‘TPS proud’: Superintendent Durant praises district efforts at annual luncheonWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For the youth who tattoos the name of a gang on his forearm, Toledo Public Schools’ (TPS) Superintendent Romules Durant said education is the key to righting his path.
“There’s something that will uplift you — an education,” Durant told the group assembled Sept. 11 for a TPS-hosted luncheon at Waite Brand Auditorium on Superior Street. The annual event is held in honor of community leaders.
Cecelia Adams, president of the TPS Board of Education, moderated the luncheon. Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, Toledo City Council members Jack Ford, Rob Ludeman, Theresa Gabriel and Tyrone Riley, Hispanic community leader Robert Torres and Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada were just some of the local leaders present who listened to Durant’s speech highlighting the district’s successes.
“I’m a 1994 Waite High School [graduate] and TPS proud,” Durant declared, and then paraphrased scripture: “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48)
Role models are important and will influence the mind of a child, he said. By age 4, a child has developed his or her own personality. If prevention is going to happen, it must happen before then. That’s why the district’s Head Start program is so important to help students become better readers, he said.
“If learning to read is slow, reading to learn is slower,” he said. “We need sufficient readers.”
Suspensions dropped by 80 percent after the district installed the Freshman Academy that helps integrate freshman into high school, Durant said. At the beginning of the year, high schools are closed to just freshman and students are introduced to their teachers, classrooms and lockers to help lessen feelings of intimidation, Durant said.
It’s developing those student/teacher relationships that matter, he said, and which will cut down on dropout rates. If kids drop out, that means society will have to deal with them later in a different way, he said.
The Leadership Academy is a unique place for young girls and boys that promotes unity between the genders and prepares students for law school, Durant said. Students learn Latin and legal terminology and how to argue persuasively.
New this year, Scott High School is the location of hands-on student training in the broadcasting industry. Local television, radio and print media representatives will work with students and share about their jobs. Also new, Woodward High School is offering hands-on training in ground transportation, electrical/electronics, HVAC and diesel truck engines.
“They’re beginning to understand why they’re learning what they’re learning,” Durant said.
Durant pointed out that representatives from Owens Community College and the University of Toledo were present in the audience, which he said demonstrated their support of TPS and TPS students. These institutions of higher learning are coming to students, he said.
Because of TPS’ career technology programs, some students are graduating high school with an associate’s degree, Durant said.
TPS is one of 24 recipients of a Youth CareerConnect grant that is part of President Barack Obama’s goal of redesigning high schools, with an aim of ensuring students are prepared to succeed in college and the workforce.
The U.S. Department of Labor is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education to disperse $100 million in Youth CareerConnect grants, according to a U.S. Department of Labor website.
TPS will receive $3.8 million to prepare students for the future in what Durant described as a rigorous and career-focused curriculum.
The grant is “to provide high school students with the industry-relevant education and skills they need for a successful future,” according to information at www.whitehouse.gov.
“Pathways to Prosperity,” TPS’ name for the grant program, focuses on energy, manufacturing and electronics and is available to students at Toledo Technology Academy and Bowsher, Start, Waite and Woodward high schools.
The program allows students to be dually enrolled at their home high school and at Owens Community College. A student liaison will support students in their academics and career path and an intervention specialist will work with special needs students.
Student career coaches will work with business partners to support students and the coaches will stick with the kids after they graduate and enroll in college.
Durant touched only briefly on a new levy the district is proposing for the November election. Issue No. 1 is a 5.8-mill levy that would cost the owner of a $60,000 home $121.80 a year.
“You campaign every day,” Durant said about the levy. He said he’s given 100 presentations and visited 60 churches.
The superintendent told audience members, “I need you in education,” and asked them to donate their experience and knowledge in their industry to the district.
“Stay invested,” he said. “Stay TPS proud.”
A Bowsher High School group performed a song to honor the fallen heroes of 9/11.
Mayor Collins spoke, paraphrasing Mohandas Gandhi’s famous saying, “If you want to see the world change, you have to be an instrument of change.”
The community needs to invest in its children for the future, Collins said, and lead the region to make the city a better place than it was found.
Tags: Bowsher High School, Cecelia Adams, D. Michael Collins, Freshman Academy, Leadership Academy, Romules Durant, Start High School, Toledo Public Schools, Toledo Technology Academy, TPS, TPS proud, Waite High School, Woodward High School, Youth CareerConnect