The Ginn Academy, founded in 2007 by Ted Ginn, Sr., is the only all-male public high school in Ohio. Come in and see what goes on inside the hearts and minds of 655 E. 162nd Street each day. Let us tell you our stories. Photos and text not to be used without permission.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kevin and Aykee, Two Voices

Hello Ginn Academy supporters! Thanks for visiting the blog today where you'll get to know a bit about two of our young men through their writing.

Ginn Academy Junior, Kevin, is one of our unsung heroes, a quiet young man who leads by example and whose attitude, work ethic, and consistency have already marked him as a true Ginn Man. "The best is yet to come for Kevin," says Mrs. Hazel Parker, GA's Executive Assistant to the Director.

Though he was not initially enthusiastic about attending an all-male school, he's now in his third year, active in athletics, and has settled in very well. Coach Ginn has been a thought-provoking influence especially on the subject of friends. "A couple of years ago, he knew who I was friends with and he told me if I kept hanging out with the same kids, I could be in for a rude awakening," Kevin explains. "Eventually, one of them took something from me and I saw how Coach Ginn was right." He has found a role model in Mr. Ginn and sees him as someone who cares, and is at school every day, always talking and coaching the boys.

Life Struggles
by Kevin A.

My biggest struggle in life is trying to survive.
I try so hard not to get shot or to never get robbed.
I stay to myself and never get loud.
You'll see me by myself, before I'm with a crowd.
My family is my life, my mom is my heart,
I pray that the lord never break us apart.
My grandparents will never let me down. 
Life struggles are crazy they seem to stress me out. 
But now I know why my mom keeps me in the house.
We criminals of today, victims of tomorrow.
Life is not promised to please keep the sorrow.
Live your life now and sleep when you die.
I hope that my soul will some day fly,
up to the sky with my father Jesus Christ.

But you can't always win so I guess that's life.

Our second contributor, Aykee, is a senior this year and has really matured in the time that he's been with us. He's looking at colleges and is nearly ready to set out on his own. Raised by his mother and grandparents, Aykee is a busy student-athlete with close family ties. "My grandmother is always in my ear about being positive and grateful and giving back," he says. The family talks a lot about right and wrong and Aykee says that it's not his way to get involved with bad things, but he does admit that watching friends making bad choices is difficult. "There's sometimes nothing I can do and it's hard to turn away," he says.

Aykee's English teacher, Mrs. Beard-Little, asked his class to write an essay beginning with the prompt, "No one would believe me when..." In his, Aykee addresses some of the issues that he faces at this point in his life, where expectations and fears lead to very different perspectives between adults and teens.

No one would believe me when...
by Aykee H.

I would tell people who I was and how I was growing up...
but no one would believe me.
I would tell people why I behave the way I behave...but no one would believe me.
If I told a group of white men in suits that I want to be someone in one would believe me.
I always have told my coaches that they could trust me with the ball when the game was on the line; but once one would believe me.
I even tried telling my mom and grandma...but no one would believe me.
I went to school today, telling my class that I would earn a 3.5 the second quarter...but no one would believe me.
The crazy part about the topic "No one would believe me when..." is that if I were to do all of the following negative things in life, for example, drinking, smoking, selling drugs, and misbehaving -- what I am trying to say is -- let me be that individual to say that I was smoking and/or drinking. My mom, coaches, and friends would come to me saying -- or accusing me of those things; 
however, six sentences ago, no one would believe me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Blogger: DeAngelo

Today's guest blogger, DeAngelo, an eleventh grader, will be sharing two poems with all of you. In his third year at the Academy, DeAngelo is conscientious and disciplined, always impeccably dressed for school and polite. He is always ready to volunteer in any capacity. His talent for poetry became apparent during his sophomore year and already we know him as a prolific and powerful writer. He's quite a big deal in wrestling. And quite a big deal when it comes to scholarship, leadership, and service. Thank you for visiting our blog today!


