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1st Elementary School Forum Held at The City Club

IMG_1158On Monday, May 16th, we attended the first ever elementary school forum ever held at the City Club.

Young students from Cleveland College Preparatory School, Walton School, Village Prep Woodland Hills, Walton Investment School, and Cleveland Montessori School went there to enjoy a macaroni-and-cheese lunch; a presentation by "Distinguished Gentlemen of the Spoken Word" the noted performance poetry group comprised of African-American males ages 8 to 18; and a panel discussion on the invaluability of a "growth mindset" featuring Ms. Honey Bell-Bey who, among other accomplishments, founded "Distinguished Gentlemen..."; Judge Gayle Williams-Byers, from South Euclid Municipal Court; Ms. Kayla Provost, 2nd Grade Teacher from Village Prep Cliffs Campus; and Mr. Mike Chernoff, General Manager of the Cleveland Indians.

The discussion was coordinated by Mr. Anthony Price, Executive Council Member, Youth Council forum who will shortly be graduating from Shaw High School and attending Wesleyan University in Connecticut. The inspiration and organization of the program was credited to Ms. Lori Urogdy-Eiler, Director of Core Curriculum and Development for Teach for America and Ms. FayIMG_1126 Walker, Marketing and Outreach Fellow for the City Club.

Before the program started, we ate lunch with several members of the "Distinguished Gentlemen..." Also at our table was Mr. J.C. Stiassni who had seen the "Distinguished Gentlemen..." perform and was looking forward to seeing them again. Mr. Stiassni loves children and works with Teach for America, which as we learned, has 120 teachers working in 40 schools throughout Cleveland.

According to the program notes, "in a fixed mindset people believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits that do not change. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work-our brains act more like a muscle that develops than a fixed computer processor."

In the course of the discussion the panelists challenged the children gathered here to follow the path of a "growth mindset" and realize their potential to the fullest. They all shared a passion for their jobs and saw their work as a way of giving back to their community.IMG_1161

Ms. Provost talked about how it was always her dream to be a teacher and she was encouraged by her family and friends. When she first started teaching though, she found it to be daunting task but she persevered and now leads a group of six teachers. She loves seeing "the light go on" in a student's head when he/she finally grasps a difficult concept. She shared with us an incident wherein a student started to cry while taking a state test. Ms. Provost walked over to her and said, "you can do it." Subsequently, the student surpassed her goal.

Mr. Chernoff said that he always loved baseball and dreamed of being a professional player. He played all the way up to college level and used the skills/life lessons that he had acquired by playing the game to transition successfully to the front office. He told stories about a couple of athletes who did better than what was expected of them due to effort and determination.IMG_1150

Ms. Bell-Bey recounted the story of how the "Distinguished Gentlemen..." aspired to perform in France so she urged them to make a "creative effort" in order to raise the $80,000 necessary in order to go. As we know, in order for a minor to obtain a passport the signatures of both of his/her parents are required so Ms. Bell-Bey had to locate several absentee parents in order for this happen. At one time, it looked like one young man wasn't going to be able to accompany them to France but Ms. Bell-Bey doubled her efforts and managed to secure the signature in almost literally the very last few hours.

Judge Byers shared with us all how rewarding it is for her to be a judge because she really feels that she has made the difference in the lives of a number of people. She told the children that they have the choice to be either chickens or eagles both of which are birds and both have wings. Nevertheless, a chicken cannot fly and is thus stuck living its life on the ground while an eagle cannot only fly; it can soar. She thus urged the children to choose to be eagles.

At the start of the program, Mr. Dan Moulthrop, CEO of the City Club, explained to the children the purpose of gatherings like the one that they were at today. "We have moments like this," said Mr. Moulthrop, "so we call all learn together to be better human beings and better citizens."

Ms. Urogdy-Eiler explained to the children that they "were the future leaders of the world and that the only thing between you and your goals is the story that you tell to yourself about they way you achieve them." She encouraged them to "embrace the growth mindset" throughout their lives as a vital key to success.

As for the "Distinguished Gentlemen of the Spoken Word" Mr. Mouthrop told the children that "they will blow your socks off in a few minutes" and a few minutes later, they did just that.


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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