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The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown

Ohio State Justice Yvette McGee Brown was born in Columbus Ohio to Sylvia Kendrick on July 1, 1960. After graduating from Columbus, Ohio’s Mifflin High School, McGee Brown attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She graduated with her B.S. degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1982. Three years later, McGee Brown graduated from Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law with her J.D. degree in law. In 1992, McGee Brown was elected to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations and Juvenile division. As lead Juvenile Court Judge, she led the creation of the Family Drug Court and the SMART Program, a truancy and educational neglect intervention program. After nine years on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, she retired from the bench to create the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a multi-disciplinary child abuse and family violence program. In 2008, McGee Brown was also elected to the Ohio Elections Commission. After serving as founding president for the Center for Child and Family Advocacy, McGee Brown became a candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio, tabbed by then Governor Ted Strickland in 2010. Strickland appointed her to the Ohio Supreme Court after losing his gubernatorial bid. McGee Brown became the first African American woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

An active community and corporate leader, Justice McGee Brown has served on the boards of Ohio University, The Ohio State University Medical Center, the National Council of the OSU Moritz College of Law, M/I Homes Inc. and Fifth Third Bank of Central Ohio. She is the former chair of the United Way of Central Ohio, The Ohio State University Alumni Association and the YWCA Columbus Board of Directors. In 2008, Justice McGee Brown was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. Among her many honors, she has received the Champion of Children Award, YWCA Woman of Achievement Award and several honors from Ohio University and The Ohio State University.

Justice McGee Brown is married to Tony Brown. They have three children and one grandson.

Justice Yvette McGee Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 6, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.087

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/6/2012

Last Name

McGee Brown

Maker Category
Schools

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Ohio University

Mifflin High School

Mifflin Middle School

Fairwood Alternative Elementary School

South Mifflin Elementary School

First Name

Yvette

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

MCG02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

It Doesn't Matter Where You Started In Life; It Matters Where You End.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

7/1/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

State supreme court judge The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown (1960 - ) was the first African American woman to serve on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and the Supreme Court of Ohio. She also founded the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Columbus Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Employment

Supreme Court of Ohio

Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations and Juvenile Division

Ohio Attorney General's Office

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mother's experiences as a single mother

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers meeting her half-sister

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Browns talks about her mother's marriages

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her mother's diagnosis with Guillain-Barre syndrome

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers visiting her maternal grandparents' home

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers Mifflin High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls the political climate of the late 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers interviewing Judge Robert Morton Duncan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers studying journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her mentors at Ohio University

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her experiences at Ohio University

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her decision to attend The Ohio State University College of Law in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers The Ohio State University College of Law in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers joining the Ohio attorney general's office

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Yvette McGee Brown talks about Judge Lillian W. Burke

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her career at the Ohio attorney general's office

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Yvette McGee Brown recalls implementing consent decrees in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers her decision to pursue a county judgeship

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Yvette McGee Brown remembers her election as a judge in Franklin County, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her judgeship at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Yvette McGee Brown describes her judgeship at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about the juvenile court system

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers the O.J. Simpson trial

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Student Mediation and Assistance to Reduce Truancy program

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Family Drug Court at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Center for Child and Family Advocacy in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her early judicial career

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers serving on the Ohio Elections Commission

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her decision to become Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's running mate

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown remembers Governor Ted Strickland's reelection campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown recalls her appointment to the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her colleagues on the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her speaking engagements

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown talks about her casework on the Supreme Court of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her family

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Yvette McGee Brown recalls implementing consent decrees in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown describes the Center for Child and Family Advocacy in Columbus, Ohio
Transcript
What did the court order the--$$The department [Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction] to do?$$Yeah (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, the department at that time was deemed to be discriminatory from race and sex. And the court, the federal court [U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio] had ordered the Ohio Penitentiary closed. The Ohio Penitentiary used to sit in what is now called the Arena District in Columbus [Ohio]. It was this huge prison that had been built in the 1800s. And the federal district--the federal courts had declared that it was cruel and unusual to have inmates inhabit that facility. So, it had to be closed and, ultimately, it was torn down. At the time, I came to the department we had been accused of race discrimination for not promoting African Americans, and not just in employment, but in how we dealt with inmates. We had a caste system inside the prison department where white inmates got cells, and black inmates got dormitories. And so, part of my responsibility was to help develop and write policies, and then train the wardens and the staff on how this was going to happen. It was very interesting to me because I would meet with the wardens, and they were very opposed to housing black and white inmates together. They were like, "You don't understand, they will not live together." And I looked at them and I said, "Oh, we don't let inmates choose any part of their existence. We don't let them choose what they're going to wear, what they're going to eat, when they go to the bathroom, what time they get up, and suddenly, we're going to let them choose who they live with? This is prison. These are your issues. We're going to assign cells based on security levels, and not based on race." But, oh, my gosh, it was so hard. And then, the other case we had was a serious case of sex discrimination. They would not allow women to work as correctional officers in maximum security prisons because, apparently, women are so weak, they would have sex with the inmates. And a woman couldn't get promoted to be a warden if she didn't have maximum security experience. So, the, the duplicity of their argument, though, is that, at the same time, they were prosecuting and--or, excuse me, defending a case as to why women couldn't work in maximum security prisons, we had men working in the female prison. And we had female inmates actually getting pregnant. And nobody was saying that men couldn't work in Marysville [Ohio Reformatory for Women, Marysville, Ohio] so, of course, we lost that case. And I can remember sitting with this old warden. His name is Arnold Jago [ph.]. And Arnold Jago, he used to call me Gal, 'cause Arnold was sixty-five years old. And he looks like what you would think a warden would look like, and he would say to me, "Gal, we are not letting women into this prison." And I said, "Warden, yes, you are. Women are going to work in this prison. That is what the federal court has ordered." And I had his supervisor with me who said to him, "Arnold, either women start working in this prison, or you're not going to be the warden anymore." So, it was a fascinating practice for somebody who was only twenty-seven years old.$$Yeah, it does. It sounds like a fascinating--Ohio State Pen, as you described it, was used as a model for a draconian prison in 'The Shawshank Redemption' (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) It was, that was Mansfield.$$Oh, Mansfield?$$The Mansfield Correctional [Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio], yeah, 'cause that one is Mansfield, and I've been there several times. It, it was the only prison in the country that was built six tiers high, solid concrete. It was so noisy, like you could hear yourself as you would walk through. You hear every step you take, and the noise was deafening. Oh, my god, if they even started talking, they, and because they were stacked straight on top of each other, you have somebody on tier six yelling down to somebody on tier four, you would lose your mind. I don't know how people didn't go crazy in there. It was the loudest, most difficult prison to operate.$$Okay.$$And that was where 'Shawshank' was filmed.$$Okay. And I always thought it was Ohio Pen--$$Yeah, the Ohio Pen was, I think, gone or, or pretty decrepit by that time.$$I think they shot something before they knocked it down (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, they probably--oh, 'Cool Hand Luke' maybe? Yeah, they did do, they did several movies at the Ohio Pen because to see it, you're right. It was pretty draconian looking, yeah. And then, there was that infamous fire there where several inmates died and, yeah, it was a bad place.$$Okay. Okay. So, you were trying to implement the federal consent, consent decree, and--$$We had several, yeah. We were being sued all the time (laughter).$What happened when you left the court [Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch]? (Unclear).$$Well, I left the court to go over to Nationwide Children's Hospital [Columbus Children's Hospital; Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio] because I was in the middle of my second term. The second time I ran, they did not run anybody against me, so people were shocked that I was stepping down. But I'd al- I've always been one of those people guided by, where can I make the biggest difference? And, quite honestly, I was just getting burned out on the court. It was, it, the depravity that I was seeing every day, it just, I wasn't able to leave it at the office. And I'd always promised myself that when I reached the point where I couldn't see the humanity in the person across the bench from me, it was time for me to go. My youngest [David Brown] was four, my middle daughter [Laura Brown] was fourteen. It was time for me to go. And I started having quiet conversations with people, imagining I would just transition to a law firm. And Nationwide Children's, one of my friends was on the board and Nationwide Children's asked me to come and talk to them. And they wanted to create a one stop child abuse center because they had children who were sexually abused, spending hours in the emergency room, sometimes eight, ten, twelve hours waiting on detectives to get there, waiting on children's services to get there. So, they basically said, "This is kind of what we're thinking, but we'd like you with your experience to come in and design it." And so, I literally got the opportunity to plan, program, and build a center from the ground up. They had originally told me I had $3 million. I, I ultimately got $10 million, and we built a forty-two thousand square foot facility that, now in Franklin County [Ohio], we've been open now for, since 2005 for seven years. So, we have literally changed the paradigm on how you treat abused children. What we did is we moved all of the systems that deal with seriously abused children into one location. This beautiful building looks like you're walking into somebody's living room. It doesn't look like a hospital. It doesn't look institutional. We moved our five child abuse physicians, nurse practitioners, eight trauma treatment therapists, seventeen detectives from our special victims bureau at the Columbus police department [Columbus Division of Police], ten children services investigators, two Franklin County prosecutors, a domestic violence therapist, a child psychiatrist, and the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence [The Center for Family Safety and Healing, Columbus, Ohio] all in one location, all working together. It took us two years just to get the memorandums of understanding completed. But what--it's amazing what happens when you take six organizations that are used to pointing the finger at each other, which is what they used to do when I was on the bench; the police would blame children's services. Children's services would blame the prosecutor as to why nothing happened. But now, instead of being this anonymous name on a phone message, it's the person you see in the parking lot. It's the person you get coffee with in the morning. So, the beauty of this is that when a child is raped, they come to the center, and everybody they need to see is at the center: the detective's there, the children's services worker is here, the physician is there. We immediately get them into trauma treatment with a therapist. And so, oftentimes, the police detective is able to go and interview the alleged perpetrator before the mom can get home and say, oh, my god, this is what they found. So, it's a wonderful system. It was the work of my life. It's what I thought I was going to end my career doing. And then, Governor Strickland [Ted Strickland] called in 2010 (laughter).$$Yeah. For the record, the name of the place is the Center for Child and Family Advocacy [The Center for Family Safety and Healing, Columbus, Ohio]--$$At Nationwide Children's--$$--at Nationwide Children's Hospital.$$Yes.$$And this makes so much sense. Is this still going on?$$It is.$$And has it been replicated in others?$$Yeah, we, and we actually weren't the first people to come up with this concept. I mean, there are centers like this that exist. Chicago [Illinois] has one. I went to visit the Chicago one. It's twenty-seven thousand square feet. That's when I knew I had to make it bigger. And Chicago's is a house, it's really kind of whimsical. They have windows that are on the floor, and they have windows that go up outside down, so it's really entertaining for a child to look at. But one of the things I--when I met with the director there, and I asked her, I said, "What would you do if you were doing different--doing it today differently?" She said, "I'd build it bigger." Because what we, what we everybody underestimated, which we got the benefit of their experience, is that when you create a safe place for people to come, where they don't have to go down to the police station, where they don't have to into a hospital emergency room, it makes it easier for people to come forward. So, I went to San Diego [California], I went to Chicago, I sent a consultant to Denver [Colorado], I went to Cincinnati [Ohio]. I went to Houston [Texas]. Houston has a fifty-six thousand square foot facility, and they were adding on to it at the time I visited them in 2002. So, we didn't create the model. I'd like to say that ours is the most comprehensive model because we included domestic violence because what we found in interviewing our families is that 60 percent of our parents gave a current or prior history of domestic violence, so we believed in terms of healing the child, we had to heal the family.$$Okay.

