Category Archives: Community

A tradition continues with teaching, learning and kindness (Ashley Jones – Smithberger Farms)

2021-2022 School Year (In-Person Learning) Story written by Darla Cutright for APS

Smithberger Farms of Randolph, Ohio is a fourth-generation family farm beginning in the 1950s. David & Tina Smithberger’s daughter Ashley Jones is a fifth-grade teacher within Akron Public Schools (Portage Path CLC). Ashley wanted to find opportunities to bring agricultural experiences to the urban school and students. While the district was 100% remote during the 2020-2021 school year, the Smithberger family donated 180 mini pumpkins to the school’s drive-thru fall festival. This year, Mrs. Jones’ classroom watched videos about why pumpkins are orange and why we decorate them at Halloween. They also enjoyed reading the book, How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?

            The Smithberger’s shared the humbling experience of gifting the students with a pumpkin and the joy that the small gesture brought to the school and community. This year, the Smithberger family farm doubled their pumpkin seeds in hopes of donating more mini pumpkins to the school drive thru event. On October 21st, the family donated over 200 mini pumpkins to the school’s fall harvest event. This partnership continues to receive positive feedback from the school community and hopes to grow in the years to come. “It is such an amazing opportunity to bring joy to the students at my school through a small piece of our farm”, said Ashley Jones.

2020-2021 School Year (Remote)

Gratitude is often a focus of classroom writing assignments during the month of November, but also something we think about as we celebrate Thanksgiving. With all the changes in our lives this year, it may be easier to focus on what we are missing rather than what we have. Fifth grade teacher Ashley Jones started focusing on gratitude a year ago and has tried to pass it on to her students. “I donated 180 mini pumpkins to the school,” said Mrs. Jones.

            Last October, Mrs. Jones decorated her classroom (when we were actually in classrooms) with multi-colored ears of corn and corn stalks, as well as pumpkins, all grown on her family’s farm. The Smithberger farm in Randolph has been in Mrs. Jones’ family for 70 years. Her family has cows and pigs, as well as produce such as corn, hay, and pumpkins, including what Mrs. Jones brought to decorate her class. “We grow them every year, all sorts.

Last year at the end of October, she raffled off the decorations for students to take home, not sure if any of the students would be interested. But all the decorations were a big hit. When Mrs. Jones saw how much the students enjoyed the decorations as well as the pumpkins, she decided to set a goal to plant enough mini pumpkins this year so that every student in her class could take one home. “I purposely planted more mini pumpkins last spring in hopes of having enough for my class.”

            Mrs. Jones enjoys sharing information about her family farm with her students. As they study and learn about agriculture, pollination, and the differences in urban, suburban, and rural communities, their teacher makes the connection to her real-life situation. “It’s hard for my students to realize that crops that we grow, raise and sell, are only a half-hour away,” said Mrs. Jones.  Some students noticed different warts or coloring on their pumpkins and wondered about it; this was a great opportunity to research the cross-pollination that had occurred with the gourds that were growing nearby.

            Mrs. Jones also discussed the process of growing the pumpkins, beginning with planting the seeds.  When it was time to harvest them, the whole family helped. “It took a couple of hours (to pick them). You have to cut them one by one so you don’t break their stems,“ said Mrs. Jones.

Mrs. Jones’ father helped wash the pumpkins after harvesting them, and he and her husband helped load them into her vehicle to bring them to Portage Path. Mrs. Jones passed them out to students who attended the October Family International Storytelling Night at Portage Path CLC. She also brought six big pumpkins for decoration that she shared with others at the end of the night. “Seeing the reactions on the kids’ faces was a really cool experience,” she said. “It was something small. I really hope it made a difference and brightened someone’s day,” said Mrs. Jones. She’s already planning to plant enough pumpkins next year to have enough for every student in the school.

Thanks, Mrs. Jones. Portage Path CLC is grateful for you.

Project Rise Offer Special Summer Programming and Arts Reception

Over the summer, Project Rise implemented a special Arts Program that was held at Helen Arnold CLC in Akron. Over the course of the program, close to 20 students had the opportunity to be part of the arts programming which was broken down into 6 sessions. This was particularly beneficial to these students who were either formerly homeless or currently experiencing homelessness. 

Project Rise is a federally funded program through the Ohio Department of Education. This program is a collaborative effort between Akron Public Schools, local shelters and the Akron community to provide supplemental educational services to children and youth experiencing homelessness. The primary goal of Project Rise is to remove barriers to the education of homeless youth, which the organization has continued to do during the COVID-19 disruption to school.

