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 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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Back to School Edition

Hello, Ginn Academy supporters! With slightly cooler air greeting us in recent mornings and new backpacks and gym uniforms appearing on our credit card bills, we greet the imminent arrival of the 2011-2012 school year. At The Ginn Academy, we have some new programs, faces, and ideas that have been in the works, so we'd like to give you a little preview of the upcoming year. Most of these topics will be explored in greater detail as they mature and develop over the next few months.

New Recruits
One of our most exciting summer tasks is recruiting and orienting a new group of students, mostly ninth graders, but some upperclassmen as well. Prospective students must apply and interview with their parent/guardian for admission to the school. Becoming a part of the Academy is a family commitment and we understand that the family is interviewing us as well. During the interview, an overview of The Ginn Academy is given, which after only four short years, is considered a rich and successful history. It gives us an opportunity to share successes such as graduation rates and test scores, and also the challenges of a school still in its infancy.

The committee, which consists of school administrators, youth support staff, our college advisor, and at least one teacher, conducts a pretty stringent interview but also talks about the love, passion, and understanding that we have for each and every student. The most critical part of the interview is the question, "Why do you want to come to The Ginn Academy?" It is important for the student to want to attend the Academy and not because of coercion by anyone. Responses range from the need for more focus on academics to word-of-mouth recommendations by friends and relatives. Often, the candidates have a connection to Coach Ginn, who has had an impact on the lives of multiple generations.

We accept the best of the best and also, some might say, the worst of the worst. All of our applicants have stories; some read differently than others. All students deserve a chance. Some need a few chances, for which The Ginn Academy offers hope.

SPO -- The Student Parent Organization
We're very excited this year to see the emergence of a re-energized Student Parent Organization (SPO). A passionate group of parents has been working all summer to come up with concrete goals and a plan for the organization. They've nearly completed a comprehensive handbook which they hope will make parents and students more aware of the many academic aspects of the school year: graduation requirements, dates for SAT and ACT tests, conferences, attendance and absences, uniforms, the Ohio Graduation Test, athletic eligibility, the Ohio Award of Merit and Top Scholar policy, and countless other details.

The group's main goal at this point is to foster communication between the school and home and between teachers and parents. They've also planned fundraising events and will improve parent representation of GA to the school board. Once they're established and operating smoothly, the SPO plans to involve the boys in creating a school newsletter.

With all of the ideas and enthusiasm surrounding the officers of the SPO, they will need the support of every parent and guardian at the school to make the organization truly successful. There are small tasks that can be done at home and larger tasks for those that want to be more involved. Every minute counts and is valuable to the SPO. As of now, meetings are planned for the first Tuesday of each month at 6pm at the school.

Health and Wellness

We are very, very excited about the introduction of a school-wide program called PE4Life, which has been made possible by a generous local businessman and his wife. The program introduces more physical exercise into the students' days and, as a result, we can look for overall improved attendance, academic performance, behavior, and of course physical health. One of our science teachers, Coach Scott (Niedzwicki), piloted parts of the program last year and the kids loved it. We're looking forward to offering it in full to everyone this year and will definitely revisit this as it gets rolling.

The Vivarium

Our school building has a rather unique feature and we have some big plans for it. It's a two-story high glass-enclosed room at the center of the school called the vivarium. It's got a water habitat, which is currently used by large goldfish, and planting beds, which have recently had a nice facelift courtesy of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Again, more information will come in the future as our plans are finalized, but we've got some great ideas about using this cool space to round out the boys' educational opportunities.

The first day for students is Wednesday, August 24th. We have approximately 300 students this year and lots of plans to make this a great year for them. We'll keep you posted on all of the happenings, progress, and good things that go on at The Ginn Academy as the year starts up. Thanks for being here with us!

Kind Regards from everyone at The Ginn Academy

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...