Our History

A Beginning

Constellation Schools evolved from the desire of a small group of individuals to open a Montessori school in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood. After a lot of hard work and many community meetings held over the course of two years, a change in Ohio law establishing community schools (or “charter schools”) led to the creation of Old Brooklyn Montessori School. The school opened in August of 1998 with three employees and 27 students. Ms. Cherie Galjan, the current principal of Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary, was the first employee hired, and was given the difficult task of being both administrator of the school and head classroom teacher. In its second year, the school expanded to 87 students and added additional teachers and staff.


Expanding and Creating a Universal Appeal

Although Old Brooklyn Montessori School had some early successes, the Montessori philosophy was difficult to harmonize with the increasing testing requirements in Ohio. That difficulty, coupled with the desire to have a more significant impact on public education, caused some of the original developers to change the Old Brooklyn curriculum and become more actively involved in Ohio’s charter school movement. As a result, Richard Lukich, Gerald Preseren, and Thomas Babb created Constellation Schools, an education management organization. Under the Constellation umbrella, the three developed proposals for additional community schools using a more traditional, competency-based curriculum. To ensure the new schools stood out from existing public schools and the growing number of charter schools, small class size, a dress code, and a comprehensive character education component, integrated throughout the curriculum, became the cornerstones of schools opened and managed by Constellation. The growth of the schools was tightly controlled, initially serving children in K-3 and expanding to K-8 over a period of six years. This slow growth permitted a more selective process in hiring quality teachers and allowed the schools to develop their own culture and a sense of community. Constellation’s schools are neighborhood schools, drawing enrollment from the areas surrounding the schools. This ensures that the schools are accessible to parents and families of the students enrolled.

In 2000, Constellation Schools: Parma Community became Constellation School's second school, and in 2001 three more schools opened: Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Elyria Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Elementary. Subsequent years brought additional growth with Constellation Schools: Puritas Community Elementary opening in 2003 and Constellation Schools: Madison Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Stockyard Community Elementary in 2004.

Although Constellation’s schools began as K-8 models, beginning in 2006 the middle school grades were separated from the elementary grades and Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Puritas Community Middle, and Constellation Schools: Stockyard Community Middle were created. This change simply acknowledged the different needs of elementary and middle school students and allowed for more focused educational plans and accountability. Constellation Schools: Outreach Academy for Children with Disabilities also opened in 2006 to serve medically fragile students. Constellation Schools: Westside Community School of the Arts, our first arts-based school, opened in 2007, and, in 2011 Constellation Schools: Eastside Arts Academy opened, offering Constellation’s high-quality education to Cleveland’s east side for the first time.

Constellation’s growth has been a steady progression determined by the communities in which the schools are located. This growth can be seen most easily at Constellation Schools: Parma Community which serves students in grades K-12 at four campuses in Parma, Ohio. Similarly, Constellation Schools: Elyria Community Elementary expanded into a second campus to accommodate middle school students.

Subsequent to the creation of the high school at the Parma location, Constellation also established the Constellation Schools Foundation. This non-profit organization provides scholarships to deserving graduating seniors of Constellation Schools: Parma Community. Over the past eight years, the foundation has provided nearly $90,000 to help students continue their education, including $13,500 for the 2019/2020 school year.


The Purpose of Constellation Schools

Constellation Schools is an umbrella education management organization, providing business, administrative, educational, and financial support services to its managed schools. This structure allows these overhead expenses to be spread over all the schools, reducing the financial burden on individual schools. With Constellation performing most of the administrative functions, the building principals and teachers are freed up to do what they do best – educate children. Administrative centralization also eliminates duplicative services at each school. This type of efficiency is often used in business. Within the Constellation organization, it serves to improve performance and accountability. As the schools benefit from administrative centralization, more resources are available for students and teachers, resulting in more opportunities for students and better schools.


Success of the Organization

In a little over 20 years, Constellation Schools has grown from one school, 27 students, and 3 employees to fifteen schools educating more than 4,800 students and over 650 employees. In 2018 and 2019, Constellation was recognized by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and cleveland.com as a Top Workplace. This designation is indicative of the support of Constellation’s employees. Constellation is also proud that the schools that it manages have been able to purchase the facilities they occupy. This evidences their acceptance within their communities and their financial strength, and allows them to be secure in their respective locations and plan for their long-term facilities costs.

In all, eleven buildings are owned by the schools, including: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary (1), Parma Community (3), Elyria Community Elementary (2), Lorain Community Elementary (1), Westpark Community Elementary (1), Madison Community Elementary (1), Stockyard Community Elementary (1), and Westside Community School of the Arts (1). The Old Brooklyn, Westpark, Lorain, Puritas, and Stockyard buildings also house their respective middle schools.

