“I grew up not too far from Pinnacle and went to the public school in the area,” said Charlena Hunt, principal at Pinnacle Academy. “I want my students to see and know that they can be successful. If I did it, there is no reason they can’t do it.”
Hunt reflected that transitioning Pinnacle Academy, a National Heritage Academies (NHA) school in Euclid, to remote learning has presented new challenges, but she has not shied away from the opportunity to grow alongside her colleagues.
Hunt has been working diligently to identify resources to keep students connected with technology and traditional learning materials throughout the closure, allowing learning to continue on and offline. NHA collaborated with its school leaders, providing remote learning packets to all its students. This has enabled her students to remain connected to their teachers, even while away from school.
This all-school effort takes a team approach and is living proof that her school can be nimble in this remote learning space, demonstrating that her staff understands how to best tailor remote learning, keeping kids moving forward. “We all are held accountable for growth, student learning, and achievement,” said Hunt.
During the statewide closure, Hunt continues to find new ways to connect with her teachers. From technology tutorials to tech-savvy IT-related work, each staff member has played a vital role in ensuring the transition went smoothly. She is open to different techniques to continue driving academic excellence and has been encouraging her staff to connect with students in unique ways. Whether by phone or through video chat, her primary focus is offering reassurance and finding ways to keep students engaged.
“We let teachers get creative with their styles,” she shared. “We have very creative teachers and want them to feel as if they can have some fun with students, even if it’s virtually.” Several teachers use music in their virtual lessons to increase engagement, others are urging students to interact via chat.
Matt Carlton, director of school quality at NHA, shared that Hunt provides outstanding leadership, vision, and attention to detail as leader of Pinnacle. “During these turbulent times, she continues to support her team to drive instruction using all the available resources in order to help guide students and families in their new remote learning journeys,” he said.
A deliberate process focusing on student data has also added to the school’s academic achievement. Hunt shared that the school’s current report card grade is the highest it has been since Ohio switched to the AIR assessment in 2015. Pinnacle outperformed its local school district on the 2018-19 state test and earned an “A” for growth on the state report card. While she is happy with the progress, she has high expectations to continue on this path of success.
Hunt has been with NHA since 2006 after working at another school district for several years. She holds a master’s degree in education and technology from Notre Dame College and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Baldwin-Wallace College.
“I have gotten so many emails from parents thanking us and NHA for our support and efforts during this time,” said Hunt. “It feels amazing to know that what we are doing is best for families.”