Young people and students

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Newtown Giving Box Is Little Food Pantry


I have seen little pop up libraries around town – small stands in residential neighborhoods inside which are books for people to take, read and enjoy. But I have never seen a pop-up food pantry before…until I heard about a project by a group of Turpin High School students in their school’s chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America. It is part of the business management class.

The Newtown Giving Box is a hand-made container that is shaped like a house, and has a large door that opens to containment blocks where non-perishable food, hygiene and household items are stored for those in need to anonymously stop by and take what they need. The free little pantry is a partnership with the Newtown United Methodist Church (3546 Church Street; 45244) – where it is located – and is stocked by community donors, many of whom are Turpin students. It is to help families and individuals who struggle with occasional food insecurities.

“One of the biggest things we have learned is that there are people everywhere who need help,” said Jessie Pierce, Club vice president, “and, where there are people in need, there are people willing to help. I have always loved community service. This has really opened my eyes to who I am helping.

“The Newtown Giving Box has taught us a lot about leadership and how much it takes even for a smaller project. It was a lot of work to get this in the ground.”

I asked some of the other Club participants for their thoughts. This is what they shared.

Lindsey Viel told me, “A teacher said that someone else wants to do this now. That makes me happy that we have opened other people’s eyes too.”

“This week was the first time we saw it being used substantially. When I showed photos to our class, it was so exciting. It makes me feel like I am contributing to the community which is a really good feeling,” said Molly Campbell, Club president.

The students maintain a Facebook page where they post what is needed. Your contributions are very welcome.

What is accepted:

– Non-perishable food items: peanut butter, canned meats, canned fruit and vegetables, nuts, grains, bread, crackers, baby formula, baby food, pasta, etc.
– Hygiene Items: Shampoo, Conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, feminine care products, children’s bath products, etc.
– Household Items: Toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, sponges, diapers, etc.

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Saint Ursula Students Take On Waste Reduction


I love hearing about young people growing by practicing and learning about how they can contribute to strengthening their community. At Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, one way students are doing that is through their Earth Club. The group has implemented a “reduce/are-use/recycle program that has made a HUGE impact at the school and has dramatically decreased the amount of trash generated. Skye Toomey, a senior this Skye Toomey, a senior at Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, shares why she is in her school's Earth Club and how her group is helping to reduce waste.year, wrote about her experience in the Earth Club and why it is important to her.

In her own words…

“Here at Saint Ursula Academy, we take our mission to build a better world seriously. Amongst the many ways that we achieve this is through our Earth Club and “Green Team”. The Green Team consists of members from the Earth Club as well as students taking the AP Environmental Sciences elective. The Earth Club’s mission is to promote environmentalism and natural resources through understanding our environment and our impact upon it as human beings.

One of the ways that the Earth Club has implemented its mission is through the Composting, Recycling, and Upcycling system. Over the course of the First Semester of  the 2017- 2018 school year (August 10-December 19) we have sorted our lunch trash into landfill, compost, upcycling, and recycling categories. We as a school have also implemented reusable dishes to further cut down on waste. Here are some of the statistics that show how successful this program has been at reducing our waste:

  • 85 composting days (24 lbs/day average) = 2,040 pounds
  • 85 upcycling days = 50 pounds of packaging upcycled (soft plastics, foil-lined granola bar wrappers and chip bags)
  • (Recycling program already in place before grant; the new waste reduction initiative ensures that recycling is now properly sorted)
  • Disposable plates saved: 150/day x 85 days = 12,750 plates
  • Disposable cups saved: 100/cups x 85 days = 8,500 cups
  • Disposable silverware saved: 150 pieces/days x 85 days = 12,750 silverware

Total pounds of waste diverted (from last year as well)

  • 3,216 pounds of compost diverted
  • 74 pounds of upcycling diverted

I have been a member of the Earth Club for my entire 4 years at St. Ursula. For the last two of those years, I have been in a leadership position. To see such a huge success in this endeavor is really exciting to me. Every day at lunch, two to three girls from the Earth Club or one of the AP Environmental Science classes monitor the recycling program at lunch and also answer questions about what can be composted versus thrown out, or recycled versus upcycled. This helps to educate our fellow classmates as well as ensuring that each item ends up in the right spot. We all sign up for lunch days voluntarily, and everyone really enjoys it.

Why is this important to me? Well, I was raised by my mother who is an active environmentalist and has taught me to respect the environment from the very beginning of my life. She instilled in me a sense of awe at the wonder of nature and a sense of ownership for the stewardship of our planet. I hope to be able to make a difference or to educate others through this recycling program, or any of the other wonderful things we do here at Saint Ursula to make the world a little bit better, because every little bit helps.”

~ Skye Toomey

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From Shy Child To Teacher Of The Year


One of the gifts that Facebook has given me is the opportunity to get to know how truly special some people are from my past, to learn about a side of them that I never saw when we were growing up. One of those people is Mike Scheele. His father was one of my teachers at Wyoming High School, and the school’s tennis coach but I only really knew Mike as a boy I thought was cute but never spoke to.

Mike Scheele was a shy child who had dyslexia. It was his disability that inspired him to be an admired teacher as an adult.

Kaycie Maines with her high school Lady Sharks softball team announcer, teacher Mike Scheele and his then 1 1/2 year old son Tyler. Tyler used to attend all the games with his dad.

If it weren’t for Facebook, I would never have known that Mike was adopted, that he struggled with shyness because of a learning disorder, and that he has this magnificent heart for empowering and rising young minds of kids with their own set of differences.

Mike recently shared a story with us of one little boy in particular who was not achieving in school and his family asked Mike to help their son…which Mike has done in a big way.

In Mike’s career, he taught special education in Tampa, Florida, and was named Teacher of the Year in 2000 as ALL of his students advanced to the ninth grade. These days he teaches English conversation skills to adults who do not speak fluent English, and reading to that little boy who has dyslexia and a brain injury. “I’m just honored they asked me to help their son. He calls me MAX, don’t know why but I love taking on Mike “Max” Scheele,” he told me.

The next year he began teaching at Riverview High School where he also announced all sports events on campus and emceed all sports banquets. He even coached tennis for a year, following in his dad’s footsteps.

It was at Riverview where Mike taught Kaycie Maines (now 30) television production and was the voice of her Lady Sharks softball team. By the way, Kaycie was a two-time state champ and a ten-time national champion. “He is one of the most enthusiastic people I know,” she said. “Mr. Scheele taught me to be the best that I can be and to reach for my full potential no matter how many times I might fail. I live by this daily, and because of him, I am a successful, strong and independent woman. He always said to just ‘be you’.”

When he is told how lucky his students are for having him come into their lives, Mike will tell you, “I am the fortunate one.”

In Mike’s Own Words…

“I flunked 3rd grade because I read from left to right. Mrs. Taylor, one of my teachers at Vermont Elementary School in Wyoming caught it and saved my life. It was full dyslexia. My parents got me a reading coach. Learning became fun once I learned how to read. The rest is history. I earned my bachelor’s degree in science education with a minor in special education. I love to read, love to have conversations with strangers and to public speak at school banquets and awards nights.”


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Cincinnati Boychoir Inspires Values


“No matter where you come from and where you start, singing brings you together in life,” KellyAnn Nelson told me.

KellyAnn Nelson shares how her work with the Cincinnati Boychoir inspires herThose words are KellyAnn’s passion and her driving force behind her career and her impact. Founder and Artistic Director of the Young Professionals Choral Collective of Cincinnati (with a roster now of about 1000 singers ages 21 to 45), she is also managing artistic director for the Cincinnati Boychoir and has served as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator and presenter at various National, All-State and Regional honors choir events, conferences and choral/vocal jazz workshops in Michigan, West Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, Connecticut, Minnesota, Kentucky and Indiana.

The Cincinnati Boychoir’s annual Sing Me A Story: A Christmas Carol holiday extravaganza is tonight at the Aronoff Center and the more than 200 members will be singing holiday favorites plus new songs destined to be classics.

If you are unfamiliar with the Boychoir, it is a 53 year old organization that has grown to become one of the premiere professional boychoirs in the United States. Hundreds of students from more than 990 different schools come to the Aronoff Center for the Arts each week to prepare beautiful music, make friends, learn, and strengthen character values.

I asked KellyAnn to share how her work with the Cincinnati Boychoir has touched and inspired her.

In Her Own Words…

I have the privilege of watching these boys grow from squirrelly new singers into talented “big brothers”.  I’m also able to craft experiences for them that allow them to work with incredible talent, travel to see incredible places and perform on incredible stages.

Most importantly, they get to see the power of music in action.  They get to shake the hand of a nursing home resident whose eyes fill with tears as they listen to “Deck the Halls” and remember Christmases past.  They get to sing “Carol of the Bells” for a few thousand people in the heart of downtown and watch the Cincinnati Boychoirlittlest kids stop running around for a moment to pretend like they are ringing their own bells.  And they get to take music that they’ve been perfecting for months out into the community at large and share it.  Our youngest humans learn to give and create happiness by sharing what they can – not money and gifts, but intangibles like songs and smiles.

At the Cincinnati Boychoir, we run every program decision through three lenses.

  1. Does the opportunity allow the boys to engage in their community?
  2. Does the opportunity allow the boys to grow as humans?
  3. Does the opportunity allow the boys to travel – either figuratively or literally?

This summer our Ambassadors are headed to South Africa, and this February our DeltaChor and JourneyMen hop on a bus for Philadelphia.  But all of our boys travel – be it to a school gymnasium where they can show other boys that it’s “cool” to sing, show emotion and have fun, or to the stage of Music Hall with the Cincinnati Opera – because music lets you go places in time, in your city, or in the world like nothing else can.

My boys sing well.  But I’m most proud when they sing Happy Birthday to an overtired friend in the choir, or smile at their neighbor as that chord they’ve worked on for so long finally locks.  Our boys help each other, make friends who don’t live in their own neighborhood, and become great citizens who look out for each other while looking outward toward other people they meet at concerts, on trips or in rehearsals.  I’m so proud of them.  But I get a little emotional at this time of year when they are singing – a lot.  It’s powerful to seem them realizing the power of sharing music with others.

Tickets are still available for tonight’s Sing Me A Story: A Christmas Carol. If you miss this show, there are many other opportunities to see and hear the Cincinnati Boychoir.

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The Making Of A Good Coach


I first met Earl Edmonds at the Healthy Kids Triathlon Race of the Countryside YMCA (a public relations client of mine) and there was something about him that just stood out to me. I could tell he really enjoyed being among the young athletes. Later I got to talking with him and realized there was a lot more to discover in his life’s work.

Earl’s long career included being a teacher and high school basketball coach at his alma mater, Green Hills High School (his first head coaching job), at Tallawanda High School, and at Forest Park High School before becoming a principal first at Princeton High School followed Milford Main Middle School. He went on to be an administrator at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy before retiring in 2004 (although he still teaches Sunday school at his church). It has been a distinguished path that has earned him and his teams’ numerous accolades.

Earl Edmonds was named to the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame for his coaching at Cincinnati area schools.I wanted to know, where his inspiration came from. Let’s get to know more about Earl, one of Greater Cincinnati’s Hall of Fame basketball coaches.


Lisa: Who was someone who influenced the direction in your life?
Earl: “I was raised by my grandmother and grandfather who are both angels. We didn’t have a lot but what an education I got. I look back and give my grandmother so much credit for pointing me in the right direction. She taught me so much about how to treat people. I had a wonderful father who lived with us too, he just couldn’t take care of us on his own.

Lisa: Why did you become a teacher and a coach?
Earl: “The people I admired most in life were my coaches and so I always wanted to be a coach. I had a terrific English teacher who inspired me so I became a teacher. The people you admire in your life impact you. I also was always an athlete. I played football, baseball and basketball but loved basketball most. I loved teaching novels and grammar, but I also just love being around kids.

Lisa: What do you think it takes to be a good teacher and coach?
Earl: “I see coaching as teaching and teaching as coaching. To be a good coach, you need to break down the sport and teach the skills. You need to understand how to teach young people to achieve. In a classroom, I always felt like I had to coach and encourage kids.

As a coach and teacher, it is important to be positive, be truthful and honest with kids, get along with them but also you have to be in a position to make some tough decisions. You need to be able to relate to everyone, and create a genuine family feeling which involves loving one another like a family. It is the same with being the principal. Both students and staff have to feel that. Sometimes that human connection gets lost with all the paperwork but the  most successful people make that a priority. You need to Instill respect for each other – similar on the basketball court and in a classroom. I am a believer in Johnny Wooden, who went on to win 10 championships at UCLA.  I have read every one of his books.

Lisa: Of what are you most proud when looking back at your career?
Earl: “I had an opportunity to coach and teach both of my sons, which is a unique experience for a father to have and it was very rewarding personally. I loved being in that role as I got to know them in a way that I think many fathers don’t get to know their sons. I treasure that. My oldest boy is now the head basketball coach at Wyoming High School, and my younger boy just completed his 10th Louisville Ironman. I saw that toughness in him from being his coach.

When I was principal at Milford Main Middle School, the school was named to the Ohio Hall of Fame and that for me was like winning a state championship in basketball. I was there for five years.

Last April, I was named to the Greater Cincinnati Basketball Hall of Fame which was a huge honor. I got there from coaching some really great players and having a 70% winning career.

Lisa: Was there any advice you have received that you pass along to others?
Earl: “I remember hearing Lou Holtz speak once and he mentioned three rules to follow in life: Do the right thing. Do your best. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. Those three rules made a big impression on me and I try to bring that into my Sunday school class where I still teach, and in life.”

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