The mom screams SHUT-UP! You gettin' on my nerves!
The baby keeps crying and the mom gets disturbed
Most people love kids, not this woman she's cruel
The baby is only six months not understanding any rules
He gets beat, smacked, and even burned up with a lighter
If she didn't want the child why lay down with that firefighter
He's a married man and didn't want anything to do with you
Now I understand why your black dress is all covered in soup
Because you hit him one last time and all his pain went away
Now he's an angel in Heaven waiting for the golden gates
But soon you will join him but only with death
And now Hell's Satan is going to put you to rest
So next time please try to cry at your baby's passing
Oh wait she has life with a death sentence passion!

Eight Colors of the Day

The day starts off with a nice yellow shine
The thoughts of yesterday's red anger in the back of my mind

Blue is in the sky when I wake up
And I run downstairs "Look at that orange juice cup"

And drink as I think about what happened yesterday
She slapped me I didn't hit her but um that's okay

Today is better than yesterday, it's not so gray
And I would like to get past it because it's a new day


Bang! He shot the paint can with a small black gun
Didn't harm nobody but hey he better start to run

A white car pulls up he hears "Freeze I'll shoot"
Now the mom is at home crying the tar off the roof

Ugh! Looked in the paper and that boy didn't stop
No wonder why blood is all over that light brown mop

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Blogger: Zacchaeus

Hello and thanks for checking in with The Ginn Academy this week! As we explained in the last post, we have some guest bloggers filling in for me until my broken ankle is healed. And we love what they're doing so much that we're going to continue this on a regular basis.

Today we're going to hear from 9th grader, Zacchaeus, whose essay about behavior provides some keen insight into his mind and what he's being taught at home. Zacchaeus's English teacher, Ms. Bollar, shared this with us.

The Importance of Appropriate Behavior
by Zacchaeus K.

When in a classroom, everyone knows, somewhere in their mind, the appropriate way to behave. And each student also can give you reasons why they should behave properly. Since preschool, good behavior rules have been enforced. And for those students who didn't attend preschool, Kindergarten taught you the same rules.

Every day when parents send their children to school, they expect for their child to behave in a manner in which the parent would proudly say, "That's my son or daughter." Every day when parents send us to school we are representing our parents; we are demonstrating the behavior they expect from us. If I came to school in wrinkled clothes, hair uncombed, and an easily recognizable odor coming from my body, wouldn't you as a teacher expect that I am not the wealthiest person, but my parents dress in a similar manner. The way we as students act gives every teacher another detail and thought on how our home life is. One of the last things I want to do is embarrass my family. Make it look as if my family isn't strong, caring, and loving.

In life, there are rewards and consequences for almost everything. Your behavior in school goes a long way. Last year, I received a letter for me to go to Washington, D.C. I was nominated for this opportunity by my English teacher, In the letter it gave me short requirements for a student to be nominated: good attendance, exceptional scholar, well behaved, and respectful. I, who had those qualities, received a blessing. Another example could be when you are applying for a summer job in high school. Sometimes you are required to get a recommendation letter from a teacher. If you act out in class what makes you think that a teacher will lie for you.

Your behavior in one class can completely determine whether or not you go to college. Maybe in order for you to go to college you must get at least a 3.0 GPA. Then in math you have a C. All you need is one more percent and you will have a full ride to college because you already have a B in your other classes. Now if you don't show this teacher any respect, more than likely he won't give you a B so you can go to college, for free.

I have identified plenty of circumstances in which you would think it is your best bet to be on your best behavior. But all these reasons were surface, easily identifiable reasons. I want to open your eyes to the deep outside-the-box reasons; reasons that affect more than just yourself and peers. It affects your family, community, and most important the country.

Every day that a student comes to school to learn, a teacher comes to school to teach. One student will be a classroom disruption and that teacher will lose time that could be used to teach a student who wants to learn. For every second that these kind of things happen, we are just letting a foreign country like China or Japan to educate their youth a little bit more. Then their youth become even smarter than the U.S.'s youth.

My personal opinion is that we as a country allow immigrants into our country for one major reason. Our government presents us with many opportunities to become educated and successful. We, as a country, disregard them, students act in an unfavorable way and teachers reach their limit and give up on that student, which opens up one more job for an immigrant to come and take from us. They learn the same material in three quarters of the time we take to learn it. Then they ask for half of the money we ask for to do the same job. These people have children and their children have children. They dedicate themselves and the country wonders why there aren't any jobs available.