Gene Harris

School superintendent Gene T. Harris was born in Columbus, Ohio on April 4, 1953 to Thelma Hunt and William Thomas, Sr. Harris graduated from Linden McKinley High School in Columbus, Ohio in 1971. After attending one year at Ohio State University, Harris transferred to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana and obtained her B.A. degree in English in 1975. She then returned to Ohio State University and graduated with her M.A. degree in educational administration in 1979. Harris was then hired as an English teacher for the Columbus City Schools. In 1980, she was appointed assistant principal. Six years later, Harris was named principal in the Columbus City Schools district. She was appointed supervisor of principals for the Columbus City Schools before being hired as an assistant superintendent of curriculum. Two years later, Harris enrolled in Ohio University’s doctoral program, where she obtained her Ph.D. degree in education in 1999. Harris then became the 19th superintendent of the Columbus City Schools (CCS) in 2001, Ohio’s largest district, serving more than 51,000 students in 118 schools, and over 7,700 employees.

Under her tenure as superintendent, U.S. News and World Report ranked 12 of the district’s high schools among the nation’s best in their 2010 America’s Best High Schools report; one high school receiving the “silver” award designation and 11 others receiving a “Bronze” designation.

Harris has earned numerous accolades throughout her career. The Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA) named her its 2012 Ohio Superintendent of the Year. She was the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree in community leadership from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. Harris has been twice awarded the Ingram Award for outstanding leadership as a principal, and in 1991, she was named a YWCA Woman of Achievement. Additionally, Harris received the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity African American Role Model Award and the Who’s Who in Black Columbus Master Achiever in Education Award. Other notable honors Harris has received include: the Columbus Metropolitan Area Community Action Organization (CMACAO) Community Impact Award, the Cavaliers Club Award for Outstanding Accomplishments, and the National Council of 100 Black Women-Columbus Chapter Personal Achievement and Devoted Service Award. She is also the recipient of the University Council for Educational Administration Excellence in Educational Leadership Award. Harris has received the Martin Luther King, Jr., Dreamer Award in 2004, the Champion of Children, the Children’s Hunger Alliance Educator of the Year and the Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs Stellar Performer awards in 2005. Two years later, Harris was honored with the Donald and Gail Anderson Award from the Ohio State University College of Education and Ecology in 2007.

