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5th Annual Lorain County Superintendent Summit

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On Tuesday, May 15th, we started our day by attending the 5th Annual Lorain County Superintendent Summit which was attended by almost all of the 16 school superintendents in the area. It was put on by the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce along with the support of "The Stocker Foundation" and took place in the Grand Room at Lorain County Community College.

Soon after we arrived, we had a conversation with Ms. Ann Schloss, Associate Superintendent of the Elyria City Schools, about outreach to foreign-born people who have newly settled in Lorain County. Ms. Schloss shared with us that not only are there services available to students but also workshops available to their parents which help them learn English and to acquaint them with our culture. We encourage our readers to note two links which are http://www.chroniclet.com/LocalNews/2017/09/24/Oakwood-Elementary-in-Elyria-has-exchange-of-cultures.html and http://raycomgroup.worldnow.com/story/37550978/elyria-school-district-hires-3-teachers-to-teach-english-to-spanish-speaking-students?clienttype=generic&mobilecgbypass for more information.  

During the course of the program, Mr. Greg Ring, Superintendent of the Educational Service Center of Lorain County, unveiled "A New Vision for Ohio Schools" written in collaboration with 30 school superintendents from across Ohio that contained a purpose statement that read, "in partnership with their local communities strong public schools educate all students to achieve individual success so that they can become contributing citizens."

Among the belief statements within the "New Vision..." were:

***We believe in valuing diversity and are committed to the success of ALL students.

***We believe in providing educational experiences that result in ALL students understanding that they are part of a broader community and, as such, have roles and responsibilities to each other.

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***We believe in establishing trust and collaboration among stakeholders who are responsible for educating the students within our local communities.

***We believe students, schools and communities are best served when decisions are made at the local level and supported by state and federal entities.

***We believe that student assessment is most effective when it engages the learner to increase the quality of their work and when results arrive in time to improve teaching and learning.

***We believe that a school's and district's performance are best and most accurately determined through multiple measures that are consistent, concise and clearly understood at the local level.

***We believe that local community members (parents, residents, students, educators, superintendents, board members, and business community) must be involved in the development of educational policy for Ohio's Public Schools.

***We believe that a quality educational experience addresses the social, emotional, and intellectual development and well-being of ALL students.

Quite a bit of the summit was also devoted to reviewing efforts to assist students whose families are experiencing issues involving opiate or heroin addiction.  Along these lines, superintendents Dr. Tom Jama (Elyria) and Mr. Franco Gallo (Keystone), along several representatives from social service agencies, discussed student and family resources in areas like mental health.

Mr. Tony Gallo, President of the Lorain Chamber, reminded us that just a few days ago the Lorain Economic Summit took place at this very location. He went on to say it was only fitting that the Superintendent Summit take place in the same location within the same week because findings have shown that in order to have successful economic development, the business community and the educational community must work with each closely every step of the way.

 

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Our other event for Tuesday was a networking night combined with the presentation of grant awards involving the "Alliance for the Great Lakes Young Professional Council" (YPC) that appropriately took place at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

This was the first event that we had attended involving the YPC so we learned from the program notes (along with a conversation with our friend Ms. Adrienne Dziak who is or has been involved in quite a few wonderful institutions/organizations) that it "aims to engage the next generation of Great Lakes leaders. The flagship council began in Chicago in 2016, and a second council has started in Cleveland in 2017. Young Professional Council members are chosen for their leadership and organizational skills, as well as a desire to make tangible, positive difference in their community and the Great Lakes."

Besides Ms. Dziak, other people we knew that we encountered that evening were Mr. Dick Clough and Ms. Selina Pagan of the "Hispanic Business Center". We also enjoyed meeting Mr. Jacob C. Sinatra, Manager of Special Projects and Communications of "Cuyahoga Arts and Culture".

The keynote speaker of the evening was Ms. Crystal Davis, Policy Director of "Alliance for the Great Lakes" (see https://greatlakes.org/about/) who talked about how her organization recently opened a field  office in Cleveland and its worthy accomplishments in terms of local community outreach. We were very impressed by the fact that its "Adopt a Beach" program was responsible for the removal of 3,800 pounds of debris in 2017 via the efforts of 1,400 volunteers.

The grant awards were announced by Ms. Brenda Price, Volunteer and Education Director for the Alliance, who very graciously later gave us her notes so that we can report on what happened accurately.

The recipients of the awards were voted on by the "Cleveland YPC Grantmaking Committee" based on the such criteria as:

***Projects that address environmental issues or improve the health of the Great Lakes for people and wildlife.

***Projects that encourage community members to have new or meaningful experiences with the Lake Erie Watershed.

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***Projects that increase awareness or educate the public about the Great Lakes and current issues they face.

***Projects that promote, provide, or create equitable access to Lake Erie.

Accordingly, the first recipient was Ms. Julia Van Wagenen, free lance photographer and artist educator, with the "Lake Avenue Bridge Beautification Project" which will (and we refer to the notes) "beautify the underpass of Lake Road Railroad Bridge off of Clifton Blvd. as it is a major link to Edgewater Park. Unfortunately, the bridge and its underpass are in disrepair. Through an underpass mural and hillside beautification project, Julia and her neighbors wish to help create a more inviting link from the west 80's neighborhood to Edgewater Park. Residents and artists of all ages will be encouraged to submit photos and other forms of art that convey the mural themes."

The second recipient was the Northeast Shores Development Corporation and their Waterloo Bioswales Project. The award was accepted by Ms. Jamie Baker, Project Coordinator. As the notes read, the organization "secured funding and installed two bioswales in the Waterloo Arts District in early 2018 Bioswales are an environmentally responsibly and attractive method for reducing debris and pollution from surface runoff water. They consist of a shallow trough-like depression that is filled with specific types of local vegetation and is designed to carry water during rainstorms or snow melts...The two bioswales are currently functioning, but for optimal performance and beauty, plantings including a vegetative infiltration field is necessary. Funding from this grant will be used for landscaping materials, the community engagement process, and signage to create vegetated infiltration areas."

After distributing the awards, Ms. Price concluded her presentation by saying, "in addition to celebrating tonight's winners, we also wanted to create a space for collaboration and where we can forge partnerships that will lift up all of the great work happening across our watershed. We thank you all for attending tonight and hope that you will continue connecting with one another and that we can support each other in our shared mission of keeping Lake Erie and the Great Lakes well." 

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC