By: Marva Jones
Six months ago, I continued my work on behalf of our state’s students and families as I began working at the Ohio Department of Education. As I reflect upon my first 180 days, I remain energized by the Department’s focused efforts, actions and determination to make a difference in the education community. My experience thus far has continued to allow me the opportunity to sink my teeth into more of Ohio’s strategic plan for education, Each Child, Our Future.
One of my through line career goals (which I call Marva’s Main Missions) has been to maintain and develop respectful and trustworthy relationships – in essence, build partnerships.
Each Child, Our Future states that everyone, not just those in schools, shares the responsibility of preparing children for successful futures. I have been fortunate enough in my career to have worked on several partnerships which mirror this fundamental theme outlined in Ohio’s strategic plan for education.
- During my tenure in Warrensville, we partnered with South University. Eighth grade boys were paired with faculty and staff to sharpen the students’ ideas about life after high school into real aspirations. The faculty mentored these youngsters every other week for a semester. These young boys became young men during the half a year by building their relationships into a strong partnership. The boys took part in several activities, such as attending the college course taught by their mentor, introducing the mentor to their families, enjoying dinner or a sporting event together and inviting the mentors to their own eighth grade class.
- As a curriculum director in Massillon City Schools, I partnered with the library, district staff, parents and the entire community to focus our efforts on preventing the summer slide in literacy. Everyone was involved in donating books to the library. In turn, adults borrowed these books so they could be models for the students in their homes and neighborhoods. The students would read for small prizes and activities that occurred at the library during the summer. Eventually this turned into bonus points at the start of the school year.
- In Canton City Schools, we partnered with philanthropic organizations. Most notably I worked with the Sisters of Charity in a program called Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK). SPARK is a family-focused program designed to prepare children for kindergarten. The program offers free in-home visits with parents and caregivers to prepare 4-year-old children for kindergarten and future success in school. SPARK coaches provided new books, art and school supplies to families when they visited. During the regular visits, the coaches modeled skills and behaviors for parents so they could continue supporting their children when the program ended. In a simple twist of fate, 15 years later when briefly working at The Literacy Cooperative in Cleveland, I supervised the coaches for the SPARK program. The authenticity of the program and purpose had not lost its effectiveness.
- A partnership with the city of Massillon and civic organizations highlighted the importance of performing well on an annual academic test. Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It became a mantra for all students, and the city embraced and echoed the theme of student success. When the time came for students to “show what they know” on the test, a banner for academics (not athletics) was hung across the main street in downtown Massillon. There was no doubt that the city was dreaming and believing all students could achieve greatness.
- Based on my studies in mental health services, I was offered a seat on the Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Board. Given the social challenges that our students were struggling with at that time, I was at the table to maintain the effectiveness of this innovative partnership, provide targeted supports and create hope for students and their families.
- As principal of Dueber Elementary, I worked to assist families that needed help beyond what we could offer at school. Well before the 21st century programs that are so common today, we partnered with Dueber United Methodist Church. This partnership connected teachers, parents and the faith-based community to provide tutoring services and a place of refuge for students in a latchkey like program.
These partnerships, and many more, continue to help students and families. Addressing the needs of the whole child starts with parents, caregivers and schools and extends to other government and community organizations that serve children. Sometimes these services are disjointed and siloed, but partners must work together to provide seamless supports. Success requires the collaboration of parents, caregivers and families and the education system, especially the early childhood education community. I have experienced firsthand how partnerships transform the education experience – just as we illustrate in Each Child, Our Future.
Marva Jones is senior executive director for Continuous Improvement for the Ohio Department of Education. You can learn more about Marva by clicking here.
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By: Staff Blogger
Delegates, diplomacy and inspiring declarations…the Ohio Model United Nations has it all! State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria attended the Junior Ohio Model United Nations International Summit on Sunday and Monday to meet with students and watch the dynamic showcase of leadership and learning in action. The Ohio Model United Nations is a three-day simulation program in which student delegates represent selected member countries of the United Nations. Students began preparations months in advance of the event, which is centered on writing, presenting and debating original resolutions that deal with current world issues. The Junior Ohio Model United Nations is the only program of its kind in the nation. More than 1,000 middle school students participated in this year’s summit. See more from the summit and watch Superintendent DeMaria interview students and educators below about how the program creates global learning connections.
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By: Staff Blogger
The Ohio Center for Law-Related Education welcomed 300 students, representing 23 schools, to the annual Ohio Mock Trial in Columbus. In its 36th year, it is the state’s largest high school academic competition. Over the course of the three-day event, students sharpened their arguments and showcased their masterful critical thinking, reasoning, teamwork and communication skills for this year’s case focused on Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures as it applies to technology.
Legal professionals volunteer their time as judges, competition coordinators and advisors during this authentic trial experience. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria attended the state championship final round on March 9 between Indian Hill High School (Hamilton County) and Sylvania Southview High School (Lucas County). Congratulations to each of the participants, and bravo to the 2019 champions – the students from Indian Hill High School! The state champs from Indian Hill Exempted Village School District will represent Ohio later this school year at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Georgia.
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By: Staff Blogger
Children of parents who are engaged in their education are much more likely to graduate and succeed. The Center on Education and Training for Employment at The Ohio State University, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education, received a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to develop a statewide center to serve Ohio’s families and schools. The Statewide Family Engagement Center empowers families to support their children’s education and provides comprehensive training and technical assistance to schools and organizations that support family-school partnerships. Over the course of the five-year grant, the Ohio Department of Education will receive more than $700,000, and the grant is projected to reach more than 10,000 families over the next five years.
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By: Jonathan Juravich
Editor’s Note: During the Ohio Teacher of the Year selection process, outstanding educators from each of the 11 State Board of Education districts are chosen to be District Teachers of the Year. Finalists for the Ohio Teacher of the Year will be selected from these 11 honorees. Ultimately, only one will become the Ohio Teacher of the Year. This person is then in the running to be the National Teacher of the Year.
As the nomination window for the 2020 Ohio Teacher of the Year opens, 2018 Teacher of the Year Jonathan Juravich invited Bre Sambuchino, a 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year finalist, to help him write this blog. Below, Jonathan and Bre share how their respective recognitions have impacted their careers and lives. They also invite you to nominate an outstanding teacher for this honor.
Jonathan Juravich, 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year
To be named the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year set into motion the most remarkable year and a half of my life. To be honest, I will never be the same again. I have realized that I have become a stronger version of myself. I am confident in sharing my perspective and my experiences in the classroom. I have learned what true leadership can be and how sometimes sitting back and actually listening to someone else can mean so much more than being the loudest voice in the room. I have learned that Ohio Teacher of the Year is so much more than a title, it is an opportunity, a responsibility and full of possibilities.
Right before the announcement was made of my recognition, I was on a conference call with previous honorees. One of them said, “You are going to join the most incredible professional network of people when you meet the other state teachers of the year.” I remember rolling my eyes. Really? Another network of educators? I think I’m okay. And then I met the 54 other state Teachers of the Year and realized this was so much more than a professional network. This group of educators has so many things in common with me — they process the same struggles, challenge me to think bigger, are there when I need someone to listen and have opened my eyes to gratitude. They have become my close friends.
Together, we have had once-in-a-lifetime experiences. We explored Google’s campus, shared our experiences with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, toured the White House, attended Space Camp and stood on the field during the national anthem at the National Championship football game. And the adventures continue. Then, there was that day I stood on the TED stage in New York City, telling the stories of my students, my daughter and my grandmother to fellow teachers in the audience.
Throughout these experiences, I was very cognizant that I was representing Ohio and the excellent educators of our state. I knew when I saw something amazing or experienced excellent professional learning, it was my job to share it with the people who needed it. And now, piloting the teacher-in-residence position at the Ohio Department of Education, I have had the opportunity to meet and celebrate some of the most remarkable educators across our state.
This experience has led me to dream big and believe in possibilities — possibilities for my students, for education and for myself.
Bre Sambuchino, 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year Finalist
I remember the day when my superintendent walked in my class with flowers in hand. I was teaching Education Principles. This is a class for seniors who wish to become teachers, and they are absolutely delightful — a joy, really. She came in and explained she had just submitted my name for Ohio Teacher of the Year. The students in the class were enthralled. They wanted to know everything and asked, “So, what is next?” “When will she know?” “How can we help?” I remember thinking they were being so sweet, but I was pretty sure my road was going to end that day because I knew of all the amazing teachers that were in my building — let alone the state of Ohio.
They asked for a group hug. Yes, a hug. Senior students were hugging it out. I thought, “Maybe I did teach them something.” As the instructor for our school’s Teaching Professions Academy, my motto is to do all things with grace and love.
The Ohio Teacher of the Year process continued and was challenging at times. I was juggling a lot of life changes at the same time as I was preparing for my presentation and writing my essays. However, the process gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life and, for that, I am grateful. When all the essays were written, I realized I like building and creating things. Almost everything I had been recognized for had been for creating something that had not existed previously.
The process gave me confidence, which gave me grace. It gave me the opportunity to say, “What is next?” Since then, I have volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul Retrofittings Committee, and I recently met with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society about becoming involved in their work. I love working on teams, building things and creating anew.
In the classroom, the Ohio Teacher of the Year process has solidified the passion I have for my vocation. I know I am meant to be an educator. I love what I do and am grateful for each day. I love modeling grace and love, and I know I am where I am meant to be.
Our challenge is for school administrators, community members, parents, students and fellow educators to nominate an outstanding teacher for the Ohio Teacher of the Year program. Excellent teachers open doors to opportunities for students. In turn, excellent teachers deserve to have doors opened for them.
Jonathan Juravich is the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year, was a finalist for National Teacher of the Year and serves as the Ohio Department of Education’s teacher-in-residence.
<Bre Sambuchino is the State Board District 4 Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year. She teaches in Loveland City School District.
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