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East High School EPO Program in Jeopardy

The RCSD Board of Education held a public hearing to discuss the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) program at East High School. However, one board member, President Cynthia Elliott ranted about the overwhelming presence of community members and media in the room.


Elliott took the opportunity to express her frustration at the presence of community members, media outlets, and criticism of the board's engagement efforts. She also appeared unmoved as supporters delivered passionate speeches about the program. Elliott seemed to scroll through her phone and disinterested as audience members spoke about the program's benefits and success rate.


Despite Elliott's lack of enthusiasm, supporters voiced that the partnership between the University of Rochester and East High School as an EPO has proven to be incredibly successful. Since its establishment in 2015, graduation rates at East High have soared from a mere 33 percent to an impressive 85 percent. According to students, the remarkable progress has not gone unnoticed, as the program's positive impact on students' lives goes far beyond academic achievement.


Several speakers confirmed that the EPO program has played a pivotal role in transforming the educational landscape for students, educators, families, and the community. Current and former students voiced their appreciation for the exceptional teaching practices, engaging curriculum, and comprehensive support systems that the program prioritizes. By creating an environment where all students can thrive, the EPO program offers a promising pathway to success.


Educators at East High School also emphasized the importance of promoting excellent teaching practices. Through ongoing professional development opportunities and collaboration with university faculty, educators are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to enhance their teaching methods. This commitment to excellence not only benefits the students at East High School but also contributes to the overall improvement of education in the Rochester community.


The partnership focuses on the development and implementation of a dynamic curriculum. By aligning the curriculum with the latest educational standards and incorporating innovative teaching strategies, students receive a well-rounded education that prepares them for higher education and future careers.


Furthermore, the partnership recognizes the importance of addressing the social-emotional needs of students. Through counseling services, mentorship programs, and extracurricular activities, East High School creates a nurturing and inclusive environment where students feel valued and supported. This holistic approach to education enables students to develop not only academically but also emotionally, leading to improved overall well-being and success.


The University of Rochester's School of Education has collaborated with East High School to establish a mentorship program, which has proven highly effective in improving teaching practices and retaining talented educators. Additionally, project-based learning initiatives have been implemented, encouraging students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world situations. This approach has resulted in increased student engagement and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.


Moreover, supporters state East High School has prioritized the establishment of a robust counseling department, staffed with professionals trained to address the diverse social-emotional needs of students. This support system has contributed to a positive school climate, reduced disciplinary issues, and improved academic performance.


While the contract for the partnership is set to expire in June 2025, continued efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of the positive outcomes achieved thus far. Sustained collaboration between the University, RCSD, educators, families, students, and the community may be crucial in maintaining and building upon the progress made, ultimately creating a lasting legacy of educational achievement at East High School. The decision to extend the contract is still unclear, but the importance of investing in the future of East High School cannot be underestimated.

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Not knowing how the process was for selecting students, limits my ability to understand the 50+ graduation percentage. Were kids able to just sign up to attend East, or were they vetted by grades and attendance? I only ask because if you only pick the creme of the crop, it only makes sense that your numbers get better. Also if children with lower performing grades are pushed out of their home school, it only makes sense how other schools %s are also affected. There seems to be a lack of true transparency and explanations so that the community can make an informed decision on who to support.

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