Summit Education Initiative Progress of the Findley Adopt-a-School Initiative 2014

Findley CLC

Derran Wimer, Executive Director of the Summit Education Initiative, reported on the progress of the Findley Adopt-a-School initiative at The Love Akron Network’s annual breakfast on September 30th.  We are very pleased to offer you  the text of Mr. Wimer’s report.

Previous stories on the Findley project can be found by following these links:

Transforming Local Schools: Summit Education Initiatives Involvement in the Findley Project

The Summit Education Initiative: From Cradle to Career (Part Two)

Love Akron Network’s 2nd Annual Award’s Breakfast Recipients Awarded Part Two

The Summit Education Initiative: From Cradle to Career (Part One)

Sweet 16 Turns into Findley Surprise

Akron Public Schools, Transforming Findley, One Volunteer at a Time (Part Two of Two)

Transforming Findley, One Volunteer at a Time (Part One of Two)

One year ago Summit Education Initiative (SEI) and The Love Akron Network became partners to launch the Adopt-a-School Project at Findley Community Learning Center (CLC), a very diverse North Akron elementary school.  It is my privilege to report to you the wonderful things that have happened since we met and that will continue to transpire in the next few months as this initiative continues to move forward.
Everyone knows that student achievement is measured by standardized tests, classroom grades, and daily attendance.

We also know that there are many factors, outside of the school setting, which influence academic achievement.

We know that schools cannot do this important work alone!


At SEI we monitor student achievement gains and social/emotional factors which contribute to achievement.  We also assess the school culture/climate by surveying staff.

I’d like to report some findings:
•    89% of the staff credited Adopt-a-School for improved school climate
•    86% know how to gain additional support for their students and families
•    89% received additional needed resources for their children/classes
•    89% reported that more students had their basic needs met
o    In fact one teacher remarked that her children had supplies, food and clothing that they never would have had!
•    92% reported increased optimism for their students because of Adopt-a-School
•    94% expressed that Adopt-a-School should be deepened at Findley and expanded to other schools
•    77% reported increased student learning as a result of Adopt-a-School

So, what about the students?

•    50% of the 525 children speak English as their second language!
•    There are 7 different languages spoken in this school
•    Many of the children are refugees and this is their first experience at formal school.

With that context…..

Findley received an “A” rating for overall progress in Reading and Mathematics for the 2013-2014 school year!

This is also called a “growth measure,” which means that a “C” grade would be the amount of growth expected in one year.

findleycldPhoto courtesy of Braun & Steidl Architects


Findley children exceeded expected growth.

Findley also received an “A” rating for growth of the lowest performing 20% of the children!

The attendance rate at Findley was 94.1%.(Remember our winter????)

Not all of the children are passing all of the state tests, and this has resulted in the school getting a “Poor” overall rating.

We want all children performing “at grade level”, but let’s remind ourselves that from the very beginning, for the vast majority of these children, this is not a fair race!

In fact, picture a footrace.  Little children, of all nationalities, lining up, excited and eager to run. Not even aware that “winning or losing” matters.  Some children have tennis shoes, others have flip flops, others are barefoot, some have boots, and still others are wearing their dad’s old shoes.  Some understand the directions and rules… most do not. Right from the start, does this seem fair??

When they hit the starting line, they look up and see lots of BIG hurdles in their path toward success. A poverty hurdle, a housing hurdle, a language hurdle, no transportation, not a safe walk to school, a horrible refugee camp experience hurdle, a clothing hurdle, a food hurdle, ….

The starter’s gun goes off… Not a fair race, is it?

That is where YOU, the volunteers, come in!   YOU are the hurdle crew! YOU lower and remove these hurdles so that the children can run a fair race. YOU assist their “coaches” – their teachers – however YOU can so that every child finishes the race. Every child succeeds.

This past year, First Energy Foundation joined the hurdle crew by supplying a grant to provide food for the families before spring break.  Also part of the “hurdle crew”  was North Hill Community house, led by Gary and Patricia Wyatt, Rev. Carl Wallace of Trinity UCC and several of his ministerial colleagues, Love Akron,  and First Congregational Church of Hudson.  In addition, an extraordinary gift to the Findley Adopt-a-School effort: Jane Penny, who coordinated over 190 volunteer opportunities ranging from chaperoning field trips, building bookcases,  assisting teachers in classrooms, reading to children, working in the clothing closet, participating in lunch on a blanket, assisting with open house, plus donating, collecting, organizing and distributing items for the children and families.

When this happens, when the hurdle crew come together and gets down to work, the children succeed & we succeed too!

Joining the hurdle crew at Findley IS ABSOLUTELY MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

Our plans for this school year are even more ambitious!

We are planning a November 20th Thanksgiving dinner for the children and their families at the school. We need financial support:  $25.00 will feed a family of 4!

We want to meet every need and gap identified by the staff and principal at Findley.  That means
•    more volunteers reading to children
•    more volunteers assisting the teachers with classroom work
•    more volunteers chaperoning field trips
•    more volunteers donating their resources

We need to flood our schools with committed, energized volunteers to join the hurdle crew to clear the path to success for our children.

Because when they succeed, we all succeed.

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