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Michael R. White Elementary, Stonebrook Montessori Will Merge

Michael R. White Elementary School in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland was slated to close but will instead merge with nearby Stonebrook Montessori School.

The new, combined school is expected to open its doors next fall.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) had Michael R. White in Glenville on a list of schools targeted for closure due to low student attendance and its aging, deteriorating building.

But CMSD CEO Eric Gordon said district officials heard from community members concerned that closing Michael R. White would leave the Glenville neighborhood “school barren.”

CMSD’s solution was to merge with Stonebrook Montessori. The merger offers the standalone charter school access to the district’s resources and programs like “Say Yes,” said Stonebrook boardmember Rebecca Nappi.

“Some of the challenges that we've been having in terms of all of the compliance tools with ODP [Ohio Department of Education], the convergence of state testing with the Montessori model and really working with a challenging student population,” said Nappi. “So, we were thinking as a board, strategically, about how do we continue to advance Montessori in Cleveland knowing that we are just getting started.

Michael R. White Principal Ariel Hayes will be the principal at the new, as-yet unnamed school, and current Stonebrook Principal Jacqui Miller will serve as the school’s Montessori “model leader.” The Montessori model will be an asset to children in the area, Miller said.

“There are important initiatives in CMSD that are focused on social, emotional learning and conflict resolution and working to, you know, to address a lot of the inequities in education, said Miller. “Montessori is just really well suited to doing those things.”

CMSD is currently hiring staff for the new school and will give Stonebrook teachers “first preference,” since they are the “Montessori trained people,” Gordon said.

Part of the transition period for the combined school includes outreach to the community to keep families informed about the new school, how it will educate more children on the East Side and getting parents up to speed on what the Montessori model is, he said.

I think as people learn about it [the Montessori model], it's going to really be exciting to them because it's what we want all kids to experience,” said Gordon. ”It's engaging in complex tasks and demonstrating. You're learning authentically and having fun in school.”

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