CPS’s new superintendent spends first week experiencing ‘what schools feel like’

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Iranetta Wright spent her first week in her new job visiting four of the district’s schools, talking with students, teachers and staff members, as the former Deputy Superintendent of Schools in Detroit Public Schools Community District gets a feel for public education in Cincinnati. On Monday, May 2, Wright visited North Avondale Montessori School and Taft High School; part of Tuesday was spent at Taft High School and William Howard Taft Elementary School; and Walnut Hills High School students and teachers were able to meet her Wednesday.

“I am interested in experiencing what the schools feel like, if they present a happy engagement, and if the classrooms are clean and presentable,’’ said the district’s 28th superintendent. “My first one-hundred days will be about learning as much as I can about the district.’’

Wright said she was attracted to the Cincinnati school district after learning about the pride the community has in its schools. “That spoke to me,” she commented.

New CPS Superintendent Iranetta Wright takes a “selfie” with Diashon, a student at North Avondale Montessori School, during her visit there. Diashon was observing his 11th birthday.

She said she wants to start off being accountable, and the district is launching a video message advising the community that district officials want to hear from them.

Wright says she brings a wealth of experiences from 30 years in education that should be beneficial in facing the challenges ahead.

One of those challenges is bringing back the 6,000 students who dropped out of the school system during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, as schools closed and students engaged in remote learning, many without the tools necessary to transition into that mode of learning. She wants the district to engage with the community about this problem, and with families to learn why the students left, she said.

“The students are our number one customer, and it is important their voices be heard,” Wright said. “CPS belongs to Cincinnati, and we want to make sure we also are responsive to that.’’

On her first day as CPS superintendent, Iranetta Wright visited North Avondale Montessori School where Principal John Corey showed her the Memorial Bench honoring two former students, John Leahr, a WWII Tuskegee Airmen pilot who escorted a bomber that made runs over Germany with his classmate Herbert Heilbrun coincidentally a member of the bomber’s crew. The two got to know each other after the war.

Wright earlier shared her excitement about joining CPS, saying, “I thank the Board for their decision and belief in my ability to lead our District to the next level as we make Cincinnati Public Schools the public school choice for children and families of our city. I am also appreciative of the community support as we embark on this journey. I’m looking forward to leading this district. We’re going to hit the ground running to learn, grow and develop together.”

Wright last served as Deputy Superintendent of Schools in Detroit Public Schools Community District, which serves 53,000 students and 7,200 employees. A Florida native, she served Duval County Public Schools for over 25 years as a teacher, assistant principal, middle and high school principal, regional superintendent, and ultimately in the role of Chief of Schools serving 117,000 students and 13,000 employees.       

She has been recognized as a City Year Champion of Education, United Negro College Fund Innovator in Education, a Woman of Excellence by the Michigan Chronicle and Chiefs for Change Future Chief.


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