As the Upper Arlington community and schools celebrate their centennial year, the annual State of the Schools event showcased the innovation and excellence that are propelling the district into its second century.
The fourth-annual State of the Schools on Monday, February 5 featured student performers and presenters, artists and their art, and student- and staff-led initiatives and ideas unfolding in the district’s nine schools.
Kicking off the district presentations in the Learning Center at Upper Arlington High School were the Tremont Elementary Troubadours with a performance that included “Serve, Lead, Succeed,” an original centennial song inspired by the district’s vision statement.
“Our centennial is a major event, and our history is indeed worth a year-long celebration and more,” Superintendent Paul Imhoff said. “But we all know that our very best days are not behind us — they are in front of us.”
In his remarks and videos with testimonials from students and staff members, Imhoff highlighted the progress toward the five goals in the district’s strategic plan, but he noted that “we are just getting started.”
“We will continue and deepen our focus on performance and personalization,” he said. “And we will be working with our students, staff and community to design and build new learning environments for our elementary and high school students where we can continue to prepare them for their future.”
In a message that resonated throughout his remarks, Imhoff shared that “I am proud that our community understands that buildings are not the most important thing – what happens inside of those buildings is what matters most.”
One of the biggest challenges for the district, he said, is the growing enrollment in those buildings. Ten years ago, district-wide enrollment was approximately 5,600 students. That number has risen to more than 6,100 students currently and is projected to grow to almost 7,200 students district-wide by 2027-2028.
“We are working with our design team and our community, staff, and student groups to make sure our new and renovated buildings will accommodate this growth,” he said.
As the student population continues to grow and the district works with community members, staff and students to design six new or renovated school buildings, it remains committed to its mission: to challenge and support every student every step of the way. As part of that commitment and the personalization goal in the strategic plan, the district, in partnership with the Upper Arlington Education Association and the local chapter of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, launched a district-wide focus on cultural competency and diversity training for staff members.
“We are committed to each student and seeing each student as an individual,” Imhoff said. “To fully realize our potential as a district we must first ensure that ALL Means ALL.”
This effort complements the performance goal in the strategic plan that all students attain academic excellence. The inaugural UA Idea Day at Upper Arlington High School, Imhoff said, is a great example of the progress in this area. UA Idea Day came up through the UAHS Research & Design Lab and was made possible by the Upper Arlington Education Foundation and the UAHS PTO. The day of workshops and conversations on February 9 provided all students and high school staff an opportunity to explore their interests and “create, innovate and dream.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of our students, staff, the Upper Arlington Education Foundation and the high school PTO for making this happen,” Imhoff said. “Great things are happening in our schools, and this is a perfect example of the results that are coming from our focused strategic plan.”
Imhoff concluded his remarks with the presentation of the second annual Dr. Robert Service and Leadership Award to Kellie Ali, Jennifer Heck and Tracy Peters for the work as the co-chairs of Citizens for UA Schools.
Following the presentations, the Learning Fair and the Upper Arlington Education Foundation’s Gallery of Grants featured more than 50 performances and displays from all nine schools.