Written by Patricia Hawke for

Students who attend the Columbus School district may rest easy knowing that they study in an area that is doing all it can to ensure they receive an excellent education.  District leaders are striving to make their schools top notch; from opening new schools to offering a plethora of programs throughout the Columbus School district.  But how close are they to meeting the district’s mission statement?:  ‘Each student is highly educated, prepared for leadership and service, and empowered for success as a citizen in a global community”. 
While there is still work to be done, some great results are starting to show. Newsweek’s Top High Schools annual report shows some evidence of this improvement.  Two of Columbus Schools’ high schools, Columbus Alternative High School and Centennial High School remained in the magazine’s top five percent nationwide for the second year in a row.  In addition, the Ohio Teachers of the Year in both 2003 and 2005 were Columbus Schools’ teachers, and the Columbus Schools’ district leads the state with more than 100 National Board Certified Teachers on staff. 
The Columbus Schools’ district also provides special education services to approximately 8,700 students; that’s 15.5% of the district’s total student population. The Special Education Department for Columbus Schools provides academic and behavioral support to disabled students in order to enable them to achieve academic excellence in the general education curriculum.  The department also strives to help its disabled students acquire independent life skills that will prepare them for work or college, as applicable.  In addition to these goals, Columbus Schools’ students with disabilities may receive related services, such as: Adaptive Physical Education, Attendant Services, Audiology Services, Braille Services, Counseling/Guidance Services, Medical Services, Occupational Therapy, Orientation/Mobility Training, Parent Involvement, Physical Therapy, Reader Services, Sign Language Interpretation, Special Transportation Services, Speech and Language Therapy, and Supervisory Services.
Columbus Schools are implementing many other innovative programs. Among them is a centralized Pre-Kindergarten program, which will provide school readiness activities for students close to entering kindergarten. Also, the creation of an Autism Program in Columbus Schools has been recommended by the Autism Task Force.  It would consist of six classrooms which would serve students at the preschool and kindergarten level.  The program would be served by an “Autism Team” consisting of a school psychologist, a speech & language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and a physical therapist.  Also, the Columbus Children’s Hospital of Behavioral Health would provide consultation, professional development, and other resources.
Mainstream students are not left out of these improvements in Columbus Schools.  Middle school students can benefit from the “Summer Discovery Academy” which strives to meet individual needs in reading, math, science, and social studies.  The STAR (Science, Technology, and Algorithms) Academy is a Math/Science focus program that is also available.  The HOTS program (Higher Order Thinking Skills) is a regularly scheduled class within the STAR academy for sixth and seventh grade students. 
The Technology and International Studies School for grades 6-12 is another program that Columbus Schools hope to adopt.  This program would immerse both students and teachers in the use of technology for learning and teaching. Also available within the district are single-gender schools. The possibilities for excellent programs abound throughout the Columbus Schools’ district.  The only difficulty may lie in which one to choose!