The success of Constellation’s schools is attributable to its many hard-working and dedicated teachers and administrators. To acknowledge the many excellent teachers in the organization, in 2017 Constellation Schools created its "Outstanding Educator Award." The award criteria are designed to reflect the values of the organization and included "Service to Students," "Service to Schools," "Service to Families," "Service to Community," and "Service to Profession." Each year parents nominate teachers, principals review the nominations, and the organization selects its outstanding educator and two runner ups. In addition to cash awards, the winner is invited to attend the National Charter School Conference with the Constellation contingent.

Throughout the years, schools under the Constellation umbrella have demonstrated academic success and have received numerous awards and recognition by the Ohio Department of Education.

2004/2005 School Year
Constellation Schools: Parma Community and Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary were rated "Effective."

2005/2006 School Year
Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary was rated "Excellent" and named a "School of Promise."
Constellation Schools: Parma Community and Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary were rated "Effective."

2006/2007 School Year
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary was rated "Excellent."
Constellation Schools: Parma Community, Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary, and Constellation Schools: Puritas Community Elementary were rated "Effective."

2007/2008 School Year
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Madison Community Elementary were rated "Excellent."
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Puritas Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Parma Community were rated "Effective."

2008/2009 School Year
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Puritas Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Outreach Academy for Students with Disabilities were rated "Excellent."
Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Westside Community School of the Arts were rated "Effective."
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Puritas Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle were designated "Schools of Promise."

2009/2010 School Year
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Elyria Community, and Constellation Schools: Outreach Academy were rated "Excellent."
Constellation Schools: Parma Community, Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Puritas Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Westside Community School of the Arts were rated "Effective."

2010/2011 School Year
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle received the highest rating of "Excellent with Distinction" after achieving an "Excellent" rating for 2 years.
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary was rated "Excellent" for the 5th consecutive year.
Constellation Schools: Outreach Academy was rated "Excellent" for the 3rd consecutive year.
Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Elementary and Constellation School: Westpark Community Elementary were rated "Excellent."
Constellation Schools: Parma Community, Constellation Schools: Elyria Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Westside Community School of the Arts were rated "Effective."

2011/2012 School Year
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Middle, Constellation Schools: Puritas Community Elementary and Constellation Schools: Outreach Academy were rated "Excellent."
Constellation Schools: Old Brooklyn Community Elementary, Constellation Schools: Parma Community, Constellation Schools: Elyria Community and Constellation Schools: Westside Community School of the Arts were rated "Effective."

2012/2013 School Year
Constellation Schools: Elyria Community Elementary was recognized as a "High Progress School of Honor."
Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Elementary was recognized as a "School of Promise."

2013/2014 School Year
Constellation Schools: Lorain Community Elementary was recognized as a "High Progress School of Honor."

2015/2016 School Year
Constellation Schools: Elyria Community Elementary received the "Momentum Award."

2016/2017 School Year
Constellation Schools: Elyria Community Elementary received the "Momentum Award."

2017/2018 School Year
Constellation Schools: Elyria Community Elementary received the "Momentum Award."

2018/2019 School Year
Constellation Schools: Stockyard Community Middle received the "Momentum Award."
Constellation Schools: Stockyard Community Middle and Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary were named "High Progress Schools of Honor."
Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary was nominated as a "National Blue Ribbon School."

2019/2020 School Year
Constellation Schools: Westpark Community Elementary was rated the #1 charter school in the Greater Cleveland area and #2 in the State of Ohio by niche.com; and achieved the "Highest Outstanding Overall" grade of "A" on the state report card for two years in a row.
Constellation Schools: Elyria Community Elementary was named a "Community School of Quality."
Constellation Schools: Westside Community School of the Arts won the "1st Place Schoolwide Award" for the Midwest Charter Schools K-5 Art Contest.

In addition to the academic success of our schools, and just as significant, are the extra-curricular and community outreach activities of the schools. All schools provide numerous club activities and engage with community resources to enhance the learning experiences of students. Intramural sports, such as basketball, cheer leading, and volleyball, provide Constellation students with an opportunity to experience competitive team sports. Choirs and bands at many of the schools give students a chance to hone their musical talents, and students of the visual arts have many opportunities to compete locally and nationally.


Conclusion

Constellation’s schools have had a positive impact on many families and students over its 22-year history. Constellation Schools has developed a reputation for its high standards and dedicated teachers, and for delivering a quality educational program in safe, pleasant environments. Constellation’s schools continue to be "The Right Choice for Parents and a Real Chance for Children!"