Each Child, Our Future…Something to Sink Your Teeth Into


By: Marva Jones

ThinkstockPhotos-76763121.jpgI first heard about Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education when I began looking for my next gig at the Ohio Department of Education. As I read the plan, I thought: Now here is something I can sink my teeth into and make an impact. Honestly, I believed the Department needed something to guide its work, make policy decisions and connect with families, communities and partners to reach each child and affect their future. So, I read on.

There are more than 134,000 full-time educators serving in 3,600 public schools and educating approximately 1.7 million school children in Ohio. The strategic plan was built by Ohioans for Ohioans and launched by Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction and the State Board of Education in the summer of 2018. More than 150 Ohio-based partners worked to develop the plan. Approximately 1,200 Ohio citizens — including parents, caregivers, preK-12 educators, higher education representatives, business leaders, employers, community members, state legislators and, of course, students themselves — attended meetings across the state to review the plan and provide feedback. In total, more than 1,350 Ohioans helped develop the plan.

The plan made me think of my teaching days, but more importantly, it brought up memories of when I became a principal early in my education career. Being the head of a school combined my favorite aspects of education: student interaction, implementation of curriculum, mentoring and supporting teachers, achievement gains, reducing behavioral issues, and partnering with parents and community members. Everything we did focused on how we could positively impact the lives of the children. This sounds just like the strategic plan components.

Specifically, I had a flashback to when I became a new principal in 2006-2007 at Dueber Elementary in Canton City Schools. Being the youngest of 24 principals in the system, I thought about the monumental goal of educating each child. To do this, one of my main missions was to create partnerships with families and community members. I wanted the school to be a great place for students and a place where teachers loved working! That became my mantra.

This document provides an excellent summary of the strategic plan. It highlights that the strategic plan encompasses the following components:

Four Learning Domains — Foundational Knowledge & Skills, Well-Rounded Content, Leadership & Reasoning, and Social-Emotional Learning.

One Goal — Ohio will increase annually the percentage of its high school graduates who, one year after graduation, are: enrolled in post-high school learning; serving in a military branch; earning a living wage; or engaged in a meaningful self-sustaining vocation.

Three Core Principles — Equity, Partnerships and Quality Schools.

10 Priority Strategies — 1) Highly effective teachers and leaders; 2) Principal support; 3) Teacher and instruction support; 4) Standards reflect all learning domains; 5) Assessments gauge all learning domains; 6) Accountability system honors all learning domains; 7) Meet needs of the whole child; 8) Expand quality early learning; 9) Develop literacy skills; 10) Transform high school/provide more paths to graduation.

The state-level vision provides an aspirational guide for students, parents, partners and the education system: In Ohio, each child is challenged to discover and learn, prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path and empowered to become a resilient lifelong learner who contributes to society.

My mission as a principal more than 20 years ago included many of these components. In my coming blogs, take a stroll down memory lane with me and discover how aspects of the strategic plan always have been sprinkled liberally throughout my career. I hope this will help educators see how the work we do aligns with the plan and helps us recognize the difference we are making for each child and the future. In my next blog, I’ll share my thoughts on partnerships.

Marva Jones is senior executive director for Continuous Improvement for the Ohio Department of Education. You can learn more about Marva by clicking here.

Marva Kay Jones
Hey Sandy! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and providing feedback! It’s been great reflecting on my past work and seeing how it continues to align with my current work – implementing the strategic plan. I agree Sandy, seeing is believing! It is our job, at the state and local level, to ensure that each child is able to have a personal connection to the curriculum, thus being able to envision success. Take care! - Marva
1/14/2019 5:43:17 PM

Dr. Sandy Womack
Marva, thanks for sharing your information and reflecting back on Canton. I keep forgetting I am older than you. Our students with the greatest need must see themselves in the curriculum. Seeing is believing. -Dr. Sandy Womack
12/28/2018 2:34:18 PM

Amber Schneider
Ms. Eszasz,
I discussed your comment with our Chief Strategy Officer, Shaun Yoder and we could not agree with you more about the importance of physical activity and play and exploration—especially outdoors. That is why physical education is emphasized as part of the Well-Rounded Content Learning Domain (check out page 12 of the plan). But Ohio has nearly 3,600 preK-12 public schools, and we are a local control state. This plan is a roadmap to guide development of state-level education policies and practices. It enables local schools and districts to make the best decisions for their students—many of which include spending time outside.
11/28/2018 4:19:35 PM

Marva Kay Jones
Hi: The blog is new for me, but I will continue to walk down memory lane with staff members from my school in Canton helping me. Many have reached out to comment to me personally. Thanks for reaching out here, so it may encourage others to do the same. Take care. -Marva
11/15/2018 4:19:33 PM

Jay Keefer
Nicely said....my friend! -Jay
11/8/2018 5:51:57 PM

Audrey Elszasz
There is not one word about ensuring that children spend time outdoors as part of this plan. When children spend time outdoors, they are getting physical activity as well as relief from stress. Outdoor time at all grade levels should be mandatory. A missed opportunity to have a life-changing impact on the children of Ohio.
11/2/2018 10:26:22 AM

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