Driven by a mission to challenge and support every student, every step of the way, Upper Arlington Schools continues to be a lighthouse district — leading the way for others with a high quality academic program, exceptionally talented students, and new and innovative programming designed to meet the individual needs of all students.
Guiding all of this work is the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, which identifies a focused set of recommendations rooted in the district’s mission and the vision of uniquely accomplished students prepared to serve, lead and succeed.
At the core of the strategic plan is academics and the long-running philosophy of educating the whole child through not only academics but the arts, service learning, athletics and unique real-world learning opportunities that expose students to authentic career-based experiences and skills that they’ll take into their next step in life.
“It’s my little ‘woosh of joy’ knowing that what our students are doing today is preparing them to positively impact our world tomorrow,” said Amanda Fountain, a communications teacher at Upper Arlington High School.
Throughout the K-12 academic program, Upper Arlington Schools is taking the lead nationwide by implementing a totally personalized student support system known as the multi-tiered system of support, or MTSS. This system gives teachers the structures, tools and student-specific data to respond to the unique learning needs of every student so that they can maximize their growth.
“It pushes us to better meet the needs not only of students who may be struggling but also those who are above where they should be according to the learning standards — and everyone in between,” said Michelle Banks, Ed.D., director of curriculum and instruction.
With one-to-one technology and state-of-the-art facilities, students also have the tools to enhance their academic experience. Upper Arlington Schools was the first district in the central Ohio area to fully implement one-to-one technology by the start of the 2016-2017 school year, providing every student with a device to support and enhance their learning and setting the district well ahead of others when schools were forced to move to remote learning in the spring of 2020.
And, with six of the eight K-12 schools newly built or completely renovated, students are now learning in flexible, light-filled environments that are designed to support the learning styles of today and the future.
“I’ve said it many times — this is a great time to be a Golden Bear,” said Superintendent Paul Imhoff, Ed.D. “We are building on a long-standing tradition of excellence in our schools to provide our students even more opportunities for success now and in their future.”
At the elementary level, Upper Arlington Schools continues to set the standard for literacy instruction by building a strong foundation for success for early readers, from kindergarten on. The new all-day kindergarten program is revolutionizing learning for these early learners by providing nearly 18 additional hours a week to focus on the development of core academic skills such as literacy and math. It is one of the first all-day kindergarten programs in the state to be offered to families at no additional cost.
At the middle level, students are able to dive deeper into the full scope of their academic journey and earn high school-level credit in math, science and global language. There, they also can begin their journey in Upper Arlington’s renowned performing arts program by pursuing orchestra, band or vocal music.
Both middle school and high school students here are also consistently bringing home honors in national, regional, statewide and local competitions in math, science, computer science, robotics, art, writing, the performing arts, speech and debate, and much more.
At Upper Arlington High School, students can choose from a vast number of courses in the comprehensive curriculum, including lifelong career-related coursework and multiple opportunities for college-level coursework through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and College Credit Plus. In fact, so many UAHS students choose advanced coursework that Upper Arlington Schools is first in the state in the combined percentage of students taking AP and IB courses.
“One consistent message that I hear often is how prepared our students are for college - whatever college they attend, whether it’s Ohio State University or Dartmouth or University of Cincinnati,” said Kathy Moore, Ph.D., the college and career counselor at Upper Arlington High School. “So many college representatives from schools across the country feel so fortunate to get an Upper Arlington student on their campus. They’re hoping that our students will choose them.”