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October 03, 2001 1 min read
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Marathon Man

David Axner, the superintendent of the 1,900-student Chagrin Falls, Ohio, schools, hasn’t let last month’s acts of terrorism slow him down. He’s determined to keep things “running as usual,” which for him means completing the Chicago Marathon.

Mr. Axner and John Richard, the district’s middle school principal, will run the 26.2-mile course this week in an effort to raise nearly $12,000 for the district’s Open Parent Education Network, a parent-run organization established last year to address the needs of the district’s 700 gifted students. The network now has more than 70 members.

Chagrin Falls, an affluent district near Cleveland, receives little state aid because of its small size, but more than half its students have been identified as gifted or having special needs.

With limited financing, Mr. Axner said, it can be difficult to provide gifted children with the special attention they need.

“Regular teachers need to learn how to teach on many different levels,” he said. “They have to be observant to individual needs and learning abilities. They’re really doing double duty.”

The idea of a fund-raiser in combination with the administrators’ run was born last spring. “We’ve received money from sponsors, local businesses, and parents,” Mr. Axner said. “Prizes are being given out from prom tickets to $100 shoe certificates.”

Both educators have received encouragement and support from school track teams and sports groups. “They seem impressed by it all, and the parents think it’s a way to be a good role model because it takes time, effort, and work,” said the superintendent, who has been training since August.

The money raised from the marathon will go toward school equipment, curriculum supplies, and professional-development speakers and classes for parents and staff members.

“I’ll be glad,” Mr. Axner said, “when I reach the finish.”

—Marianne Hurst

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