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Akron Promise’s Student Success Team Steers Kenmore-Garfield Students Towards Bright Outcomes
by Jeanne-Hélène Roy
“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”
–Dr. James Comey, Child Psychiatrist and Education Specialist, Yale University
Dr. James Comey’s simple, declarative sentence – delivered during a 1995 lecture – speaks mountains of truth in K-12 education, where often a strong connection with an adult will inspire students of opportunity to succeed after high school and into adulthood. For Stephanie Martin, a Nursing and Patient Care instructor at Kenmore-Garfield High School, Comey’s words hit home over the course of a discussion with Tom Ghinder, Founder of Akron Promise, an educational non-profit launched in 2015. In 2017, Akron Promise established a direct working relationship with Kenmore-Garfield High School, and two years later the non-profit announced the Kenmore-Garfield Stark State Scholarship.
The Student Success Team
Since the implementation of its scholarship program, Akron Promise also inaugurated the Student Success Team (SST), a mentoring group available to assist the entirety of Kenmore-Garfield’s 786 students. Staffed by Mike DiFalco, the school’s Academic Achievement Coordinator, and Margaret Tulay, an Education major at the University of Akron, the crew welcomed Akron Promise’s new Executive Director Dr. Jeanne-Hélène (Néna) Roy last week; since the SST’s inception Ghinder served as the group’s third member.
On bi-monthly SST meeting days, learners arrive with their APSissued Chromebooks in tow, ready to participate in goal-setting activities while relishing sandwiches provided by the team. Skills taught range from time-management to ACT prep and résumé-writing. Seniors learn to complete FAFSA forms as well as to compose college application essays and apply for jobs. The SST continues to monitor seniors after graduation as they segue into the workforce and/or enroll in college programs.
Flexibility: Celebrating the Individual
Ghinder attributes the program’s success to its underlying flexibility. Rather than approach mentoring with a one-size-fits-all mindset, the SST practices a version of “radical hospitality,” which in this context entails meeting students where they are to address their own expressed needs.
By considering each student’s unique circumstances and goals, the SST not only provides directional assistance to learners, but also cultivates qualities that can’t be found in a manual: respect and empathy. When met with direct eye contact and supportive words, humans tend to respond in kind. Part of the SST’s philosophy, then, is to transcend mentoring models that adhere to a rigid structure, as well as to bring a “human touch” into the equation.
It Takes a Village
We all know that nobody can brave it alone in the world, and this aphorism certainly holds true in the case of the SST’s efforts. Without the help of invited guest speakers who periodically hold lunchtime Q&A sessions and parents/community members who assist in transporting students to field-trip destinations, the SST wouldn’t be able to extend as many options for enrichment as it does to learners. The relationships Kenmore-Garfield students form with engaged adults in their midst are ultimately bonds for life, bonds passed down from one generation to the next.
For more information on Akron Promise and the SST, see:
Dr. Jeanne-Hélène Roy
November 2020 Scholarship Fundraiser
Virtual Beer Tasting Event – Christmas Ale Edition!
(Summit County, Akron, Ohio –Oct. 2020) – Back by popular demand! Akron Promise will host another Virtual Beer Tasting event to help raise scholarship funds for Akron students. This time you’ll get to taste four of this season’s holiday beers from four local breweries. Please join us on Friday, November 6, 2020, from 7-8:30pm.
Once again, there will be commentary by Rick Armon, renowned beer writer and author of “Ohio Breweries” and “Fifty Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio”. There will be discussion with the participating breweries: Akronym Brewing, Eighty-Three Brewery, Lock 15 Brewing Company and Missing Falls Brewery.
To participate in this VIRTUAL event, make a donation of any amount to Akron Promise at http://bit.ly/AP2020FundTasting (or by mail, below). Donations of $50 or more get all four holiday beers to taste during the event. Please respond by Nov. 1 to be sure you get your 4-pack.
“For many Akron students, a major barrier to post-secondary education is money. For the third year in a row, Akron Promise will remove that barrier for up to ten Kenmore-Garfield High School students,” shared Tom Ghinder, Founder of Akron Promise, Inc. “We believe all students deserve a chance at a post-secondary certificate or degree, leading to a satisfying career and quality of life. In addition, Akron Promise is trying to shape the culture of education in Akron to help ensure that all students have access to appropriate supports, resources and opportunities.”
Akron Promise is a 501c3 organization. For more information or to register for this event, please go to http://bit.ly/AP2020FundTasting. To make a direct donation, mail checks to “Akron Promise” at 66 Melbourne Avenue, Akron, OH 44313.
Founder, Akron Promise, Inc.