Monthly Archives: October 2013

True North Ministry Grows, Partners with Local YMCA – 2013-05-13

True North Landscaping

By Katie Sobiech

True North Ministry is expanding its reach beyond the juvenile facilities of our community. Since we last did an article about the ministry, they have made several changes, including: career readiness programs, a landscaping company, and a partnership with YMCA.

Executive Director Becky Retzer started the ministry in 2002 when she saw a tremendous need in the juvenile penal system. From those humble beginnings, the organization is now sitting on 28 acres of beautiful farm property, utilizing 200 volunteers, and running programs in six different Ohio prison facilities.

“Our mission is to liberate imprisoned youth in the State of Ohio. We see liberation as the complete transformation of the mind, body, soul, and spirit,” said Nate Slaughter, Communications Specialist.

Continue reading

Akron Pregnancy Services: Miracles and New Hope Every Day – 2013-05-05

APS Logo

By Katie Sobiech

“We see miracles every day in the people that God brings in for us to talk to,” Kaye Gauder, Executive Director of Akron Pregnancy Services (APS), said.

“In our classes, when people have that ‘aha’ moment, and begin to really see what’s going on in their lives and want to make a change, there’s nothing bigger than that to me,” she continued.

APS, a Christian, non-profit, non-political, social service agency, is designed to help women facing unplanned pregnancy. Their doors are open to women from their initial pregnancy testing appointment, throughout the pregnancy with classes; and continues with mentoring and support after childbirth.

Continue reading

Summit Education Initiative Introduces Innovative Ideas to Keep Kids on Track (Part 3) – 2013-05-03

Summit Education Initiative

By Katie Sobiech

The Summit Education Initiative (SEI) hopes to reach kids in school, and outside of the school building, through teachers, after-school activity leaders, and parents.

Over the past year they have begun building a firm foundation by reaching out to form relationships with local schools.

“We’re most proud that we’ve been able to engage almost every school district in the county and lots of non-public schools. Our goal is (to reach) all the kids in the county. We don’t really care where they go to school. Our charge is to work with the schools who are working with the kids, regardless of where they go,” Derran Wimer, Executive Director at SEI, said.

Though it’s a slow build, it’s a process that will be worth it as it gains momentum.

And this is at no cost to the schools.

“Which leaves people astonished,” Wimer said.

“We’re getting more and more schools engaged as we move forward,” he continued.

Continue reading

Summit Education Initiative Introduces Innovative Ideas to Keep Kids on Track (Part 2) – 2013-05-01

Summit Education Initiative

By Katie Sobiech

With education being the key to success, the Summit Education Initiative’s (SEI) new model has been designed to help schools guide children in their schooling to keep them on track, every step of the way.

Crucial “landmarks” that they measure in a child’s developmental life are Preschool and Kindergarten, Middle School and High School, all with the aim to prepare kids for College.

Continue reading

Summit Education Initiative Introduces Innovative Ideas to Keep Kids on Track (Part 1) – 2013-04-25

Bloom Society

By Katie Sobiech

In January of 1996, leaders of all sorts from around the county came together with one goal in mind – to make education one of its highest focuses and priorities.

This led to the building up of the Summit Education Initiative (SEI).

“Our mission is to build systems to help schools in the county improve educational outcomes,” Derran Wimer, Executive Director at SEI, said.

Something fairly new that they’ve been working on is a model used to analyze student progress and readiness for the future. They are now in the early developmental stages of introducing it to schools.

“It’s very new. It’s inching along as we meet with the schools,” Wimer said.

“We’re trying to build an online tool that will make it very easy for them to do the work (on their own),” he continued.

Evolution and Growth

Summit Education Initiative

“About 2 years ago the board re-organized SEI to really become a backbone organization to drive educational improvement in Summit County. (We want kids) from preschool, to kids leaving high school, to have a plan of college and career and be successful,” Wimer explained.

SEI envisions being the organization that builds what Wimer calls “collaboratives” so that everyone is working on the same important transition points along the way as kids travel through the continuum of education.

And they are finally getting ready to launch these new systems and ideas into classrooms locally.

This includes focusing on: Preschool and Kindergarten, Middle School, and High School and College.

Testing a Predictive Model

Summit Education Initiative

“We’ve built a predictive model and are working with the schools so they can know whether their kids are on or off track at any point in time,” Wimer said.

“After we get that done we’ll bring in teams of educators and other interested groups together in each of the areas (kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade math, high school graduation, college readiness) and share best practices,” Wimer explained.

By doing this they will be able to identify programs that they know are effective and working, and will engage the community to get the practices rolling so that every child can benefit from them.

Connecting the Dots…

Summit Education Initiative

“We’re really just starting to build this up this year and going out into school districts and sharing it with them,” Wimer said.

“We (will) put all of the data points together to tell a story as to whether the student is on or off track. (Schools have) always had the data but this is the first time they’ve ever had the data connected,” he explained.

Connected in a way that makes sense and points towards exactly what the student needs and where he/or she stands in each subject of study.

“(The schools have) never been able to put it together, so we’re trying to put it together for them so that they can act and not have to analyze. We’ll do the analysis. We’ll do the study for them and they can just sit down with the kids and prescribe action,” Wimer said.

And their goals and analyzations are many…

“The schools will have a dashboard that we’re developing that they’ll be able to pull up on their computers that will show them what the different scores mean,” Wimer said.

As of the feedback so far, Wimer says “We’ve been modeling and beta testing it with the schools and the staff love it.”

Watch for Part Two next which takes a closer look at the different stages of development and “landmark” moments from pre-school through high school that SEI works strategically with.

For more information go to: