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Annual State of The Schools Address.

On Tuesday, April 25th, we drove to Lorain High School and walked over to the gymnasium to hear Dr. Jeffrey Graham, the Superintendent of Schools for the City of Lorain, gave the annual State of the Schools address.

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This event that was put on by the Lorain Chamber of Commerce which also sponsored the State of the Schools address that we attended in 2016 at the Lorain Historical Society wherein Dr. Graham, who came to his job in August of 2015, spoke about the circumstances that caused the Lorain Schools to be placed in the "academic distress" category back in 2013 where they have remained due to low state test scores.  At this time, the process is underway for the State of Ohio to take over Lorain City Schools, hire a new CEO and instigate a new plan to boost academic achievement.

On this day, however, Dr. Graham spoke about the district is working to hard to address the underlying challenges concerning how to help the students excel academically when a large percentage of them come from impoverished living conditions. For instance, the free school breakfast and lunch programs have been expanded to meet the needs of 250 more students and preschool opportunities are being increased. Academically, the data that has been collected is being used to pinpoint where particular problems such as low math scores actually begin so that the issues can be effectively addressed. Dr. Graham emphasized that the results of many of the changes will not be apparent for years but they are the right thing to do regardless of whether the test scores are good or bad.

After the speech concluded, we spoke with Mr. Paul Beber, a former school board member and teacher for over 37 years in in the Lorain School District, who thought that Dr. Graham was certainly on the right track and everybody we talked to seemed to respect his efforts; many even going so far as to hope that Dr. Graham will be selected to be the new CEO.

Prior to the speech, Ms. Erin Gadd, the Director of Communications and Community Engagement for the Lorain City Schools, visited various tables in the gymnasium and interviewed the instructors and the students who were involved in very promising academic and extra-curricular endeavors. We thus got to hear from people associated with Junior ROTC, Young Scholars Program, Ohio Art Council Programs, Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County, Career Technical Programs, and quite a few more.

Upon our arrival, we visited for a few minutes with Lt. Col. Dennis Owen (U.S. Army-Ret) who overseas the Junior ROTC program and is a very sociable guy.  Lt. Col. Owen told us that Dr. Graham had given the same speech earlier that day in Spanish for Hispanic families which we believe was an excellent move because 40% of the Lorain students are Hispanic. Lt. Col. Owen also thought "it was a neat touch" and "a classy move on his part."

Mr. Victor L. Leandry, Executive Director of "El Centro de Servicios Sociales, Inc." informed us that this was the first time that such an address had been given in another language in the history of the Lorain schools. In terms of his knowledge of the Spanish language, we learned that Dr. Graham had taken classes when he was in high school and in college but we're sure that this was quite an undertaking for him and is thus worthy of admiration. 

As for how well he actually did, Mr. Leandry smiled and said that in his own opinion Dr. Graham did "pretty, pretty good" for his first time out.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC