About Us

About Us

Finneytown Local Schools in northwestern Hamilton County is a paradox.

With 1,449 students, it’s small enough that most students live not more than five minutes from their school, yet large enough to welcome students from more than 30 different nations. Daily life at Finneytown has a refreshing simplicity and sincerity – staff members not only know students’ names but also their interests, strengths, siblings and parents – balanced by an academic and intellectual depth that shows itself in 12 Advanced Placement course offerings, and programming as diverse as a Rock and Roll Academy, principles of engineering design, and artisanal crafts. (This year 25 Finneytown students were named AP Scholars.)

Time and time again Finneytown students will echo eighth grader Ben Jeffries’ sentiment that what he loves most about his district is “that ultimately it’s a big family – everyone is your friend,” but those tightly connected students also venture forth to explore the ecosystem of the Grand Canyon during a school-sponsored spring break trip, to land coveted internships at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and national honors in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and to welcome a steady stream of foreign exchange students who for decades have flocked disproportionately to Finneytown’s welcoming door.

At Finneytown, no one is a number. At Finneytown, everyone finds a home.

Excellence is not only a tradition in Finneytown Schools – the starting spot for General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and Olympic champion Amanda Borden, among many other distinguished alumni – but the stuff of everyday interactions and school life. Secondary Campus principal, Dr. Jen Dinan, is one of the district’s National Board-certified educators. Assistant football coach Greg Jones is a former Navy SEAL. At 14, junior Amari Farrell was one of the youngest African American males to become an Eagle Scout in Hamilton County.

For decades, Finneytown students and staff have been known for their initiative, creativity and their quiet desire to serve others. In off-hours Secondary Spanish teacher Shannon Cleghorn owns and operates jon-jon’s BBQ, a food truck legendary for its barbecue. 2017 graduate Ryan Whitt completed basic training with the Ohio National Guard before he started his senior year of high school. Whitaker Elementary art teacher Kathy Hubbard co-authored the book, Paint Adventures. The Finneytown High School student body ended the 2016-17 school year with a significant fundraiser for three impoverished and isolated villages in Tanzania – and raised awareness of malaria, malnutrition and clean water shortages along the way.

The Tanzanian project was started by a Finneytown student a decade ago. It is quiet testimony to the ongoing service learning program at Finneytown. The program pioneered in the 1970s and 1980s made Finneytown Schools the model for the Southwestern Ohio region.

Last fall  Finneytown High School and Middle School began a new approach to student governance, the House System. Every student – and every administrator, faculty and staff member – will belong to one of six “Houses,” named after historic Finneytown figures. A la Gryffindor and Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter series, the houses will compete in a yearlong, friendly competition resulting in the annual awarding of the Wildcat Cup. Students will gain points for their houses based on academic improvement, involvement in campus activities, community service, attendance and behavior, and school spirit. Staff will collect data on each area and measure the performance of the House System as a means of school improvement.

The House System is the result of a bottom-up form of leadership that is shaping the direction of Finneytown Schools. Begun by the Dean of Students and six classroom teachers and peer-led by 60 student House Captains, the House System is almost entirely overseen, developed and will be refined by teachers and students. They work on fundraising, develop relationships with the community, plan events, develop oversight and regulations, connect to alumni and help determine evaluation systems.

That same bottom-up leadership model is evidenced in staff members planning and overseeing more of their own professional development sessions, serving on interview boards for new staff hires, developing project-based learning opportunities for students and creating and directing community-outreach programs in their schools, such as World Culture Night at Brent Elementary, which attracted more than 500 guests and significant media coverage.

Their initiative, creativity and desire for professional growth led a number of Finneytown staff members to receive noteworthy awards during the 2016-17 school year. Whitaker Elementary fourth grade teacher Doug Dirr was named the Ohio PTA Educator of the Year for a combination of educational leadership, involvement in student activities and support of the PTA. Brent Elementary counselor Nancy Rouse was named the 2017 Finneytown Educator of the Year in the Hamilton County Education Foundation’s Celebrate Excellence awards program for overseeing an exemplary counseling program and creating and leading many new programs.  Whitaker sixth-grade teacher Jen Bayless and English as a Secondary Language specialist Jill Parker were chosen for the Fulbrightt-Hays Group Projects Abroad program and spent a month of study in Peru.  Whitaker fourth-grade teacher Michele Huber was one of 33 Ohio teachers to receive the 2017 Battelle for Kids Celebrate Teaching Distinguished Educator Award for outstanding classroom teaching and innovation. Secondary art teacher Carolyn Althoff was named Educator of the Year by the Hamilton County Council of PTAs.

The district received a number of significant awards and grants in school year 2017-18. The most significant include a $12,000 national JumpStart Theatre grant to develop a middle-school musical theater program, and a TriHealth athletic sponsorship that includes a $48,000 in-kind contribution of athletic training services for seven sports. Finneytown High School has also been named a member of the ESPN and USA Football Heads Up Football Scholarship Program, which provides the district with free training on such key safety issues as concussion recognition and response, heat preparedness, proper equipment fitting and proper tackling and blocking techniques.

Finneytown students also earned a number of significant honors this year, topped by senior Annalise Barber’s national Silver Award in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition. Annalise competed against 331,000 other high school students for the award.

Senior Izaak Cruz was named to the National Merit Scholarship Program for Latino and Hispanic Students. Seniors Nia McCormick, Hayley Richardson and Joey Gerbus were offered athletic/academic scholarships to, respectively, Rio Grande University, Transylvania University and Earlham College. Senior Katie Deitsch was named a 2017 Youth Difference Maker by the Duke Energy Children’s Museum for her work with the Winton Woods Riding Center’s Special Rider Program and for her work as a founding member of the Finneytown Sparkle Cats cheerleading squad.