Respect for Our Community and Kids
Mission Statement: To build allies for strengthening communities that will encourage youth to respect themselves and their community; and to initiate the development of effective skills for youth to become leaders.
Program Description: “It takes a village to raise a child.” St. Paul’s, in partnership with school teachers, principals, brings community development corporation personnel, social servants, police officers, judges, bankers, social workers, church leaders and other professional people into schools to support, befriend and mentor young people. We intend to increase the number of adults from the community who visit schools on a regular basis, and work with students, teachers, principals and school administrators to make the village a better place to live.
This intervention is non-judgmental, open and affirming of where students are. We go in to prompt our own listening. Then, through intensive listening and cautious guidance, we may help students make some new choices that have always been there but may have been clouded with the array of bewildering cultural and social stimulation. In many, many cases, just showing we care may be enough.
A team of professionals that has been invited into schools to meet and greet, educate and empower the students, teachers and principals. ROCK has been targeting K – 8 schools, but can easily be expanded with more volunteers to reach into every public school in the city and beyond.
Who: The R.O.C.K. Program is pioneered by a collection of community leaders, including: Rev. Doug Horner, Pastor of St. Paul’s Community Church, Commander Keith Sulzer of the Second District Cleveland Police Department, the community organizers of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and Stockyard Redevelopment Organization, West Side Ecumenical Ministries and other faith-based organizations. These collaborating entities have taken a pro-active approach in promoting proper youth development. This program is engaging local residents, police officers, bankers, business leaders, social service professionals and high school seniors as motivational speakers to visit 7th & 8th grade classrooms. These speakers are telling their stories of hope, promoting classroom, school and neighborhood unity and encouraging students to take education seriously. Students are benefiting from a free flowing dialog in the school environment. The students and adults learn how to interact with each other, build community and a sense of purpose together, recognize more caring people in the neighborhood; and this builds respect for others and creates safer communities.
Program History: After the suicide, murder and assault at Success Tech High School in 2007, headlines educated an outraged public about the human suffering that St. Paul’s has known since its inception. Clergy, the mayor and other elected and appointed officials all joined their voices in a call for changes. St. Paul’s outreach workers have been on the ground level in our neighborhood helping folks get their lives turned around so as to avoid this undesirable and tragic outcome. Unfortunately, we did not have the knowledge of the Coon family’s problems until after the 16 year old Asa’s gun toting rampage and the arrest of the mother and re-arrest of the gun-purchasing older brother. The call to do more was clear, and we were positioned to respond – calmly, with grass roots insights and experience.
Rev. Horner has been invited to speak and mentor in three elementary schools since moving the Cleveland six years ago. He visits Cleveland School of the Arts, MacArthur, Booker, Clark and Orchard Elementary Schools weekly. He has observed the various attitudes and attributes that make up the rainbow of students in classrooms around the city. He has seen the frustration of the teachers who have too many students in classes; the overworked, dedicated principals who do everything they can to support the teachers, but continually come up short, and the overwhelming nature of a school system burdened with lack of funding from the state level due to unsympathetic legislators and civic leaders. The hands of the CMSD officials appear to be tied until justice prevails in the Ohio State Supreme Court and a major overhaul of the system allows funds to flow from rich and powerful districts such as Orange to Cleveland. Until then, a grassroots effort is the only alternative, and now is the time for the community to reclaim it students as their own, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. These are the children that make up our future.
For more information, contact:
Rev. Doug Horner (216) 651-6250, email@example.com or
Natalie Robinson (216) 961-4242, firstname.lastname@example.org.