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21st Century Grant Aids Quest for Success Program
Posted 10/18/2017 at 10:12:23 AM

STEUBENVILLE-A five-year, $850,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Education is helping to establish a new afterschool program targeting middle school students.

    The Jefferson County Educational Service Center received the 21st Century Grant from ODE to form Quest for Success, which will focus on Jefferson County students in grades 6-8 with programming to boost math and literacy skills as well as social development. Mark Masloski, JCESC administrative assistant and Quest program manager, said the grant will provide $200,000 annually for the first three years, followed by $150,000 during year four and $100,000 the final year. Activities will be held each week at the former McKinley Elementary School which houses Steubenville City Schools’ board office and Jefferson County Alternative School and the first program begins on Oct. 23 from 2-5 p.m.

    “Evidence-based literacy and math intervention will be utilized by Franciscan University and Coleman Professional Services, who are the primary partners for this grant,” Masloski explained. “In addition, the program will offer weekend events and family activities throughout the school year.”

    Franciscan University and Coleman Professional Services will provide students and counselors for the events and about 12 hours of programming are required per week as part of the grant’s stipulations. Literacy and math intervention activities will be held four days a week through May using the STAR Reading and STAR Math online programs while social and emotional programs, family and community outreach and career and college readiness events will also be in the mix. He added that the sessions will include time for snacks, surveys and exercise followed by the online programming and Quest activities. Franciscan University’s education department will conduct literacy nights and book club on Mondays with Coleman representatives offering Character Counts and Manners Matters on Tuesdays, Reekdoe Education Services holding career and college readiness events on Wednesdays and family and community outreach offered by McGuire Associates and JCESC staff on Thursdays. JCESC officials are also working with Brightway Services of Smithfield to schedule programs and Saturday events and the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities has been contracted to provide transportation.

    Quest’s support system includes Masloski as program manager, Fatima Smuck as site coordinator and Craig McGuire as grant evaluator with others serving as community coordinator, family coordinator, career and readiness coordinator, online programmer and academic tutors. Masloski thanked the Jefferson County school districts for their involvement and support, Steubenville City Schools for housing the program, the JCBDD for providing transportation and the program’s primary partners. JCESC leaders said they were pleased to receive the funding and excited about benefitting students by providing additional support and intervention for their academics and social and emotional well-being, as well as an opportunity to have a positive outlet outside the school day. In addition to program staff support, Quest will utilize county-wide resources to help support students and families.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko commented that the programming will fill a definite need in the school community.

  “In recent years, JCESC has actively sought funding to provide after-school supports to students as this type of service has been identified as a community need,” Dr. Kokiko added. “We are very grateful to those who helped secure the grant at JCESC as well as the community groups who have stepped in to create what we believe is an outstanding after-school option for students.”

    For more information about events, contact Masloski at JCESC (740) 283-3347, Ext. 134, or Martariesa Fiala at Ext. 100, or visit the website at http://questforsuccesssteubenville.weebly.com.

(Photo Cutline: A five-year, $850,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Education will benefit middle school students by providing activities to build math, literacy and character skills. The 21st Century Grant will promote the Quest for Success program conducted in partnership between the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, Franciscan University of Steubenville and Coleman Professional Services and activities begin Oct. 23. Pictured are, front from left, are support team members Raymond Saccoccia, Martariesa Fiala and Jason Schwartzmiller. Back: Mark Masloski, Mike Emery and Craig McGuire. Not pictured are Amy Mihalyo, Fatima Smuck and Lee Gillison.)
Simeral Retires from JCESC Governing Board
Posted 10/12/2017 at 1:38:49 PM

STEUBENVILLE-Kenneth Simeral has been a staunch advocate for public education for more than three decades, having a hand in many projects and programs which have redefined learning for students in Jefferson County and beyond.

    Now, he has hung up his vice presidential hat and departed the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board but will hold another title as board member emeritus. Simeral attended his final board meeting on Oct. 10 and his peers bestowed upon him the emeritus status, calling him irreplaceable and an innovator for education.

    “It couldn’t come to a nicer guy,” said board President Larry George. “He’s dedicated and his sense of accomplishment and understanding is beyond reproach.”

     He continued that Simeral has always made students a priority and wished him the best.

    Dr. George Ash, chief executive officer of JCESC and one of the superintendents who served under Simeral’s lead, said he leaves a legacy behind with the formation of the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), Virtual Classroom and Ohio Cyber Academy, the implementation of visual impairment classes and JHP’s infrastructure bank to aid schools.

    “Those are just a few accomplishments,” Dr. Ash added. “Ken’s been a part of all this as a leader.”

    “As with any successful organization, strong, consistent leadership is essential,” added JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko. “Jefferson County Educational Service Center is no exception. The board of education is a tenured board with clear goals and high expectations. Mr. Simeral has been the anchor of the board with 33 years of service and a true passion for educating youth and promoting education. His vision and dedication will be missed.”

    Officials pointed out that while the vice president’s post will be filled, Simeral’s shoes could never be. Board member Bill Schaefer interjected that Simeral did a lot for the board and the children, while Simeral himself reflected upon his time and the achievements the board made together.

     The Smithfield resident has maintained a foothold in local education for more than 40 years. From his work with The Ohio State University Extension Office to serving with JCESC Governing Board and the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board of Education, Simeral has worked to improve opportunities for countless students. He is a graduate of the former Mount Pleasant High School and later obtained both his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and master’s degree in agricultural education from OSU. He would serve the OSU Extension Office for more than four decades and worked in Jefferson, Harrison, Columbiana, and Noble counties. During his tenure, he held the title of associate professor at OSU and upon his retirement became an associate professor emeritus.

    Simeral was first appointed to the governing board on Dec. 1, 1983 and followed in the footsteps of friend and mentor, Bob Quinn. He would be elected eight more times and spend most of them as an officer. Simeral recalled how the board rotated posts each year, and during his first foray on the panel he became vice president. His leadership skills ultimately put him at the helm as board president, and it was a title he proudly held for three decades. Most recently, he took on the vice president’s mantle once again with George succeeding him as president.

    During his tenure, Simeral has continuously rallied for schools and education as a whole and was directly involved with, among others, the inception of such programs as the Jefferson Health Plan, Utica Shale Academy, shared  services programs for legal services and public relations, and OME-RESA. He has staunchly supported the mission, vision, and goals of the JCESC and helped it achieve accreditation through AdvancED, making it one of only eight entities in the State of Ohio to earn such a distinction. Those efforts led to him earning distinctions from the Ohio Educational Service Center Association (OESCA) and other organizations, while the JCESC office along Sunset Boulevard was renamed the Kenneth D. Simeral Building in 2016.

  “When the board was gracious in naming the building after me, I felt undeserving of that but appreciate it very much,” he added.

    Simeral attributed JCESC’s success to many factors, saying a president is only as good as his board and the employees and stakeholders were also vital components.

    “Our society is only as good as the public education available, and I think this board, in some small way, at least has helped promote it.”

    He promised to attend future meetings because he still holds great interest in what the future holds for education. Simeral concluded that it was a privilege to be part of it all.

    “It’s been an honor for me. I know I’m leaving it in good hands, but I will miss this. It has given me a sense of accomplishment.”

(Photo Cutline: Longtime official Kenneth Simeral formally retired from serving as vice president of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board but will remain board member emeritus. Simeral, who was also a long-standing board president for 30 years, was recognized by board members during his final meeting on Oct. 10. Pictured are, front from left, board member Bill Schaefer, board member Bill Lollini, Simeral, board President Larry George and board member Barbara Cunningham. Back: JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko, JCESC CEO Dr. George Ash and treasurer Don Donahue.)
Supporting Student Learning
Posted 9/14/2017 at 11:57:27 AM

Photo Cutline: Traci Pavlik, a consultant with State Support Team Region 12 (SST-12) of Cambridge, led a professional development session about family and community engagement on Sept. 13 at Jefferson County Educational Service Center’s George-Pugliese Training Annex. Pavlik informed the estimated 35 early childhood educators on hand about providing resources to help families become more engaged with schools and support student learning.

Levy Talks Engaging Students
Posted 9/13/2017 at 2:32:31 PM

Photo Cutline: New Jersey-based author and educator Nathan Levy addressed an estimated 20 related arts teachers during a professional development session on Wednesday at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. Levy, who has spoken around the globe since 1976, shared unique teaching strategies for student success by engaging the children in learning.

Levy Returning for Professional Development
Posted 9/8/2017 at 12:29:38 PM

STEUBENVILLE-Author Nathan Levy will return to the Ohio Valley when he speaks to fellow educators on Sept. 13.

    Levy, a New Jersey-based educational leader and writer, will lead a professional development session on Sept. 13 from 8:30-11 a.m. at the George-Pugliese Training Annex on Estelle Avenue, which is located behind the Jefferson County Educational Service Center office in Steubenville. The meeting is offered to related arts teachers but is open to anyone interested in participating.

    “The session is geared towards related arts and learning,” said Linda Lenzi, JCESC gifted coordinator and event organizer. “He wanted to come back. He enjoys the area and the people.”

    Levy visited the area in June and spoke to more than two-dozen teachers, administrators and parents and conducted creative exercises to stimulate the mind. Following the upcoming session, he will head to the Edison Local School District for another professional development meeting with teachers.