Now when you're in class and you think about being a disruption in another student's learning, I hope you know if you do you will just hurt yourself, your family, and your country. It seems amazing how one mistake can have a domino effect on thousands or millions of people.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guest Bloggers, Zaid and Kevin

In what is turning out to be one of the better things to come out of an unfortunate situation, we have a departure from our usual format today: two guest bloggers. We're still getting the hang of this blog thing, having started just before summer break. As we explained in the beginning, I am a photographer and my name is Karin McKenna. I write and shoot the photos for the blog every other week. We've discussed ways that we might involve the students in the content, but, until just recently, hadn't yet come up with anything concrete.

Enter a broken ankle (mine) and a sharp decrease in mobility, and suddenly we have necessity breeding invention. Who will write the blog for the next month while I am out of commission? How about a few of the 250 young men that attend our fine school? Of course! Stars will be born!

First up, we'd like to introduce you to Zaid and Kevin, who put a bit of extra heart and soul into their recent assignments for music class. Mr. Mika, our wonderful new music teacher, asked his 10th graders to write about the role of music in various cultures. We'll share with you some excerpts from their papers:

Music plays a significant role in our lives as well as in other cultures. Music can be educational, inspirational, religious, and many other things as well. Music is a complex art that can bring forth new ideas, express beliefs, and send across a message.

For instance, during the 1960s, America was going through some tough times. We were having political disputes, fighting a war in Vietnam, and we couldn't agree with each other. We were experiencing a revolution. In that time period, musicians such as Bob Marley brought forth a change with their music. The music brought across ideas, made major statements, and offered good songs to listen to. His music had a major impact on people's lifestyles. People began to change; they expressed themselves more freely and became aware of the troubles we had. A culture known as hippies came forth. They wanted change and began to revolt. They played a major role in the revolution. This was mainly because of music. Music was such a large portion of their lifestyle they dedicated a holiday for it known as the Woodstock Festival. During that time, the role music played was to inspire. 


The role music plays in culture may differ in some areas, but overall music is broadly used as a tool or to represent some state of mind that puts the listener at ease or in the right place. Music is usually the listener's way of escaping the world and sometimes creating a better one for themselves. The role of music is important in may ways, but the main reason I enjoy it is because it is inspirational.

Music plays some type of a role in life. It can be used for plenty of different things. Music has different roles it plays in cultures, as well as musicians. Every culture has its own sound of music in how it's played, the type of beat, and the type of instruments. There are some types of music that people think have healing powers or help them relax. 

The military/armed forces have played an important role in music. In the military, music has been used for various reasons. It has been used for time, assemblies, battle calls, when to stop fighting during a war, and when to surrender. When the music was played the soldiers had to stop what they were doing and listen, so they could know what the call was. Especially when the drummers played the call for an assembly, all the soldiers had to report to the grounds in formation and were to be polished.


In the Caribbean island of Cuba, there are many styles of music. African slaves and European immigrants brought their own forms of music. Cuban music has influenced many countries over time. Their music has contributed to other varieties of music like jazz, salsa, the Argentinian tango, Spanish Nuevo flamenco, and other sorts of music. Instruments like the bongos, the congos, and the bata drums are important to their culture. One of Cuba's greatest folklorists, Fernando Ortiz, described their music as rising from the interplay between the African slaves and the European immigrants and what was going on during that time.

Thanks to both Zaid and Kevin for their contributions and thanks to all of you for your interest in The Ginn Academy. We'll be back in two weeks with D'Angelo, a poet, and Zacchaeus, who has written an enlightening essay for his English class.

Kind regards from all of us...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Inspiring Visit from Hall of Famer, Franco Harris

There aren't many Pittsburgh Steelers who would expect a warm welcome in Cleveland, Ohio, but Franco Harris seems to transcend the long-time rivalry between the two cities. The former Nittany Lion, NFL star, and Superbowl MVP visited The Ginn Academy recently for a tour and a heart-to-heart chat with our young men. Introduced to us by GA friend and supporter, Albert Ratner, Mr. Harris shared a few life lessons with a rapt audience; students and adults alike were truly thrilled to meet him.

