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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Asset on our Balance Sheet

Time horizons, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, income statements, balance sheets, portfolios, risk assessment -- these were the concepts discussed with Ginn Academy students by portfolio manager, Joe Gilbert, each Wednesday morning this past spring. Mr. Gilbert, a member of the 100 Black Men of Cleveland, Inc. organization, takes time every week from his position with Integrity Asset Management to volunteer with us. Along with Career and Technology teacher, Mrs. Valeria Flewelon, he worked with three GA students in preparation for the 100 Black Men Dollars and $ense competition in San Francisco in early June.

A national organization, 100 Black Men is in its 25th year of existence and seeks to better the lives of African-Americans across the U.S. Major initiatives and areas of interest at this point are education, health care, and economic empowerment. The group's members act as mentors in these areas in all of the 116 communities that they serve. They have been associated with The Ginn Academy since the school's inception in 2007.

The partnership between this dedicated group of mentors and our school filled with prospective leaders is a vital link that benefits not only our students, but the communities that we both serve. Our missions are aligned as we both seek to develop and cultivate exactly the same lives.

For the Dollars and $ense event, teams of students from across the country spent a weekend competing in the arena of financial fitness as they were each presented with case studies involving fictitious people with various financial needs. "We started with very rudimentary concepts and worked quickly up to more sophisticated ideas," says Mr. Gilbert.

The three boys, a Freshmen, a Sophomore, and a Junior, were identified by Mrs. Flewelon based on their OGT scores, grades, and their level of interest and capabilities in the subject. The group started with the curriculum a bit later than they would've liked, so they had to work independently at home in order to catch up. Upon their arrival in San Francisco a few weeks ago, the three practiced their presentation in their shared hotel room. "I was so impressed with the energy they put into this," Mr. Gilbert says. "They had to be able to articulate why they should earn the "client's" business. They had to be technical and persuasive, make eye contact, and be confident. They were really phenomenal!"

Besides the educational experiences gained by the boys, the trip itself was educational. Two of the boys had never flown on an airplane before and none of the three had been to California. Just the process of thinking through their packing needs, going through airport security, and staying in the hotel were important parts of the journey.

Two of the three boys were able to come in to school to be interviewed during their summer vacations. The third student, Adam, couldn't be there that day, but we are so proud of his part in this team. The youngest of the group and one of six children, Adebanji (above) is considering a career as a mechanical engineer. He came to The Ginn Academy after a series of discouraging incidents at other schools and a recommendation by his Muny League football coach. Only half of Banji's school day is spent at the Academy. He is enrolled in a post-secondary program in the afternoon: the High Tech Academy, located on Tri-C's metro campus. This dual-enrollment allows him to fulfill high school and college requirements concurrently.

Michael (above right), the only one of the three boys who has previously attended this competition (two years ago), enjoyed being part of the Dollars and $ense program. "It makes me think. Keeps my mind moving," he explains. He enjoyed meeting new people, seeing the buildings in San Francisco, and especially the breakfasts out each morning.

The school's partnership with the 100 Black Men organization has been a huge asset to the school and we look forward to a continued close relationship with these incredible mentors.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Show Up

Antwan is one of our recent graduates -- a kind, caring, loving young man with a bright, sincere smile. If you've ever seen a Glenville High School football game, you've probably heard his name or noticed his fierce play on the field. Number 54 had offers from many Division I schools. He took his time, carefully weighed his options, and finally decided that Ohio University and its football coaching staff were the best fit for him.

Right now, today, Antwan is already winning. He's a high school graduate with the academic and athletic strength to take his life to the next level. This week in mid-June he will leave the only city he knows for Southern Ohio and start the next chapter of a life that he never expected just a few years ago. "I never thought I'd have this life. Thought I'd be a statistic. I feel awesome!" he says quietly but with pure conviction. 

It's difficult for a kid to imagine being in this sort of position when the past has been filled with such immensely trying times. The youngest of five children, it's taken the proverbial village to raise Antwan as circumstances have led to challenges that many can't fathom. The disadvantages that's he's endured have only driven him to keep pushing through difficulties that some might find insurmountable. There have been times when the family did not know where their next meal would come from and Antwan has felt more hunger pains than anyone should. He laughs when recalling the good cooking of an older sister who stepped in when she was needed. "I had to be careful about my weight. She fed me every day; I was getting too heavy."

Antwan learned mightily from mistakes made by his brother, whose background now leads to struggles to find the work that would pay for the classes he wants to attend at Cuyahoga Community College. A factor in Antwan's desire to make a better life for himself is to then have the means to help his family. He is already helping. His brother, in return, is inspired by Antwan's achievements and is trying hard to reform his own life.

It was Antwan's brother that led Coach Ginn to him when Antwan was in 6th grade. They met when Coach visited the family's home after Antwan's brother got into some trouble with the Glenville quarterback. "I had these pants hanging down and braids in my hair," Antwan recalls. The two made a connection then that would intensify when Antwan joined the Glenville HS football team a few years later.

Pieces were falling into place with his move in 10th grade to The Ginn Academy, but part of Antwan's turnaround and successes over the past three years can be attributed to the unique mentoring relationship he has with Cleveland financial consultant and huge football fan, Jerry Crutchley, a man who knows the value to a young man of having a consistent male presence. "My dad was the best mentor I can think of. He had a 9th grade education, but he taught me so much that you just don't learn academically. He is my hero," Jerry says. 

Jerry's close friend and fellow Glenville supporter, attorney Bob Hendrix, showed him the rewards of mentoring through his own relationship with one of last year's GA graduates. With four of his own children all growing up and leaving the nest and having proven himself in his line of work, Jerry felt the need to give back to his community. He contacted Coach Ginn and his assistant, Hazel Parker, who evaluated students' needs and decided that Antwan could be the perfect match. Mrs. Parker explains, "I remember that first meeting between the two. I took Jerry over to the field after football practice and Antwan knew that someone was coming to meet him. He walked across the field and saw Jerry and that big, bright smile just came over his face. They shook hands and it was just like a union was made; it was meant to be." 

The two have similar laid-back personalities and find that their time together doesn't need an agenda or even constant chatter. New foods (i.e. sushi) are tried and book stores are visited. They get together once or twice each week for lunch and dinner out or with Jerry's family -- and lots of talk. "Knowledge Talks," Antwan calls them. "It's ridiculous how much I've learned from him. We talk about why people do things and about how my choices lead to either more or less control in my life, and then how there are consequences for every choice," he says. Jerry explains further, "Antwan has this opportunity to attend Ohio University because of choices he's made. I want him to see that he has options. He doesn't have to just take whatever is given to him; he can make choices and take control of his life. And it's been really nice to see him take that control."

Jerry has provided not only knowledge and an example, but an escape for Antwan. "If I have problems or want to be away from everything or just to have fun, I can always call him. We'll chill or talk or whatever," he says. Jerry looks forward to Antwan having regular medical care and a committed supply of trainers to look after his health and well-being at school. The relationship doesn't end here now that it's established. "I'm just so excited to be a part of this program and these kids' lives," he says. "I wish the community could open up their arms and understand what's going on here at The Ginn Academy. It doesn't take all that much -- if you give the kids just a little chance they'll run with it." He's amazed at the way the large GA family has embraced him. "It doesn't matter what color anyone is or where we come from. Just show up."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teamwork: Mrs. Hazel Parker

Last week we talked about the team of three that runs The Ginn Academy: Executive Director Ted Ginn, Sr., Principal Hayes, and Mrs. Hazel Parker, Coach Ginn's executive assistant. Though Mrs. Parker's job description includes such duties as interaction with families, assisting with special education programs, faculty and staff liaison, fundraising, and extra curricular programming, her range of responsibilities goes far beyond. Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes at the school knows that Mrs. Parker is the glue that holds every single little thing together.

In five minutes she can tell you the details of the Sophomores' field trip, the Seniors' dining-in ceremony, which teachers are out sick that day, the five different places Coach Ginn is expected before 7 p.m., which boys are to talk to the visiting college coaches, who needs a new white uniform shirt to replace one with holes, and the life story of nearly every kid at the school, plus who is in trouble and whose grandmother is in the hospital.

