Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Amberley's Neighborhood School

When my husband was growing up in Amberley, he attended his neighborhood school for elementary school, which, at the time, was Losantiville School. I attended my own neighborhood schools while growing up in Finneytown. In fact, for most of us, the neighborhood school was our school, unless our parents made a different choice -- say to send the kids to parochial school. In recent decades, here in Cincinnati, the neighborhood school has been replaced by the magnet school. Parents stand in line for days, often in inclement weather, to enroll their children in select schools of choice, because of the perception, often based in reality, that the neighborhood school is unable to adequately meet the educational needs of their children.

When my family moved to Amberley in 1997, I could not tell you what our neighborhood school was. Amberley didn't have its own school and as far as I could tell, where I sent my child to public school depended on what quadrant I lived in. Although Amberley only comprises 3.5 square miles, our children could go to any one of three "neighborhood" schools. Most Amberley parents did as we did and sent their kids to private school.

Things have changed since 1997. The former Pleasant Ridge Elementary School, a neighborhood school in CPS for over 100 years, was rebuilt and re-opened as PRM (Pleasant Ridge Montessori). A very dedicated  group of parents and community volunteers have been working tirelessly since 2006 to make this school a top-performing neighborhood school for Pleasant Ridge, Golf Manor, and Amberley Village. Through the very active involvement of educators, community leaders, parents, and Xavier University, PRM has seen its academic performance indicators rise and its socio-economic makeup become more diverse and more closely resemble the neighborhood where it is located.

Last night I attended a community meeting at PRM where the focus was on the next steps for the school. From my estimation, over 200 community members were in attendance. Most were parents of PRM students, but additonally there were local elected officials from all three communities served by the school, representatives from social service agencies and other interested community members.  This is an extremely involved parent body!  For a community like Amberley, which has not had a neighborhood school to call its own since it was incorporated, we are very lucky to have this rising star of Cincinnati Public Schools as our neighborhood school. The best part is, parents of Amberley kids can enroll their kids in a school where the parents and teachers are as involved as any private or magnet school for free and without camping out for a week.

If you are a PRM parent and Amberley resident, please leave a comment about PRM in the comment section of this post. I'd love to hear your thoughts on PRM. If you are interested in the next steps for PRM, there is another community meeting on May 22nd at 5:30 at the school itself.