Harris is married to Stanley Eugene Harris and lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Gene T. Harris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 5, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.081

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/5/2012

Last Name

Harris

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

T.

Schools

Ohio University

The Ohio State University

University of Notre Dame

Linden-McKinley STEM Academy

Linmoor Middle School

Garfield Elementary School

First Name

Gene

Birth City, State, Country

Columbus

HM ID

HAR34

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

It Is What It Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

4/4/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Columbus

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ice Cream

Short Description

School superintendent Gene Harris (1953 - ) oversaw the Columbus City Schools from 2001 to 2013.

Employment

Columbus City Schools

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gene Harris' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gene Harris lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gene Harris describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gene Harris talks about her maternal family's move to Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gene Harris talks about her mother's upbringing and employment

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gene Harris describes her father's upbringing and employment

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gene Harris talks about her parents' values

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gene Harris describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gene Harris lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gene Harris describes her likeness to her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gene Harris describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gene Harris describes the places she lived in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gene Harris describes her community in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gene Harris describes the sounds of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gene Harris recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gene Harris talks about de facto segregation in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gene Harris remembers Garfield Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gene Harris describes her experiences during junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gene Harris remembers her high school librarian

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gene Harris recalls the racial tension at Linden-McKinley High School in Columbus, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gene Harris recalls the racial tension at Linden-McKinley High School in Columbus, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gene Harris remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gene Harris recalls her time at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gene Harris recalls transferring to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gene Harris describes her experiences at the University of Notre Dame

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gene Harris talks about her teaching career in the Columbus Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gene Harris remembers the desegregation of the Columbus Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gene Harris describes her graduate studies in education

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gene Harris recalls her assistant principalship of Central High School in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gene Harris talks about the federal government's role in education

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gene Harris describes her experiences as a high school principal, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gene Harris describes her experiences as a high school principal, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gene Harris talks about the importance of educational stability

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gene Harris recalls her work as supervisor of principals for the Columbus Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gene Harris talks about charter schools

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gene Harris describes her Ph.D. dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Gene Harris talks about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Gene Harris talks about the limitations of standardized testing

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gene Harris talks about income inequality in the public schools

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gene Harris talks about funding for education in the State of Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gene Harris describes the superintendent selection process in the Columbus Public Schools

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gene Harris describes her career as superintendent of the Columbus City Schools

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gene Harris recalls President Barack Obama's visit to Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Gene Harris describes her trip to Ghana with students from the Columbus Africentric Early College

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Gene Harris talks about the success of the Columbus City Schools

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Gene Harris describes her initiatives in the Columbus City Schools

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Gene Harris talks about Back to School With The HistoryMakers

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Gene Harris describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gene Harris reflects upon her career and legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gene Harris talks about the use of technology in the Columbus City Schools

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gene Harris describes her family

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gene Harris describes the Capital Improvements program

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gene Harris talks about arts education in the Columbus City Schools

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Gene Harris describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$8

