Our Founder's Story
In the spring of 2008...
... both Linda Fuline, superintendent of the Summit County ESC, and Teresa Graves had an ambition to open a high performing elementary school that would serve as a best practice site in Summit County. They were committed to offering free full day quality kindergarten to families at a time when none where offered in the surrounding traditional schools. They stood true to their belief that the greatest investment was to provide a rich all day learning environment to the youngest learners whose minds and hearts would thrive and develop. Those learners would in turn contribute so much to others lives. They envisioned a school delivery that would work from the interests and developmental needs of the children instead of a set program curriculum that insisted on a one size fits all environment. A place where .educators possessed the beliefs that learning should be individualized and open ended. Where children were not competing with each other for grades; rather, they were working together as a team to solve problems through consensus. A school where genuine respect and care for the individual was reflected in the process. A place where high expectations for excellence in academics, 21st century skills, global awareness, foreign language, and the arts permeated throughout the culture of the building. Where students had a sense of pride and respect for themselves and for each other. Both Teresa and Linda wanted a school where children were neither bored nor frustrated. Where students who were having difficulty with a particular concept were being assisted by students who had mastered it. Where children were participating in the learning process and where teachers understood that today’s world requires continuous learning to achieve professional and personal satisfaction. A place where children had an appreciation of the world around them and understood the importance of giving back to the community to enhance its growth. A school that promised families that while the children were in the teacher’s care, they would be safe, intellectually stimulated and aware that education is the key not only to their future but the future of society as a whole.
With a clear vision for what a successful school should be, Teresa and Linda wrote a grant to open a conversion school, utilizing an existing school building on Pickle Road in Springfield Township to offer K-2 elementary education. This grant was approved by the Ohio Department of Education and the Summit County ESC became the school sponsor of Greater Summit County Early Learning Center.
With the grant funds, steps were taken to purchase furniture, materials and curriculum and S.C.O.P.E.’s first students began to enroll. The school opened in the fall with two classes of Kindergarten learners. The school was run by a governing board of three members and the principal, Teresa Graves.
As a K-5 multiage teacher for nearly 21 years, Teresa experienced a great deal of success. She was a Jennings Scholar of the Year, a Kevin Coleman two-time recipient in the Preschool through Middle School category as their Teacher of the Year, and Walmart’s Teacher of the Year. Coupled with the knowledge she gained at Akron University with her bachelor’s degree in Education and her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Administration from Ashland University, Teresa helped prepare S.C.O.P.E.’s first team of teachers in instructing the school’s inaugural class.
In its early beginnings, Mrs. Graves began a tradition of school wide events such as the Fall Festival where she cooked Harvest Soup with all students participating in adding ingredients to the soup. It was a family event with fun activities and built community. A Springtime event, Rock and Read, brought families together out on the lawn where they could enjoy music and relax with a book.
The art, music and library programs were developed and flourished as time went on, as well as the school garden, a focal point for classes to plant and grow vegetables and study insects.
A parent volunteer program was quickly established as many parents wanted to be actively involved with their children’s education.
As the school grew, the kindergartners became first graders then second-graders. And soon, the school added third grade and then fourth grade.
Many memorable events occurred – the Akron Zoomobile, a Valentine’s Day pancake breakfast, COSI on Wheels, Art Auction. Technology quickly expanded. A partnership was formed with the University of Akron Foreign Language department where prospective teachers brought Spanish, French and Chinese to S.C.O.P.E.
The garden expanded and was tended to regularly, even through the summer months. After school programs were added in fall and spring for six-week sessions, offering enrichment to students in: creative movement, art club, math club, library services and foreign language.
Mrs. Graves also worked with Christopher Milo to offer a School of Rock to youngsters who were interested in learning music and musical instruments. These classes took place after school.
In the fall of 2013, GSCELC was recognized by the Ohio Association of Public Charter Schools as the Charter School of the Year (elementary), based on performance index, best practices and innovation. The following spring, state superintendent Dr. Richard Ross visited S.C.O.P.E. to see firsthand the success that our students have achieved.
Performing Arts were added and S.C.O.P.E. Chorale was started. Twice annually, there were dance and vocal performances for families to enjoy.
The school also partnered with Oak Clinic of Green for MS Awareness and participated in the annual Akron Rubber Ducks game at Canal Park.
In 2016-17 the school reached a turning point where the sponsorship of SCESC ended and the future sponsorship of Ohio Department of Education was also in question. Through much hard work, a new sponsorship was attained with North Central Ohio Educational Service Center and ODE came through with continued sponsorship. At the same time, the lease with Springfield schools ended and we were forced to find a new location for the school. In the summer of 2017, the school moved to Massillon Road and became tenants of a building owned by Summit DD.
Helping young learners understand who they are in this world and how to be a global learner that contributes and collaborates with others to seek positive relationships and solutions to better our world has always been an important part of Teresa’s professional educational journey with learners, families, and staff. S.C.O.P.E. Academy is a reflection of over a decade of work with a group of driven and dedicated staff who will always seek to do their best for learner. She believes anyone can be successful independently, but the more impactful road is to be successful as an organization.