One of nine children, Mr. Harris grew up in Ft. Dix, New Jersey. "I had good parents, but no books," he explained. "My father was from Mississippi and couldn't read or write very well, and my mother was from Italy. Luckily we went to a good school." Though he and his brothers spent much of their time playing sports in the neighborhood and at school, the entire family was shocked when his older brother, Mario, was offered a scholarship to play football in college. "We never heard the word 'college.' I had no clue you could do that," he recalled. Mr. Harris quickly got over his surprise, though, when he was recruited soon after his brother.

"Football was my least-loved sport," he explained. "I wanted to play basketball. Sometimes we look at things quickly because we think we know them, but you've gotta experience as much as possible and experiment with different things to find your true talents. You might find you're a literary genius even if you think you don't like to read. Don't limit yourself; take it all in. You might really be surprised by what you find."

Recalling his plans to graduate from Penn State and see the world with his hotel administration degree, he encouraged the boys to travel, try new foods, and to get out of their comfort zones. "Experience things outside of what you know. There's so much world out there, outside of your neighborhood!" he said.

Once in the NFL, Mr. Harris realized that preparation and perseverance would be some of his biggest assets. Even as he sat on the bench during his first games, he worked harder than ever off the field and kept at it. He was ready to prove himself when opportunities arose. He stressed to the boys to never give up on themselves. "Everyone faces challenges, but what's important is how you handle them and get through them," he said.

Mr. Harris had already exceeded the time allowed by his schedule, but once he got started he just kept going, and we were so thankful for the time he gave to us. He left the boys with some words of advice about their health and encouraged them to pay attention to what they eat and to exercise every day. His last bit of wisdom came from his former coach, Joe Paterno: "Always go to the ball. Go to where the action is and figure out if there's something you can do. What can you do to prepare for your future? It doesn't just happen; you have to work at it."

A huge thank you to Mr. Harris and Mr. Ratner for this memorable afternoon. What a great experience for everyone involved. Thank you to all of you, too, for your support of The Ginn Academy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Medicine Men

Before we begin with this week's story, we'd like to share with you a promotional piece made for Lourdes University, in Sylvania, Ohio. The young man featured in the video is one of our first graduates, Jonathan Brown, Ginn Academy class of 2010. It's quite good and less than one minute long. We're so proud of JB!

And now, this week's post...

We have mentioned our many volunteers in past stories and we'd like to highlight the contributions of one of them today. Dr. Ernest Smoot, Jr., came to The Ginn Academy through a joint effort by the 100 Black Men of Cleveland organization, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), and the Boys and Girls Clubs. When the program came to an end, Dr. Smoot remained. "The need was still here so I stayed," he explains. He spends a few hours every week at the school with our students and the younger boys from the elementary school currently housed in the building. He's available to talk one-on-one and often tutors them in their math and science courses.

A native of St. Louis and one of ten children raised in an inner-city neighborhood, Dr. Smoot was heavily influenced by his parents' insistence on working hard and learning. "They placed a lot of value on reading and just always doing our best," he remembers. With no prior interest in his science classes, Dr. Smoot encountered a chemistry teacher in 11th grade who changed his perspective. "It was interesting and he really seemed to like it, so I did, too," he says. This spark of interest quickly opened up a whole new world. Two years later, Dr. Smoot started at the University of Missouri-Rolla, and was on the path to becoming a chemical engineer.

After four years of working for Chevron in Texas, having had a lifelong interest in how the human body works and in helping people, he took the biology classes needed to get into medical school. Dr. Smoot eventually came to Cleveland to work as a pediatrician for NEON (Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services, Inc.). "As kids in St. Louis, my brothers and sisters and I had the benefit of the Homer G. Phillips Hospital in our neighborhood, and this was a vital part of our community," he says. "I really wanted to work in that same environment helping people in their own neighborhoods."

Although he has been mentoring and tutoring at The Ginn Academy for more than two years, it was just recently that Dr. Smoot crossed paths with one of our seniors, Levert. Levert is a quiet do-er. He's faced some very challenging times and is naturally motivated to go about his business of achieving the goals that he sets for himself.

