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Our Founders

Jeanette is one of Dayton's most remarkable and successful entrepreneurs and community leaders. She is a visionary whose creativity and commitment have consistently strengthened and improved our community. Her story stands as a shining testimony to resolute determination and a deep desire to make a difference in the lives of urban children.


In 1996, Jeanette and her husband Rev. Earl Harris founded WestPark Academy. The school was located at Greater Allen A.M.E. church and was intended to offer black children an alternative to the increasingly unsuccessful public schools. Jeanette knew that a solid and rigorous education was the touchstone for a successful and productive life. The school was an immediate success and outgrew numerous locations as its reputation for high expectations and results spread throughout the community.

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In August 1999, Jeanette and Earl opened Richard Allen Academy in Dayton's Edgemont neighborhood. The charter school was the first of what was to become, over the ensuing decade, an ever expanding family of schools whose guiding philosophy was born out of the experiences of the schools' namesake Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Richard Allen students are steeped in academic fundamentals and taught to think critically, make informed decisions, and prepare for the future. In addition, the schools instill positive values, and students come to embrace and understand that excuses and failure are unacceptable. They can and must succeed. And they do.

Richard Allen Schools has three campuses, two in Dayton and one in Hamilton, serving over 500 students in grades K through 8 and employing nearly 100 faculty and staff. The schools are recognized at the local and state levels as models for academic success. Richard Allen Schools rank highly with comparable traditional and charter schools in Dayton, with students demonstrating solid growth in core academic areas on standardized tests.

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