Hudson City Schools - Creating an Intelligent Community

Phil HermanPhil Herman

Hudson City School District's focus on digital equality, innovation, sustainability, extensively preparing students for college and the workforce, and more has enhanced Hudson's standing as an intelligent community. Read the examples below to see how HCSD helps position Hudson for the future.

"It is exciting to see that Hudson has been named as one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2019 by the Intelligent Community Forum. As a school district, we strive to partner with our parents, local businesses, civic leaders, and community organizations to provide experiences for our students that enable them to build the character traits, knowledge, and skill sets to be effective problem solvers in a rapidly changing world. Whether our students are exploring the land lab, designing and testing rocket cars, or co-writing with students around the world, our students are engaging in learning activities that not only enhance their subject content knowledge, but also, help them grow into collaborative advocates for meaningful changes to improve their school, work, and community environments."

-Phil Herman, Superintendent of Hudson City Schools

Hudson City Schools Creates Digital Equality for Students

Digital EqualityHCSD Chromebook Initiative

In 2016, the Hudson City School District (HCSD) introduced the 1:1 Chromebook Initiative that provided each student grades 3 – 12 with a Chromebook to further the mission of Teach-Learn-Collaborate. The vision of the program is to provide appropriate learning tools to allow students to be fully engaged in learning, allowing them to learn, create, and to solve problems relevant to their community and the world they live in.

By beginning this digital equality program in the third grade, the HCSD ensures that students have a better understanding of the resources available to them and of their responsibility for their digital footprint. Every student in grades 3 – 12 now has equal access to online resources and are not hindered by shared computers or the lack of a computer at home.

Students can access all online library resources and publication subscriptions from home. The online media center also includes distance learning opportunities and virtual field trips like the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Manhattan School of Music, and the Great Barrier Reef. Giving students equal access to the internet creates a fairer playing field for opportunity and provides all students the ability to acquire the skills needed for college and career success.

The Chromebook Initiative also encourages collaboration and co-creation, whether it be with fellow classmates or students across the globe. This type of learning is interactive and engaging, providing students with immediate feedback from co-collaborators and teachers.

“The Chromebook Initiative is transforming what it means to be a student and a teacher,” said School Board President David Zuro. “The whole learning process is evolving. What strikes me as very positive is that our district is doing it in a way that preserves social interaction and collaboration.”

Teachers are getting in on the learning too. In 2016, a Technology Coordinator was hired to oversee the Chromebook Initiative, to support and train fellow educators in integrating technology into their classrooms and becoming Google Educator Certified, and to prepare the HCSD for future technologies. Teacher technology leads also attend local, state, and national training to stay at the forefront of cutting-edge technology to share with peers and students.

As a result of the Chromebook Initiative, the HCSD earned the “Digital Equality Award” at the 2018 Business Awards Breakfast presented by the City of Hudson’s Economic Development Department and the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce.

Hudson Students Racing Ahead with Bloodhound Project

Bloodhound RaceStudent Bloodhound Race

 The Hudson City School District (HCSD) has partnered with US-based company Swagelok to bring the Bloodhound Education Program to Hudson students. Bloodhound SCC is a UK-based effort to break the world land speed record of 1,000 mph using a supersonic car. The Bloodhound Education Program aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects by demonstrating how they can be harnessed to achieve the impossible – in this case, creating a jet and rocket powered car capable of setting a new world land speed record.

The HCSD seized the opportunity to collaborate with the Bloodhound Project and company sponsor Swagelok to engage its fourth-grade students in the problem solving, design thinking, and flexible learning skills that will be required of them in tomorrow’s knowledge workforce. 

Swagelok trained employee ambassadors to mentor the students through the lessons and aid them in designing their own mini Bloodhound cars. Swagelok funded the program through the initial year and provided many of the resources to allow continuation of the program. Together, the HCSD and Swagelok have successfully made its students the first certified ambassadors of the project in the United States. As a result of this global collaboration, the HCSD was the first school district in the US to formally add Bloodhound to its curriculum. Teachers have integrated Bloodhound-themed lessons across Hudson City School’s curriculum, including earth, physical and life sciences, physics, chemistry, language arts, social studies, and English.

