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.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Where Are They Now: Checking in with Ginn Men at College

The class of 2010 was the first to graduate from The Ginn Academy. Starting at GA in their Sophomore year, this group of boys was the very first to move out into the real world. Because our main goal is to educate and prepare the boys for the long road of life ahead of them, we know that we are just at the beginning of their journey into adulthood. We stay in touch with them and are always here if they need us for anything. Once a Ginn Man, always a Ginn Man! Jayrone and Chris, two members of the class of 2010, stopped in last week to tell us about their first year away. Both were leaders at school and on the football field, and we know that these young men have it in their hearts to contribute great things to our world.

From fourth through tenth grades, Jayrone attended a different school each year. Various situations led to this; he'd either move with his mother and sisters, or schools would be closed for renovations or they'd stop teaching the honors classes that he was taking. "I started high school at Glenville, but I wasn't going to class. I was stupid, immature, and needed a new focus," admits Jayrone. At The Ginn Academy, he found brotherhood and a sense of family and here he stayed until graduation.

With his 6'3", 230 pound frame and his skills on the field, Jayrone was recruited by many athletic programs. He chose the University of Toledo because he was impressed with the coaches and appreciated the school's proximity to home. He quickly learned that a college athletic program is a whole different ballgame than high school. "It's like a business. I really had to grow up in about a week," he laughs. During this past year, Jayrone has gotten quite good at organizing his time with 4-5 hours a day of football, academics, 8 hours a week at the study table (part of the football program), and his social life. History of Jazz was a favorite class last year. He enjoyed having older people in the class who shared their own knowledge on the subject.

Most college Freshmen will say that the first year requires some adjusting, but being an athlete takes things to a whole new level. Luckily Jayrone has found that his teammates, in many cases, come from neighborhoods and backgrounds similar to his own and they've fit together well. He's enjoyed the travel to other cities and universities every other week. This fall, the Rockets' schedule takes them to Philadelphia and Syracuse, among other cities.

Soon, Jayrone will start taking classes for his major, elementary education (grades K-3, specifically). I remember talking with him when he was in 10th grade. He shared his dream of becoming an elementary school teacher then and I was happy to hear that he's stuck with it. With his own challenges still fresh in his mind, he hopes to be able to influence children early on and help them to find the right path before it's too late.

Chris and Jayrone were and are still close friends and appreciate the support they can get from each other. Chris attended Walsh University in Canton last year, and has transferred to Notre Dame College, here in Cleveland, this year. He's spending his summer working, taking two classes, and working out for football. He lives with his father, with whom he's lived (other than last year) since he started middle school. Coach Ginn has been part of Chris's life since they met around that same time, when Chris's cousin played football at Glenville.

He recalls one of the most influential talks of his young life when he quit the football team in 10th grade after finding a job at a neighborhood grocery store. He thought he could start to earn a bit of money to help to support his family and eventually be on his own. "Coach Ginn came to my job, told my boss I had to leave, took me up to the field, and talked to me for hours in the stands. He put some knowledge in my head," he remembers. "I had this box cutter in my hand and he used that box cutter in so many different ways in talking about life. He asked if I was going to cut up souse meat for the rest of my life and if I thought I could live off of that and if I could pay my light bills from that. It really stuck in my head. Made me want to come back and play football and then go to college. He taught me how that would pay off in the long run to help me and my family, too."

Though he heard a lot of negatives from peers about starting at the all-male school, Chris enrolled anyway, and found that the reality was well-suited to him. "I know people that wish that they were part of this family that Ginn created. I'm well honored to be part of it," he says.

With a major in child psychology and a minor in communications, Chris plans to be a motivational speaker. He often led the school's morning sessions while at GA and has no problem being in front of large groups of people. He'd truly love to return to the school and work as one of our youth support staff, working with kids that he can relate to and who can benefit from his experiences and guidance. "I try to get in their heads and repeat the things that I learned from Coach Ginn," he says. "Try to motivate them, and let them know that even though there's stuff going on at home, coming from where they're from, they've gotta be able to overlook it and take care of business and get to college. Right now it's hard to get a job with a degree, so without one, it's just foolish. They can go down the wrong path, rob someone, get killed or go to jail about something that could be avoided."

In 9th grade, Jayrone, Chris, and two other friends, Dasmond and Anthony, made a pact inspired by a similar one made by Coach's son, Ted Ginn, Jr. and his friends a few years earlier. Together they promised each other that they'd not be involved in drugs, gangs, or out on the streets. They would be positive and successful and they would stick together and support each other. So far, five years into their promise, they're all still on the right track and we are so proud of them.

Again, thank you for your interest in The Ginn Academy and for your support.

Kind Regards from all of us...