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National speaker addresses Austintown teachers

Friday, March 1, 2019

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Art teacher Mirjana Jelic and Band Director Wes O'Connor faced off as the last two standing in the rock, paper, scissors battle that all teachers gathered at Stanley Leone's lecture at Austintown Fitch High School competed on Feb. 14.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Teachers Steve Ward and Donna Burnell faced off in paper, scissors, rock as part of speaker Stanley Leone's lecture at Austitown Fitch High School.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Austintown Fitch teachers Steve Ward and Lynette Seebacher face off in rock, paper, scissors during the Stanley Leone speech Feb. 14 at the schools auditorium.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Teachers from all over Austintown gathered at the Austintown Fitch Auditorium to listen to nationally known speaker Stanley Leone.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Nationally recognized speaker Stanley Leone visited Austintown Fitch High School on Feb. 14 to speak to teachers about how to better their relationships with students, and each other.

By JESSICA HARKER

jharker@vindy.com

The Austintown school district brought nationally renowned speak Stanley Leone to Fitch High School on Feb. 14.

Super Intendant Vincent Colaluca organized the speaking event using money from the Attorney General Office Safety Grant.

Colaluca said that the grant was worth $25,000, and was split between the speaker and mental health training for counselors.

“His [Leone’s] message transcends many different areas,” Colaluca said. “If you didn’t grow up in poverty, you don’t understand it.”

Leone addressed an auditorium of teachers from the district, including the principal team from each school.

Speaking for two hours, Leone addressed the issues of mental health wellness and trauma in students, and burn out in teaching staff.

“It is equally as important to tend to each other as it is to tend to your students,” Leone said.

To kick off the event, Leone had teachers break off into groups, battling each other in a rock-paper-scissors elimination tournament.

Middle school art teacher Mirjana Jelic came out victorious.

“We have fun, and it helps loosen the tension,” Leone said “It makes people real listeners, which is a key to empathy.”

Leone addressed how to listen to students, and understand and identify the different trauma they may be experiencing.

Drawing from his personal experiences as a troubled youth, Leone emphasized the role of teachers in his life helping him become who he is now.

“Education, in my opinion, is the most noble profession, and the most scrutinized,” Leone said.

Colaluca said he has heard Leone speak previously, and that his message about trauma is universal.

“More and more in society we are dealing with students who have different types of pain and trauma,” Colaluca said.

He explained his goal with bringing Leone to speak to teachers is to help them have the tools to be more empathetic and knowledgeable about mental health.

“The Austintown district is great, and we are already ahead of the game when it comes to training,” Colaluca said. “We want to continue that trend.”

Colaluca said that Leone will return to the schools in August for a longer, more personalized training with teachers.

“He’s a wealth of knowledge, and in today’s world we need more people like him,” Colaluca said.