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Excellence in Equity Awards

Dr. Renee Willis
Champion of Equity – District Leadership

Renee Willis

Dr. Renee Willis
Champion of Equity – District Leadership

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Dr. Renee Willis, Superintendent of Schools at Richmond Heights Local Schools in Ohio

Dr. Willis’ story is one of resilience, perseverance and faith. She is a Cleveland native and a graduate of Cleveland Public Schools. Her class was one of the first to go through involuntary desegregation in Cleveland. After receiving her undergraduate degree in mathematics from Spelman College, Dr. Willis returned to school at Baldwin Wallace University to become a certified math teacher. Her career in education of over 30+ years includes roles as a teacher and principal. Her Ph.D. is in Urban Education from Cleveland State University and she has been the superintendent of the Richmond Heights Local School District since 2014.

Richmond Heights Local School District has blossomed under Dr. Renee Willis’ innovative leadership. She spurs collaboration and ingenuity throughout the city and the region. The city had an untapped resource, a small county airport right in the center. Knowing the need for pilots would only grow, Dr. Willis began creating an aviation program. Richmond Heights’ aviation program introduces students to aviation careers as early as seventh grade, with a formal curriculum beginning in ninth grade. Thanks to the Expanding Opportunities for Each Child grant, the district expanded its resources in the aviation-designated classroom last year. They purchased 10 flight simulators, which give students hands-on experience while learning flight navigation from a virtual private pilot. The classroom also offers drones so students can earn their FAA Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Certificate. Additionally, students and staff members participated in Discovery Flights led by T&G Flying Club, which provided students the opportunity to log flight time toward a private pilot license. This innovation addresses both the shortage in pilots and increases the pipeline for pilots of color.

Through the Manufacturing Growth Network and its Early College Early Career program, select high school juniors are participating in workforce development, paid on-the job training and are earning college credit. As part of this initiative, Richmond Heights Schools is providing equipment and curriculum so that students can earn an industry-recognized manufacturing certificate. Additionally, the district is creating a paid pre-apprenticeship program through a partnership with Component Repair Technologies, Inc. of Mentor, which specializes in turbine engine component repairs for the aviation, industrial and marine industries.

Visit richmondheightsschools.org

The 2024 Excellence in Equity Awards program was sponsored by:

September Strategies
September Strategies
StarLight-App
STARLIGHT
Texthelp
Texthelp

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