Alicia Ballard knows her priorities for her son’s education, so she did her homework before contacting Cleveland Transformation Alliance. After receiving a printed copy of the Cleveland School Quality Guide at a community event, Alicia marked the pages of schools she wanted to learn more about and then used a QR code to visit the MyCleSchool.org website. There she was able to review each school’s profile, taking screenshots of five schools she liked best. 


Since Alicia works from 9 am – 5 pm, it was hard to follow up with each school directly, especially with limited staff availability during the summer. That’s when Carolyn, a CTA School Quality Navigator, stepped in to help. “It was really easy,” said Alicia, who called to set up an in-person meeting where she shared her questions about school rankings, third-grade reading guarantee, staff diversity, school size, and approach to discipline. Then Carolyn contacted each of the five schools directly and followed up with answers to all of Alicia’s questions. 

With this information in hand, Alicia could narrow the list down to two schools she recently visited in person to make her decision. “I think top priority is diversity as far as teachers, school staff and students, classroom size and school size. Another important thing is extracurricular activities, clubs, and activities he can do to familiarize himself with kids and what interests him.” 

Transportation was also a concern, as one of the schools is near her home, and he would need to ride the bus home from the other school. Ultimately, both of the CMSD schools checked all her parenting boxes, so the final decision came down to two factors: playground/outdoor play space and the lack of a dress code, which are her son’s top priorities as an active third-grader. 


When asked about the process of working with a School Quality Navigator, Alicia feels she had a slight advantage as someone who works in community health outreach and knows how to navigate city systems. She feels confident, however, that having an advocate like Carolyn would benefit any family. She has already recommended the Navigator Program to her sister, whose twin daughters are just starting preschool with kindergarten right around the corner. “Carolyn was really easy to work with, and I think that would be true for anyone. Good communication is really important to me, and the communication was awesome,” said Alicia. 

Cleveland Transformation Alliance is committed to helping every Cleveland family find the right fit school for their child. Students and families who need assistance choosing from the wide variety of high-quality public schools in Cleveland can click here to make an appointment with one of our school quality navigators and get started today.