We Inspire and Empower all students to achieve their full potential and become meaningful contributors in a global society.
You’ve happened upon this web page because you’re interested in the Olmsted Falls City School District’s story. It is a good story and one that continues to evolve. Sir Isaac Newton is often credited with the quote, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” Our district has a history of excellence that has been defined by those that have come before us and it is by standing upon their shoulders that we are able to see further and continue the work to refine and synthesize the vision. If your children attend or have attended our school district you will understand The Bulldog Way and know how we’re different than other districts.
Our district is one of approximately 611 local school districts in our state. The Olmsted Falls City School District is located in the southwest portion of Cuyahoga County in the State of Ohio. We have five school buildings - an early childhood center; a 1st-3rd grade, 4th-5th, 6th-8th and a 9-12 high school. Overall we have approximately 3,900 students. While we are about 20 miles outside of Cleveland, OH, our community is quite small with very little industry and commercial development. This provides a very nice hometown feel.
Often times when parents are considering moving and shopping school districts they rely on realtors or school rankings to find prospective locations where they’d consider moving their families. A high quality school district is important and should be a top variable when determining where to move. When you’re conducting the search you’ll see that our district has a pretty good ranking on those traditional school ratings, however if you were hoping that we’d be at the top of a traditional ranking list you will likely be disappointed.
There was a time in the district’s history when it sought to be at the top of the test score heap, and we were. Ohio once had a school accountability system whereby it gave out rankings based on how a district performed on standardized tests and for over a decade, Olmsted Falls Schools received Excellence and Excellence with Distinction awards. These awards essentially meant that our students performed really well on state tests. Our instructional model focused heavily on preparing our students to do well on these types of assessments. We provided worksheets, test prep materials and focused on performing well. It was our way of showing to our community that we were doing well. When one seeks to focus on test score performance as the primary outcome of educational quality, it shrinks the curriculum. The focus moves from “deep learning” to covering curriculum for the purpose of performing well on a test. This was a philosophy that we once embraced, however through significant reflection, that philosophy changed approximately 8 years ago.
Choosing to Be Different on Purpose
With support and guidance from our Board of Education and community stakeholders, we created a strategic plan that put us on a new path--a path where we chose to be different on purpose. While other school districts will report on their “All A’s” awards that they receive from the Ohio Department of Education, awards based on test performances, we will not (and despite our de-emphasis on these tests we have received these sorts of awards). We believe that calling attention to this sort of recognition clouds our focus on what matters most--developing good Citizens who are Collaborators, Communicators, Critical Thinkers that are Creative, Self-Directed and Self-Confident. In order to be “different on purpose,” we needed to shift our focus to other things.
As a result, over the past several years our instructional focus has shifted. While the learning standards that our state has released serve as the basis of our instruction, it is what our teaching staff does with those standards that has helped to galvanize The Bulldog Way. The district’s focus is on providing a high-quality Triple A (Academics, Arts and Athletics) experience to our students. Yes...we teach the learning standards for language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and so on, but the focus isn’t the information. The content that is taught to our students serves as a vehicle towards a greater purpose. Our instructional staff prioritizes getting to know their students and uses their interests to design engaging lessons for our students with the goal of developing them into global contributors.
We are a district that uses student engagement as its “True North.” Through the integration of 10 purposeful design components with the academic content standards we believe that we are better able to deliver on the Portrait of an Olmsted Graduate competencies that serve as our focus. We have redefined the kinds of metrics and outcomes that we share with our community to demonstrate that we are fulfilling our promise of whole child education and progressing on our strategic plan. The district along with each building has what we call a sigaling chart to illustrate the things we’re working on. With our whole child focus, we believe that we can begin to realize our vision to Inspire and Empower students through academics, arts and athletics--our Triple A. This is who we are and how we've chosen to be different on purpose. We do these things intentionally and we do them well.
Written by Dr. Jim Lloyd, Superintendent of Schools