Category: Portfolio of Work

Graham charter group to add elementary school

Sunday, July 10, 2011 03:11 AM




One of Columbus’ longest-operating charter-school groups will become its own mini school district as it opens a fourth school.

The addition of Graham Primary School means students will be able to attend a school related to the original Graham School from kindergarten through high school. It’s thought to be the first locally based startup to build a kindergarten-to-12th grade network of separate schools in central Ohio. The elementary is to open in fall 2012.

The Graham Family of Schools opened Graham Expeditionary Middle School last year and started a second high school, the Charles School, in 2007.

The expansion runs counter to the silo-style operation of many charter schools. A handful of the 77 charters in central Ohio are K-12 schools, but many more are freestanding elementary, middle or high schools that have no relationship to one another.

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Charter schools are taxpayer-funded public schools that often are privately run. Few have expanded by adding separate campuses. And few, if any, offer an array of school choices that includes two different high schools, as Graham will.

“I don’t know that there is anyone else that is local who has done anything like this,” said Greg Brown, a co-founder and executive dean of the schools. “The K-12 thing gives some real serious options for families.”

It also positions the Graham schools to compete with other charters and traditional districts in a way they likely didn’t before. There will be continuity now; parents who like the learning-by-doing model that Graham is known for won’t have to worry about what to do for elementary school.

“It’s going to be competing at all levels,” said Todd Ziebarth, vice president of state advocacy for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, based in Washington, D.C. “Having this kind of setup can position them for the upper grades to have a more-stable student population.”

Ziebarth said it’s increasingly common for larger charter operators to build mini districts. Smaller but high-performing “mom and pop” operations such as Graham are following suit now, he said.

Research on central Ohio’s charter-school market has found that students regularly move back and forth between traditional district schools and charters. For example, it’s not uncommon for students to attend elementary school in a traditional district and then switch to a charter for middle school, where the Columbus City Schools’ performance is weakest.

“What we want is stability and continuity for a kid,” said Eileen Meers, Graham’s co-founder and executive dean of students. “I think that is what we hope to be offering when we go forward with an elementary school.”

Columbus children will benefit, said Mark Real, president and CEO of Columbus-based, which researches school issues.

“You’ve got these homegrown people taking an idea and shaping it to be unique,” he said. “That’s what charter schools were intended to do – test some fresh approaches. And they’re doing that. They’re certainly not duplicating what other schools are doing.”

A second established, high-performing charter school plans to expand in a way similar to Graham. The founders of the 10-year-old Arts and College Preparatory Academy are opening a related middle school this fall, the Academy of New Media Middle. Superintendent Paula Lasley said a New Media elementary will open in 2014, followed by a high school in 2015.

The schools will be a place where students “could go K-12 and not keep getting disconnect (after) disconnect,” Lasley said.

via Graham charter group to add elementary school | The Columbus Dispatch.


So in a fit of boredom I thoroughly read my Google Reader hits the other day and I stumbled on  This website helps you create fun, shot films using some simple tools.  I developed this little video, advertising the school, in about 30 minutes.  It is my first video that I’ve ever done, so you’ll get a glimpse of what your students might be able to do given the time and proper support.  This cool technology just gives further credence to the prevailing wisdom that opening the classroom doors up to include new technologies can be very enlightening and give students creative outlets they would not otherwise have.  Now pop some popcorn and enjoy the film!!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I had the major honor of visiting the future, sort of.  I was asked by the director of the Center for Experiential Learning, Leadership and Technology (, Thom McCain, to teach a quick lesson in the Classroom of the Future at the eTech Ohio 2010 conference in Columbus, Ohio.  The major idea for the presentation was, given laptops, school policies that embrace web 2.0 concepts, and creative teaching, what would the classroom of tomorrow look like?  My lesson, which was VERY quick, sought to utilize student collaboration, quick data integration into Microsoft office products for display, and other student reporting technologies to explore the thicknesses of the crusts of the Earth.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to teach in this classroom, but a number of technical details bogged down my lesson.  So I guess on that note, the classroom of the future is a lot like the classroom of today.  The main object of our presentation, how do school policies encourage or inhibit students’ learning, is of vital importance.  I plan to blog on this particular question in the very near future, but suffice it to say, we need policies that encourage the use of these technologies more, not less.


