Taft IT High School, which has dramatically improved academic results since being transformed into a technologically focused school assisted by a partnership with Cincinnati Bell, is the first high school in the district to earn the coveted Blue Ribbon distinction. Schiel Primary School for Arts Enrichment this year combined with the School for Creative and Performing Arts to become the nation's first K-12 public arts school.
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For five years now, twice a week, every week, dozens of Cincinnati Bell employees show up to tutor the kids of Taft High School who need a little extra help. This partnership continues to receive high marks both nationally and locally. Specifically, on December 26, 2006, when CBS Evening News featured a story, highlighting how Taft High's partnership with Cincinnati Bell has reversed it's reputation.
A little closer to home, Fox 19 News recognized how ..."a school that had one of the worst reputations for attendance, academics and graduation rates now has a waiting list of students wanting to get in." In the past three years, 100 percent of the students who took the Ohio Proficiency Test passed. Parent involvement is up as well. From 20 parents to 350 helping out. Full Story.
For many companies, charitable donations are a key part of doing business. For Cincinnati Bell, charitable doing is key.
In 2001, the company saw an opportunity to truly give back by rolling up their sleeves and sharing their hi-tech telecommunications expertise with a group most deserving of some assistance Cincinnati students.
Together, Cincinnati Bell and Cincinnati Public Schools announced their unique business-education partnership. The mission: to provide a disenfranchised group of students with the academic and technological skills they would need to succeed in the today's global economy. As their partner in education, Cincinnati Bell adopted Taft High in the city's West End.
While the school might not have been a place that most businesses would invest time or money in, Cincinnati Bell saw beyond the school's run-down physical condition and unimpressive attendance, graduation and test score statistics. The company shared the district's same vision of an academic environment students could be proud of attending and parents would want to send their children.
On August 27, 2001, the vision became a reality when students headed back to class at the newly redesigned Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School.
Students were greeted with a more cheerful learning environment. During the summer months, Cincinnati Bell employees, retirees and Taft community members volunteered more than 5,700 hours to give the building a much needed facelift. Hallways, lockers and classrooms were painted. New desks were assembled. Trees, shrubs and flowers were planted.
To put the "Information Technology" into the new Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School, Cincinnati Bell enabled the integration of technology into all aspects of the school curriculum by networking the classrooms. The company facilitated the development of two advanced Cisco networks and reached out to its technology partners to donate equipment for four wireless mobile labs-each with 24-26 computers for all the classrooms to use-and a new multimedia center. Taft is now one of only a handful of high schools in the country to have such state-of-the-art capabilities.
The implemented technology allowed interested students to start earning a Cisco certification. Those who can show competency in the coursework taken at Taft can receive college credit through agreements with Cincinnati State Technical and Community College or Gateway Technical and Community College.
Cincinnati Bell also established a quarterly incentive program to encourage students to succeed. Students enrolled in the technology curriculum program earning and maintaining a 3.3 GPA or higher receive a wireless phone with local calling capability, and a laptop computer with ZoomTown high-speed Internet access so that learning doesn't have to stop in the classroom. Students not in the program but who do maintain a 3.3 GPA or higher are awarded a $30 Best Buy giftcard.
The company is also committed to internship and scholarship programs. Each year, Taft student can apply for one of ten paid summer internships to gain valuable hands-on work experience and up to ten $5,000 renewable scholarships for graduating seniors choosing to pursue a degree in an IT related field. In addition, Cincinnati Bell considers Taft's graduating seniors choosing not to immediately pursue higher education options as priority job candidates for entry-level positions within the company.
Cincinnati Bell donated time and resources to bring a community center to Taft. Opening its doors in spring 2004 with evening and Saturday hours, the center is equipped with 30 computers. Taft students manage and maintain the community computing center and provide instruction to community residents.
The transformation at Taft has indeed been profound with results to back it up. Since the business-education partnership was formed at the start of the 2001-2002 academic year:
The business-education partnership between Cincinnati Bell and Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School is making a difference in the lives of young people by exposing them to new technologies and exciting new career opportunities. It is a partnership that makes an investment in the future of our community and a challenge to other corporations to do their part.