Gene Harris

Dr. Gene Harris

Superintendent, Columbus City Schools

 

Dr. Gene T. Harris is the 19th superintendent and chief executive officer of the Columbus City Schools.  A Columbus native, she has deep roots in the community and direct experience with public schools as diverse as Ghana and China.

 A graduate of Linden-McKinleyHigh School, Dr. Harris was admitted to the University of Notre Dame as an upperclassman in the first year the school accepted women. After graduating, she returned to Columbus City Schools to teach English moving from the classroom to the principalship, then to deputy superintendent in 2000 and superintendent in 2001.

 Under the tenure of Dr. Harris, Columbus City Schools has focused on improving academic achievement and preparing each student for higher education and work in our global economy.  She has accomplished this by cultivating the strong support of the Columbus business community and successfully developing a vision and plan to provide 21st - century learning environments. With the overwhelming support of voters, a 15-year capital improvement plan is underway, which has already resulted in thirty-nine new and beautifully renovated buildings equipped with the latest technology. The district continues to fulfill levy promises, cutting $76 million from the budget, closing underutilized buildings, renovating older facilities, reducing K-3 average classroom size, providing new school buses, new textbooks and adding critical instruction time back into the day.  Dr. Harris has targeted parental involvement as key to improving student achievement along with focused professional development for all staff.  

Under Dr. Harris’ leadership, Columbus City Schools is providing innovative programs such as a new international high school, K-8 international studies program, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) -focused schools district-wide.

 Columbus City Schools is making remarkable academic progress, moving from the state designated category of “Academic Emergency” in 2001, to “Continuous Improvement”. The district’s state report card shows continuing academic progress with students achieving more than a year’s worth of academic growth in a year’s time. While most public schools are struggling with stagnant or dropping graduation rates, Columbus City Schools’ graduation rate continues to climb from 55% in 2001 to 85.2% today. The attendance rate is 94.3% - the highest ever achieved as measured by the state.  And, recently, U.S. News and World Report ranked 12 of the district’s high schools among the nation’s best. Last year’s high school students earned a record $54.1 million in scholarship and grants to attend colleges around the country.   

 Dr. Harris holds a doctorate from Ohio University; a master’s degree from The Ohio State University, a bachelor’s from Notre Dame. She received honorary doctorate degrees from Franklin University in 2011, and Ohio Dominican University and Mt. Carmel School of Nursing in 2012.  A Columbus Rotary member, Harris serves as a Board member for Action for Children and Chair of the Board of Trustees for Ohio University. In 2012, she was named Ohio Superintendent of the Year by the Buckeye Association of School Administrators. She has twice received the Ingram Award for outstanding leadership as a principal. Dr. Harris has also won the Champion of Children and the Children’s Hunger Alliance Educator of the Year awards among many others.  She is married to Stanley E. Harris, vice president of PNC Bank.  Their adult son, Wade Thomas Harris, his wife and sons reside in New Jersey.