DATitle
Gene Harris describes her experiences as a high school principal, pt. 1
Gene Harris describes her initiatives in the Columbus City Schools
Transcript
Nineteen eighty-six [1986], after six years as assistant principal, you were promoted to principal.$$I was.$$Now, and did it come on time, or do you think it was late, or what do you, what do you think?$$Oh, I, I think it was right on time. And in fact, I was promoted right in the middle of a school year. And it gave me the opportunity to see the school in motion as the principal. I, I was thirty-two years old, 1986, soon to be thirty-three years old. And so a relatively young woman promoted to the high school principalship, I think that the organization may have seen themselves taking a risk, because at that time I was the youngest high school principal in Columbus City Schools [Columbus Public Schools; Columbus City Schools], and a female, and one of only, at that time, I think two or three females who were high school principals at that time. So, I don't think it was late at all. Some may think that it was early. I didn't think that it was early because I, I felt prepared for it, and it, it was a great opportunity.$$Okay. What school were you the principal?$$So initially, I was principal at Briggs High School [Columbus, Ohio] from 1986 to 1987, really just eighteen months. And then the central administration asked me to go back to Mifflin High School [Columbus, Ohio], where I had served as assistant principal, and serve as principal. And, and I served there until 1991, when the superintendent then at that time asked me to supervise schools. So, I'd still be there being a principal if he (laughter) hadn't asked me to supervise schools probably.$$Okay, all right. So, well, what was it like being a principal (unclear) in these schools?$$I had a lot of energies, and, and that's what it took to, to be a principal. It, it was, it was, it was, it was the job that, before this one, that I enjoyed the most, again, because I got to help establish policy. I wasn't far away from the students, which is one of the reasons I went into the business. So I got to continue to work with students and parents, but I also had one foot in the policy arena, you know, in talking with the superintendent and others. And, and I also had the opportunity to develop teachers. And, and so that was very satisfying to me.$$Okay. Did you have like a philosophy in terms of how you approached, you know, dealing with parents and that sort of thing at the schools?$$And, and it's the philosophy that I, I have today, and it's the same approach that I use with parents and, and students as, as well as other com- and teachers and other community members. It, it's a philosophy of inclusivity. You know, I want to hear what you have to say. I want to hear your opinions. I want to work with you. I'm not here to dictate. Look, I have no problems making decisions at all. But I do want to hear your ideas. I know that I don't have the only idea, so that's one. But the second thing is, is all children, all of, all of the time. In my mind, there wasn't a, a special set of kids that got all the good stuff, and these are the kids that are going to college, and these are the kids--. And I think it's, it's, it's, it's probably largely because of my background. As much as we could expose all of the students to, and as hard as we can push them all to do their best, I want them to get as much education as they can possibly stand. High school graduation was a minimum. And then we need to look forward past that to what we need to do next; how we need to prepare you so that you can take the next level of learning, whether that's gonna be a four-year baccalaureate de, degree, a two year technical degree, or you know, a certificate of some kind at a technical school, we need to make sure that you're prepared. So those are my two philosophies: I want to include folks in the decision making, and it's all kids all the time.$What are some of the new initiatives that you're launching here at Columbus City Schools?$$Some, some of the things that we have done and, and then some of the things that we're, we're doing going forward, we were one of the first schools--we were the first high school--we had the first high school in Franklin County [Ohio] that had a, launched an International Baccalaureate program. That's Columbus Alternative High School [Columbus, Ohio]. And I think we have graduated either three or four classes of students with this IB diploma, which gives our students access to universities globally. And so there are some universities across the globe who would be interested--not just in the United States, but across the globe--interested in our students because they've taken this very, very rigorous curriculum. We have other schools at lower levels who are interested in pursuing the IB curriculum also, International Baccalaureate curriculum. We had partnerships with virtually every college and university in this region and some outside of the region, including--well, the ones in the region would include Ohio State [The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio], Columbus State [Columbus State Community College, Columbus, Ohio], Capital [Capital University, Columbus, Ohio], Ohio Dominican [Ohio Dominican University, Columbus, Ohio]; all of those. But we also have relationships with colleges and universities outside of the region, like Ohio University [Athens, Ohio], Miami [Miami University, Oxford, Ohio], Ashland [Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio]. And what this allows us to do is give our students some additional opportunities for early college learning. We have, for example, partnership with DeVry [DeVry University, Ohio] where we have students who, at the end of their tenth grade, if they qualify, they can actually take their last remaining two years of, of colle- of high school education on DeVry's campus. Simultaneously, their fulfilling the requirements for an associate's degree while finishing their high school diploma. So, in June, we have about twenty-five students who will get their high school diploma and an associate's degree from DeVry. And so we, we think that's very powerful. We have several other partnerships like that, where our students are spending their senior year on college campuses, and they're earning, they're amassing a year's worth of, of college credit in our senior and sophomore program [Seniors to Sophomores]. And, and we are extremely proud of that. We have a middle school redesign, where we have redesigned our middle schools so that our, our students can be more successful. And we have a very strong focus on reading and math literacy across the curriculum in Columbus City Schools.$$Yeah, that's a question I--the science, you know, the STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] (unclear)--$$Thank you. STEM, STEM is extremely important to us. We have a STEM, an entire STEM feeder, as we call it, elementary, middle, and high schools in a feeder pattern that are working on STEM. The Linden-McKinley feeder [Linden-McKinley STEM Academy, Columbus, Ohio] is a STEM feeder, and they're making great progress. We also are starting a STEM feeder with the West High School [Columbus, Ohio]--schools, that, that feed into West. And then our goal is to have one STEM feeder in every region. We also have STEM clubs. And one of the strongest ones we have is Northland High School [Columbus, Ohio]. In fact, we have the largest pre-collegiate STEM program. We believe--we've been told by the, by NSBE, the National Society of Black Engineers, that we have the largest pre-collegiate STEM program in the United States. And so, Northland High School, for example, just won three national recognitions at a STEM competition that we are very--every year they bring us back national recognitions. And this is an after school STEM club that is, is very large. They probably have fifty to sixty kids that are part of this club. And these students compete nationally, and, and they do very, very well.