APS Leaders Recognized by Red Oak

Courage and Connection
Posted on 02/18/2020
Image of Ellen McWilliams-Woods and Stephanie DavisAkron Public School Chief Academic Officer Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D., and Stephanie Davis, principal at APS Bridges Learning Center, have been honored for their service by Red Oak Behavioral Health. Red Oak contracts with families of students who are in need of behavioral support.

In a fundraising program February 13, 2020, at The Trailhead at Cascade Lofts in downtown Akron, Red Oak bestowed the honors on McWilliams-Woods and Davis. Dr. McWilliams-Woods received the Courage Award, Davis the Connection Award.

Dr. McWilliams-Woods, as chief academic officer and assistant superintendent, oversees curriculum and instruction of Akron Public Schools. Her leadership spans more than 30 years with APS in many different areas of teaching and learning including having directed the district's department of special education. She is a lifelong educator and was APS first Medicaid consultant where she designed a new school-based Medicaid program that generated more than $1 million annually for services to students with disabilities.

As assistant superintendent, Dr. McWilliams-Woods successfully secured a $9.2 million Race to the Top grant to elevate Akron Public Schools into an innovative leading urban school system in Ohio. She was instrumental in opening three new specialty schools in Akron Public Schools including the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Middle School and High School, as well as the I PROMISE School in partnership with LeBron James Family Foundation. McWilliams-Woods also successfully collaborated with faculty and local businesses to have the district named as the first Ford Next Generation Learning community in Ohio where the district’s nine high schools have been transformed into the College & Career Academies of Akron.

In addition to her work in the Akron Public Schools, Dr. McWilliams-Woods devoted 20 years as a part-time faculty member in Educational Foundations and Special Services at Kent State University. Prior to joining the Akron schools, Dr. McWilliams-Woods held various positions within the field of counseling and education. She began her career as a culturally different language specialist in the Cleveland Heights/University Heights school district. She also served as a counselor for children and adults in a private practice in the Akron area and worked as a research assistant at Kent State University’s Observation Analysis Lab.

Stephanie Davis, as principal for Bridges Learning Center, leads the district's program that provides social, behavioral and academic skills through high-quality teaching for some of the most challenged students. She tells us she achieves this, "... by building a positive, nurturing and supportive environment." (Red Oak Behavioral Health's staff is at Bridges -- on W. Thornton Street -- providing full-time support.)

Davis added, "Our dedicated staff at Bridges provides opportunities for success for every child, every day. We are committed to providing engaging academics to meet the needs of all students with embedded social-emotional supports that include music therapy, art therapy and services from community service providers."

Bridges also employs intensive interventions, academic and behavioral. All services are aligned with Ohio's Social-Emotional Learning Standards.

Bridges Learning Center ensures that a continuum of services is provided within our district, allowing students with intensive social, emotional, behavioral and communication needs to receive the support they need, learn self-regulation and replacement behaviors, and generalize skills before returning to their home schools.

Red Oak Behavioral Health is a non-profit mental health agency serving the greater Akron community since 1963. We are advocates for children, youth, families and older adults, continually exploring innovative ways of providing professional therapeutic and community support services.

Image of Ellen McWilliams-Woods and Stephanie Davis
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