Eric Gordon has accomplished much during his tenure as CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. But he didn’t do it alone. In fact, some of the most notable additions to the district’s infrastructure during his tenure relied on community partnerships.
Consider the Cleveland chapter of Say Yes to Education and the district’s career planning and exploration program, both of which aim to prepare students for what comes after their K-12 education and who need partners in the business world to bring the idea of different careers to life.
Gordon said when he arrived in Cleveland he realized the city and its business community were unique. Businesses in the city knew the education system was an “engine of economic development from day one,” he said. Other cities tend to treat education as an area to be supported through philanthropy, alongside other needs like poverty and the elderly. But Cleveland has long recognized that the K-12 education system is more than that; it’s the city’s talent pool.
The relationship between the business community and the district has been part of the “DNA” since Gordon took over, he said, but it has grown stronger during his tenure as CEO, thanks to programs like PACE . Gordon, who joined the district in 2007 and became CEO in 2011, will step down at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.
Crain’s asked members of Cleveland’s business and higher education community how their relationship with the district has changed over the past decade under Gordon’s leadership, as well as what they expect from the district’s next leader. . The email responses below have been edited for clarity and length.
How has the relationship between your business or institution and the district changed while Gordon has led CMSD?
“In the 10+ years that Eric has led the important work at CMSD, we have been fortunate to collaborate with him on many initiatives to support students in the district as we jointly prepare them for success at the university and beyond. We have worked side by side in this effort. I am proud of the work our teams have accomplished on behalf of CMSD students. The progress can be attributed to its collaborative nature and unrelenting drive to improve the lives of its students and their families. — Karen Miller, Cuyahoga Community College Provost
“I had no significant relationship with CMSD prior to Eric Gordon’s tenure as District CEO.” — Dan Moore, President and CEO of Dan T. Moore Co.
“In one word – meaningfully. Today, most of our work in teacher preparation programs involves CMSD as our primary focus is on urban education. This only happened because Eric played an important partnership role in the relationship with the college. Neither party came to the table with an agenda or preconceived ideas, but we tried to produce solutions together. There are many examples of existing work that was developed as a result of this thinking. Today, CMSD’s relationship with CSU spans programs across campus. That the leaders of both organizations (Eric in particular) understand the importance that each of us plays in the broader contexts of our region’s economic development and its impact on the daily work of its citizens.” – Sajit Zachariah, Vice Provost and Dean of CSU Online at the Cleveland State University
What did he work with?
“Eric is one of the most genuinely engaged, empathetic and forward-thinking leaders I have worked with. His passion for his ‘kids’ is evident every time you hear him speak on their behalf. He has been a true partner in this important work.” —Miller
“Eric has been a dedicated, hardworking, child-focused leader who has been particularly successful in providing a college opportunity for a greater percentage of CMSD students. Our company and non-profit entity, Workroom Program Alliance, has focused on encouraging vocational education, providing technical training to prepare students for successful careers, and helping find talent for the voracious appetite of a manufacturing community that desperately needs new, professionally trained employees. technical.In some areas of Cleveland, the unemployment rate is between 30% and 50% for our young citizens, while at the same time there has never been a greater demand for well-trained employees. is a problem for many metropolitan areas, but it has more impact in Cleveland because so much of our economy is manufacturing-based.” —Moore
“Very easy to work with. He doesn’t air himself. That humility goes so far. We used to meet regularly for breakfast, so he had some time to give me, before let his day begin. He always responded immediately to my text. He’s such a big thinker, so it was a wonderful time for the two of us to think about future opportunities for collaboration – we are, after all, an academic company! ” — Zacharias
What is your business or which institution needs the next CEO?
“I hope the next leader understands the importance of maintaining and deepening the special relationship between Tri-C and CMSD. Our long history of true collaboration is essential to ensuring the educational opportunities that all students need, the advancement of economic mobility they deserve and the vitality of community that we all work hard to promote.Our values and missions are inextricably aligned, and I will do whatever I can to be as helpful as possible to my current partner and to the next leader through this transition.—Michael Baston, President of Cuyahoga Community College
“We need the new CEO to have the same dedication and priority to children as Eric, but with a greater focus on vocational education and hands-on technical training.” —Moore
“Continue to be a thinking partner, especially with CSU 2.0, where we merged units on campus to create the College of Education and Public Affairs. Here are more opportunities to bring collaborative thinking to solve current challenges .” — Zechariah