By Jeff Gallatin
Butternut Primary School continues to practice what it preaches and is the only public school in Cuyahoga County to be named an Ohio High Performing School of Honor.
District officials were notified of the award last week by the Ohio Department of Education. It is one of only two schools in the county – the other being a charter school – and one of 37 in the entire state to receive the award. It comes a year after the North Olmsted school was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
Principal Chris Caleris said all the people involved with the school are pleased and excited about their latest award.
“It’s a really a high honor for all of us, the students and their families, the staff and the neighborhood,” he said. “It really reinforces what we do at the school in terms of seeking to do the best in terms of learning and achieving.”
In notifying North Olmsted officials of the award, Richard Ross, the superintendent of public instruction for the Ohio Department of Education, said it was based on the school’s 2012-2013 local report card, while also citing Butternut’s pattern of continued excellence.
“The High Performing Schools of Honor program recognizes Ohio schools that have sustained or increased student achievement over time in reading, math and graduation rates, while serving many disadvantaged students,” Ross said in the notification letter.
“Every day I tell Ohio educators that we must do whatever it takes to make sure that our students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to achieve academically,” he said. “Your school is one where this is happening, and I commend you for it. I hope you will share your strategies generously with other Ohio schools.”
Caleris said the school’s strategies focus on the students and staff working closely together.
“We emphasize the relationship between the students and teachers,” he said. “We let the students know that they are special and that we are there for them. We want the students to be comfortable in coming to all the staff. When I was in school, I didn’t really feel that I could approach or talk to some of my principals. I don’t want our students to feel that way, I want them to feel that they can come talk to me or any of the staff about any problem.”
Caleris said the staff is focused on providing the best learning experience for the students and being accessible to the community.
Laura Hughmanic, the PTA president at Butternut, said the close relationship between the students and teachers shows in many areas.
“It goes back to Chris and the staff and how they treat the students as being special,” she said. “If the students needs help, they get it to the student.”
Hughmanic, herself a former fourth- and fifth-grade teacher in Berea, who is substituting right now while being a stay-at-home mother, said the teachers tailor their educational programs to the student.
“They help each student learn in the best way possible for that particular student,” she said. “Each is able to learn in their own way.”
Hughmanic said word of Buttnernut’s successful ways is spreading.
“We’ve got about 45 more parents in the PTA this year, and my understanding is that people have called into the school district and asked where do they have to live to have their child go to Butternut,” she said.
State officials will be sending a Schools of Honor banner to be displayed at the school, and the Ohio Department of Education will be spotlighting it in education functions. Caleris said people at the school are still deciding what they should do to celebrate the award.
“We’re putting some thought into it. It’s going to have to be something special,” he said.