Education Week went to Cincinnati for the first installment of a special series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the War On Poverty and its impact on education. With an overview piece like this, we saw the potential for an alternative way to present the visuals. The subject wasn’t necessarily one student, teacher, or family; rather it was the evolution of the neighborhoods, the transition from old to new.
The original 1912 George F. Sands School building sits abandoned on Poplar Street in the high-poverty West End neighborhood of Cincinnati. Sands Montessori, which occupied the building for decades, moved to a spacious new campus in the wealthier east-side Mount Washington neighborhood more than a decade ago. The school district has been unable to find a buyer or use for the old building.
The marble-clad front stairs once made a grand entrance for the Sands School building in the West End, but parents camp out for weeks in front of Sands Montessori’s gleaming entryway for a chance to register their children at the popular magnet school.
Stacks of stored tables molder in the cafeteria of the Poplar Street building, while children eat together in Sands’ sunny new lunchroom in Mount Washington.
Sands students couldn’t take their mural with them when they left the Poplar Street campus in the West End, but have more room and resources to create new art at the Mount Washington building.
Abandoned classrooms on Poplar Street have been left mostly as they were when students and teachers left the Sands building; there has been no clean-up and no potential buyer for the district-owned property. The district chose to move Sands Montessori because it was easier to build a new school than to renovate the old building.
Students still play ball in the field surrounding Hays-Porter Elementary School in the West End, but the concrete and high-rise housing projects of the 1990s have given way to grass and luxury town homes.
Education Week Photo Staff contributed to this article.
A version of this article first appeared in the Full Frame blog.