Renee Willis

Willis

It’s a new day at Richmond Heights schools. Our mission is to prepare all learners to navigate an ever-changing global community by offering a robust learning environment and innovative programming. Over the course of the last year — despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic — we’ve lived up to this mission.

21st-Century Community Learning Center

In March, we commemorated the opening of our upper school, which houses grades seven to 12. This state-of-the-art 21st-century building isn’t just a school, however. The building will serve as a community center for the close-knit city of Richmond Heights.

Thanks to the foresight and visioning work of our leadership team, the school is home to the Cuyahoga County Public Library Richmond Heights branch. It also features a multipurpose cafeteria that allows for community-wide events. The space offers auditorium seating for 400, a stage, professional lighting and built-in audiovisual equipment. Similarly, the gymnasium was built to provide more than just physical education to students. It can be converted into multiple basketball courts to support our varsity teams as well as the city’s youth basketball program. The space is ideal for tournaments, which will bring revenue to the city and district.

The learning center also houses an after-school program for students in grades seven to 12 who are residents of Richmond Heights. The program includes tutoring and homework help from certified teachers, as well as additional enrichment opportunities.

The new school was funded by the unprecedented passing of a 12.08 mills levy and we can’t thank our community enough for making this vision a reality.

Innovative Programming

Over the course of the last year, we’ve expanded upon unique programming opportunities for the students of Richmond Heights.

With help from the Expanding Opportunities for Every Child grant, we purchased several flight simulators for our aviation classroom. Here, students can learn flight navigation from a virtual private pilot. We also have several drones so students can earn their Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft certification.

We’ve continued to build our Makerspace, where students use their critical thinking skills to take classroom concepts and put them into action by designing and producing products. The space features a 3D printer, garment printer, vinyl printer/cutter, laser cutter and milling machine.

Richmond Heights also kicked off a partnership with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and is now offering entrepreneurship club, through which students develop business plans and use the Makerspace to implement those plans. We are also working with MAGNET: The Manufacturing and Advocacy Growth Network and its early college early, career program. The program allows selected high school juniors to participate in workforce development, paid on-the-job training and earn college credit. As part of this initiative, we are also working with Amatrol to purchase equipment and curriculum so that students can earn an industry-recognized manufacturing certificate.

With the addition of these new opportunities, Richmond Heights has seen a significant increase in its graduation rate.

Financial Outlook

Richmond Heights schools earned Ohio’s Auditor of State award in 2020 for clean and accurate record keeping, which recognizes the district’s efforts to protect taxpayer dollars. As always, we will continue fighting for our taxpayer dollars, whether in Columbus or here locally, so that our students receive the best education possible.

With a new school and new tools, we are excited to return to school for a more traditional year, where we will continue doing what we do best … preparing students to navigate an ever-changing global community by offering a robust learning environment and innovative programming.


Renee Willis is superintendent of the Richmond Heights School District.

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