U.S. education official touts teachers' influence

By Denise Dick



A senior adviser to the U.S. education secretary said teachers or other adults can provide the right influence that urges a student from a challenging background to opt for college instead of the bad choices that surround him or her.

Greg Darnieder was the guest speaker Tuesday at the 2013 Excellence in Education Luncheon and Awards presentation at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center. The event was presented by the Eastern Ohio Education Partnership, formerly the Eastern Ohio P-16 Partnership for Education.

Darnieder, who is U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s senior adviser on the College Access Initiative, spent 15 years as executive director of youth development and college-access organization in Chicago’s Cabrini Green Housing Development.

He relayed stories of several young people who grew up in rough circumstances who didn’t succumb to those negative influences.

“When Bernard was in the third grade, a teacher told him he was really smart,” Darnieder said.

Bernard believed it and made up his mind to be the smartest student in every class. He went on to earn his doctorate and runs a college-access program in the Denver Public Schools, the speaker said.

Another boy, who grew up in Chicago, wanted to go to Morehouse College, because one of his teachers, a Mr. Moore, had gone there. He kept that goal in mind and rejected offers from other teens to get involved in drugs.

“He’s now a state rep in Illinois,” Darnieder said.

Those are examples of young people for whom a caring teacher made a dramatic difference in their lives.

An Internet search can yield lots of information about the process a student has to go through to go to college.

“The challenge is how to build the human infrastructure,” Darnieder said.

He said he applauds the educators recognized at the luncheon for what they do.

Mahoning, Columbiana, Trumbull and Ashtabula school districts were recognized for earning A’s on the latest state report card for the number of standards met, value added or performance index. Value added is the measure of a year’s growth and performance index is the achievement of every student.

Maplewood, in Trumbull County, earned A’s in all three areas.

Two teachers received awards for their innovation in the classroom. Charmayne Polen, an English teacher at Trumbull Career and Technical Center, got first place, and Carrie Sinkele, an engineering teacher at the Chaney Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Campus, earned second place in the Innovative Teacher of the Year Award presented by Turning Technologies’ Turning Foundation.

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