The Art Program was taught by the Art Teacher from Helen Arnold, Ms. Anne Lackney and coordinated by the Project Rise Special Programs Department. Ms. Lackney planned and implemented the creative and inspiring lessons and made special connections with the students. Charlotte Buzzelli, long-time Project Rise Staff Member and Akron Woman’s City Club member, also assisted with each art session and at the Reception. 

At the end of the summer, Project Rise hosted a special Art Program Reception at the beautiful Akron Woman’s City Club. The students artwork was displayed for community visitors and the families in attendance were able to enjoy refreshments, activities and giveaways. 

At the reception, librarians from the Akron Summit County Main Library provided a wonderful assortment of craft activities and the program participants were recognized with special certificates. 

This special program was made possible thanks to the continued support of the Akron Community Foundation. The ACF has generously funded Project Rise Arts Programming for many years. Because of their generosity, many students and families have had the opportunity to experience a variety of arts experiences they would not have the opportunity to do otherwise. 

In general, Project Rise identifies and serves around 2,000 students per year. For more information on Project Rise and how you can help, please contact Rachel Breece at 330-761-2969 or rbreece@apslearns.org

38th Annual National Night Out Against Crime, Akron Ohio

On Tuesday, August 3, 2021, Mayor Dan Horrigan and the City of Akron will host the 38th annual National Night Out, a unique event celebrating the importance of neighborhood engagement in Akron. Last year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Night Out (NNO) is an annual community-building campaign, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, that promotes police-community relations and neighborhood unity.  The goal of National Night Out is to strengthen participation in local programs that prevent and deter crime, in an effort to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.

“National Night Out provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Increasing trust between our residents and our officers has become as important as ever in a year where Akron, like many other cities across the nation, has seen an uptick in violence.  It’s no secret that we face significant challenges related to violent crime and strained community trust, and events like this can help increase transparency and allow for a dialogue between residents and officers.”

The NNO program has deep roots in Akron, where the first NNO event took place in 1984 in East Akron. This year’s program will be scaled down from previous years, featuring events at 5 sites throughout the City. Planning normally begins months in advance for the NNO program but was delayed this year to assure the health and safety of participants. All events will be hosted primarily outdoors.

The sites that will be hosting these events are:

Joy Park Community Center
Organized by: Mike Dowdell
Time: 4 to 8 p.m.
Contact: 330-375-2805 or MDowdell@akronohio.gov

Firestone Park Community Center
Organized by Councilman Donnie Kammer
Time: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Contact: ward7@akronohio.gov

Ed Davis Community Center:
Organized by: Robert Dowdell
Time: 5 to 8 p.m.
Contact: 330-375-2832 or RDowdell@akronohio.gov

Goodyear Heights:
Organized by: R.I.G.H.T. Committee
Time: 6 to 8 p.m.
Contact: 330-784-4012 or SharonConnor

Summit Lake Community Center:
Organized by: Todd Clarke
Time: 4 to 7 p.m.
Contact number: 330-375-2826 or TClark@akronohio.gov 

The National Night Out campaign involves citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic/religious groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations, and local officials. In all, more than 38 million people are expected to participate in NNO in more than 16,000 communities across all 50 states and beyond.  

SUMMIT METRO PARKS CELEBRATES CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY

“YOUR BACK YARD FOR 100 YEARS”

Established in 1921, Summit Metro Parks today announced “Your Back Yard for 100 Years,” a year-long commemoration of its centennial anniversary. To mark this milestone occasion, the park district has launched a dedicated website and will offer a full year of events, activities and other opportunities for the community to join the celebration.

Continue reading

APS: Akron Public Schools Announces Partnership With Goodyear

Students at Ellet CLC and NIHF STEM High School to benefit from experiential learning in and out of the classroom

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 

Today, Akron Public Schools (APS), The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and United Way of Summit & Medina are pleased to announce that Goodyear will become a named integrated partner in the College & Career Academies of Akron at both Ellet CLC and NIHF STEM High School. Goodyear will offer instructional support and real-world learning opportunities in areas of technology, engineering and more. The academies will be named Goodyear Academy of Applied Engineering and Goodyear Academy of Advanced Technology and Design, at Ellet CLC and NIHF STEM High School, respectively.


“Goodyear is a pillar in the City of Akron and a longtime supporter of Akron Public Schools,” said Superintendent David W. James, Ed.D. “The strength of this partnership will demonstrate to students the professional and academic skills needed to be successful in life and the collaborative spirit and sense of community to be successful in Akron.”

Continue reading