Small, Ott Honored in Dedication Ceremony

Dedicated to Past Superintendents
Posted on 07/11/2019
Image of APS Dedication Ceremony BrochureAkron Public Schools (APS) today officially dedicated its new administrative headquarters in the heart of downtown Akron. In a special meeting of the Akron School Board, members passed a resolution to name the building after Sylvester Small, Ed.D., retired superintendent. Small was in attendance and spoke during the brief ceremony and ribbon cutting of the Sylvester Small Administration Building at 10 North Main St.

"Everything in my 38 years of working in Akron Public Schools was about our students, about children and families. I was honored to serve our kids and to lead the district as its superintendent for those seven years and to work to make a difference for our community," Small said.

Among Small's accomplishments -- and depicted on a wall outside of the board's meeting room -- was his working with the city of Akron and scores of volunteers to help pass a city income tax increase that would lead to a nearly complete turnover of APS school buildings over the ensuing 20 years.

Superintendent David W. James, Ed.D., said of the initiative, "Few things have been done in the history of our schools that took more effort, more community and more dedication than this. Dr. Small's commitment to getting this project off to a strong start led to our completing the building of 10 of what would eventually by nearly 40 community learning centers."

The dedication ceremony also paid tribute to 25-year superintendent, the late Conrad C. Ott. What was, until several weeks ago, the Conrad C. Ott Staff Development Center on Steiner Avenue in Firestone Park is now a modern, high-tech floor designed specifically for teachers and their own learning as educators on the entire second level at 10 North Main.

Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D., said Ott would be thrilled with the new facilities carrying his name. "Mr. Ott would have enjoyed coming here to the Conrad Ott Staff Development Center. He would have loved seeing a learning environment for teachers that helps them brainstorm ideas in fertile soil, if you will. In fact, he might have actually said it just that way."

Jeanne Ott, the late superintendent's wife, attended the dedication. Board President Rev. Dr. Curtis T. Walker, Sr., said, "I had the pleasure of serving with Mr. Ott on the school board many years ago. Thankfully, Mrs. Ott has remained close to Akron Public Schools for all of these years. Our board appreciates her ongoing input and involvement in the APS community. She is part of this family."

The new administrative space for Akron Public Schools houses nearly 400 employees who were, until last month, split between offices on North Broadway and Steiner Avenue. The consolidation into one building is saving the school system on maintenance costs, utility bills and the cost (and time savings) of having meetings among its staff in one building, eliminating the hundreds of trips made back and forth between the other offices every week.

A highlight of the dedication ceremony came from historian Dave Lieberth who told the story of the history of the spot in downtown that is now home to Akron Public Schools. Once the Empire Hotel, once the Portage Hotel and home to the founding of the United Rubber Workers Union, the new headquarters for APS sits on a spot with a rich history. Lieberth went back in time in our city to the mid-19th Century when the model for public education in America that is still used today was 'invented' in Akron; Lieberth showed the audience in the new board room how the city -- especially at the intersection of Main and Market streets -- has changed.

"The APS family is enthusiastic about this move," said Superintendent James. "We are in a great place to be an even better school district now as we prepare to begin the 2019-20 school year."

(Download the APS dedication ceremony brochure here >>.)
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