Each week, the #SpanningtheNeed podcast will present an “Inspirational Person of the Week’ and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted individuals and/or groups who are willing to go out of their own way to help others. This week’s featured is Rona Curtis from Mahoning County Children Services. Nominate someone nowNominate someone now.
Name: Rona Curtis Occupation: Child Welfare Administrator Position: Assistant Director Organization: Mahoning County Children Services
Ms. Curtis has been in the social services field for over 40 years, Early in her career, she served as a crisis counselor, volunteer coordinator and children’s therapeutic program coordinator for Battered Person Crisis Center, and a Student Assistant at Youngstown State University.
In 1985, Ms. Curtis began her child welfare career as caseworker, was promoted to supervision in 1987, and subsequently to Program Administrator for the Family Services Department at MCCS in 2011. She has been an advocate for children and families for over 37 years. Ms. Curtis has numerous years of progressive leadership and organizational development.
Ms. Curtis coordinates the development, planning, implementation, and monitoring of direct service programs; operational policies and procedures; analyzes data, provides oversight for agency accreditation, and monitors compliance with accreditation standards.
Ms. Curtis has past and current affiliations on several advisory boards in the surrounding community. She values her work and advocacy with Infant Mortality, Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence, and Human Trafficking prevention. Ms. Curtis was appointed by Mayor Jamael “Tito” Brown to the Youngstown Foundation, where she is a member of the Distribution Committee.
She is a lifelong member to the Alpha & Omega First Baptist Church. She was elected the first female chairperson for the Board of Trustees. She currently serves on the Executive Board, Trustee Board, and Usher’s Ministry.
Ms. Curtis is a graduate of Ursuline High School and two-time alumna of Youngstown State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Science in Education degree.
What made you want to go into this field?
As a child, I watched my mom work with and help people in our neighborhood and community center. It didn’t matter who they were, what they looked like, where they came from, or the situation or circumstance they found themselves in. As I got older the term “social work” had a meaning I could relate to. I witnessed genuine social work in-action and it became my passion.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
What is the biggest professional mistake you made along the way?
I wouldn’t consider it a mistake, but more like a semi-regret…and that was not going to law school.
What is the hardest decision you ever had to make in this field?
When working in a difficult and tough field, tough decisions are inevitable. As a last alternative, the decision to remove a child from their home is never easy.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently regarding your profession? Actually, I wouldn’t change a thing.
What inspires you to do good in our community?
I remember those who sacrificed and inspired me. It would be unfair and selfish not to pass it on. If we don’t invest and take care of our own community, we can’t expect others to.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering in our community?
When given the opportunity to impact the lives of others, even in the slightest way, it really does provide me a sense of purpose. I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new adventures.
What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life?
“Never Give Up” by Yolanda Adams
What is your best accomplishment/experience in life?
My best experiences in life have been in the role of a daughter, a sister, an auntie, and as a friend.
Who is your role model and Why?
My mom has always been my role model. She established the foundation for me to grow and develop into the person I am today. She led by example.
If there was one person that you would like to meet, past or present and why?
Denzel Washington. He has always been my favorite actor. What he does on screen and on Broadway is amazing, but what he does off screen is as important and impactful.
A favorite quote that you live by?
Let your presence have a positive purpose.
The International Day of Families is observed on the 15th of May every year. The International Day of Families provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting them. It has inspired a series of awareness-raising events, including national family days. In many countries, this day is an opportunity to highlight different areas of interest and importance to families.
“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.” —George Bernard Shaw
“Family is a life jacket in the stormy sea of life.” – J.K. Rowling
HOW TO OBSERVE
Invite your family to work together on a project. Decide together what should be that project, the timeline, and details.
Celebrate your family with your family trivia 1. How many generations are in our family, alive and well today? 2. Who is the longest living family member with us today? (If female, give her a rose, if male, give him a family reunion hat or koozie.) 3. Who is the newest family member here today? (Could be a baby or a new marriage.) 4. Who are the newest newlyweds? 5. How many states does our family live in? 6. Who recently retired? 7. How many military members are in the family? (Give them each a little flag to recognize.) 8. In what year did our family make it over to the United States? 9. What is our family’s native language? 10. How many people are in our family total? 11. Who plays what musical instruments? 12. Who has traveled to the most countries? The most states?
History Beginning in the 1980s, the United Nations started to focus attention on the issues related to the family. 1983 – Secretary-General moved to enhance awareness among decision-makers and the public of the problems and needs of the family. 1989 – The General Assembly proclaimed The International Year of the Family. 1993 – The U.N. General Assembly declared May 15 of every year should be observed as the International Day of Families
Each week, the #SpanningtheNeed podcast will present an “Inspirational Person of the Week’ and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted individuals and/or groups who are willing to go out of their own way to help others. This week’s featured as apart of our Teacher Appreciation Week is Jasmine Dubose from Youngstown City Schools.Nominate someone now.
Name: Jasmine Dubose
Position: 5th Grade ELA/ Social Studies teacher School District: Youngstown City Schools
What made you want to go into the education field? I was raised in the field of education. My mother was an elementary teacher and eventually became a professor teaching the next generations about early childhood education. It took me a while to realize that I was born to be a teacher. However, once I did, I have not looked back and absolutely love what I do.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful in education? I understand that relationships are key in every aspect of the education field. The relationship that I develop with my students is crucial to their success in learning. My relationships with staff members creates an encouraging environment and we learn various methods of teaching through the perspective of each other.
What is the biggest professional mistake you made along the way? The biggest mistake I have made was assuming that one day I would have it all figured out. I have learned that teaching is a continuously evolving field and process and given such, you never have it figured out.
What is the best advice you can give future educators or the public? Be flexible, teachable and expect to adjust your lessons and perspective as you go through this journey.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently regarding your profession? I would have started earlier. It took several years past high school graduation to realize that I wanted to be a teacher.
What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life? Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
What is your best accomplishment/experience in life? My best accomplishments in my life have been the birth and raising of my children.
Who is your role model and Why? My role model is my mother. My mother is an excellent educator and one of the brightest minds I have ever been blessed to encounter.
If there was one person that you would like to meet, past or present, who would it be and why? I would love to meet Michelle Obama. I have the utmost respect for how she conducted herself as the first lady, a wife and a mother with such grace and beauty.
A favorite quote that you live by? Happiness is an inside job.
Each week, the #SpanningtheNeed podcast will present an “Inspirational Person of the Week’ and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted individuals and/or groups who are willing to go out of their own way to help others. This week’s featured as apart of our Teacher Appreciation Week is Elana Brownfield from Lisbon Exempted Village Schools (Lisbon Schools).Nominate someone now.
Name: Elana Brownfield Position: Visual Art Teacher: David Anderson Jr./Sr. High School (grades 6-12) District: Lisbon Exempted Village Schools
What made you want to go into education?
answered in video clip
What is the biggest factor that has helped you be successful in education?
answered in video clip
What song best describes you?
answered in video clip
What is the biggest professional mistake you made along the way? Early in my career I spent too much time planning lessons or grading things that didn’t contribute enough to the big picture of what I was trying to teach. Teachers can spend a lot of time planning, grading, decorating, etc. Some of these things really matter, and some of them, in the grand scheme of things, don’t make much difference at all. Over the years I have learned to use different, less time-consuming, more efficient approaches to get the same or even better results.
What is the best advice you can give future educators? The best advice I can give is to stick with it! Your first year will most likely be your hardest. For me, the longer I have been teaching the easier and more enjoyable it has become.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently regarding your profession? If I could start over again I would focus more time on getting to know the kids and building relationships. Particularly in my early years I was hyper focused on the content I was teaching. I have learned that the content is still important, but I am now much more focused on trying to incorporate more activities that help build relationships with the kids.
