Chardon Chamber Highlights Community Connections with Lunch & Learn Event
September 21, 2023 by Amy Patterson

Local business leaders gathered in the Chardon High School cafeteria Sept. 13 to “Lunch & Learn” during the annual State of the School event sponsored by the Chardon Area Chamber of Commerce.

Local business leaders gathered in the Chardon High School cafeteria Sept. 13 to “Lunch & Learn” during the annual State of the School event sponsored by the Chardon Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber President Susan Parker said it was wonderful to see so many people taking the time out of their busy days to attend the event, which highlighted student achievement and workforce preparation programs at the district.

“We very much value our partnership with (Chardon Schools),” she said. “We’ve worked diligently, particularly in the last few years, to work together and see what programming and what opportunities we have for collaboration.”

Chamber members learned about technical programs like a video production class available to students at Chardon Middle School, College Credit Plus, advanced placement programs at the high school and the district’s career development curriculum — the Creating Reliable Educated Workers program.

In a presentation to the group, Chardon Schools Superintendent Michael Hanlon outlined the district’s six major goals:

  • Communications: by 2023, the district will develop a comprehensive communications plan resulting in internal and external stakeholders rating the quality of those communications as highly effective by 2028.
  • Engaged Student Learning: by 2028, Chardon Schools will align teaching and learning, engaging all students with educational experiences preparing them for success.
  • Resources and Fiscal Responsibilities: by 2026, the district will complete a review of the use of all available resources to ensure they are being used in the most effective and efficient manner.
  • Safety and Security: by 2024, the district will develop a specific long-term plan that addresses safety, security and wellness.
  • Facilities and Operations: by 2025, the district will enhance existing facilities and operations to meet identified instructional and extracurricular needs, while developing a specific long-term plan by 2028.
  • Community Connections: by 2028, the district will have a model comprehensive community connection program, including partnerships, engagement and volunteering opportunities.

Attendees were given the opportunity to mingle with staff and students, and to tour parts of the building restored after major flooding last winter left some rooms damaged.

Kayla Flowers, a licensed independent social worker and senior care advisor at CarePatrol of NE Ohio, said she was very impressed with the district’s presentation.

“I felt that it showed a passionate collaboration along with transparency between the board of education, superintendent and all of the schools,” she said after the event. “I do feel like the programs offered did stand out to allow for diversity of skills to be developed and nurtured.”

Flowers said the career programming on display demonstrated Chardon students are gaining experience and knowledge in real world application, making them great hiring candidates.

“I feel strongly that Chardon is creating a balance between college and workforce prep,” Flowers said, adding she would consider offering job-shadowing opportunities for Chardon students. “Other districts may offer (workforce prep), but I would ask how they are getting the messaging across to the students and parents so that there is involvement,” she said.

Communication was a point of discussion at the event, with Hanlon telling chamber members it’s one of the main challenges facing school districts.

Hanlon lauded Communications Director Kelly Misch, whose monthly “Topper Talk” newsletter includes highlights from the district’s instructional programs, capital improvements, and student and staff achievements.

Social media has become very important, he said, adding the focus is on telling the district’s positive stories.

“The reason I’m happy that you’re here is hopefully you can become storytellers, and you will go out and share some of the things you’ve heard today with other people and build the narrative about what’s happening in Chardon Schools,” Hanlon told the audience.