I am a threat to jump in my car and hit the road. Which is why I’ve averaged driving more than 40,000 miles a year for decades. And why I’ve put more than 300,000 on many of my cars. (My record is 452,000 on a Buick.) Maybe there is something therapeutic for me about hearing the hum of tires on pavement.
So when I heard that a documentary about Oyler School in Cincinnait would be premiered there on May 22, I marked my calendar and made my plans. I stumbled upon both Oyler and the Community Learning Center Institute in Cincinnati by chance several years ago. I’ve been intrigued by the community-centered school concept for some time. Time after time while visiting high poverty schools I heard stories about students who had needs far beyond anything the school could provide. Decent clothes, dental care, health issues, etc. And since I believe “most wheels have been invented,” I started looking.
The Coalition for Community Schools is a national association of just what I was looking for. One night on their web site in a motel in Dayton, OH I learned that Ethel Taylor Academy in Cincinnati has just received national recognition for their activities. Since I would be driving through Cincinnati the next day, I decided to visit the school. That’s when I met Annie Bogenschutz, who was resource coordinator at Taylor at the time. Later I got to know Darlene Kamine, who put the Cincinnati effort in place; Jamie Luggin, resource coordinator at Oyler; and re-connected with Dr. Marylyn Crumpton who lived in Dothan when I did years ago.
In fact, these four ladies were gracious enough to come to Alabama in 2013 and conduct workshops about their program in Birmingham and Montgomery. About 150 attended these and the Dothan city school system is now piloting their own version of this kind of effort.
I think this was my fifth trip to Cincinnati. I learn something each time I go. One of the most impressive is the dozens and dozens of partnerships schools have formed across the city. More than any place else I know, in Cincinnati education truly is everyone’s business.
It’s been great fun to make my new friends in Cincinnati. I will always be grateful for the hospitality and patience they have extended.
And I will continue to tell folks across Alabama that if they really want to see something that makes sense and works, jump on I-65 and take a right in Louisville on I-71