What is your best accomplishment or experience in life?
The best accomplishment of my life so far is founding a Christian art non-profit website and ministry called Redeemer’s Heart (www.redeemersheart.com). God started to lay this on my heart back in 2014 and it was finally launched this past February, 2022. The mission of Redeemer’s Heart is to share the love of Jesus through visual art. There are four main parts of the website: 1. An art store where artists can share images of their artwork and 100% of profits from sales of products are given to charities, 2. A weekly column called Art & Soul where different Christain artists get to share their stories and testimonies behind their artworks, 3. A free directory of Christian artists who are trying to sell their artwork, and 4. A private community forum.
Who is your role model and why?
I truly can’t pick one person. There have been so many family members and friends over the years that have positively impacted and contributed to who I am today.
If there is one person you would like to meet, past or present, who would it be and why?
Jesus most definitely! I recently wrote a column on Art & Soul called In Awe of His Creation so I would like to ask Him what it was like during the creation of the universe. Of course there are many other questions that I would love to ask Him as well.
A favorite quote you live by? I live by the quote from the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 where he says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (NIV)
K Squared Marketing (Kelsey Klim & Kollin Chupa, Co-Owners) are proud to invest in the future generation with the “Fund The Future” Post-Graduate Scholarship Award. When we graduated high school, we were the fortunate recipients of many local/community scholarships that assisted us in our education at Youngstown State University. As the daughters and granddaughters of entrepreneurs (and entrepreneurs/parents ourselves), we understand the importance of financial assistance when beginning your post-graduate journey.
Over the last year, we have had the privilege of working with four fantastic school districts: Springfield, Columbiana, Lisbon, and Jackson-Milton. During this time, we have witnessed the immeasurable impact teachers, administrators, staff, and communities have on shaping the bright future of the students within these districts. They provide so much more than “ABCs” and “123s”; they provide a warm embrace, comfort, stability, and confidence. They have navigated unimaginable tragedies and circumstances, two years of a pandemic, state testing, and so much more. They have welcomed us as a part of their teams. In short, we are honored to play a supporting role in the ensemble of so many incredible educators by highlighting their efforts in the classroom. It is in that spirit that we establish an annual award that will aid in teachers’ and administrators’ mission to invest in an empower the future of our communities, our children.
Fund The Future-Scholarship Award We have created this scholarship award to “fund the future” endeavors of students regardless of their future career or higher education paths. During our time within the districts, we had the pleasure of reporting about students creating in Carpentry classes, Robotics teams thriving inside the classroom and in competitions, student-led philanthropy efforts in the community, and students obtaining “soft skills” that will transfer well into their adult lives. There has been a much needed and appreciated focus to preparing the students for career readiness in addition to scholastic excellence. As you will see below, this scholarship will be open to all future post-graduate opportunities.
In closing, Students, you too have navigated seemingly impossible circumstances. The effects of the last several years will likely produce ripple effects in your young lives; our hope is that we can affect those currents in a positive way by providing the opportunity for financial assistance as you begin your journey into adulthood.
Must be a graduating Senior enrolled in Springfield, Lisbon, Jackson-Milton, or Columbiana school districts or a technical or alternative learning district associated/affiliated with the previously mentioned districts
Must carry a 3.0 GPA for 3rd grading period
Write a minimum 2-page introductory essay describing what or who has inspired your future plans. The essay should also describe your experiences in your respective district and how they have prepared you for the future. Tell us about your extracurriculars, and volunteerism, sports, activities, etc. and demonstrate your work ethic. Provide specific examples of your experiences and accomplishments as a means to explain how your future has been inspired.
IMPORTANT: the essay must include how you will utilize funds for your future education/career path.
This scholarship is open to ANY and ALL post-graduate plans. We are seeking students entering the trades, service industries, College/Universities, licensures, etc.
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