Nancy Byrd is a known comfort to everyone at Dohn Community High School. As Financial Coordinator, she manages the school’s finances; she assists Mr. Davenport in Operations; she orients new employees to vital matters of payroll, insurance, and school technology; she manages school and cafeteria inventory, and she helps serve school lunches! She shows up every day with a kind and caring heart.
Ms. Nancy started at Dohn in April 2006, as a co-op student from Cincinnati State. Her first position was as Administrative Assistant to our school’s founder, Kate Bower. Excelling in that role, Ms. Bower recommended Ms. Nancy for an opening in Accounts Payable. She learned the functions of school finance while on the job. She worked with Dohn’s former superintendent, Ken Furrier, for nine years, and she has worked alongside Ramone Davenport, Director, for the past nine years.
Nancy Byrd loves her job. “My job never bores me. I never know what’s going to happen.” When Ms. Nancy started in 2006, there were nine employees and 75 students. In June 2008, Dohn was up to 12 employees and 120 students. “And then came Ramone Davenport, full of ideas, and the school grows each year.” Nancy reports that in the academic year of 2016-2017, there were 505 students in our high school. “At the end of 2015-2016, there were 42 employees. At the beginning of 2016-2017, there were 84 employees.” Dohn has also increased from one location in 2009 to five locations in 2017.
The doubling of staff and the multiplicity of locations has not thrown Ms. Nancy off of her game. She consistently presents with grace, care and ease, and a thorough, efficient response to staff needs and requests. Her care for the smooth functioning of Dohn and the success of each student is evident to all who witness her work.
In her first year of Dohn employment, nine students graduated. That low number distressed Ms. Nancy until Kate Bower shared the perspective that Dohn cannot help every at-risk youth in Cincinnati. Ms. Bower reminded Ms. Nancy that Dohn does turn students’ lives around. We see a progressive effect of turning lives around throughout Ms. Nancy’s time here. During the 2016-17 school year, Dohn had 320 graduates.
Ms. Nancy shares that “Dohn is not like other charter schools. We are self-managed; the funds that come in from the state of Ohio don’t have a large percentage going out to a management company.” She adds that “As a non-profit, we spend our money wisely.” This financial acumen is the result of a solid working relationship between Ramone Davenport, Director, and Nancy Byrd, Financial Coordinator, and the Board of Dohn Community High School.
Ms. Nancy’s and Mr. Davenport’s effective collaboration is a critical factor in Dohn’s exceptional success. As Ms. Nancy points out, “What we do to help students attend school goes well beyond what Cincinnati Public Schools, other district and charter schools, offer. We make phone calls when a child is absent; we have a truancy program in coordination with a court system, we have Street Teams, where pairs of teachers make home visits to speak with students and families about absences. We are truly trying to educate our students and improve their lives.”
A personal story of Nancy’s life reflects this above and beyond approach. While attending a Cincinnati Public School, one of Nancy’s six grandchildren was bullied. Cincinnati Public Schools admitted defeat; they could not keep this student of theirs safe, and they recommended that he withdraw from school. He came to Dohn and was able to catch up on credits. He feels safe at Dohn and is involved in extracurricular activities that help make Dohn a better place for all.
Being at the center of Dohn’s exponential growth, Ms. Nancy wonders “How big can Dohn get? How many more students can we help?” She also wonders how Dohn, as a charter school, can get beyond the questionable reputation charter schools have, in general.
With her wisdom, experience, mission driven dedication, and superior skillset in finances and school management, Ms. Nancy Byrd is a significant reason why Dohn Community High School is an exceptional charter school.