tell us that Beachwood students are effectively learning what their teachers are teaching them and that Beachwood teachers are effectively teaching rigorous content and skills to Beachwood students at the appropriate grade level.
Beachwood’s growing computer science program was recently awarded the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award. Just 490 schools nationwide received this award for boasting 50% or greater female representation in AP Computer Science courses. Providing female students with access to computer science contributes to gender parity and is a driver of innovation, creativity and competition. We are proud to see this program growing – it is one way Beachwood Schools prepares our students for the future.
Beachwood students are also learning the skills to connect globally. One way is earning Ohio’s new Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas by demonstrating a high level of proficiency in English and at least one other world language. These students comprehend, speak, read, write or sign using culturally appropriate language with a high degree of competence.
Hundreds of Beachwood students take advantage of the unique opportunities our district offers them – many explore the field of medicine in University Hospitals’ Beachwood Medical Academy, and others, the field of engineering through the Design & Innovation Program partnership with Cleveland State University’s Washkewicz College of Engineering.
The district recently announced the hiring of a director of equity and community engagement, a key position to help Beachwood leverage the promise of our amazing diversity. We appreciate the many cultures present in our schools and will work to ensure every student and family feels a sense of belonging in Beachwood. Our Diversity Recruitment and Retention Task Force continues to influence district programs and practices toward the goal of the community being reflected in the school staff. Our high school students’ Many Cultures, One Bison initiative, which promotes and celebrates unity within diversity, is extending to the middle school. We continue to establish partnerships across organizations and interest groups, such as with the Anti-Defamation League and a collaboration between our MAC Scholars (Minority Achievement Committee) and Israeli Culture Club.
Mental Health and Student Growth
Beachwood students are living in a complex, quickly evolving world. That world is promising and exciting, but our students face greater stressors at a younger age than many of us ever experienced. Beachwood Schools helps students navigate this world with resiliency and by forging authentic connections through social action and community giving. Our students set a world record with the Herd Against Hunger and turned out for Rescue Village’s Wet Nose 5K as examples. Our staff and students are committed to the Be Present campaign that trains all of us to support at-risk youth. For Beachwood Schools, this is a top priority at a critical time.
Beachwood’s 2019-20 school year holds tremendous promise for our entire community. We are excited to get started!
Robert P. Hardis is superintendent of Beachwood City Schools.