The HCSD has enhanced the project by encouraging entrepreneurship. Teams present marketing materials about their cars to obtain sponsorships, which in turn sustain the program. Students sell sponsorship of their car much the same way NASCAR participants adorn their cars with sponsor logos and color schemes. Students offer the opportunity for sponsors to “inspire students to love math, engineering, and design” by placing their name and logo on a car, in an advertisement in the race day program, and on the scoreboard at Hudson Memorial Stadium on race day.

Students are also given the opportunity to explore an actual NASCAR stock car owned by Kaulig Racing. Kaulig Racing is a full-time American stock car racing team, owned by Matt Kauli who is a Hudson resident, and CEO and Owner of LeafFilter Gutter Protection.

Bloodhound CarBloodhound Car Heads Towards Finish Line

During the 2018-2019 school year, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company engineers will discuss expansion of the program to include tire design with the Hudson Bloodhound teams. Teams of fourth grade students will design and 3D print wheels based on knowledge gained from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company engineers.

The Hudson High School Broadcast Journalism class has gotten in on this exciting project too. The class designs the television screens, does a live broadcast, edits replays and conducts interviews for the annual race where students compete with their mini Bloodhound cars they have designed. This broadcast is done through a partnership with the City of Hudson’s Hudson Community Television (HCTV) that offers television production classes, taught by HCTV staff in the HCTV studio, for Hudson High School students.

US based collaboration activities building upon the original UK Bloodhound project have expanded to showcase an integrative experiential curriculum that the Hudson City School District implemented in fourth grade. Future ambitions are to lead in this educational activity. With this in mind, in February 2019, Mike Ford, the STEM Communicator based in UK for the Bloodhound Project will visit Hudson for the second time to discuss the mission of the Bloodhound Project to break the land speed record and deepen the collaboration with the Hudson City School District.

School Districts Collaborate to Cultivate a Knowledge Workforce

The Six District Compact provides the opportunity for Hudson City School students to develop skills required to be successful knowledge workers- from factory floor, to research lab, to construction site or corporate headquarters. Success in the 21st Century requires the ability to “think for a living” and an investment in knowledge capital that trains students for future friendly jobs. 

The Hudson City School District personnel, along with five other districts, were pioneers in the development of the Six District Educational Compact, now in its 49th year and a leader in vocational training. The Six District Educational Compact works collaboratively to share services among six neighboring school districts. The original mission was to provide programs and services with no added millage to taxpayers. This mission holds true today with more than 25,000 students, as well as teachers, staff, administrators, and communities having benefited from significant cost savings.  

The Compact was conceived in 1969 as a way for six Boards of Education to pool resources yet maintain their individual identities when the average cost for pupil in the State of Ohio was $679. At the same time, voters said “No” to 72% of new school tax issues while the U.S. Commission of Education mandated every school district to provide vocational training for its high school students. The districts were given three options for meeting the new requirements: establish a joint vocational school, build vocational programs into a comprehensive high school, or contract with a larger district for vocational services. None of these options appealed to the superintendents of the six small districts in Summit and Portage Counties.

The superintendents employed an innovative solution allowable by a provision in the new state law that the district could provide vocational training through “other arrangements that could be examples of innovative approaches.” Everyone in the state opposed the concept, except for one- Dr. Martin Essex, state superintendent of schools from 1966-1977, who obtained approval for what he called an “exemplary program” which could serve as a Compact model for similar efforts in Ohio.

The goals today are to create an affordable ecosystem for connecting employment and education. The Six District Educational Compact offers students 26 College Tech Prep Initiatives. These initiatives, designed to prepare students for college and careers, are rigorous, relevant, and project based. Students from any compact school district may earn college credit for each one of the College Tech Prep Initiatives and achieve real world technical skills that can facilitate post-secondary education opportunities, employment, or the military.

The Hudson City School District’s participation in the Six District Educational Compact exhibits the determination and ability to develop a workforce from the factory floor to the research lab and from the construction site to the call center or corporate headquarters. Students participate in experiential learning in the pursuit of careers in areas such aeronautics, forestry, engineering, computer-aided design, and bio-medical, as well as the more traditional vocational training for careers in construction, culinary arts, early childhood education, and cosmetology.

The Six District Educational Compact links students directly with real-world businesses, colleges and universities that are experts in different fields. Many of the courses that are part of a State of Ohio initiative called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) are aimed at helping Ohio stay competitive in today’s global economy. STEM courses nurture students as problem solvers, innovators, logical thinkers, and strong communicators.

The Compact has partnerships with Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State University, Stark State College, Youngstown State University, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, The University of Akron, Cleveland State University, Ashland University, Hocking College and Northeast Ohio Medical University. The Compact also has partnerships with businesses to provide internships for students. Collaborative partnerships include the Davey Tree Expert Company, the largest employee owned company in the State of Ohio, that serves 47 states in the US and Canada; and Audio-Technica, a locally headquartered company that designs and manufactures a wide range of products, including high-performance microphones, headphones, wireless microphone systems, mixers, and electronic products for home and professional use worldwide.

The program currently provides educational and training opportunities for a variety of career aspirations far beyond those just focused on the STEM initiative. Programming today that prepares students with the ability to be employable upon high school graduation, as well as providing a pathway for post-secondary education, is important to providing opportunity for employment and creating a strong knowledge workforce. Through this accomplishment, the Six District Educational Compact goes beyond providing a ladder of opportunity for students. The diversity of the programming offers students a jungle gym of opportunity to explore and train for relevant careers.

On the 2017-2018 Career-Technical Planning District Report Card, the Six District Educational Compact scored an “A” for graduation rate and an “A” for post-program outcomes; 98.7% of students in the class of 2017 graduated in four years; and 95.5% of students were employed (in an apprenticeship), had joined the military, or enrolled in secondary education or advanced training within six months after leaving school. This was a 5% increase over 90.4% on the 2015-2016 Ohio School Report Card.

HFD SCBA DemoHFD SCBA Demonstration

​Through key partnerships, beginning with the formation of the innovative Six District Educational Compact, the Hudson City School District, facilitated by a network of universities, businesses, and trade organizations, collaboratively demonstrates how educational resources and diversity of pathways benefit students by giving choices to success. This Compact successfully addresses the growing disjuncture between what children are expected to learn according to state educational mandates and the challenge of training them for the types of job opportunities that will be available for them.

The City of Hudson, looking to offer opportunities for collaboration and internships, reached out to students in the Programming and Software Development program to create an application for use by the Hudson Fire Department. The application, for use on cell phones, would create a database to document regular testing of self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA). Members of the Hudson Fire Department visited the class and demonstrated how the apparatuses work and explained the critical tests required to maintain their readiness. Students brainstormed and were offered the opportunity to ask questions and share their initial ideas.

The students will visit the Hudson Fire Department to assist with the testing and recording of data by hand to have a better understanding of the process they are tasked with streamlining. The project has been incorporated into their English curriculum by having students work on the presentation of their database application. Students will utilize the skills they learn throughout the year to create the application and database. The Programming and Software Development students have been given the opportunity as knowledge workers to create an exciting application with real world uses. The student co-created application will be a valuable tool for all the Fire Departments within the Six-District communities, as well as across the country. 

Hudson City School District Focuses on Sustainability Efforts

The Hudson City School District (HCSD), with 4,600 students divided among four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school, has made a significant commitment to sustainability. Since 2009, the HCSD has had a full-time Energy Education Specialist on staff to plan sustainability efforts, communicate about these efforts, monitor systems, and verify programming schedules. This has led to energy efficiency improvements throughout the district, with Hudson High School, the largest building in the district, receiving an Energy Star score of 100. 

By implementing energy saving measures in its current buildings, the HCSD has saved more than $1,082,447 since 2009. The HCSD has relied on the State of Ohio’s Energy Conservation Program, HB264, that allows school districts to make energy efficiency improvements such as boiler and lighting upgrades and use the cost savings to pay for those improvements. Its Energy Reduction Impact is 55,835 MMBTU. The greenhouse gas reduction is 6,574 equivalent metric tons of CO2.

