There are more assets and more investments in education in and around the Education Corridor than the new public school buildings from PreK-12th grade. Birchwood School, now Birchwood School of Hawken just merged with Hawken this fall, Global Ambassadors of Language Academy (GALA) on Lorain Ave. opened this fall in the northern commercial district of the Corridor, and Luther Memorial expanded from Old Brooklyn to Lorain Ave. in Ward 16. That’s three technically new schools in 3 existing school buildings: one an expansion, one a new charter launch, and one a new merged private school.
Birchwood School a private, co-ed dayschool on the west side with a racially, ethnically, and internationally diverse student body that draws enrollment from around the Northeast Ohio region because of its challenging academics. Hawken School in Lyndhurst and Gates Mills are co-ed private schools from PreK-12th grade. Hawken saw the strength of Birchwood as a complementary campus for their far east campuses and Birchwood’s founders, Chuck and Helen Debelak, found stability in the quality of the academics and social expectations Birchwood has developed and can expect continuity in the future. Birchwood students will now benefit from automatic acceptance to Hawken’s Upper School, too.
GALA has no tuition as a public charter and will be offering an International Baccalaureate (IB) academic program as it expands the grades that it offers. An IB education is a Swiss-based program that incorporates academic rigor with an international curriculum that is in 147 different countries. GALA’s goal is to offer PreK-8 language immersion, with a Mandarin Chinese and a Spanish tract. It opened this year with Kindergarten and first grade on the campus of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church, but it is completely independent, just as Birchwood School leases from Blessed Trinity Catholic Church on Puritas Avenue.
Luther Memorial School has preschool through Grade 8 in Old Brooklyn and had increasing numbers of students, especially newly-arrived to the United States, living in Ward 16, so they opened a campus here. At Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church’s campus (pictuerd here in a classroom), Luther Memorial offers kindergarten through Grade 6. Luther, like GALA, offers a very small class size. It is not a Montessori school, but it does organize students into multi-level classes, which works well for students who may be above grade level in some subjects and at or below grade level in others, according to Principal Nicole Levy. Levy says her students’ parents consider the private, Lutheran school a family, especially with daily school-wide assemblies.