A book about the Foundation.

Written, illustrated and read by WHA 4th graders.

Who We

The Friends of Winton Hills Academy Foundation is a group of caring community members who support the Winton Hills Academy (WHA) students, staff and alumni with funding for classroom supplies, educational programs, and scholarships.


Anyone who has walked the halls of WHA knows it is a special place of safety and learning for pre-kindergarten thru 6th grade Cincinnati Public School students. Situated between Findlater Gardens and Winton Terrace, two of the largest Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority sites, the school is a beacon of hope, providing a safe and caring environment for the students. 


The teachers of WHA are the ones who make the school special, as many volunteers and visitors will attest. They are patient and care deeply for the children.  They sacrifice their own time and often own funds to create the learning environment and experiences that captivate and impact the child.  This school does not have a typical parent-teacher organization, instead The Foundation fills that role by providing funds for classroom needs, teacher requested one-time projects, as well as teacher appreciation events and gifts. Many of the WHA teachers and their families are themselves supporters of The Foundation.

Finally, The Foundation supports Winton Hills Academy alumni, such as Shante, James and Ihsan, who demonstrate their ability to beat the odds, and accomplish heroic feats such as being the first in their family to earn a college degree.  These former students love to learn and aspire for greatness but require support and encouragement. The Foundation supports alumni with funding for fees and expenses not covered by other scholarships, providing for things like extended study opportunities and laptops. The Foundation also maintains connection with these students, encourages and celebrates their accomplishments and gives them opportunities to visit WHA as role models for current students.



Friends of Winton Hills Academy was founded in 2013 by Dr. Tina Russo and Joe Wilmers. The two have worked in public education for over 70 combined years, including 10 years together at Winton Hills Academy (WHA).

Dr. Russo was the principal of WHA for 18 years, where she focused on hiring excellent teachers who raised the bar on academic expectations. She and the teachers worked to create a supportive, collaborative, and academically disciplined culture. To this day the culture remains, and is evident in that WHA has one of the lowest teacher turn-over rate in Cincinnati Public Schools. 


Joe Wilmers served as the School Social Worker for 10 years, recruiting numerous volunteers, securing resources and creating community partnerships. 


From the very beginning, Tina and Joe recognized the great potential of the WHA students despite their families' economic challenges. They started the Foundation to help students reach their dreams and "Build a Brighter Tomorrow".


A couple of years ago, I went into my doctor’s office and the new nurse was one of my former students, Deadre F.  When I stopped at Kroger to pick up my prescription, the pharmacist was another former student, Tasheena K.  It was another proud day for Winton Hills Academy!  The success stories of our small elementary school in the heart of Winton Terrace are too numerous to count, notably because of the support system within our school known as the Friends of Winton Hills Academy Foundation.


Because of their determination and sense of perseverance, our students rise to a challenge like no others and bring ideas and feelings from their experiences that no others could begin to imagine.  It was no surprise to us that 2 years ago our students won a national book contest with their anti-bully book “Misunderstood Micah” and got a visit from Bengal football player Carlos Dunlap.                             


I received a phone call from Philadelphia last year to tell us that another group of our students had won the contest, again!  This time it was for a book titled “Marian Spencer: A Light in the Darkness”. The contest offered to pay to fly a teacher, one of the winning students and a parent to Philly to receive the award.  Because we could not choose just one of the four winning students to go, we initially declined the invitation.  We felt that either all of the girls should go, or none.  But the Foundation stepped up and offered to pay for all 4 girls to go!  This event was just the beginning of a wave of accolades for our students, including a statue of Marian Spencer holding hands with a little girl.  The little girl represents our 4 Winton Hills Academy writers!

None of this would be possible without the generosity and kindness of the Foundation.  With their support through class supplies, sponsoring field trips and experiences, and even scholarships, we are forever grateful for all of those who help us make a difference and build a brighter tomorrow!

-Julie Dellecave, Winton Hills 4th/5th Grade ELA Teacher