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East Cleveland Schools CEO says changes are bringing success to F-rated district

Posted at 4:45 PM, Oct 29, 2019

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Changes are happening with East Cleveland City Schools, and it starts at the top. CEO Dr. Henry Pettigrew II said for the last 15 years, the district has received a grade of F; now the curriculum is under construction.

“We’re seeing some success here,” said Pettigrew. “The school district was taken over by the state. They haven’t had the help in a long time, and their parents didn’t have the help.”

Pettiegrew oversees about 2,000 students. In each of them, he sees excellence.

“Our children are beautiful. My eyes dance with glee, thinking about the possibilities,” said Pettiegrew.

Part of his plan involves college, and career readiness — starting in kindergarten.

“We’re the fourth poorest community in the United States,” said Pettiegrew.

Poverty is the reason many resources come from within. Pettiegrew charts teacher progress in 20-day increments. It will happen nine times this school year.

“I identified immediately that teachers needed additional professional development,” said Pettiegrew. “I’m the chief teacher as well.”

He said he went on a listening tour and invested 80 hours in hearing the community’s goals and concerns.

“There’s issues with homelessness, children not having clothes, not having adequate water,” said Pettiegrew.

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.