Students in the HCSD are very active in sustainability efforts as well, recycling plastics and paper weekly. In one month, students at Hudson Middle School collected 6,330 pounds of paper for recycling. The HCSD implemented a policy to eliminate paper flyers and forms in the school buildings. Attendance, medical, and registration forms were all made available on the HCSD’s website. At the start of the 2018-2019 school year, the HCSD also launched a new communication tool called Peachjar that shares all school-approved flyers and information electronically via email and on the company’s website. Having saved more than 185,173 sheets of paper, which is the equivalent of 20 trees, from August 2018 through January 2019, this green initiative will save the schools tons of paper and reduce copy costs by thousands of dollars. 

In 2016, the Hudson Garden Club granted $2,700 to Hudson Middle School to create a school garden, which helps students understand the complexities of gardening, become excited about gardening, and take an active role in producing food at the school. The School’s cafeteria serves student-harvested vegetables in its salad bar.

The City of Hudson collaborated with the HCSD, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners, BioHabitats, Inc. and others to complete a stream restoration project adjacent to Hudson High School that is also used as an outdoor classroom called the Land Lab.

The Land Lab is used by the Hudson High School Environmental Sciences course in which students will continue to be environmental stewards. Teachers use the Lab to describe the effects of severely degraded headwaters of Tinker’s Creek, and to demonstrate to students what the stream should look like. The students were challenged with the question of “How can we fix the stream?” Students created designs intended to enhance the headwater, floodplain and wetlands.

Funding from a US EPA 319 grant ($329,208), the City of Hudson ($250,000), the Hudson City Schools ($88,700), and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health ($13,000) took the project from a theoretical concept to a real-world project where students could work along with experts from the design phase all the way to the monitoring phase. The consultants integrated student co-created designs into the actual restoration build.  Donations from Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners ($3,000) and the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization ($3,900) allowed BioHabitats, Inc. to purchase larger trees and plants to help increase the establishment of vegetation on the site to reduce erosion and create a habitat.

According to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, completion of the restoration project improved the water quality and habitat of the tributary to Tinkers Creek, increased the City of Hudson’s storm water retention capacity, and created a Living Land Laboratory for the HCSD The stream restoration project resulted in the restoration of 2,000 linear feet of severely incised and unstable stream channel; the rehabilitation of 4,000 linear feet of streambank and the reconnection of this small headwater stream with its natural floodplain; reduced sedimentation from severely eroding stream banks; and improved the natural watercourse and wetland function by removing nutrients while reducing downstream flooding potential by providing 2,000,000 gallons of stormwater storage in the wetlands and floodplains along the restoration project. The project site will be protected in perpetuity as a result of a conservation easement that was placed upon the 6.2834-acre restoration project site.

The collaborators recognized that communities that make environmental sustainability a shared goal typically engage organizations, community groups, and neighborhoods in advocating sustainability programs and activities. High school students in Hudson went door to door to homes that were within the headwaters area to educate them about their impact on the stream’s health. The restoration project maximized floodplain and enhanced wetland habitat that resulted in clean water, reduced flooding, and the reduction of pollutants through use of plant material.

Stream condition continues to improve with regard to water quality, but the biggest improvement is in habitat score. Students measure habitat score using the Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index (HHEI) protocol. The original grant requirement for the project was that the stream maintain an HHEI score of 65. Each year, Hudson High School students are able to conduct this evaluation and get scores in excess of 65, meaning the project is meeting, and at times even exceeding, its goal.

Another evaluation conducted by students is through the collection of aquatic macro-invertebrates. Their presence or absence is a foolproof indicator of water quality.  Each year, students collect many types of macros that indicate moderately clean water, and occasionally a few are collected that indicate very clean water.  The Hudson High School Land Lab initiative successfully completed the restoration of a tributary of Tinkers Creek, the largest tributary to the Cuyahoga River.