    Levy has spoken to people across the world since 1976 and authored such books “Whose Clues?” and “Nathan Levy’s 100 Intriguing Questions.” A gifted educator, he has been a teacher, principal and consultant and worked directly with children, teachers and parents. He also developed unique teaching strategies that encourage a love of learning and has mentored more than 30 current principals and superintendents, plus he helped train thousands of teachers and parents to on better ways to engage children in learning. Levy has spoken at state and national education conferences, conducted school-based district in-service and parent workshops and covered a wide range of topics from reading and Language Arts to math, Social Studies, critical thinking, special education and classroom management. His message has taken him across the globe to Great Britain, Denmark, Dubai, Australia and New Zealand.

    There is no fee to attend the JCESC session and registration is being taken at info@jcesc.org.

JCESC Sessions Promote Gifted Education
Posted 9/8/2017 at 12:28:48 PM

STEUBENVILLE-Ohio Department of Education officials will make a stop in Steubenville to address gifted programs for local students.

    The Jefferson County Educational Service Center will host a regional meeting for gifted education on Sept. 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the George-Pugliese Training Annex located on Estelle Avenue behind the JCESC office in Steubenville. Linda Lenzi, gifted coordinator and event organizer, said ODE representatives will talk to teachers about operating standards for gifted education that went into effect July 1.

    “They are meeting in four parts of the state with Steubenville being one of them,” Lenzi said. “This is our regional group and the session is the first we’ve had in our area. It was a coup for the JCESC to host the event and it is open to anyone who wants to attend. There are a lot of major changes they will discuss.”

    A Zane Trace meeting will follow at 1 p.m. in the professional development room on the lower floor of the JCESC office. It is a subsidiary of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children, which was founded in 1952 to advance understanding of the needs of the gifted, promote the establishment of programs and services for gifted students and encourages the exchange of information on the national, state and local level.

    The programs are free and open to anyone interested in attending. To register, contact Lenzi at (740) 283-3347, Ext. 151, or online at LLenzi@jcesc.org.

Educators Welcomed Back at Administrative Breakfast
Posted 8/14/2017 at 9:21:51 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Ninety educators and representatives of community organizations gathered at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville on Thursday for the annual administrative breakfast hosted by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko welcomed the group back for another school year while superintendents and other administrators from districts in Jefferson, Harrison and Columbiana counties briefly updated the audience and recognized officials from Buckeye Local, Edison, Harrison Hills, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, JCESC, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Southern Local, Steubenville and Toronto. Others on hand represented Brightway Center, Coleman Professional Services and ProgressBook. The main speakers for the event included Eastern Gateway Community College President Dr. Jimmie Bruce, who shared exciting news about growth and opportunities; Anastacia Galloway-Reed of Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center of Estes Park, Colo., who discussed trainings and other programs the organization did in partnership with JCESC and local districts to enhance classroom learning; Mark Jackson, general counsel for Jefferson Health Plan and an attorney for schools through Pepple and Waggoner of Columbus, who highlighted recent court rulings that impact educators; and Mark Smith, truancy officer for Harrison Hills City Schools, who shared a spirited message about going the extra mile to help a child achieve success.

    Dr. Bruce projected positive growth in attendance numbers and new programs at both of EGCC’s Steubenville and Youngstown campuses. Combined with online students and high schoolers taking part in College Credit Plus, he estimated that enrollment numbers could reach as much as 9,500 students, making it the largest enrollment in the state.

    “This fall, EGCC will be one of, if not the fastest-growing community colleges in the U.S.,” he said. “I think there is more we can do yet. When I came to the college two years ago, I think we had 500 students in College Credit Plus. We expect to have 1,600 in the four counties, so it’s thriving and growing.”

    EGCC is also adding new programs in the realms of health care, information technology and business management as well as the availability of short-term certificate programs and associate degrees, all while retaining an affordable tuition rate of $3,500 per year. Dr. Bruce said students who take part in College Credit Plus not only gain credit hours for college courses but
also save on costs in the long run. He also referred to financial aid opportunities such as grants and scholarships; benefits such as free tuition available to Ohio Education Association (OEA) and Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) members and their families; a partnership with Trinity School of Nursing, which will be housed on campus starting this winter; the $2 million Student Success Center set to be unveiled in the fall of 2018 and will include a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, café and student services areas; and the addition of the Gators baseball team this year with future plans to form volleyball and men and women’s basketball teams.

    Dr. Bruce encouraged the audience to spread the word about EGCC’s offerings and noted that local high schoolers could learn more when the community college hosts Consider College Fest on Sept. 26.

    Galloway-Reed, who hails from Weirton, said her team has traveled throughout the country to assist educators but it was a privilege to come home and collaborate with JCESC and local schools.

   “In the past year in Ohio, I’ve worked closely with [JCESC Gifted Coordinator Linda Lenzi] in the professional development department, and we worked with related arts teachers on project-based learning,” she said, adding that she has collaborated with Toronto and Harrison Hills City Schools and the Jefferson County Alternative Schools, as well.

    Jackson updated the crowd on statutory changes in the state budget bill, including student eligibility regarding College Credit Plus and an attempt to remove the resident educator program. The latter was among the 47 vetoes given by Gov. John Kasich but legislators are reconvening next month to consider overriding them. Other items under consideration are an opioid instruction requirement as part of prevention education; eased regulations regarding substitute education aides with temporary licensure; and a framework for students to gain credit on work-based learning.

    He also highlighted court rulings, including a federal district case allowing school districts to bar unauthorized people from the premises during school hours and an Ohio appellate case regarding interpretation of OTES evaluations.

  Finally, Smith gave an impassioned speech encouraging educators to “go the extra mile” to help a child. As a truancy officer, he said he has helped students and families connect with resources, but there were growing issues youth faced such as abuse, alcoholism and teen pregnancy. He told school officials that it may be difficult to step outside the box but people needed to have authentic, caring hearts to help a child overcome problems.

    “If you have any opportunity to help a child in need, do it at all costs. The kids we are all dealing with are facing real world issues,” he commented. “We have seen an onslaught of alcoholism, drugs, abuse, broken families and teen pregnancy. Go the extra mile and do something genuine and true.”

    He recalled helping one student facing a difficult issue and noted that one small action could make a huge impact on a young life.

    “Be the person among your group in life and in school to be positive,” he urged. “Let’s start exposing the good in the lives of kids and let them know they are meant for something more. Encouragement is a mighty backbone for success.”

    Dr. Kokiko closed the gathering with some final thoughts, saying he recently heard a speech on how changes could impact society. He said many changes have occurred in area districts with new administrators and teachers in schools.

    “I truly believe in education and the importance of continued growth,” he said. “Things are going to change, and organizations that adapt survive, thrive and embrace change. We have a lot of new faces in the audience today. I hope you identify and embrace the changes and provide the best possible education for your students. Understand that the ESC is here to support you and your initiatives.”

USA Looks to New Year, Partnership with NCST
Posted 6/23/2017 at 12:21:28 PM

SALINEVILLE-As the newest crop of graduates make their exodus from the Utica Shale Academy, officials are gearing up for a new year of even more learning.

   Nineteen new alumni turned the tassels on their mortarboards May 24 as USA finished its third year of existence. Jim Buttermore, executive director of the New Castle School of Trades in East Liverpool, delivered the commencement address at Southern Local High School in Salineville where the main branch of the shale academy is lodged. He praised the graduates for their achievement, saying their skills will take them far and the oil and gas industry offered endless potential for job growth. Meanwhile, the formation of the shale academy helps bridge the gap between the two.

   “One opportunity I know that you have already made the right choice is attending the Utica Shale Academy. You should all be grateful for the out-of-the-box thinking of your administration. To put this program together took a lot of courage, because it always takes courage to do something different, to take a chance. But I believe when you do things for the right reasons, with a prepared plan, good things happen. You, the students or graduates, are the right reason for starting the Utica Shale Academy. The administration wanted to give you an alternate opportunity. Something unique to traditional education and something that takes advantage of the oil and gas opportunities specific to our area,” he added. “You now have some specific knowledge and credentials that will give you an advantage over others. You can use this to immediately pursue a career in the oil and gas field, continue your education or do something entirely different. However, this knowledge cannot be taken away from you and I assure you it will be useful sometime in your life.”

   He added that the oil and gas industry was an opportunity that hasn’t been seen in several generations and it will lead to employment, professional growth and retention of youth who will no longer need to leave the area for jobs plus community revitalization. Additionally, they could fill the void left by the shortage of skilled tradesmen.

   “The skilled trades provide an opportunity to make a good living while working with your hands and mind. If you choose to continue your education there are many skilled trades to consider,” Buttermore commented.

   His words will ring even truer during the 2017-18 school year, which is when students will begin the welding program at NCST. This fall, students will be able to obtain a welding certification by attending the trade school three afternoons per week to earn 250 hours of welding credit.

    USA Director Eric Sampson said about 50 were currently enrolled between the Southern Local and Columbiana High School sites and registration was open to accommodate more. The academy, which is sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, is open students in grades 9-12 and provides curricula required by the Ohio Department of Education and PetroEd industry certification courses. It includes a customizable digital curriculum allowing for acceleration or remediation along with flexible scheduling, plus certification courses in SafeLand, OSHA10, First Aid and CPR, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) awareness and confined space certifications. Academy graduates receive a high school diploma, certificates and college credit options offered through Eastern Gateway Community College.                                                

    Sampson noted that the partnership with NCST would be a major benefit for future attendees.

