Dr. Robert Hunt, superintendent of Chagrin Falls Schools, is the recipient of the 2020 Martha Holden Jennings Foundation Ohio Superintendent Outstanding Performance Award. This is one of the highest awards the foundation bestows on an educator. Dr. Hunt was nominated by President Phil Rankin and members of the Chagrin Falls Board of Education.
Chagrin Falls Schools will receive $10,000 in Dr. Hunt’s honor, made payable to the School District. He will be recognized at the annual Jenning’s Educator Retreat in July.
Dr. Hunt has worked with the Chagrin Falls’ Board of Education, administration, teachers, students and community to build a support network that not only consistently secures operating budget funding but also gained the support of voters to invest $32 million dollars to complete a renovation to Chagrin Falls Intermediate School. He used this project as an opportunity to increase the community’s use of the facility through both public and private events. Most notably, Dr. Hunt helped to design the school to facilitate a grade house structure that encourages several classes across a grade to utilize not only their classroom space but also the common area and special classrooms such as a Collaboration Area/Maker Space. “His vision for the future of learning and ability to mobilize and activate resources to maximize potential is remarkable,” said Rankin in the nomination letter.
Dr. Hunt’s leadership led to the District’s pursuit of a 1:1 Google Chromebook initiative, resulting in the District being one of the first in the state to provide a 1:1 learning environment to 100% of students. Similarly, Chagrin Falls was also the first district in the country to have all teachers obtain Google Level 1 Educator certification.
Under his leadership, the District has engaged in various initiatives to grow the capacity of teachers and students, including the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) Competency-Based Learning Grant Project, which spawned growth of the following:
- the number of College Credit Plus (CCP) – credentialed teachers within the staff who are now able to offer college coursework within the walls of Chagrin Falls High School,
- the number of gifted education endorsement trained teachers across K-12 who are now equipped to best meet the needs of gifted students across the District,
- the number of reading endorsement trained teachers who are now better-equipped to meet the needs of struggling readers across the District,
- the number of teachers trained in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) programs to provide STEM education to all K-8 students,
- and the number of AP-trained teachers able to offer additional AP courses to our students.
This work to grow the District’s teachers has yielded excellent teaching and has translated into the development of deep learning experiences for students, including:
- the daily engagement of all students in 1:1 learning,
- the provision of five sections of CCP coursework within the campus to be offered to Chagrin Falls High School students in the 2020-21 school year,
- the growth of extensive gifted services (via cluster-groups in grades 2-3, advanced/honors/AP/CCP classes in grades 4-12, and via STRETCH resource room service in grades 4-6),
- and the enrollment of students in 28 AP courses currently offered.
Dr. Hunt is responsive in his support of excellent teaching to meet the changing needs of Chagrin Falls’ students – including the offering of new secondary level courses designed to provide targeted and extended intervention to students in math and English language arts and the support of District participation in the ODE’s Mathematics Modeling and Reasoning Pilot to assist in developing a new and highly relevant math course designed for high school seniors across the state. “While AP scores and state report card results confirm the District’s achievement, Dr. Hunt’s commitment to growth beyond test scores and vision to maximize the potential of teaching and learning across the District is clear,” said Rankin.
“Our District’s very recent quick, thoughtful, and seamless transition to a K-12 online learning environment during this past week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence how Dr. Hunt’s visionary leadership has equipped staff and students with the tools they need to yield high quality and responsive teaching and learning,” said Rankin. “He has created a learning environment for teachers and students which promotes immediate real-world problem-solving and thoughtful risk-taking to creatively address changing needs.” Dr. Hunt’s ability to harness the strengths of teachers and students and maximize them to create and implement action plans during this current crisis has made the District a leader in the state. His willingness to share with colleagues across the state to assist them in providing high quality teaching and learning exemplifies his commitment to education. Dr. Hunt is committed to improving teaching and learning for all students within the District and beyond.
During the past year, Dr. Hunt created a vision for flexible learning, which seeks to provide a student-centered approach that equips students with the appropriate tools and assets to make choices about the sequence and focus of their learning at their own pace, in their own way, and within a flexible schedule and environment that best meets their needs. Dr. Hunt’s vision suggested that the pursuit of flexible learning approaches would promote deep learning through excellent teaching. He identified a Flexible Learning Committee of teachers and administrators at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year to research existing models across grade levels and content areas. This team identified five models for flexible instruction, some of which are already present in the District: Portfolio, Online, Web-based, Externship, and Blended. “Through the team’s research, Dr. Hunt realized that no single model was ideal for Chagrin Falls’ students and teachers,” said Rankin. “He determined that the development of a uniquely personalized model that is most appropriate for Chagrin Falls’ teachers and students would be most appropriate.” Thus, Dr. Hunt led the development of a pilot program to trial flexible learning options in the 2020-21 school year. Applicants were encouraged to design their course to be flexible with time, meeting dates, and delivery format as well as to identify potential challenges to success. Interested teachers submitted applications for administrator review. The District will provide the selected teachers with the time and resources to build identified new courses, new high powered computers, and licenses for identified software requested to support the proposed offerings. “This visionary proposal, which is rooted in thoughtful research and study and supported by existing expertise and backgrounds of students and staff, yet again exemplifies Dr. Hunt’s interest in ongoing staff and student learning to maximize their potential,” said Rankin.
“I am very proud of Dr. Hunt and the entire staff of the Chagrin Falls’ Schools,” said Rankin. “This award is a great recognition of Dr. Hunt and his team for exemplifying the criteria of “deep learning and excellent teaching” used by the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. We are lucky to have such high caliber education leaders in our school system. Dr. Hunt’s pursuit of continuous improvement and digital learning has certainly paid dividends as the school was prepared with devices in the students’ hands prior to Covid-19. This preparation allowed our dynamic teaching staff to continue to execute their teaching plan despite all of the students being at home. It is an honor for Dr. Hunt and something for the entire District to relish. We appreciate the recognition by the foundation.” said Rankin.