This presentation was developed by a small team and given at the summer professional development conference hosted by the Middle College National Consortium (MCNC).  MCNC is a consortium of high schools that provide students with earlier access to college courses in order to better prepare and support them for collegiate success.  There are over thirty members of the consortium nationwide and what a wonderful group of collaborators and professionals!

See this post by on the CELLT website by Thom McCain for more information.  Thom and I, amongst quite a few others, have been working on digitizing lessons that help support students for a career in the 21st century.  Our work has been presented to many folks around central Ohio and in NY with the MCNC conference.  We have been very pleased with the feedback and interest in this curriculum.  We use it as the primary curriculum for our advisory classes at our school, The Charles School at Ohio Dominican University.  Our 9th and 10th graders have been taught this curriculum for the last three years of the school and we have been very pleased with the response.  Our students are writing and reading better, they are better at collaborative work and presenting their work, and they are developing their professional digital footprint.

The presentation at the MCNC conference was given to a packed house of educators and administrators from MCNC schools around the nation.  Our participants developed at least the front page of an ePortfolio that we created with them in a 2 hour session.  The objectives of the session was to give these committed educators a chance to learn about ePortfolios and to get a sense as to how our students develop theirs.  Technically, this session was challenging, but I really think that it gave our participants a chance to see all of the great work our team has been able to do over a short period of time.

To get a sense about these ePortfolios, please feel free to check out mine.

The challenge that I think that doing ePortfolios puts to us, as educators, is asking students to create meaningful online content that shows their growth over time and causes them to deeply reflect about their academic decisions.  The focus is on the student and their work, right where it should be!

Thanks for reading!

The above presentation was presented at the Student Success Assessment Summit at The Ohio State University’s Fawcett Center on June 23, 2009.  I presented on a panel with other individuals from the realm of higher education (although I was representing high schools).  On the panel with me was Renay Scott of Owens Community College, Rich Robles of the University of Cincinnati, and Joyce Gromko of Bowling Green State University.  The panel was exceptional, informative, and highly involved in the on-going work of bringing ePortfolios to education; all for the purpose of supporting student learning and growth.


These pictures are the very beginning of TCS@ODU’s Panther Garden, an urban community garden. You don’t see any plants yet because it’s Ohio and March, but we will be breaking ground very soon. Panther Garden Before Planting

This is our staging ground in the classroom for growing in the garden.

This is our staging ground in the classroom for growing in the garden.

Students were asked to work on the garden design from a photograph of the garden.

Students were asked to work on the garden design from a photograph of the garden.

PD Day Technology Training

This is a presentation I developed with a co-worker to train The Charles School at Ohio Dominican University staff more about Web 2.0 technologies.

Thesis Paper PUBLISHED!!!

Finally!! It’s published!! The thesis paper, full text, is finally on-line and I couldn’t be happier!
I would like to thank my wife, my family, and my friends. And the academy for believing in me.
Just kidding.

But seriously, this is amazing and I can’t believe that it’s over! I mean, I am so pleased to be done and happy to have contributed to our scientific understanding. Ahem.

Anyways, check it out, if you wish. A bit dry but maybe the abstract would be interesting to you.

The following link is the primary data for my M.S. thesis paper.  This, apparently, does not mean that it is published, only that this is where it will live, electronically, for all of time.  I guess that this also means that instead of sitting on a bookshelf gathering dust, that it’ll sit unaccessed on a server somewhere as bits of data.  Anyways, I don’t truly care where it is, but I have made a contribution to scientific understanding and that’s pretty cool!

Clicking on this link will lead you to a Google map of my sampling sites in central Ohio.  My study examined the effectiveness of removal efforts by community groups of Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle).