Self-Care is Childcare too

Taking care of yourself during the holidays is essential to ensure a positive and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips for self-care during the holiday season:

Set Realistic Expectations:
Understand that perfection is not achievable. Set realistic expectations for yourself and others, and don’t put too much pressure on creating a flawless holiday experience.

Maintain Healthy Habits:
Stick to your sleep schedule, eat balanced meals, and exercise regularly. These habits can positively impact your mood and energy levels.

Prioritize and Plan:
Make a list of priorities and focus on the most important tasks. Plan your schedule, including time for self-care, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Delegate Tasks:
Don’t hesitate to delegate responsibilities. Share tasks with family members or friends to lighten your load and create a sense of shared responsibility.

Take Breaks:
Allow yourself breaks to recharge. Whether it’s a short walk, a few minutes of deep breathing, or a moment of mindfulness, taking breaks can help manage stress.

Limit Screen Time:
Reduce time spent on social media or watching screens. Excessive screen time can contribute to stress, and taking a break from technology can be refreshing.

Practice Mindfulness:
Engage in mindfulness activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. These practices can help you stay present and reduce stress.

Learn to Say No:
It’s okay to decline invitations or additional commitments if you feel overwhelmed. Prioritize your well-being and be selective about how you spend your time.

Create Boundaries:
Set clear boundaries with family and friends to ensure your needs are respected. Communicate your limits, and don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself.

Celebrate in Your Own Way:
Embrace traditions that bring you joy, and consider creating new ones that align with your values. Don’t feel obligated to conform to societal expectations if they don’t align with your preferences.

Connect with Loved Ones:
Spend quality time with loved ones. Share your feelings and experiences, and don’t hesitate to ask for support if needed. Connecting with others can provide emotional support.

Reflect and Express Gratitude:
Take a moment to reflect on the positive aspects of your life and express gratitude. This can help shift your focus from stressors to the things you appreciate.

Remember that self-care is a personal journey, and it’s important to prioritize activities that bring you comfort and joy. Listen to your needs and be kind to yourself during the holiday season.

Are there negative impacts on children who change schools during K-12 education?

Changing schools during K-12 education can have both positive and negative impacts on children, depending on the situation. It is essential to consider the reason for the change, the child’s adaptability, and the support provided by parents and educators.

The staff at the Cleveland Transformation Alliance is here to help support and guide parents/caregivers through this decision.

  1. Academic Disruption: Moving to a new school can disrupt a child’s academic progress. Different schools may have different curricula, pacing, and teaching methods, making it challenging for a child to catch up or adjust quickly.
  2. Social Adjustment: Changing schools may result in losing established friendships and the need to form new social connections. This can be particularly challenging for children who are introverted or find it difficult to make new friends.
  3. Emotional Stress: Changing schools, including leaving familiar surroundings and adjusting to new routines and expectations, can be emotionally stressful for children. They may experience anxiety, sadness, or a sense of loss.
  4. Loss of Continuity: Continuity in education is essential for effective learning. Frequent school changes can disrupt the continuity of a child’s educational experience, making it harder to build on previously learned knowledge and skills.
  5. Identity and Self-Esteem: Children often identify with their school and peers, and changing schools can challenge their sense of identity and self-esteem. They may feel like outsiders in a new environment.
  6. Educational Gaps: In some cases, school transfers can result in educational gaps, where essential topics or skills are missed or repeated. These gaps can affect a child’s long-term academic performance.
  7. Behavioral Changes: The stress of changing schools may lead to changes in behavior, including withdrawal, acting out, or a decline in motivation and engagement.
  8. Parental Stress: Frequent school changes can also be stressful for parents, as they must navigate the enrollment process, communicate with new teachers and school staff, and support their child through transitions.

It’s important to note that not all school changes have negative impacts. In some situations, changing schools can be beneficial. For example:

  1. Improved Educational Opportunities: A school change may offer better educational opportunities, including access to specialized programs, advanced coursework, or extracurricular activities not available at the previous school.
  2. Escape from a Negative Environment: Changing schools may be necessary if a child is experiencing bullying, harassment, or a hostile learning environment at their current school. In such cases, the move can lead to improved well-being.
  3. Family Relocation: Families often change schools due to relocation, which may be beyond their control. In these cases, children can benefit from the experience of adapting to new environments and meeting people from new backgrounds.

To mitigate the potential negative impacts of changing schools, parents and educators can take several steps:

  1. Open Communication: Maintain open and supportive communication with the child, allowing them to express their feelings and concerns.
  2. Smooth Transitions: Work with the new school to facilitate a smooth transition, including sharing academic records and discussing the child’s needs and challenges.
  3. Seek Support: If the child experiences significant difficulties adjusting to the new school, consider seeking support from counselors, teachers, or educational specialists.
  4. Encourage Involvement: Encourage the child to get involved in extracurricular activities and clubs to help them build new social connections.
  5. Monitor Progress: Monitor the child’s academic progress and well-being to address any emerging issues promptly.

Ultimately, while changing schools can be challenging, it is not inherently negative. With appropriate support and a positive approach, children can adapt successfully to new educational environments and thrive academically and socially.  CTA is here to help families navigate this decision. Numerous organizations operating in Cleveland can help families address issues that might push families to consider switching schools. We can also help families connect to those resources. Contact us for assistance.

High School Success: Tips for College and Career Readiness

High school is a crucial period in your life when you begin to lay the foundation for your future, whether pursuing higher education or diving straight into a career. To make the most of these formative years, it’s essential to prepare strategically.

In Cleveland, students have access to mentoring through the True2U program, career exploration through the Greater Cleveland Career Consortium, or support through programs like College Now and Say Yes Cleveland, but not every school provides these programs.

As high school students begin to consider “what’s next,” we wanted to provide some valuable tips on what to do in high school to prepare for college or a successful career.

1. Set Clear Goals
Start by setting clear academic and career goals. Ask yourself what you’re passionate about and what you want to achieve. Having a clear vision will guide your choices throughout high school and beyond.

2. Maintain Good Grades
Your academic performance in high school matters. Good grades open doors to college and demonstrate discipline and work ethic to future employers. Stay organized, manage your time wisely, and seek help if you’re struggling in any subject.

3. Explore Extracurricular Activities
Join clubs, sports teams, or organizations that align with your interests and passions. Extracurricular activities provide opportunities for personal growth and leadership development and can be impressive additions to your college applications and résumé.

4. Build Strong Relationships with Teachers
Forming positive relationships with your teachers can be a game-changer. They can write compelling recommendation letters and offer valuable guidance on your academic journey. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek their support.

5. Start College or Career Exploration Early
Research colleges, universities, or career paths that interest you. Attend college fairs, career workshops, and informational sessions to gain insights into your options. The earlier you start, the better prepared you’ll be to make informed decisions.

6. Take Challenging Courses
If available, challenge yourself academically by taking honors, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. These courses can boost your GPA and demonstrate your commitment to learning.

7. Develop Strong Study Habits
Effective study habits are crucial for success in high school and beyond. Find a study routine that works for you, stay organized, and avoid procrastination. Learn to manage your time efficiently to balance your academic and extracurricular commitments.

8. Explore Internships and Job Shadowing
If you have a career in mind, consider seeking internships or job shadowing opportunities. These experiences can provide valuable insights into your chosen field, help you build a professional network, and enhance your résumé.

9. Build a Résumé
Create a résumé highlighting your accomplishments, including academic achievements, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and part-time jobs. Tailor your résumé to align with your future goals.

10. Plan Your Standardized Tests
Understand the standardized tests required for college admissions, such as the SAT or ACT, and create a study plan to perform your best. Consider taking these exams multiple times to improve your scores.

11. Financial Literacy
Learn about financial literacy and budgeting. Understanding how to manage money will be essential in college and your future career. Consider saving money from part-time jobs or internships for college expenses.

12. Seek Guidance from Counselors
High school counselors can provide valuable advice on course selection, college applications, and career planning. Schedule regular meetings with your counselor to stay on track.

13. Pursue Your Passions
Don’t forget to enjoy high school! Pursue your passions and hobbies, whether it’s music, art, sports, or any other interest. These activities can provide a much-needed balance to your academic life.

In conclusion, high school is a pivotal time for preparing for college or your future career. By setting goals, maintaining good grades, and actively exploring your interests and options, you’ll be well on your way to success. Remember that every step you take in high school brings you closer to your dreams and aspirations. Stay focused, stay motivated, and make the most of this transformative period in your life.

Content gathered with ChatGPT assistance.

Mental Health Matters

The Cleveland Transformation Alliance reached out to our partner, Moore Counseling & Mediation Services, to learn more about mental health’s importance—not only for our students but for parents/caregivers too.

Mental Health matters because it affects every aspect of our lives, for both the parents and child. Mental health can have major effects on a child’s development and on how they process negative or traumatic experiences, which can, in turn, stunt their emotional, mental, and cognitive development. Mental disorders among children can result in serious changes in how children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which can cause distress and problems with getting through the day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is important for parents to have heart-to-heart conversations with their children as the school year begins to help them learn and implement healthy social skills for the child, in addition to how to cope when a problem or issue arises.

Impacts of the pandemic

As the world is continually modifying the way of life due to the pandemic, such as homeschooling, wearing masks, etc., our mental health can also be affected, leading to an increase in anxiety and depression. It is important to utilize a healthy routine to keep our children grounded while at school or home.

Here are tips and advice that we hope you will find useful.

  • Have a routine – Keep up with daily routines as much as possible.
  • Video games – While they can be a way to relax, they can take up more time than initially intended. Be sure to keep developing a balance of off-line and on-line activities.
  • Social media – Use your social media accounts to promote positive and hopeful stories. Avoid negative content.
  • Rest – Allocate time for school and time for resting while also getting up and going to bed at the same time every day and night.
  • Be Kind – Don’t discriminate against people because of your fears of the spread of the virus.

Benefits of school counselors and therapy

There are many benefits of having school counselors. School counselors are trained, certified professionals who can assist with guiding students. School counselors also provide students a safe place to gain support and help express their thoughts. School counselors are a free resource that can support both issues that teachers face and problems that students may be experiencing. They can even educate parents and assist with questions on child-related problems and/or issues.

When it might be time to seek help.

Some signs it might be time for your child to seek help include:

  • Normal routines are more difficult to complete.
  • Changes in sleep habits or appetite.
  • The sense of sadness and distress frequently.
  • Sudden withdrawal from social activities or peers
  • Self-destructive talk or behavior.

If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with Moore Counseling & Mediation Services, Inc. (216) 404-1900 for a list of referrals for adolescent counseling.

Preparing for a Successful School Year

The start of the school year is on the horizon, and with it comes the time to begin preparing students for their return to the classroom. Students and families have very diverse needs and expectations during this time, from early learners entering preschool and Kindergarten to seniors in high school who may need to begin planning for their futures after graduation. This can quickly become overwhelming, so CTA is here to provide some tips to make preparing for the school year easier, keeping those diverse needs in mind.

  1. Find a Routine: One essential for all families, regardless of the age of their students, is to find a routine that works for everyone. Though this routine may change as the school year progresses, families can start preparing their students for the anticipated schedule a few weeks before the year begins. Waking up and getting ready for the day closer to school time and adding extracurriculars to the family calendar are small ways to integrate a new school routine into daily life. Beginning this work early can also reveal parts of a routine that are hard for a family. Embrace your mistakes and find ways to have fun while problem-solving. Include the students in conversations about their routines and challenge them to participate in age-appropriate responsibilities. Turning early-morning chaos into an opportunity for teamwork can encourage constructive uses of individuality and reveal how fulfilling it is to help each other as a family. 
  2. Establish Connections Early: All schools have different cultures, and when selecting your child’s best-fit school, it’s important to ensure that the teachers and administrators there will accommodate your family’s needs. If your child is entering a new building, see if you can find time to tour it and talk to school leaders about their methods and values. Email teachers before the first day of classes to introduce yourself and build an understanding of their expectations. Not only will this help soothe back-to-school anxieties, but it will establish a working relationship between you and your child’s educators that will be long-lasting. In the future, if unforeseen problems arise, you can feel empowered as a parent/caregiver to reach out to the school and return to those expectations set out at the start of the year.
  3. Introduce Self-Advocacy: Schools are imperfect, and sometimes the classroom can introduce difficult and unique challenges to children of any age. One way to combat anxieties around the beginning of the school year and entering a new space is to lean into discomfort and begin conversations about resilience and self-respect. Depending on age and household values, find ways to teach your child about what is and isn’t okay at school and how they can speak up for themselves if classmates and adults were to cross boundaries or treat your child in a way that feels unkind. It is never too early to teach empowerment and advocacy, whether the simple “Golden Rule” or more serious pursuits of College and beyond.

Back-to-school stress is difficult for any family to handle. While these ideas may not remove those challenges, they can introduce value-driven practices to make everyone’s return to the classroom more fun and fulfilling. The Cleveland Transformation Alliance offers other tips, tricks, and resources on our Family Resource Corner.  Use it as a resource throughout the school year!  CTA would like to wish you a successful start to the school year, and we are here to support families in achieving that in every way we can.

The New State Budget’s Impacts on Public Education

Every two years, Ohio’s Governor proposes a state budget for the legislature to consider and change. The State budget is the largest statewide plan to delegate funding toward all of the public resources that benefit our communities. One of the biggest services the State budget supports is public K-12 education. After a brief extension of the June 30th deadline, the Ohio House and Senate finally passed a two-year state budget recently signed by Governor Mike DeWine. Several disputed measures on this bill concerned changes to public education that impact all public schools in Cleveland. This is an overview of what some of these measures were and how they might influence the future of public education in Cleveland.

The first outcome of the state budget is an increase in statewide school funding to $10.5 billion yearly. This increase comes after a decades-long dispute regarding the fairness of previous primarily property-tax-based funding methods, which left children in poorer neighborhoods at a disadvantage because they had less local revenue to contribute to their schools. This explanation is simplified, but generally, the all-around increase in state revenue will continue to level the playing field, giving schools more resources to improve their performance and ultimately the education our children receive.

The next addition to the budget that will affect education is an expansion of the private school voucher program, better known as EdChoice. The controversial EdChoice program is a statewide expansion of Cleveland’s 1996 school voucher program. It initially allowed students from public schools deemed “failing” by the state to attend participating private schools. This budget will expand it to be accessible to all families in Ohio below a certain household income. This provision will increase the funding of this program to $2 billion, and make it so that all families can apply for private school vouchers, not just ones below a certain income level. This expansion of the EdChoice voucher program will remove all income barriers. However, families with incomes over $135,000 for a family of four will receive a smaller stipend on a sliding scale. As well as EdChoice, Ohio has a voucher program for students with special needs, granting them scholarships to participating schools that may better meet their needs than a traditional public-school setting.

The EdChoice program remains highly controversial. Its theoretical purpose of giving low-income families expanded options is commendable, but it’s unclear whether its use in practice will serve this goal. Many advocates in the education field argue that simply giving more funding to public schools in the first place would ensure that all families have public access to quality education right in their neighborhood, and wouldn’t need to seek out alternatives. The expansion of the EdChoice program does not include additional oversight of the recipient private school either.  A larger concern for many is that while public schools are scored and rated based on their academic outcomes, there is no similar rating or scoring associated with the influx of public funds these schools will receive; leaving parents/caregivers without a clear path to making informed school decisions.

So, while there are competing opinions about the wins and losses on this year’s state budget, what is clear is that education is a highly salient issue, and we must keep it on the minds of politicians and all public decision-makers.

Although it was ultimately removed from the final version, SB 83 was included in one of the draft versions of the budget as it made its way through the legislative process. The “Enact Higher Education Act” would change what is able to be taught in higher education in both Cleveland and all public universities in Ohio. It would also ban cultural affinity groups within schools, as well as teachers’ unions in higher education, and make US history courses mandatory. This bill joins a plethora of largely right-wing attacks on “progressive” education, and while it would not have necessarily impacted public elementary and high schools, its passing would set an undeniable stance against certain facets of education, many of which honor minority students who already have challenges in these spaces. This provision was removed from the budget, but still awaits a vote in the Ohio House, and if it passes there, would be one step closer to going into effect. SB 83 aims to limit education and is not written with the best interests of students in mind. As parents, teachers, and advocates for education, it is important to stay informed on the progress of this bill and what it stands for.

If you’re looking for more information on how to decide on school choice for you or someone you know, you can visit the Cleveland Transformation Alliance’s website. Check out our School Finder Tool, an online search guide that matches families with their best school options based on their individual needs. Additionally, see the Family Cafe tab for archives of our latest events on pertinent issues. We have an upcoming Cafe on July 28th that will teach all new and returning families about public school options in Cleveland and how to navigate the numerous options. Join us at Hough Library to celebrate summer and start preparing for the fall with fun activities, food trucks, and the chance to connect with other families.

Lastly, I challenge everyone, whether you are a parent, student, or just a community member, to stay informed on current events affecting education in Ohio. Here at the Cleveland Transformation Alliance we believe in quality schools for all children, and our whole community plays a part in advocating for that.

Blog post written by Kendal Harris, CTA Summer 2023 Intern

Want to Learn More? Here’s a brief list of resources from local reporters and education advocates.
Ohio Budget 101 – Policy Matters Ohio
All About Ohio’s 2-Year Operating Budget – Ideastream Public Media
Ohio School Voucher Overview – Ohio Education Policy Institute
More About Ohio-s EdChoice Voucher Program –
Ohio Education Budget – Ohio Capital Journal


Summer is Here!

With this past school year in our rearview mirrors, it is the perfect moment to reflect on our children’s experiences at school and consider their options for the future. For new families with children who will begin school in the fall, summer is an important opportunity to ensure they are prepared for this next step, and identifying options for the 2023-2024 school year may be a vital part of that. The school search process can quickly become overwhelming, so beginning now and equipping yourself with the right resources is extremely important. The Cleveland Transformation Alliance’s school finder tool allows families to find the best options for themselves based on individual needs. As well as adjusting for the kinds of programs and services your child needs, the tool provides you with schools’ progress and achievement levels based on data collected by the Ohio Department of Education. The tool streamlines what would usually be an intensive research process for parents to tackle. If a family prefers personalized support, they can also contact the CTA directly and connect to one of our school choice navigators, that can more closely assist you through the school selection and enrollment process.

As well as identifying the best school options, families should consider how they will prepare their kids to enter or return to the classroom. Summer is a time for fun and continued learning, and many experiences in our local communities can help supplement education. One place for this is the Cleveland Public Library. The library offers free programs for all ages, such as a Young Scholars Academy for kindergarten preparation and a test and career prep center for older students looking towards plans after high school. The Ohio Department of Education’s website offers readiness assessments for all grade levels, including early learners, if you want more concrete benchmarks. Aside from programs, there are more manageable day-to-day things that supplement your child’s learning. Emphasizing time spent reading, completing age-appropriate workbooks, and allowing opportunities for problem-solving are all simple ways to foster your child’s learning and curiosity through the summer. Lastly, the CTA recently hosted a Family Cafe on Kindergarten readiness. Our cafes offer peer-led discussions for families to learn from one another and ask questions, be sure to check our website for upcoming Cafes to engage with throughout the summer. We hope you all have a relaxing and fruitful summer full of learning opportunities, and the CTA is here to provide support as you prepare for the school year to come.

Blog by Kendal Harris, Summer 2023 CTA Intern

Kendal Harris is a rising third-year Morrill Scholar at The Ohio State University, dual majoring in Public Affairs and African American Studies. As a summer intern for the CTA, they are highly interested in building better futures and communities for underserved populations.

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Welcome, Dr. Morgan!

On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, after an extensive process that spanned over six months, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Board and Mayor Justin M. Bibb announced the next District Superintendent/CEO, Dr. Warren Morgan.

As was shared in a letter to the community from CMSD Board Chair Anne Bingham on April 20th, Dr. Warren Morgan grew up on Chicago’s South Side and attended schools with demographics similar to CMSD. He worked for CMSD as Network Leader for the District’s Phase 2 Investment schools from July 2014 through August 2016. In his current role as the Chief Academic Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools, Dr. Morgan oversees the academic vision, strategy, and policies of the district. Previously Executive Director of an education nonprofit in St. Louis, Dr. Morgan was a White House Fellow under U.S. Presidents Obama and Trump. He earned an Ed.D. in Urban Educational Leadership from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Cleveland Transformation Alliance Executive Director, Meghann Marnecheck, was on hand to welcome Dr. Morgan back to Cleveland. “We are excited to be a part of the ‘passing of the baton’ to the next CEO,” said Marnecheck. “The strength of The Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools is evident in the interest from school leaders across the country to become the next CEO. Navigating this leadership transition will further show the strength of the Plan. We are eager to continue the work and progress that has already been made since 2012 when The Cleveland Plan was approved.”

Thank you to outgoing CEO Eric Gordon for his passion, dedication, and giving of himself to all Cleveland students. Dr. Morgan has big shoes to fill, but we are confident he will rise to the challenge.

Read more from Ideastream: Warren Morgan will be the next Cleveland schools CEO

Our New Website is Here! 👀

Our New Website is Here!

Visit to see our new look and find your child’s best-fit school.

We have launched an all-new website at The updated site includes easier-to-navigate web pages and a refreshed School Finder Tool with the latest information from Ohio’s School Report Cards.

“This has been a lot of work, but we hope the result is a better, faster, more accurate, and more informative website,” said executive director Meghann Marnecheck. “We want families to be able to make informed school choices. We have more planned for the future, but I’m really excited about what we have already released.” Our new site will allow families to search by academic outcomes, neighborhood, or compare schools. If a family is at the beginning of their process, they can click the “start here” button to answer a questionnaire to help find schools matching the criteria they are interested in finding.

“I hope families visit the site to explore our new features,” said Marnecheck. “Our staff is here to help if a family needs extra support through the process. Give us a call at 216.592.2303 or complete our family referral form to get personalized assistance.” Also in the works is a refreshed School Quality Guide for 2023. The updated Guide will feel more like a magazine and provide families with a printed piece for notes and quick reference that will complement the website’s School Finder Tool. Watch for news about the release of the Guide and where to find it in the coming weeks.

Understanding Changes to Ohio School Report Cards

Public schools in Cleveland have worked hard to overcome the stigma of a “failing grade” from the state’s annual school report card rating system. By assigning schools and districts a letter grade of A-F, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) tried to give parents and caregivers information about the quality of their child’s school.

Unfortunately, many of the factors used to determine a school’s report card rating, such as standardized test scores, early literacy data, and graduation rates, tell us more about the income levels and barriers to success in a community than the quality of teaching and support available in its schools.

Updates to the state’s school rating system were approved last year, and the ODE released the new report cards for the 2021-22 school year in September. The new State Report Card uses stars instead of the traditional letter grades, hoping to give a more balanced perspective. Instead of a letter grade of “C,” schools that meet expectations receive 3 stars. Those that exceed expectations have a score of five stars.

In the past, CMSD has focused on the indicators that its schools are closing the achievement gap and student progress from one year to the next. Progress + gap closing = higher achievement. Before COVID-19, the district celebrated a drastic improvement in high school graduation rates and preschool enrollment, both very important measures of school achievement. Unfortunately, the impact of the pandemic undercut these successes and placed many students who already struggled further behind.

Key factors in understanding this year’s report card changes include:  

  • No more letter grades.
  • Schools and districts are now measured using a star rating system.

Schools can earn up to 5 stars in each of the following categories: 

  • Gap Closing —  Reduction in educational gaps based on student subgroups such as racial identity and diverse learning needs
  • Progress —  Growth students are making based on past performance
  • Early Literacy —  Reading skills and growth for students in Kindergarten – 3rd grade
  • Achievement — Measures student performance based on statewide benchmarks
  • Graduation — Measure the % of students who graduate in 4 or 5 years

A sixth category, “college, career, workforce, and military readiness,” will be added for 2022-23. The new star system will be fully implemented over the next 2-3 years, and it will also include half-stars which was not possible in the prior grade letter system.

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