    “Our Industry Advisory Committee that meets each year thought the addition of NCST was a great idea. The students will be even more marketable, not only in the oil and gas industry but other industries as well.”

    The committee had also discussed potentially adding heavy equipment training on such machines as telescoping forklifts, front end loaders and skid steers since they are regularly used in the industry. Sampson said other educational options were being eyed to expand student learning even further, including one suggestion by committee member and industry consultant Bryan Logue.

   “Mr. Logue and I have continued to discuss utilizing an Intro to Oil and Gas course, potentially in conjunction with a college in order for students to earn college credit while in high school,” he commented, saying he was enthusiastic about where USA was headed. “Year three saw a lot of success and we are looking forward to what year four has in store for us.”

   “USA graduation numbers have grown in each of the last three years, demonstrating the school continues to attract students and successfully meet their unique educational needs,” added JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko. “One of the highlights of the year is seeing the students and families realize their dreams and hard work of graduating from high school. I expect to see next year impact even more students as the USA staff has solidified a partnership with New Castle School of Trades and will have additional programs such as welding available for students.”

    For more information about USA’s programs, contact Sampson at (330) 420-5353 or via the website at uticashaleschool.com.

  (Photo Cutline: Nineteen students graduated from the Utica Shale Academy in May and now the program is ramping up for its fourth year by partnering with the New Castle School of Trades in East Liverpool to provide welding classes. Pictured is Jim Buttermore, executive director of NCST and keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony, addressing the crowd.)
Author Discusses Inspiring Students’ Creativity
Posted 6/8/2017 at 10:30:31 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Educators and parents alike learned techniques to inspire creativity in students during a special workshop on June 5.

     Nathan Levy, a New Jersey-based educational leader and writer, has traveled the globe to share his expertise, and that Monday he was at the George-Pugliese Training Annex discussing “How to Make Children Better Thinkers and Writers.” He spoke to more than two-dozen teachers, administrators and parents at the event, which was sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, and conducted exercises designed to stimulate the mind.

    His methods include a reading exercise with a riddle that encourages students to ask questions until they can solve the problem. Levy said while they may fail, the goal is to keep trying.

    “Research shows that [self-esteem] goes up when you take on something that’s difficult or a challenge,” he said. “The definition of success is when a person gets up one more time [after falling down].”

    His methods benefit not only gifted students, but everyone, and he said they should all learn the same way.

    “What’s happening around the country today is that all the things that are researched are being misapplied in schools. The key is that parents know their kids can do things. We make a big deal about the language but not the message. You can have faith in the child and believe they can do it.”

     Levy further instilled the use of resources to help kids write and think, adding that they should learn without realizing it.

     “We want kids to be creative writers, but they should use tools,” he said, adding that he created lists for students to use for character descriptions and other exercises and he also encouraged them to conduct interviews for further inspiration.

       He said being a great teacher takes three things: repetition, repetition, repetition.

    “The key is to repeat it often enough that when they take a test or have to write a summary, they have it. My message is to get children learning before they know they’re learning.”

      Levy also shared three types of thinking to teach: convergent thinking, or the type that involves right answers; divergent thinking, which includes creative, open-ended thinking and thinking outside the box; and cultural literacy, or having a basic knowledge of subjects.

     “Your kids need all three types of knowledge,” he commented. “The purpose of gifted teachers is to make teaching better every place, not just in class.”

    Levy, who has spoken to people across the world since 1976, has also authored such books “Whose Clues?” and “Nathan Levy’s 100 Intriguing Questions.” A gifted educator, he has been a teacher, principal and consultant and worked directly with children, teachers and parents. He also developed unique teaching strategies that encourage a love of learning and has mentored more than 30 current principals and superintendents, plus he helped train thousands of teachers and parents to on better ways to engage children in learning. Levy has spoken at state and national education conferences, conducted school-based district in-service and parent workshops and covered a wide range of topics from reading and Language Arts to math, Social Studies, critical thinking, special education and classroom management. His message has taken him across the globe to Great Britain, Denmark, Dubai, Australia and even New Zealand.

     Linda Lenzi, gifted coordinator with JCESC, said Levy’s visit was provided through an Ohio Arts Council grant.

    “It is the first leg of his cross-country tour,” she explained, adding that it was his first time in the area. “He has talked at the Ohio Association for Gifted Conferences.”

  (Photo Cutline: Author and longtime educator Nathan Levy addressed more than two-dozen educators and parents about how to inspire creative thinking and writing in youth during a workshop at the George-Pugliese Training Annex in Steubenville on June 5. The event was sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center and provided through a grant from the Ohio Arts Council.)
USA Officials Talk Future Program Offerings
Posted 5/19/2017 at 9:48:28 AM

SALINEVILLE-Utica Shale Academy officials are looking at ways to enhance the shale program so students can benefit even more both in the classroom and eventually the workplace.

   An advisory board meeting was held May 11 at the Southern Local School District office in Salineville and talks occurred between USA Board President Mark Johnson, USA Superintendent Dr. Mark Furda, Jefferson County Educational Service Center Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko, advisory board member and independent oil and gas consultant Brian Logue, Southern Local School Superintendent and shale program developer John Wilson, USA Director Eric Sampson, Jim Buttermore of the New Castle School of Trades and Amanda Greathouse of Safety Pro Training Consulting. The purpose of the session was to discuss what is currently available at USA and ways to make students more marketable for employment after graduation.

   “We discussed the current curriculum for oil and gas certifications, as well as safety certifications currently offered,” Sampson explained. “We also discussed the partnership with New Castle School of Trades and its welding program with the potential addition of other programs in the future.”

    The academy is offered to students statewide in grades 9-12 and provides curricula required by the Ohio Department of Education, as well as and PetroEd industry certification courses. It includes a customizable digital curriculum allowing for acceleration or remediation along with flexible scheduling, plus certification courses in SafeLand, OSHA10, First Aid and CPR, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) awareness and confined space certifications. Academy graduates receive a high school diploma, certificates and college credit options offered through Eastern Gateway Community College.

   Recently, USA and NCST officials announced a partnership between the two sites which would allow shale students to take welding courses at the trade school’s East Liverpool location starting this fall. Shale students at both Southern Local and Columbiana High Schools will have the opportunity to obtain a welding certification, which would give them a major advantage when seeking a job in the industry. NCST officials collaborated with Superintendent Wilson on the plan and students will attend three afternoons per week to earn 250 hours of welding credit towards their certification. That collaboration will also boost participation at NCST, which opened its doors in January and currently has 33 adult pupils studying HVAC, industrial maintenance and mechanical and electrical courses. The addition of the shale students will greatly increase that total since both USA sites yield a total of 69 pupils, plus it marks the first time the trade school will educate high school students.

   During discussion, Logue and Greathouse shared their thoughts on the current programs and believed they helped to put the students in the best position for future success. Suggestions were also made to add small equipment training to the program.

    Logue said the academy was on the mark when it came to providing a lot of the training but there was always room for improvement.

   “The program is great. Students are getting basic training for oil and gas in terminology and specialized training that Amanda has given for First Aid, SafeLand and H2S,” he added. “They are getting some good experience.”

   He said the welding program through NCST was another benefit while officials should also review adding heavy equipment training on telescoping forklifts, front end loaders and skid steers since they are regularly used in the industry.

   Meanwhile, Sampson said the next crop of graduates is set to receive their diplomas on May 24 at 6 p.m. in the SLHS gym with Buttermore as the featured speaker. About 17 students are expected to graduate from the program.

   For more information about USA’s programs, contact Sampson at (330) 420-5353 or through the website at uticashaleschool.com.

ACT Recognition Breakfast Honors High Scorers
Posted 4/27/2017 at 11:21:25 AM

WINTERSVILLE- Area high school students who achieved high scores on their ACT tests were honored during the second annual ACT Recognition Breakfast on April 25.

    Sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, the event was held at Zalenski Family Eatery and Pub in Wintersville and lauded teens from Buckeye Local, Edison, Indian Creek and Steubenville High Schools for scoring a 30 or higher on their exams. Most of the five honorees appeared for the reception breakfast where they were congratulated by local educators and officials.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko welcomed the group of students, parents and school leaders to the event and congratulated the students for their accomplishment. He said the honorees’ achievement placed them in a distinct group.

    “You have distinguished yourself among an elite group,” said Dr. Kokiko. “Five are graduating from the eight school districts [the JCESC serves].”

     He added that those who scored a 30 on their exams were among the top 95 percent in the country; those with a 31 were among the top 97 percent; those with a score of 32 were at 98 percent; and those at 33 or higher were in the top 1 percent nationally.

     JCESC Governing Board President Larry George echoed those sentiments and urged the youth to continue on their course to success.

    “This is quite an achievement. It is great to see that we’ve got five students score over 30 on such a prestigious test,” he continued. “It’s a great day for the staff and schools you attend.”

      Keynote speaker was Dr. John Figel, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Trinity Health Systems and a member of the Indian Creek Local Board of Education, who shared how he learned to appreciate the opportunities his received in life and encouraged the youth to do the same.

    “Today, the playing field has changed tremendously. Not only are you competing against students of our nation, but students globally,” Dr. Figel commented. “It truly is a gift you have if you were in the top 95 percentile of the country.”

    He continued that it was a God-given gift the students have received, but it comes with a responsibility to achieve other things. Dr. Figel said upon reflection, he did not appreciate the opportunities he had earlier in life. After losing his parents as a child, he said the village of Mingo Junction embraced him and his sister and gave them opportunities in life. After graduating Mingo High School, Dr. Figel studied pre-med at The Ohio State University but said he did not commit to his studies until later in his college career. He went on to further schooling at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and then returned to the U.S., where he completed his medical degree at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine. He eventually completed his internship and residency in Columbus in family practice at Grant Medical Center and returned to his roots in the Ohio Valley, serving at Ohio Valley Hospital and St. John Hospital, which is now Trinity Health System. In addition to his many positions in the medical profession, he has been a member of the ICBOE for the past quarter-century.

    “It was competitive then and it’s much more competitive today. If I leave you with anything today, appreciate what gift you have, realize it’s a God-given gift and do what needs to be done. It’s like running a marathon: pace yourself, stay the course, realize there may be adversity. God knows you may stumble, but that’s when you get up, brush yourself off and move forward. Wherever the path may take you, good luck to you.”

      Certificates were then distributed to Mark Smith of Steubenville High School, who plans to attend Ohio Dominican University and study pre-med; Skylar Fankhauser of Edison High, who plans to study biology at either West Liberty University or Mount Union College; Matthew Maille, another EHS student who plans to attend Kent State University but is undecided on his major. Fellow honorees Rachel Romestan of Buckeye Local and Kelly Kovach of Indian Creek were not in attendance but had their certificates accepted by BLHS Principal Coy Sudvary and Indian Creek Superintendent Dr. T.C. Chappelear, respectively.

     Dr. Chappelear closed the event with more parting words of wisdom for the high achievers.

    “Congratulations on your great ACT scores,” he said. “Work hard, be grateful and treat yourself and others well.”

 (Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Educational Service Center recognized local students who scored a 30 or higher on their ACT tests. Pictured are, from left, keynote speaker Dr. John Figel, Matthew Maille and Skylar Fankhauser of Edison High School, Mark Smith of Steubenville High School, and JCESC Governing Board President Larry George. Not pictured are Rachel Romestan of Buckeye Local and Kelly Kovach of Indian Creek High Schools.)

High Achievers Being Lauded at ACT Recognition Breakfast
Posted 4/19/2017 at 9:29:33 AM

WINTERSVILLE- Local high school students who excelled on their ACT tests will be the guests of honor during a special breakfast.

     The Jefferson County Educational Service Center is sponsoring its second annual ACT Recognition Breakfast on April 25 at 9:30 a.m. at Zalenski’s Family Eatery in Wintersville. Students, parents, and school leaders will be in attendance and Dr. John Figel of Trinity Medical Center, who is also a member of the Indian Creek Board of Education, is set to be the keynote speaker.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said the breakfast recognizes students who earned a score of 30 or higher on their ACT tests and is quite a distinction. Those who receive such a score are among the top 5 percent of students who take the test nationally.

    “They are in an elite group of kids and we just want to recognize them for their hard work,” Dr. Kokiko said as he also congratulated parents for encouraging their children. “The parents’ support plays a large role in the success of the students.”

    This year’s honorees include Rachel Romestan of Buckeye Local High School, Kelly Kovach of Indian Creek, Skylar Fankhouser and Matthew Maille of Edison and Mark Smith of Steubenville. Both Romestan and Kovach were also recognized during last year’s breakfast when they attained their high scores as juniors.

Area Students Learn about Living with Disabilities
Posted 4/5/2017 at 9:53:26 AM

STEUBENVILLE- Area students learned what it was like to live with disabilities when they attended the ninth annual Simulation Day at the School of Bright Promise.

    Twenty-four students representing Buckeye Local, Steubenville Catholic Central, Edison, Harrison Central, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School and Steubenville Big Red attended the event, which was held on March 31 and capped off National Developmental Disabilities Month. It included activities to show what it is like to have visual, hearing, mobility and other issues and students donned covered goggles to learn how to walk and read without the benefit of sight; maneuvered in a wheelchair or Pedalo bike in a mobility station; painted a picture without the use of their arms; and viewed a video describing how an autistic child is sensitive to lights and sounds.

    Principal Rachel Bodo said this year’s festivities yielded a smaller crowd than usual due to ongoing state testing at some schools, but the figure has been closer to 40 in the past. However, it was more beneficial for the teens. She noted that the event previously included five students at roughly 10 stations, but this year two or three students were at each site working with the school representatives.

    “We went smaller so they could take time at the stations and get all of the information,” she said.
“Hopefully, more time was taken with the activities and it was more relaxing.”

    Bodo added that school staff, including teachers, educational aides, behavioral support and speech and occupational therapists, were joined by retired teachers and PTA members to man the stations and share their expertise. During the classroom visits, the teens got to play games and do crafts with the School of Bright Promise pupils.

      Following a lunch break, the group went into the classrooms to interact with special needs students and later completed a survey and discussed their experience. Those on hand found it to be quite educational.

    “I liked it a lot,” said Juanita Slappy, a senior at Indian Creek who said the experience will aid her as a future educator. “I think it will get me ready and open me up more to experiences so I know what they do and better understand them.”

    “I’ve had a lot of fun and it’s a very interesting take on life,” said Jacob Barr, a senior at Harrison Central. “It’s good to understand [disabilities] and the staff is wonderful.”

    “I learned a lot,” said Jessica Whorton, a senior early childhood education student at JCJVS who plans to be an educator and said the simulation gave her some further insight. “I’ve learned there are so many disabilities and so many ways to do things.”

    “It’s really eye-opening,” said David Kinney, a student at Edison. “I learned other ways of communicating other than verbally.”

 (Photo Cutline: Twenty-four students from area schools took part in the ninth annual Simulation Day at the School of Bright Promise on March 31, where they gained an understanding about living with disabilities. Pictured are Jessica Whorton of Jefferson County Joint Vocational School and David Kinney of Edison performing mobility activities. The event also capped off National Developmental Disabilities Month for March.)

George Honored for 30 Years of Service
Posted 4/3/2017 at 10:56:33 AM

STEUBENVILLE- A longtime member of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center has been honored for his continued commitment to the betterment of academics.

     Larry George, president of the JCESC Governing Board, was lauded for 30 years of service by the Ohio School Board Association’s Northeast Region during its spring conference in North Olmstead on March 22. He received a plaque from regional manager Reno Contipelli and said he was pleased to earn the distinction.

    “It’s been a very joyful 30 years,” George said. “This mission has been about informing and educating people about programs. It’s all about the kids, but our responsibility is to the administration and faculty to keep them updated on what is going on in the state.”

     He was one of six honorees to be recognized for three decades of service while other commendations were given to those who have served between 10 to 50 years. George became active with the JCESC after being approached by another longtime board member, Geno Morelli, and said he has seen the organization evolve to provide more quality services to educators. He also praised the staff and board for their work and said he was eager to help carry the mission forward.

    “It’s been an honor for me to be involved for as long as I have. I never thought I’d be involved for 30 years, but I truly do enjoy it,” he continued. “I have worked with the brightest, most dedicated board members and it’s a great place to work with and for. We have a lot of different programs going on, and from when I started to now our budget has grown and the amount of employees has increased to offer services to the districts. It’s a well-rounded group of educators and we offer help to school districts so they can help the kids.”

    George also mentioned the paraprofessional staff, Jefferson Health Plan and other offerings available to districts in Jefferson, Harrison, Columbiana and beyond as a way to save them money and utilize those savings where it counts most—in the education of their students.  

      In addition to the JCESC, he has also spent three decades with the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board and currently acts as president. During his tenure at both sites, he said he has seen them expand with opportunities to benefit students and staff. Among the achievements at JCESC were the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), Help Me Grow program, shared services between districts, and more recently the formation of the George-Pugliese Training Annex. He added that plans are continuing to construct the Ohio Appalachian Technology Education Center along County Road 43 (Alikanna Road) at the Jefferson County Industrial Park. The two-story, state-of-the-art facility will lodge offices for an estimated 20 employees and expands upon operations at the present JCESC site in Steubenville. Groundbreaking is set for this spring and the facility should be in operation over the next two years.

    A 1971 graduate of Wintersville High School, George is a former news photographer and present operator of Photography by George. In addition to his most recent accolade, he received an Outstanding Leadership Award from the Ohio Educational Service Center Association (OESCA) in 2016.

   JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said the recognition was a testament to George’s unwavering support in local education.

    “In a roomful of distinguished board members, Mr. George stood out as part of an elite group serving on boards of education for 30-plus years,” Dr. Kokiko commented. “More important than the years served is the work, time and commitment he has shown to our area schools. We are fortunate to have such a devoted individual as part of the JCESC board and our community.”

    JCESC Chief Executive Officer Dr. George Ash echoed those remarks.

    “Mr. George tirelessly and enthusiastically works for the students in the four local counties as well as 82 of 88 counties in Ohio,” Dr. Ash continued. “It is a pleasure working with a visionary leader with a focus on helping political subdivisions share services and save local resources.”

    The conference also included legislative and other updates by OSBA officials and further recognition of Ohio Teacher of the Year honorees, Award of Achievement recipients and Master Board Member awardees and the Northeast Region Blue Ribbon Schools President’s Award of Excellence. Nineteen counties comprise the OSBA’s Northeast Region, including Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Wayne.

    JCESC provides services to local school districts including Buckeye Local, Edison, Harrison Hills, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Steubenville, Southern Local, Toronto and St. Paul Catholic School in Weirton.

(Photo Cutline: Larry George, president of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board, was honored for 30 years of service by the Ohio School Boards Association’s Northeast Region during its spring conference in March. George is pictured, at center, with OSBA President Denise Baba and Executive Director Richard Lewis.)
USA Joins Forces with NCST to Offer Welding Program
Posted 3/29/2017 at 10:45:56 AM

SALINEVILLE-The Utica Shale Academy is teaming up with the New Castle School of Trades to offer welding courses to students at both academy locations to give them even more advantages in the oil and gas industry.

   Starting this fall, students at both USA locations at Southern Local and Columbiana High Schools can obtain welding certification, which is a major plus when seeking jobs in the industry. NCST officials worked with John Wilson, superintendent of Southern Local Schools and developer of the Utica Shale Academy, on the program to bring it into fruition.

   “We were looking to expand our curriculum and get industry credentials,” Wilson explained. “NCST Director Jim Buttermore and I had discussed what we could do to partner and make it happen- and it will benefit the both of us.”

   “Our students will have the same opportunities in both shale academies,” added USA Director Eric Sampson. “We are looking at attending New Castle three afternoons per week throughout the course of the school year with students working towards their welding certification.”

   Buttermore said the plan has been in the works for months and will allow students to earn 250 total hours of welding credit for certification.

   “That is roughly a quarter of our welding program,” he said. “We want them to be certified at the end, and they will also earn two-quarters credit if they want to complete the program.”

    He also was thrilled to be in a partnership with the shale academy and everyone was working towards a common goal.

   “I think anything we can do to work together for the students or for the community, that’s all we want.”

   NCST, which is based in New Castle, Pa., but has more sites in Maryland and Canada, opened its doors in Columbiana County this January and began conducting classes a month later. It currently has 33 adult pupils in its HVAC, industrial maintenance, and mechanical and electrical courses. However, the number would greatly increase when USA’s students take part in the welding program. As of now, the shale academy has a combined total of 69 students at its two locations and expects to graduate about 27 seniors in May. It also marks a first for the trade school since it will now educate high school students.

   Meanwhile, Sampson sees the union as a great benefit for everyone and said it adds another piece to make graduates marketable in the workforce.

    “To be able to partner like this expands opportunities for students exponentially,” Sampson added.

   Dr. Chuck Kokiko, superintendent of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center which sponsors the shale school, also praised officials for working together to facilitate the latest program.

   “USA set out to create learning opportunities related to the oil and gas fields for students. The addition of a welding program is a testament to developer John Wilson and the USA staff’s commitment to creating the best educational experience for students and providing them with additional job-ready skills. I know USA is grateful to New Castle School of Trades for working with school officials and assisting them with making the welding program a reality.”

    USA is available to students in grades 9-12 who live across Ohio and provides curricula required by the Ohio Department of Education, as well as and PetroEd industry certification courses. It currently offers a customizable digital curriculum allowing for acceleration or remediation along with flexible scheduling, plus certification courses in SafeLand, OSHA10, First Aid and CPR, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) awareness and confined space certifications. Academy graduates receive a high school diploma, certificates, and college credit options offered through Eastern Gateway Community College.

   For more information, contact Sampson at (330) 420-5353 or through the website at uticashaleschool.com.

(Photo Cutline: Utica Shale Academy students will have another advantage to work in the oil and gas industry by gaining certification through a new welding program through the New Castle School of Trades in East Liverpool. Officials have announced a new partnership that will benefit the students and make them even more marketable in the workforce. Pictured are, from left, Eric Sampson, USA director; Jim Buttermore, director of NCST; and John Wilson, USA developer and superintendent of Southern Local Schools.)
Online Courses Now Offered to Adults
Posted 3/27/2017 at 2:04:58 PM

STEUBENVILLE- Adults looking to sharpen their skills and become more competitive in the workforce can now take advantage of online courses through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

     JCESC, which is well-known for its successful K-12 Virtual Learning Academy, is expanding its horizons and offering self-paced, non-credit online courses for adult learners. Participants can expand their knowledge, explore their interests, and obtain job skills that will secure a competitive edge in today’s changing economy. Teresa Silvestri, director of education and outreach, said adults can work at their own pace on a wide selection of courses.

    “It’s a new program,” Silvestri explained. “Adults are always looking to further their knowledge or skill set and these are online courses they can enroll in. They are self-paced and self-guided to sharpen their skills and become more competitive in the workplace.”

    Among the courses offered are Basic Algebra I, which connects the physical, verbal, and symbolic representations of the real number system; Basic Algebra II, which reviews basic algebra and geometry; Career Planning, which includes applying, accepting, and keeping your next job; Citizenship, which focuses on current events and recent history; Computer Applications, which explores the evolution of the computer and contributions of early inventors; Digital Skills, or skills to be successful as a digital citizen in a global economy; Forensic Science, which helps develop and extend scientific skills and processes through problem-based learning; Financial Literacy, which will help you learn financial planning, budgeting, and banking; Government, which focuses on the historic roots of the political system and how it has changed over time; Public Safety, which researches careers in law, public safety, corrections and the security job cluster; and Study Skills, which helps manage study time and routines, note taking strategies, and test-taking skills.

    Fees cost $5 for registration with $22 for a nine-lesson course, $45 for 18 lessons, and $90 for a 36-lesson course. Once enrolled, participants have 365 days to complete each course. They are completely self-guided and can accommodate a busy schedule. In addition, certificates are given upon completion and continuing education units (CEUs) can also be earned.

    Visit us online at jcesc.org/adultlearnersonline.aspx and enroll today. For more information, call (740) 283-3347 or email info@jcesc.org.

Preschool Educators Learn More about Autism
Posted 3/10/2017 at 11:36:48 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Helping preschool students with autism was the focus of a professional development session at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center on March 8.

    Preschool teachers and paraprofessionals from 10 school districts gathered at the George-Pugliese Professional Development Annex on Estelle Avenue, where they participated in a program led by Kristine Filhour of the Early Learning Resource Center and Victoria Walker of ABA Outreach Services, both of Canton. The topic of the session was “Understanding Autism in the Preschool Years,” and Filhour, an early childhood specialist, and Walker, a behavioral consultant, provided a PowerPoint presentation on how to identify the characteristics of autism and adjust strategies for individual children to meet their needs.

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is described as “a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that one in 68 children across the United States are diagnosed with Autism and boys were 4.5 times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Officials said 2,272 preschool students with ASD in Ohio received special education services last year, and today many children with the disorder attend regular preschools and childcare facilities. That means childcare providers and school personnel need to understand how to help those children reach their full potential and early intervention is important.

     Preschoolers with autism may avoid eye contact, prefer to be alone, have difficulty understanding emotions and feelings of themselves or others, have obsessive interests, get upset over minor changes in routine, have unusual reactions to sensory stimulation, and flap their hands, rock back and forth or spin in circles. They also may not respond to their own name, demonstrate functional communication, show interest in others’ movements, or engage in social or pretend play. Walker noted there was a range of possible challenging behaviors from self-injurious behaviors and obsessions to rituals and tantrums, among others, but the key was to implement positive strategies. She also touched upon early action from setting up a proactive preschool environment to incorporating effective teaching strategies for children with autism and utilizing resources for support.

    “As professionals in the field of early childhood, it is up to us to try to determine what is getting in the way of our children doing well,” Walker said. “Understanding what is getting in the way enables us to make changes in ourselves and the environment to help our children reach their full potential.”

    A proactive preschool environment may include clearly marked centers or learning areas, a calming corner, predictable routines, consistency and structure, a positive climate, limited distractions, simplifying rules, and providing transitions that are simple and clear. Other discussion included common triggers and functions and officials said positive reinforcement was an important tool to help increase a child’s repertoire of appropriate behaviors. Types of reinforcement include snacks and toys to praising and hugging the child and allowing them time to play, go for walks, or other activities. Meanwhile, intervention for challenging behaviors would include teaching an alternative behavior to stating directions as a command, not a question. Walker said the use of visual supports also help modify behaviors and let children regulate their emotions in high-stress situations. Examples of those include First-Then Boards, which provide a schedule of tasks to be performed first and clearly indicate what happens next; a token economy system that provides stars or other tokens to reinforce desirable behaviors; and positive behavior supports for the whole class. Walker concluded by discussing effective teaching strategies, functional communication training, and developing a team approach. Teachers were also encouraged to develop a positive rapport with families, acknowledge and value family input, communicate frequently with team members, foster a sense of trust, and collaborate with other professionals.

    Patty Ferrell, preschool coordinator at JCESC, said the program was inspired by teachers who wanted to learn more about helping kids with autism.

    “I always ask the teachers what they want to hear and they wanted to know about autism because some have autistic students,” Ferrell said.

    She then contacted the Early Learning Resource Center and the program was created specifically for the session. Ferrell was also establishing a small library of materials in her office to keep teachers informed about autism and educational methods.

(Photo Cutline: Kristine Filhour and Victoria Walker, respectively of the Early Learning Resource Center and ABA Consulting, led preschool teachers and paraprofessionals in a professional development session about autism on March 8 at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.)
Teachers Share Ideas to Aid Related Arts Students
Posted 3/10/2017 at 11:30:03 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Twenty teachers from throughout the area converged upon the Jefferson County Educational Service Center on March 8 for professional development centering on related arts classes.

    Educators of music, art, career tech and more met with representatives of Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center of Estes Park, Colo., at the Kenneth D. Simeral Building to hone their skills in ensuring student success. Teachers represented Edison Local, Indian Creek, the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities and St. Paul School of Weirton, while the daylong session included teachers taking part in project-based learning exercises, such as creating project designs based on their discussion and working together to express ideas.

    The teachers gave input on such topics as improving student motivation and criteria for success and moved around the room to speak with colleagues from their district and others to exchange ideas and obtain feedback. Anastacia Galloway, professional development associate at Eagle Rock, was joined by art instruction specialist Cindy Elkins and professional development representative Sebastian Franco to lead the session, which was the organization’s third visit to the area.

      Galloway said the goal was to inspire teachers in their own lessons for students.

    “For the past year, we’ve been diving deep into project-based learning and related arts and we want the teachers to leave with a lesson for their classroom,” Galloway said. “We collaborated with like-minded content. They get to collaborate and get feedback and it’s valuable because [the teachers] don’t always see each other.”

   Linda Lenzi, event coordinator with JCESC, said the program was part of a related arts grant the JCESC obtained through the Ohio Arts Council.

(Photo Cutline: Sebastian Franco and Cindy Elkins of the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center of Estes Park, Colo., helped lead the latest professional development session on project-based learning at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center on March 8. About 20 local related arts educators, including music, art, physical education, career tech and more, gathered at the Kenneth D. Simeral Building in Steubenville to share input and learn ways to motivate students and initiate classroom success. The session was part of a related arts grant that JCESC received from the Ohio Arts Council.)
Utica Shale Students Earn Safety Certification
Posted 3/3/2017 at 9:34:09 AM

SALINEVILLE-Students in the Utica Shale Academy have earned certifications after undergoing a series of trainings to prepare them for the real world.

   Director Eric Sampson said nearly two-dozen students from sites at Southern Local and Columbiana High Schools completed safety training to be used in the oil and gas field. The sessions were provided by Amanda Greathouse of Safety Pro Training and Consulting and began at the end of January.

   “We have 23 kids in our two schools that have gained their certification to be used in the oil and gas industry,” said Sampson. “These include SafeLand, Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Awareness, confined space and First Aid/CPR.”

   He explained that 16 SLHS and seven Columbiana students had to complete the sessions, which varied between two to five days, and take an assessment at the end of each training to earn their certification. The goal is to prepare them for the job front and also give them an advantage in the workforce.

   “They are not only applying with safety and oil and gas certificates, but I’ve spoken to people in the industry who said the students are even more marketable because they already have the training certification, rather than a company having to pay for it,” Sampson added.

    Officials are preparing for more field trips to area energy sites and incorporating lectures from professionals into the classroom.

   Currently in its third year, the Utica Shale Academy includes about 56 students between the two school buildings. Sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, shale school offers flexible scheduling to students in grades 9-12 who live across Ohio. Utica Shale Academy offers all of the courses required by the Ohio Department of Education, as well as PetroEd industry certification courses.

   For more information, contact Sampson at (330) 420-5353 or through the website at uticashaleschool.com.

Understanding Trauma Informed Care Focus of Session
Posted 1/30/2017 at 8:53:34 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Understanding trauma-informed care and working together to serve those in need were the focus of a special presentation on Jan. 26.

    Roughly 50 people representing area school districts, agencies and organizations gathered at the George-Pugliese Professional Training Annex in Steubenville to listen to Ann Brandt, early intervention specialist with Coleman Professional Services, at a session held in collaboration with Jefferson County Family and Children First Council and the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. The session was open to JCFCFC member agencies and included local school districts, Help Me Grow, the Family Recovery Center, the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board and the county Department of Children’s Services, among other groups. Brandt defined trauma and detailed ways that local groups could pull together to help not only clients, but also each other when aiding someone or facing an emotional incident.

    Brandt said research indicated the necessity of establishing a system to fully service people coping with emotional trauma, but it doesn’t only impact clients.

    “The trauma-informed approach looks at the agency, who you work with, where you work and how to service people,” she said. “It isn’t just about the clients you serve; it can be a co-worker or a family member. [It’s about] being able to be respectful and get individuals the services they need.”

     Trauma is a widespread, harmful and costly public health problem and occurs as a result of violence, abuse, neglect, loss, disaster, war and other emotionally harmful experience. There is no regard to gender, age, race, ethnicity, geography or sexual orientation and it is an almost universal experience of people with mental and substance use disorders. Brandt provided examples of trauma which may impact both individuals and communities, such as shootings, floods, fires, abuse and murder. The need to address trauma is increasingly viewed as an important component of effective behavioral health service delivery, but it requires a multi-pronged, multi-agency approach involving public education, awareness, early identification and effective assessment and treatment. Schools, case managers and emergency personnel also play a role and the development of a framework for the behavioral health specialty sectors could be adapted to other sectors such as child welfare, education, criminal and juvenile justice, primary health care and other settings that have the potential to ease or exacerbate an individual’s capacity to cope with traumatic experience.

    “We all have to talk to each other and help people,” she added, saying it helped better understand the connections between trauma and behavioral health issues, as well as in-guide systems to become trauma-informed.

    Brandt defined trauma as a “fear-based phenomenon” that impacts people in different ways. Some responses may not develop into a post-traumatic stress disorder while others can endure over time and disrupt a person’s daily life as well as their social and emotional health. She added that not acknowledging trauma only creates a deeper impact and could result in depression, fear or aggression. Brandt then cited the “three E’s of trauma,” or events, experience and effects, and said types of traumatic experiences included sexual, emotional and physical abuse, a serious accident or medical procedure, a natural or man-made disaster, forced displacement, war, school violence and even traumatic grief and separation. Signs and symptoms may include disturbances in eating and sleeping habits; clinginess or separation anxiety; repetitive post-traumatic play; flashbacks; being easily startled; and feelings of helplessness, restlessness, impulsivity, irritability and aggressiveness, to name a few.

    Organizations also must realize the widespread impact of trauma and understanding potential paths for recovery; recognize signs and symptoms in clients, family, staff and others involved in the system; respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures and practices; and resist re-traumatization. By utilizing these tools and implementing key principles such as safety, peer support and empowerment, it forms the basis of a trauma-informed model. The model provides a foundation of trauma-informed values, robust partnerships, clinic champions, support for providers and ongoing monitoring and evaluation; having a calm, safe and empowering environment for both patients and staff; holding screenings to inquire about current and lifelong abuse, PTSD, depression and substance use; and using on-site and community-based response programs that promote safety and healing.

    Brandt said it could be implemented through governance and leadership, policy, cross-sector collaborations, screenings and treatment services and training and workforce development, among other methods. She noted that trauma could impact individuals or a community as a whole, and unless people understand methods to instill healing there could be a lasting effect.

  “The goal for all organizations in the helping profession is to build a framework that helps systems ‘talk’ to each other, to understand better the connections between trauma and behavioral health issues and to guide systems to become trauma-informed,” she concluded. “We need to be productive and work together.”

    Linda Trushel, JCFCFC coordinator, said the initiative began after officials saw a need in the community and wanted to train local agencies. Trushel added that health professionals were not the only ones to play an integral part in serving others.

   “We hope that by educating those staff employed by county agencies about trauma and its effects, it will change the way we communicate to parents and children who have experienced trauma,” Trushel explained. “We hope to have all agency staff, CEO’s, superintendents, secretaries, teachers, janitors and directors attend a session that helps increase their knowledge about trauma.”

    More presentations are being scheduled, including another in Steubenville this spring and one being planned in Harrison County.

(Photo Cutline: Ann Brandt, early intervention specialist at Coleman Professional Services, led a presentation on how organizations could help each other and the community by understanding trauma-informed care. More programs are being scheduled in Jefferson and Harrison counties.)
Always There: JCBDD Celebrating 50 Years
Posted 1/23/2017 at 5:20:36 PM

STEUBENVILLE-The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities is joining similar panels across the state in celebrating a special milestone during 2017.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of county boards of developmental disabilities, or DD boards, which were implemented under state law to better serve people with special needs. Plans are under way to recognize the achievement following the theme “Always There,” and JCBDD Superintendent Michael Mehalik said the board has long been committed to ensuring that people with developmental disabilities have received quality services and care.

“The primary function of the board is to ensure that residents of the county with developmental disabilities are receiving appropriate services, including early intervention services, preschool and school programs, adult services, residential services and assistance through service and support administration to assist individuals and families make needed connections to other community services,” Mehalik explained.

Known as the 169 board, which is derived from the number of the legislation that established the county panels, the group is charged with overseeing operations of developmental disabilities programs in their respective counties.

Under the Ohio Revised Code, each board is comprised of seven members, five of which are appointed by county commissioners and two which are named by the county probate judge. Qualifications include being a county resident and an American citizen; an individual interested and knowledgeable in the field of developmental disabilities; someone with experience in business management, finance, law, health care, personnel administration or government service; and a person who reflects the composition of the county. However, those not eligible to serve include an elected public official, except for township trustees and fiscal officers or individuals excluded from the definition of a public official or employee; immediate family members of another BDD member; BDD employees or family members thereof; a former employee whose employment ceased less than one full calendar year to beginning a board term; an individual whose immediate family member is a board member or employee of an agency licensed or certified by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) to provide services to people with developmental disabilities; an individual whose immediate family member is a board member or employee of an agency contracting with the BDD that is not certified or licensed by the state DODD to provide services to individuals with disabilities, unless there is no conflict of interest; and an immediate family member of the county commissioner in the board’s home county.

Each member volunteers to serve four-year terms and can participate for a maximum of three terms, while the board meets 10 times per year. Current members include Jim Padden, Lorie Sullivan, Bill Kerr, Jim Morgan, Chris Irvin, Dick Allen and Dr. Ed Florak, the latter of which recently replaced longtime member and two-time board president Dr. Charles Joyce. On Jan. 12, the board reorganized for the year and named Padden as president for 2017 and also approved general plans to operate services for an estimated 350 county residents with special needs.

Mehalik said since its inception, the JCBDD has helped expand services to fulfill the needs of both children and adults, be it through the School of Bright Promise to adult services at the Jeffco Production and Training centers or Shaffer Plaza or by working with local school districts and community organizations.

“Throughout the years, the Jefferson County board has continued to expand the array of services to meet the needs of the community and has worked cooperatively with local school districts and service providers to make sure services are coordinated for individuals with disabilities. Currently, the board is focused on transitioning the adult services division to a private enterprise as mandated by federal and state requirements and is committed to ensuring that services for adults are high quality and meet all needs.”

Mehalik further praised their efforts in making it all happen.

“The members of the current BDD board are truly committed to the well-being of individuals with disabilities. A number of members have served multiple terms and do an invaluable job in giving direction to the management staff. It is a super board that works hard to benefit the people of the community.”

(Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities is celebrating the golden anniversary of similar county boards across the state. Each of Ohio’s 88 counties formed a BDD to serve the needs of the developmentally disabled and plans are under way for the local panel to mark the milestone with the state’s theme of “Always There.” During the Jan. 12 reorganizational meeting, the group named leaders for 2017 and also lauded them for School Board Recognition Month with handmade cards from School of Bright Promise students. They include, front from left, Bill Kerr and Dick Allen. Back: Superintendent Michael Mehalik, Dr. Ed Florak, Board President Jim Padden, Chris Irvin and James Morgan. Not pictured is member Lorie Sullivan.)

Presentation Set on Understanding Trauma Informed Care
Posted 1/11/2017 at 2:42:11 PM
STEUBENVILLE-Trauma informed care is at the center of a special presentation for local agencies later this month.

    The Jefferson County Educational Service Center, in conjunction with Coleman Professional Services and the Ohio Family and Children First (OFCF), will host “Understanding Trauma Informed Care” at the JCESC’s George-Pugliese Training Annex, which is located at 1913 Estelle Ave. in Steubenville. The event is slated for Jan. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to noon and will be led by Ann Brandt, an early intervention specialist at Coleman Professional Services. Organizers said it will be open to OFCF members and their staff.

    Linda Trushel, local OFCF coordinator, said it was the first time the presentation was being held and the venue was created to help fulfill a need in the community.

    “The Family and Children First Council identified the need to increase knowledge about trauma informed care to agencies whose staff work with families who have children ages birth to 21,” said Trushel.

    Among the topics discussed will be providing a foundation of trauma-informed values, robust partnerships, clinic champions, support for providers and ongoing monitoring and evaluation; having a calm, safe and empowering environment for both patients and staff; holding screenings to inquire about current and lifelong abuse, PTSD, depression and substance use; and using on-site and community-based response programs that promote safety and healing.

    “This is giving a basic overview of the concept of what trauma informed care is and how it relates to the community,” commented Brandt. “Trauma informed care is the framework of how to approach individuals and understand the needs in relation to traumatic events.”

    Such events may range from sexual or physical assault and natural disasters to returning from the military or a death in the family, and Brandt said the organizations involved in the program could provide a link to resources to help address issues.   

    Coleman Professional Services, which is located in seven Ohio counties including Jefferson, is a nationally recognized provider of behavioral health and rehabilitation services such as psychiatry, counseling, crisis intervention, peer support and even residential and employment services for adults. The OFCF is a partnership of state and local government, communities and families that enhances the well-being of Ohio’s children and families by building community capacity, coordinating systems and services, and engaging families. OFCF’s vision is for every child and family to thrive and succeed within healthy communities. The council includes agencies from Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Columbiana counties including the Department of Job and Family Services, Brightway Center, the Community Action Council of Columbiana County and area school districts, and officials said another event will be conducted in the spring. Those planning to attend the upcoming event must RSVP by Jan. 20 by contacting mfiala@jcesc.org.

Honoring Dr. Joyce
Posted 1/11/2017 at 2:38:56 PM

Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities honored longtime member Dr. Charles Joyce, who completed his third and final term at the end of 2016. Dr. Joyce served with JCBDD for 12 years, leading the board twice as president, and officials said he was instrumental in the development of the Jefferson County Regional Spectrum Center. He is pictured at center with board President Jim Padden, at left, and JCBDD Superintendent Michael Mehalik.

Graham Joins OVPEC Board
Posted 1/6/2017 at 10:16:04 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Jefferson County Commissioner Dr. Thomas Graham has joined the Ohio Valley Public Employers Consortium (OVPEC) Managing Board, which oversees a joint self-insurance cooperative for employers throughout Ohio.

    Dr. Graham, of Wintersville, began his term after being approved during the board’s Dec. 14 session to replace member David Manning, who served for roughly a year. The OVPEC Managing Board also includes Jim Herring, executive director of the Jefferson Health Plan, and Don Donahue, fiscal agent. The purpose of the board is to oversee the operation of the Employee Benefits Program and determine the general policies of the OVPEC, which is part of the Jefferson Health Plan and primarily serves public employers. It currently includes eight participating members with 10 to 50 employees.

  Dr. Graham said he hoped to use his experience with health care savings to benefit his new role on the board.

    “I have been overseeing the county health insurance for about 14 years and inherited a $10 million deficit, but I made major changes and we now have a $3 million surplus,” he added. “I hope to use my expertise to assist the board.”

    He is currently in his 14th year as county commissioner and also serves as an adjunct professor of sociology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Dr. Graham holds a doctorate in clinical sociology and also obtained two masters’ degrees in clinical social work and sociology with specialization in sociological analysis.

    Dr. George Ash, CEO of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, which is the fiscal agent for the Jefferson Health Plan, welcomed Dr. Graham aboard and said he would be a vital addition to the OVPEC panel.

    “We certainly value the expertise and knowledge he can bring and believe he will be an asset to the board,” Dr. Ash commented.

USA Students Learn Outside the Classroom
Posted 1/4/2017 at 12:55:23 PM

SALINEVILLE-Students at the Utica Shale Academy have been gaining knowledge outside the classroom with a variety of field trips to schools and energy companies.

   Director Eric Sampson said his students have visited colleges and other sites throughout the region to learn what opportunities are available to them after they graduate high school.

 “We went to Zane State College in September, Stark State in October and the Ascent [Resources] well pad in November,” Sampson said, adding that about 15 students also had a chance to attend the NFL Football Hall of Fame in Canton. “We went to Zane State and Stark State to see their programs and let the students see what college is like just to give them an idea of what other opportunities exist as opposed to going into the workforce [after graduation].”

    He added that both colleges have one- and two-year oil and gas programs and the visits allowed the students to gain some insight and possibly build interest in furthering their education. Additionally, a group also made a stop at the well pad in Harrison County to view the rig. Sampson noted that the trip to the Hall of Fame was part of a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports reward with SLHS students and included a tour and program with former NFL athlete Andre Reed on integrity and morals.

   “We thought it was a great experience for students to go and see something they’ve never seen and hear from a Hall of Famer on character.”

   More events were being slated around January and February, including classroom lectures by including Brian Logue of Express Energy; a visit to a fracking site with Ascent Resources officials; and certifications covering hydrogen sulfide (H2S) monitoring, confined space and First Aid/CPR. Sampson said those sessions were being led by Amanda Greathouse, an oil and gas expert with Safety Pro Training and Consulting.

   Now in its third year, USA has roughly 60 pupils enrolled for the 2016-17 school year between the main location at Southern Local High School in Salineville and the satellite site at Columbiana High School in Columbiana. It is sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center and offers flexible scheduling to students in grades 9-12 who live across Ohio with curricula required by the Ohio Department of Education, as well as PetroEd industry certification courses. For more information, contact Sampson at (330) 420-5353 or through the website at uticashaleschool.com.