In his Freshman year, Levert's mother had a stroke, which forced them both into years of trying times. He hasn't let these challenges lead him astray. Instead he is following the lead of a good friend, Herbert, a GA graduate, and is taking classes at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) along with his high school courses. Unlike our many students who attend Tri-C classes as part of a partnership with the CMSD, Levert navigated the offerings at Tri-C on his own and is now looking into nursing programs, which he'll enter once he completes the core classes he's taking now.

Levert and Dr. Smoot hit if off immediately as they compared their shared experiences in the health care field and their common interest in helping people. "He reminds me so much of myself when I was his age!" Dr. Smoot says. "We come from similar backgrounds and have faced similar challenges." The doctor is full of advice and experiences to share with Levert, including taking good care of himself by getting enough rest and eating well. Just what you'd expect from a pediatrician looking after a teenager!

Not one to rest on his laurels, Levert adds to his already busy schedule with additional courses in first aid and CPR and also spends time at the Indian Hills Nursing Center in Euclid. There he serves meals and helps with patient care. As of now, he's planning to focus his nursing career on working with the elderly. Sometimes after he finishes his classes at Tri-C, he stays to spend time in the pool in an effort to overcome his fear of the water after a near-drowning experience as a young boy. Levert remains true to the Ginn Academy creed and is "guided by scholarship, leadership, and service."

Thank you for your interest in The Ginn Academy, our students, and the good things that happen here every day. Please feel free to pass along our blog to others. We'll be back again in two weeks.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Just Part of the Blueprint

Raise your hand if you first heard of Coach Ted Ginn, Sr. because of football. That's the case with most people, so it might surprise the general population to learn that football, as a game, is not all that important to Coach Ginn. "It's just part of the blueprint," he says. "Football is the vehicle for them to get to where they're going, and education is the gas that makes that vehicle run."

With a nationally-known program, a record for the most players from one high school playing in the Big 10, regular appearances on ESPN, and, most importantly, a graduation and college placement rate that is unheard of in similar schools, no one can deny that football is an important part of Coach Ginn's blueprint. He's been part of the Glenville H.S. football team since he played there himself in the early '70s, and has been head coach since 1997. Young men grow up knowing that to play for Glenville's football team is to be part of a legend. They know that they'll have a good shot at getting the education that will put them in a position to be productive, successful men.

But it's important to make the distinction between football and the real purpose behind everything that Mr. Ginn does. Four years ago, when The Ginn Academy was founded, Coach Ginn finally had the beginning of what he wanted: to be able to reach even more Cleveland-area kids and have more time with them. Combine the time spent on the football program with the 7-hour days of school for both the players and the many, many students that have never even touched a football, and the blueprint begins to take shape. Now he has a way to really influence a good number of kids in the community. "I have shown that sports have given kids hope and an opportunity to be productive, so the kids buy into our program because that's what they want," he explains. "The kids know that here, someone's going to love them, care for them, and help them dream to be the best. They will have an opportunity in this world to be somebody. We're just an example of hope to them."

When asked how many football players he's sent to college on scholarship, he readily admits he's lost track. He knows that there are more than 300 athletes, but with the Academy now churning out graduates, these numbers are already ballooning. With more than a 90% graduation rate (almost all attending college), The Ginn Academy will now send approximately 60 young men to college each year. Students who attend The Ginn Academy play sports for their home school. We often have students who compete against each other on the field, but at the school they are part of the brotherhood of The Ginn Academy.

A program like Glenville's requires a lot of dedicated people to keep things running smoothly. In addition to Coach Ginn, there are four paid assistant coaches and a few volunteer coaches that run the varsity, junior varsity, and freshman programs with 120 kids. Coach is approached by people all over the country that want to pit Glenville against other powerful high school teams and he chooses a couple each year that work well for them. He is also the promoter of his players. "I do the promoting; the kids do the performing: in the classroom and on the field," he says. "College coaches know what we're teaching here. These are the type of kids they want. They know they're being taught more than just football and they want to recruit the top student athletes. Ultimately, it brings more resources to their schools."

In season, the players have practice every day after school from 4 - 6 p.m. They have to spend time at the study table each week, and they're advised to try to get 10 hours of sleep a night and to eat right. On the nights before big games, the kids and all of their gear are loaded up and sequestered at a hotel. "We like to get them out of their environment so that they can focus on the game," explains Coach Ginn. "It's also a good way to expose them to how it'll be when they go to college and live on their own." In the off-season, the kids still have to stay in shape, so they might get up at 5 a.m. and catch an RTA bus (or two) to Glenville H.S. for a workout before school starts. Then they take another bus from there to GA.

V'Angelo, a senior who's been at GA since 9th grade, learned about Glenville football when Ted Ginn, Jr. was a star at Ohio State. V'Angelo knew that Ted had come from Glenville, so he researched the program and found out how many kids Coach Ginn had put into college. Having attended Catholic school since he was very young, he wanted to give the Academy and Coach Ginn a try and convinced his mother, a nurse at the VA, to let him. "She'd heard of Coach Ginn, but it was really me telling her, 'I think this is best for me, so let me try it,'" he explains. "I see football doing great things for me, things that I've always dreamed about. I believe Coach Ginn has put people around me -- coaches and the youth support at school -- that help me to get to where I want to be." V'Angelo has always been interested in architecture and plans to study something in that field at college next year. He attends The Ginn Academy in the morning and Hi-Tech Academy at Tri-C (a postsecondary program offered by CMSD) until mid-afternoon.

One of our juniors, Brandon, has been playing football since he was 8 years old and learned about the Academy from friends. "I heard about how good the school was and how Coach Ginn is a really good mentor," he says. Brandon still has another two years of high school, but he knows that he wants to graduate high school, go to college and get a degree, possibly in sports medicine. His mother, a Cleveland police officer, knows that he's going down the right path at GA. "She loves the school and the football program, too," Brandon says.

These boys, and the hundreds other just like them, are putting themselves in a position to succeed. But to do this, they have to understand, first and foremost, that they are here to get an education. Football can help them, in a big way, to achieve their dreams, but that's not why they're here. "If a kid comes in and thinks it's all about football, I tell him 'You've got your lanes crossed up. I'm about saving your life,'" he says. "We've got a movement going on here to educate young men. It's a serious matter; it's nothing to play with. You won't find the kind of graduation rate that we've got here in an all African American public male high school anywhere else. This is the kind of love, passion, and understanding that we need all across the country."

Thank you for joining us today. As always, we send our kindest regards.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Fresh Start: First Day of the 2011-12 School Year

Everyone loves a fresh, new start; newly sharpened pencils, chocolate cake that hasn't yet been cut into pieces, little brightly colored flowers popping up through the snow in the springtime... The first day of school can feel that way, too, if not always to the kids. While many of them see only the clock reading way too early and the mounds of homework awaiting them, the adults entrusted with their care and their futures see the freshly ironed white shirts, crisp black slacks, and stiff, unscuffed dress shoes. Most importantly we see the somewhat sleepy faces of boys who have their whole lives in front of them. We can't wait to help shape those lives and guide the boys in finding the paths to their futures.

Today's post will primarily be a photo journal of yesterday's activites as we kicked off the 2011-2012 school year. Rules and guidelines were set forth, schedules changed, and many parents were still registering their students. So, it was a bit hectic at times. Overall, everyone arrived shiny, new, freshly pressed, and ready to roll. Take a look and meet the faces of The Ginn Academy for this year.

As you look through the photos, please note the progression and meaning of the tie colors. Black denotes 9th grade, red denotes 10th grade, striped denotes 11th grade, and the custom, crested tie is reserved for 12th grade only. Remember, if you hover your cursor over the photos, you will see the captions. Enjoy!

The boys arrive on foot from an RTA bus stop, a few blocks away, and by car. They come from all over the city of Cleveland and surrounding suburbs. A few of the older boys have their own transportation and many are dropped off by parents, grandparents, siblings, and guardians.

In the next photo, this new 9th grader's mother called him back to the car, saying, "I know that you are not too old to give your mother a kiss!!" Go Mom!! What a cute sight.

Thanks for joining us as we celebrate the beginning of a new year. We hope you'll stay with as the year unfolds. We'll have some very exciting things to share!

Kindest Regards from The Ginn Academy