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.