Without a single television or radio ad, the
Value Learning and Teaching Academy
has made a big impression on hundreds of families in Greater
Cincinnati. Since its founding in 2005, VLT Academy has offered extended
hours and supportive programs for students from Cincinnati, West
Chester, Fairfield and other neighborhoods.
The charter school, located in five buildings in Over the Rhine,
graduated its first class, 19 students, last spring. All of them are now
The graduates took nearly a half million dollars in scholarships to
colleges including Wright State University, Miami University Ohio, the
Ohio State University and Spelman College, according to Clyde Lee, the
school's project manager.
"We have 22 scheduled to graduate this year," Lee says. "All have been accepted to college. There are no dropouts."
VLT Academy currently educates 875 kindergarten through 12th graders.
School opens at 7:30 am and ends at 6 pm so parents who work downtown
can drop their children off as they head into work and pick them up when
their days are done.
School founder and superintendent Valerie Lee spent decades as a teacher
and administrator in the Cincinnati Public School System. She and her
husband Clyde, a retired General Motors manager, lead 95 teachers and
staff members across the multiple buildings. All teachers and all
substitute teachers are certified.
Clyde Lee oversees facilities management and events, working closely
with neighboring businesses and landlords to maintain the architectural
integrity of the school's buildings while providing for students'
physical and educational needs.
"We try to foster a family atmosphere," Lee says. "Our main focus is to have our children be college-bound."
Lee speaks of his graduates with the tone of a proud father. He mentions
one high-performing senior who has been accepted into and wooed by
Princeton, Harvard, MIT and Notre Dame. He talks about providing food
and new coats for many other students, and of five families currently
"We go the extra mile," he says.
Part of that extra mile extends into homes of parents before their
children enter the Academy, he says. The school plans to implement the First Teacher Program
later this year in hopes of raising the youngest students' reading levels and increasing their opportunities for success.
• Make a virtual visit
• Follow VLT on Twitter
• Check out First Teacher resources
By Elissa Yancey