Mission & Values

Our Story

Menlo Park Academy is Ohio’s only tuition-free public school for gifted learners in grades K-8.  Located in the West Park area of Cleveland’s near west side, the school currently serves over 400students from more than 40 school districts throughout the state. 

We are a community school – a public school that is governed by an independent board of directors for the purpose of providing a choice in education. Community schools are chartered by the Ohio Department of Education and follow the rules mandated by the state.  Menlo Park Academy’s state-authorized sponsor is the Educational Services Center of Lake Erie West, Ohio’s largest and oldest community school sponsor.

The idea to start this school was first considered in 2007.  Parents whose children attended a charter school for gifted children in Lorain were concerned about the direction the school was taking.  A short year later, the school closed unexpectedly and two of these parents - Teri Harrison and Julie Flaherty - made outreach to others and inspired them to join their mission to create an appropriate and rewarding educational option for their gifted children.  

This expanded group worked tirelessly during the summer of 2008 and were successful when their dream was achieved and Menlo Park Academy officially opened on September 23, 2008, with 38 students in grades K-6.  Growing to a sustainable size was an early focus, and the school has experienced steady growth since its inception.

The story of Menlo Park Academy is one of perseverance and dedication.  We are proud of our many accomplishments since the summer of 2008.  Please explore our site to learn more about our mission, values, goals, accomplishments, and plans for the future.


Menlo Park Academy is a public school that develops the potential of gifted learners through an exemplary program of rewarding experiences that nurtures the whole child.






To understand our mission, we focus on each of the following concepts individually:

  • Public School– We are a public community school with open enrollment and no tuition charges.
  • Gifted Learners– Our school is designed for those students identified as gifted according to the rules of the state of Ohio.
  • Exemplary– We offer a curriculum as unique as our students with the appropriate acceleration and differentiation options to address the varied needs of our students.
  • Rewarding– Menlo Park Academy provides experiences that build our students’ self-confidence and enjoyment so they maintain their love of learning.
  • Experiences– Faculty, parents, and students create a school environment where parents and teachers partner together to reach milestones in both instruction and experiences through in-school activities and outside events.
  • Whole Child– We create a school environment that provides an understanding of the unique qualities of gifted children and the frequently asynchronous development of their emotional, spiritual, physical, and academic abilities.


Our Philosophy: Innovation in Education

We know that gifted children are an at-risk group of learners. They need a learning environment that is dynamic and customized to their individual needs and deserve enriched experiences that are designed to develop their skills while serving their different intellectual, social, and emotional needs.  True learning involves the development of the whole child, with the support they need to develop high level critical and creative thinking skills.
Our innovative model offers more density, complexity, and moves at a faster pace than is available in typical environments.  Children are also afforded the opportunity to interact and build friendships with their intellectual peers.


Integrity Driven:
Our goals and decisions are courageous and bold and always transparent, ethical and compassionate.  We are committed to providing a unique and challenging environment for the Gifted Child where they may collaborate and learn with their intellectual peers.
Community Centered:
We believe that a strong, collaborative partnership begins with trust, respect, and commitment.  Our communication within our most valued resource – a school community of parents, students, staff and benefactors – is thoughtful, transparent, and collaborative.

Student Focused:
In everything we do, we strive to ignite sparks of interest and passion as well as excite a self-directed love of learning at an accelerated pace.  Our mission is to offer an exemplary, vibrant, and unique program that will enable our intellectually exceptional children to identify and maximize their talents, while achieving academic, emotional and social success. 
We balance challenge and demand with support, encouragement and accountability.  We offer a nurturing learning environment where each student grows in confidence while experimenting, thinking independently and learning to work cooperatively in a global society.  Students and staff are motivated to take initiative and use critical thinking skills to creatively solve problems.


Our Name

Menlo Park, NJ is best known as Thomas Edison’s famous “Invention Factory.”  He grew up 50  miles west of the current school location in Milan, Ohio.  In school, his teacher thought he was “slow,” so his mother home-schooled him.  At Menlo Park Academy, we strive to provide a creative, stimulating environment for gifted children, like the Invention Factory did for Edison and his peers.

Where Bright Minds Shine

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