Ohio Department of Education Topic News

Honoring Top Schools – Butler Elementary & Citizens Academy


The State Board of Education of Ohio recognized Butler Elementary (Richland County) as a 2010 National Title 1 Distinguished School in Category 1: Exceptional Student Performance for Two or More Consecutive Years

Butler Elementary

  • William “Roger” Knight, Principal
  • Nicole Walker, 1st grade teacher
  • Cheryl Manges, 1st grade teacher

Butler Elementary School is one of two elementary schools in the Clear Fork School system. Butler houses K-5 with 360 students. It is located approximately 70 miles northwest of Columbus. The district covers 110 square miles with the population divided between the villages of Bellville and Butler. Many of our students come from low-income families. Forty-nine percent of our students qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch.

Before the 2005-2006 school year, Butler Elementary had never advanced beyond a continuous improvement state rating. Since then it has been rated effective once and excellent for the last four years. Butler has been named a state superintendent’s “School of Promise” three times during that same period and in 2009 it was named a “National Blue Ribbon” school.

Citizens Academy

Citizens Academy (Cuyahoga County) was recognized as a 2010 National Title 1 Distinguished School in Category 2: Closing the Achievement Gap Between Student Groups

  • Margie Hirschfeld, Model Leader
  • Lisa Merriman, Assistant Principal
Located in Cleveland, Ohio, Citizens Academy was founded in 1999 under a simple premise: urban students can excel. Since then, we have grown into a K-5, nonprofit, public charter school serving 406 students - 99% African-American and 82% low income. Citizens Academy is also an incredible turnaround story. In 2003 the school was in Academic Emergency. Over the ensuing years, it developed an approach that placed students’ needs above all considerations and maintained a commitment to continuous improvement. As a result, Citizens Academy is one of only two schools in Ohio to go from Academic Emergency to consecutive ratings of Excellent, the state’s highest rating.