She likes to joke that she has two daughters and 300 sons, which isn't far from the truth. The boys go to Mrs. Parker's office for granola bars, bananas, band aids, a spare belt or necktie, and a shoulder to cry on. She is constantly correcting grammar, gently instructing the boys on how to enter a room and introduce themselves to newcomers, reminding them to hold open doors for visitors and let ladies go first.

Mrs. Parker is not new to her "assistant coach" position with Mr. Ginn's team. They've known each other since 1969 when they attended Patrick Henry Jr. High together in the 7th grade in Glenville. After graduating from Glenville H.S. when she was only 16, Mrs. Parker went on to earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Cleveland State University and then worked as a speech pathologist in the Shaker Heights district for 20 years. "I appreciate the sacrifice that Mrs. Parker has made, stepping out of her chosen profession as a speech pathologist to give to others," says Mr. Ginn. "This place is not a job. It's a mission and a calling for work that needs to be done. Mrs. Parker and Mr. Hayes are angels in this movement."

The two families stayed close over the years as Mrs. Parker's relatives attended Glenville H.S. and played football under Coach's guidance. When the opportunity arose to work at the newly created school, she jumped at the chance. "It was a decision that just felt natural. I still wanted to work on behalf of children and seeing the impact that Coach Ginn had made on four of my nephews just sealed it for me," says Mrs. Parker. "I knew this was something that I wanted to be a part of."

The support of his two fellow teammates is invaluable to Mr. Ginn and the mission of the school. It's not an easy task to take the passionate vision of one man and pass it around for others to embrace and implement. Important aspects can get lost in translation and egos can get in the way.

About his executive assistant Mr. Ginn says, "Mrs. Parker is one of the founders of the school. Nobody knows the work that goes on here every day. She's the heart of the school. She keeps the i's dotted and the t's crossed."

We are gaining momentum with every day. Pieces have fallen into place and we've got our heads in the game. There is still much work to be done and we are thankful to have your support behind us as we take the field for another play.

Congratulations to The Ginn Academy Class of 2011

On Sunday, June 5th, the second graduating class of The Ginn Academy walked across the stage at Cuyahoga Community College to receive their diplomas. We will share with you some pertinent facts and include a list of all of the colleges that the boys will attend. Otherwise we'll let the photos from the day do most of the talking.

This class of 76 young men boasts a 91% graduation rate with 92% of those pursuing post secondary education. The remaining 8% will enter vocational programs or the workforce. In total, the class of 2011 has been awarded $2.7 million in scholarship awards.

The graduates gathered tightly around Coach Ginn just before the ceremony for one of their last official pep talks, as a group, from him.

As they entered the packed and excited house, family and friends stood and cheered. The boys stopped at each landing and saluted each other. The word "pride" can hardly begin to describe what everyone was feeling that afternoon.

A handful of speeches was given to mark the importance of the day. We heard from Valedictorian Johnny Robinson, Jr., Salutatorian Richard Dowdley, Principal Clifford Hayes, CMSD School Board member Robert Heard, and the Reverend Larry Howard from Greater Friendship Baptist Church. Many of the same words were used by everyone who spoke: love, commitment, passion, faith, miracle, pride, caring, brotherhood, excellence, success, understanding. Powerful words to describe the powerful results we're seeing at The Ginn Academy. We're so proud of these boys. Please see below for the list of colleges that they'll attend in the fall. And thank you, as always, for your support.

The Ginn Academy Class of 2011 will attend the following colleges this fall:

Malone College
Bowling Green State University
Ohio Dominican University
University of Akron
University of Toledo
University of Michigan
The Ohio State University
Louisiana State University
Vattorate College
Eastern Michigan University
University of Southern California
Mercyhurst College
Thiel College
Central State University
Cuyahoga Community College
Lakeland Community College
Kansas State University
Cleveland State University
Youngstown State University
Kent State University
Grand Rapids Community College
Feather River Community College
Oregon State Community College
Tiffin University
Indiana University