Greater Dayton Schools

What matters is hope and belief

Since its new campus opened in November, The Greater Dayton School has been a revolving door of influencers, thought leaders and educational experts.

Reporters have come from the nation’s top educational news outlet, as well as Inc. Magazine and Forbes. Politicians – including the lieutenant governor, former governor, a member of Congress, the mayor, numerous state representatives and the state school board president – have taken tours. Two university presidents have paid a visit.

What’s drawing them? A revolutionary educational model and promising results that could help solve America’s achievement gap.

The school, planned and funded by The Connor Group Kids & Community Partners, is finishing up its second year. It is Ohio’s first private non-religious school for under-resourced students. Its model is predicated on intense wraparound services, a focus on long-term outcomes, low student-teacher ratios, multi-age classrooms, personalized instruction and family involvement. So far, it appears to be working.

GDS students grow their math and reading skills twice as fast as the national average, regardless of income levels. And compared to their low-income peers, GDS students are …

  • Three times more likely to be prepared for kindergarten, a key predictor of long-term academic success.
  • Twice as likely to be physically fit.
  • Twice as likely to have an annual medical and dental checkup and almost four times as likely to be up-to-date on their vaccines.
  • 60% more likely to score proficient or advanced on Ohio’s State Tests.

    As school founder Larry Connor pointed out at the campus’s grand opening, the brand-new state-of-the-art building is attention-grabbing, but it’s not what matters most.

    “What matters are our students; what matters are our families; what matters are our teachers, leaders and support people,” he said. “What matters is hope and belief that we, together, are able to build a national model so that other cities across this great country will build their own Greater Dayton School.”

    Kids & Community Partners is now looking at ways to potentially scale the model. The original model was developed over a five-year strategic planning and implementation process.

    “I remember thinking that starting a school is hard, and that starting a school like this seems impossible,” said Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted.  “… I knew Larry well enough that he had a plan and he would work to overcome every barrier that got in the way and make it a reality and never give up.”

    GDS currently serves students in grades PreK through fourth grade and will add a new grade every year until it serves 400 students in grades PreK through eighth grade.

    Back to News