By Megan Davis
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter
children excited about starting school, and parents engaged
in locating and reviewing their child’s schedule. Imagine a
school that is designed to meet children where they are,
offering them an opportunity to learn, grow and develop
based on their individual needs. Picture a school where
students, especially those with learning disabilities, are
improving each year, adding value to their education and
accountability with the state of Ohio.
Community School is a place that children are working
through their many challenges, striving for greatness; and
it’s in the heart of Toledo’s North End.
Thursday, August 16, Imagine Clay’s staff partnered with
community organizations and businesses to bring forth a
wealth of resources for students and their families as the
new school year commenced. Whether you were a parent seeking
employment, or a little boy who needed a haircut, these
resources were available to parents and students as they
attended the back to school fair.
make a turn off Stickney Avenue onto Clay, you can feel the
difference as you drive down toward the school. The doors
and windows were open and you could hear music, playing,
children’s voices ringing. Immediately upon arriving inside
the school, there were teachers and staff members greeting
students and their parents with smiles, all set with
important information for the celebration.
overall culture of the school exudes positivity, hope and
commitment. It is seen throughout the halls and in the
classrooms, and on the faces of the students and staff of
the school. During the back to school celebration, each
family was given an outline of all the resources available
as well as tickets for a free meal consisting of a hot dog,
chips, a drink and free ice cream from the ice cream truck
stationed in the back lot of the school.
provided a bounce house for the children with DJ Doww Jonez
providing an exciting soundtrack for the families to enjoy.
Because the school has two campuses – the second being on
2729 124th Street at Summit St. (grades 5-8) – the school
even provided a shuttle from one campus to the next
periodically, for families who have students at both
to Jamin Sullivan, the dean of Culture, the school serves
approximately 400 students between the campuses. Their
partnership with Brightside Academy gives families with
children at the preschool level an opportunity to have a
place for their younger children to attend who shares the
same positive culture Imagine Clay has.
staff were thoughtful in setting up an air-conditioned
mobile barber shop in one of the classrooms where several
area barbers lent their services, free of charge, for
students to receive. Other community resources available at
the schools were Fed Ex which is now hiring for their
distribution center as well as Brightside Academy, A Step
Beyond Mental Health Services which also is housed inside
each of Clay Community’s campuses throughout the school year
and The Kitchen Salon, natural hair care resources for
parents and their children.
Establishing a positive culture for personal growth, self
discipline and academic achievement is the mission Sullivan
is implementing daily, utilizing shared values such as
justice, integrity and fun. He believes that children need
support in all those areas in order to thrive in school.
Although he is responsible for disciplining students who
struggle with behavioral challenges, he stated that ,“One of
the biggest challenges youth are facing today is overcoming
difficult situations, sometimes within their home or
community environment, knowing they have to still come to
school and perform. Although they tend to carry their pain
or frustration to school, we remind them that our school is
a safe place and we encourage them to find ways to cope with
their feelings so that they can focus, get motivated and be
productive each day.”
when referring to the shared value of justice, he ensures
that each student is held to the standard that best suits
the individual; meaning that two students who have displayed
similar negative behaviors may not be held to the same level
of accountability and responsibility. In that, the school is
able to maintain its integrity in providing appropriate
accommodations for each of its students without bypassing
their shared values and measures of excellence. This too, is
what makes the partnership with A Step Beyond an important
piece to the puzzle. They are an on-site resource directly
assisting students with coping with and moving beyond their
circumstances to achieve their personal and academic goals.
also stated that it is common with the charter school, that
several of the students enrolled are one to two grade levels
behind. But they commit to students that, if given at least
two years, those students will see growth and improvements
in academic and personal performance. With the leadership of
principal, Sarah Bennett at the elementary school and Jodi
Johns, leader at the middle school, they follow Six Measures
which is the belief that
students’ progress toward proficiency and beyond is the most
accurate indicator both of a student’s and a school’s
whereby Imagine educators design their instruction to
empower each student to make significant academic progress
that is both measured and celebrated.
lead by the teachers who help students set personal and
academic goals so that they may grow in becoming responsible
while pursuing academic success.
which is a privilege in that parents have chosen their
school to nurture and cultivate their child’s academic
career. Teachers and staff work with the parents to fulfill
a collaborative responsibility for the academic and personal
growth of their children.
which requires the stewarding of public funds to optimize
the students’ educational outcomes as well as taking care of
the building and facilities. With these responsibilities,
the school provides free transportation for its students.
dedicating resources to improve the schools and enhancing
their ability to serve students in a safe, ethical, joyful
culture for learning.
Clay Community School is located at 1030 Clay Ave. Toledo,
Ohio 43608. To learn more about the school, please call
419-727-9900 or visit www.imagineclayavenue.org.