City And Parma Schools Partner On Youth Leadership Academy
The City of Parma and the Parma City School District are partnering on a pilot program at Parma Senior High School to teach students essential leadership skills for future careers and personal development. The Parma Youth Leadership Academy, launched last week, identified 30 Parma Senior High School students who will receive leadership training this fall and winter. Later in the spring, those skills will be utilized through a project focused on helping the schools or the city.
Parma Youth Leadership Academy wraps up in the summer with a week long program, each day focusing on a specific theme. The topics could include, among other things, manufacturing, education, and health and wellness. The summer program also incorporates tours of different businesses and organizations in addition to panel discussions, all of which are focused on the day’s central theme.
“This is a real opportunity to provide kids with the 21st-century skills they need for future careers or college,” Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter said. “We need to give our students the edge they need to compete for jobs in what has become a global marketplace.”
“Parma Schools is a leader in getting students ready for college or a job after high school,” said Charles Smialek, Ph.D., Superintendent of the Parma Schools. “This pilot program is another way we’re helping to prepare kids for today’s world.”
“I hope the kids realize that when they leave Parma Senior High they will be joining a larger world,” said Leo Spagnola, principal at Parma Senior High School. "Having reviewed the curriculum and the three sessions they will be doing with the kids, I look forward to seeing how they blossom at Parma Senior High School.”
Thanks to a $10,000 contribution from AT&T Aspire, the program will be managed and directed by the Effective Leadership Academy (ELA), in conjunction with city and school district leadership.
A non-profit company based out of Warrensville Heights, ELA specializes in helping students grasp a better understanding of indispensable skills such as effective communication, collaboration, networking, how to make a good first impression, time management and presentation skills. With 10 years helping students gain these important skills, ELA has more than 135 school and community partners and over 20,000 student alumni across northeast Ohio and the Mid-Atlantic Region.
If the pilot program is successful in its first year, the Parma City School District will consider expanding it into Normandy and Valley Forge High Schools, Smialek said.
The idea of the Parma Youth Leadership Academy began when the city started efforts to enhance the Parma Youth Commission, which was conceived by the mayor as a way for local students to engage with the community. After discussions over the past few months with the city, ELA, and AT&T, the youth commission has now evolved into the Parma Youth Leadership Academy.
“We’re excited to work with the school district and the city to help teach kids the soft-skills necessary for success in the 21st Century,” Flo Brett, ELA Founder and Executive Director, said. “With the collaboration between the city and schools, the community will become the classroom where students can apply their skills.”
AT&T, an ELA corporate sponsor, is funding the pilot program in Parma through its AT&T Aspire initiative, after observing the non-profit’s success in other communities. Through the AT&T Aspire initiative, people can get access to education and training needed to find and keep a great career. Since 2008, AT&T has committed $450 million to programs to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world.
“AT&T is honored to be involved in this collaborative project with the schools and city,” said Nicolette Jaworski, AT&T’s Director of External Affairs. “The Parma Youth Leadership Academy will help teach students skills important for success, and then allow them to apply those lessons in ways that help the schools and the community.”
In addition to the involvement from the city and the school district, the Parma Area Chamber of Commerce will help identify speakers and businesses involved in the summer portion of the academy.
“The chamber looks for ways to align the educational needs of the area with the business community,” Dave Nedrich, the chamber’s chief executive officer, said. “It’s a major part of our mission, and this certainly is a way to help promote both our schools and businesses.”
Carolyn J. Kovach
Communications Director, City of Parma, Mayor's Office