Reaching Heights' Hawthorne plans 2024 retirement

Reaching Heights Executive Director Krista Hawthorne. [photo: Krista Hawthorne]

After nearly 18 years with Reaching Heights—the organization that champions the excellence and opportunities of public education in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District—Executive Director Krista Hawthorne will retire in June 2024.

During Hawthorne's tenure, Reaching Heights has produced 17 community spelling bees, 15 summer music camps, and four Reaching Musical Heights concerts at Severance Hall (in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019).

Hawthorne joined Reaching Heights as a communication assistant, then served as assistant director before becoming executive director—a role she has filled for nearly 10 years.

“We’re lucky in the Heights to have a rich and diverse community committed to public education,” said Reaching Heights Board President Nat Morehouse. “The generous and hardworking people who support our public-school students and their teachers, the role models and tutors who visit classrooms and share knowledge, the volunteers and donors who make the work of Reaching Heights possible. But all of that has to be guided, managed, and led. That’s where Krista shines: in bringing people into our schools to participate in the education of our students, in motivating our residents to give, and most importantly, in executing the direction and vision of the board and the organization to champion our schools.” 

Hawthorne and her husband have lived in the Heights for more than 35 years. Their two daughters attended Coventry and Boulevard elementary schools, Roxboro Middle School, and Cleveland Heights High School. They have hosted seven AFS exchange students—Hawthorne has been a lead volunteer with AFS Intercultural Programs for more than 20 years—all of whom attended Heights High.

“I am proud to have been involved in bringing people into our schools,” said Hawthorne, “for the community spelling bee, to tutor and speak with our children, for our summer music camp and Reaching Musical Heights, and more. Many moments stand out for me, like the privilege of giving the awards for Friend of Public Education and Outstanding Community Partner at the Reaching Heights annual meetings. 

“Over the past 18 years, I’ve had rare access to a full view of the school district. I’ve been welcomed and trusted as a partner in every building and by the district administrators. This access is critical for Reaching Heights: it allows us to help promote to the Heights community the deep learning, excellent teaching, and great care our school and district staff provide our children. It has truly been an honor and privilege to work at Reaching Heights and carry on the legacy of my predecessors to support public education in the CH-UH City School District.”

A search committee has been formed to find a new executive director for Reaching Heights, with the goal of hiring a replacement in early 2024 to facilitate a smooth transition before Hawthorne steps down. 

Reaching Heights Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works to connect the community to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools with information, programs, and events that raise awareness of public education, support teachers, and enrich students.

Ditte Wolin

Ditte Wolin submitted this article, written in cooperation with Mazie Adams and Lance Godard. All are all members of the Reaching Heights board and its Search Committee, and are parents of Heights High students and graduates.

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Volume 16, Issue 8, Posted 10:12 AM, 07.24.2023