AMIRA THOMAS: A PROFILE IN COMMUNITY SERVICE
I grew up in Richmond Heights, Ohio. My father was a law enforcement officer and my mom a small business owner. I was able to see the best of both worlds. I was raised to help those who were unable to help themselves and started volunteering for community service at a young age.
I spent most of my summers doing community service with my grandmother in the inner-city. I had the opportunity to see what poverty really looks like from all angles. The more I volunteered to help in distress communities, the more I wanted to continue my mission by providing for those in need.
In 2014 I traveled Ghana to volunteer in an orphanage. It was there that I learned how to stretch one chicken to feed more than twenty-five children. Once I returned home, I made a promise to myself to focus on helping provide resources to families.
Serving as the director of Randall Park High School has afforded me the privilege to work with so many amazing scholars and the community that we serve. Our goal is to provide our scholars with the best education and resources possible to lead them on a successful career pathway.
At Randall Park High School, our team has wonderful, positive energy and is dedicated to providing an excellent education. We know that due to COVID-19, this year has been a challenging year for everyone, but in the midst of a pandemic we want to be the joy factor.
This school year we partnered with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to provide our scholars and the community with a monthly food pantry. We have served over 700 people in the last two months, and our goal is to serve more in the upcoming months. We have also partnered with Brandon Chrostowski of Edwin’s Leadership & Restaurant Institute to provide hot meals and soup to our scholars. And this month, we are partnering with Change of Direction to host their 9th annual toy give-away.
It continues to be an honor to serve our scholars and our community. Giving back never stops, for “we rise by lifting others.”
ADVOCATING FOR OUR STUDENTS & COMMUNITIES
We are so proud of our staff across the network for their uncompromising commitment to our students, families, and communities across the state in ‘normal’ times, but especially during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
They have taken the initiatives to be involved in local and national advocacy over the past few months with both the Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools and the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.
Here are two instances of this advocacy from Chuck Hall, Director of Marshall High, and Joy Beasley, Director of Old Brook High:
MEET OUR VP OF DEVELOPMENT & ADVOCACY CRIS GULACY-WORREL
Cris has spent her entire professional career working with public charter schools. From filing in the backroom enrollment department in 2002, to the Ohio Department of Education, nationally recognized CMO’s and other charter partners, to where she is today with Oakmont Education. Cris is a passionate activist and advocate for public charter schools today and wholly believes in the power of targeted activism and advocacy in expanding quality public school choice in Ohio and beyond. Cris works with other staff, activists, advocates, and the legislature on initiatives that provide opportunities for our staff, students, families and communities.
Getting to Know Cris
Childhood memory: Playing travel softball across the United States with my dad as my coach
Food: Hot wings, well done
Book: Women Who Run with Wolves or Rules for Radicals
Favorite Holiday: Halloween
Favorite Artist: Salvador Dali
Vacation destination: Disneyworld or RV’ing in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado
What is your ‘Why’?
My why is that I was considered an ‘at-risk’ adolescent. I had a very unconventional high school experience with significant trauma and barriers, some self-inflicted, some not. I do this work because of my proximity to the experiences and my sense of understanding of what potentials our students have, if we just give them the safety and space to show it. My ‘why’ is my everything and is the sole driver of my relentless pursuit of this work.
BRIGHT SPOTS: SENATE BILL 89 IS GREAT NEWS FOR OUR STUDENTS
Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 89 (SB89) this month with an effective date of 2/25/2021. This Bill will allow expert career-technical trainers, within their respective career-technical specialities, to teach to those specific career-technical specialties in a Dropout Recovery School Career-Technical Program. Oakmont is pleased to have been an integral part of this outcome!
Technically speaking, SB89 does all of the following with respect to temporary teaching permits:
(1) extends the availability of temporary teaching permits for up to 40 hours per week to an individual teaching an industry-recognized credential program offered at a dropout recovery community school
(2) requires an individual teaching a career-technical education (CTE) class under a temporary permit to have significant career-technical experience
(3) requires temporary teaching permits to be renewable.
We applaud the Governor’s signing of this Bill so that we can continue to offer high level expert-led career technical courses and credentialing opportunities to our students!