(Photo Cutline: Students in the Utica Shale Academy have been gaining knowledge outside the classroom with trips to regional colleges and energy companies. A group is pictured here at the Ascent Resources well pad near Piedmont in Harrison County and includes Taylor Cunningham, Drake Cunningham, Takoda Kirkpatrick, Zach Robinson-Hunley, Brandy Lemasters, Cody Little, Joe Matheson, Faith Dickson, Jesse Dustin, Pachience Smith and USA Director Eric Sampson.)
JCESC Officials Speak at Conference
Posted 1/4/2017 at 12:31:30 PM
STEUBENVILLE- Jefferson County Educational Service Center officials recently had an opportunity to address their peers during the 61st Annual Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference and Trade Show in Columbus.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko and Director of Education and Outreach Teresa Silvestri attended the event in late fall and discussed “Creating a School within a School,” which focused on alternative schools and blended and online learning.

    “I have presented at a number of conferences but this was my first presentation at OSBA,” said Dr. Kokiko. “Locally, districts have faced a number of challenges to meet various learning needs from alternative schools, online options and blended learning. Given JCESC’s experience to creating unique learning opportunities, we believed this would be appropriate to share with school leaders from around the state as they may have similar needs.”

    Silvestri explained that districts can create a school within a school using online options.

    “This model serves students in a non-traditional capacity, offers differentiated instruction opportunities, a blended learning component, fits needs of the families, and reengages students leaving the district by providing online options, in order to stay enrolled in the district. Creating a non-traditional environment utilizing online courses will help reach students who might be disengaged with the brick-and-mortar setting.”

    She added that the feedback from their presentation was excellent, saying that many people asked questions and spoke to them afterwards. While it was Dr. Kokiko’s first time addressing the OSBA, Silvestri has spoken at the venue in the past and said JCESC officials submitted a proposal to the association and were accepted to participate.

    More than 9,000 people attended this year’s conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, which included nearly 150 sessions of panel discussions, workshops, one-on-one assistance and nationally renowned speakers addressing a variety of educational issues. Keynote speakers at the 2016 Capital Conference included actor and activist Ernie Hudson of “Ghostbusters” fame, actor and school board member Steven Michael Quezada of “Breaking Bad” and Emmy Award-winning journalist Leeza Gibbons.

JCESC Earns High-Performance Designation
Posted 12/20/2016 at 1:55:19 PM

STEUBENVILLE- The Jefferson County Educational Service Center has been designated by the state as a high-performing ESC for its efforts to provide myriad services in a cost-effective manner.

    Officials learned of the distinction through the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Budget and School Funding after making an application this past summer. ODE officials indicated that ESC’s across the state reported more than $54 million in savings for the services they submitted to the department. This represents significant value that ESC’s are providing to local school districts, which is only a fraction of the total savings provided each year.

  JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said documentation was provided to the department for consideration and information included such services as psychologists, speech therapists, legal services, occupational therapists, and a teacher for the visually impaired. In all, the services yielded a total savings of $654,370-- or 36 percent over independent or private vendor costs. According to the ODE, cost savings across all five of the primary services must generate a minimum of 5 percent for an ESC to be classified as high-performing.

     “Our goals are to provide quality services in the most cost-effective manner possible,” Dr. Kokiko added. “We’re very pleased to receive this designation and that we’re able to provide that level of savings to the districts so they can re-invest and repurpose those funds for other needs.”

    In the application, officials noted that JCESC embraced a system-wide culture of service to help meet a wide array of client needs.

    “JCESC coordinates collaborative programs to eliminate duplication of human and financial resources, participates in interagency collaborative programs across Columbiana, Jefferson and Harrison counties to provide efficient, cost-effective responses to at-risk student issues, and provides collaborative, cost-effective direct services for students with disabilities,” it stated. “JCESC client districts are located in the Appalachian region of Ohio covering more than 800 square miles and serving a little more than 11,000 students. Given the vast region and limited resources, collaboration enables the necessary services to be provided in the most economical manner possible.”

    JCESC serves Buckeye Local, Edison, Harrison Hills, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Southern, Steubenville, and Toronto City Schools in Ohio as well as St. Paul School in Weirton, W.Va.

JCESC Named Effective Sponsor
Posted 12/19/2016 at 10:11:52 AM
STEUBENVILLE- The Jefferson County Educational Service Center has earned a rating as an effective sponsor, making it among only five sponsors in the state to achieve that distinction.

    Leaders were recently informed via correspondence from Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction for the Ohio Department of Education. Sponsors are defined as those who provide oversight and ensure that community schools are upheld to meeting the highest standards. The sponsor rating, which comprises the 2015-16 school year, is based on three equally rated components: academic performance, adherence to quality practices, and compliance with all applicable laws and rules. Based on the scores of each component, JCESC received an effective rating and was among only five of the 65 sponsors statewide to achieve the designation. The others include the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, ESC of Central Ohio, St. Aloysius Orphanage, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.

    The sponsor rating scale includes seven to eight points to be considered exemplary; five to six points to be effective; two to four points to be ineffective; and zero to one point to be poor. JCESC obtained an overall score of five points and was found to be effective under the compliance component for meeting all relevant laws and rules and for monitoring their schools’ compliance with the codes.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said the state hired a third-party entity to interview the sponsors and a bevy of documentation and evidence was submitted for review. The ESC submitted initial evidence through the ODE to the evaluator and a four-hour phone conference took place in July to provide further dialogue and evidence. Sponsors also had a 24 hour window following the interview to submit additional data for review if necessary.

    “I was very excited about the rating the ESC received, knowing the amount of hard work and dedication our staff put into the sponsorship process,” Dr. Kokiko added. “The fact that only 7 percent of the sponsors in the state reached the standard speaks to the rigors of the process. The Ohio Department of Education has tasked sponsors with holding charter schools accountable and to ensure they provide a quality education to the students they serve.”

      JCESC serves Buckeye Local, Edison, Harrison Hills, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Southern, Steubenville, and Toronto City Schools in Ohio plus St. Paul School in Weirton, W.Va.

Utica Shale Academy Benefits from Mini-Grant
Posted 12/7/2016 at 12:08:26 PM

SALINEVILLE-The Utica Shale Academy has more equipment on hand to prepare students for work in the oil and gas industry, thanks to a $600 Best Practice Grant from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

   The program, which is based at Southern Local High School but also has a satellite location at Columbiana High School, will acquire six Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) monitors to help test for dangerous gases at an oil site. H2S is an extremely deadly gas found in some gas wells and the monitors help detect the gas and alert the wearer. U.S.A. Director Eric Sampson said the equipment is a vital safety component in the oil and gas industry and will be very useful learning tools in the classroom, on field trips and for safety training.

   “The H2S monitors are used in the industry and they test for colorless, odorless and tasteless gases,” Sampson explained. “We are going to use them as a training tool in class and wear them at the sites.”

   There are currently 65 students taking part in the shale school, with 46 pupils based at SLHS and another 19 at Columbiana, and both sites will utilize the monitors. The class visits oil rigs and other sites during field trips and Sampson said the training will be advantageous. This is the second year that the academy received funding through the JCESC’s annual mini-grant and last year’s allocation helped procure maps for the classroom. Sampson said the grants were very much appreciated and make a difference in the students’ education.

   “It’s an exciting service provided by JCESC that helps to improve our programs,” he noted.

   JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko commented that the mini-grants are a highly valued initiative of the JCESC Governing Board.

   “The grants provide an avenue for teachers to create innovative projects that will directly impact student learning,” Dr. Kokiko continued. “One of the goals of the Utica Shale Academy is to graduate students with job-ready skills. We are pleased to be able to provide Eric Sampson and U.S.A. with the resources to help reach their mission.”

   Now in its third year, Utica Shale Academy provides a blended learning curriculum and opportunities to obtain safety and related certification with the goal of graduating students who are prepared to join the industry’s workforce. For its part, JCESC has disbursed Best Practice Grants to an estimated 50 applicants during the latest funding round representing Buckeye Local, Edison, Indian Creek, Harrison Hills, Southern Local, Steubenville City and Toronto City Schools.

Lollini Receives Educational Service Award
Posted 11/22/2016 at 9:45:04 AM

STEUBENVILLE- A longtime member of two local educational boards was recognized during the Ohio School Boards Association’s 61st Annual Capital Conference and Trade Show earlier this month.

     Bill Lollini, a member of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board and Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board, was recognized during the Third General Session of the OSBA Capital Conference on Nov. 16 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Lollini received the Veteran Board Member Award, which is given to school board members in recognition of 25 and 50 years of service. He was one of 30 board members to earn the award for 2016 and joins JCESC Governing Board President Larry George and Vice President Kenneth Simeral, who previously earned that distinction.

    Lollini, of Mount Pleasant, was recognized for 25 years of service. He has served on the JCESC Governing Board for 17 years and previously participated on the Buckeye Local Board of Education for a period of eight years. He is presently enjoying his fifth year as a board member of the JCJVS, where he is honored to help educate vocational students for successful careers.

    During his tenure with the Buckeye Local school board, Lollini witnessed the construction of Buckeye Local High School and renovations to the current Buckeye West Elementary School in Adena and Buckeye South Elementary in Tiltonsville. He was also part of a board and administration that worked its way out of the state loan fund that put the district on stable financial footing. Lollini also noted many things the JCESC has accomplished, including the development of the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), Ohio Cyber Academy, and the Utica Shale Academy.

    “There have been many accomplishments, but most important to the students of our area is the fact that we continually innovate, fine tune, and improve the services we provide to local schools,” he said. “I would also add that the development of our Virtual Learning Academy and the continued growth of the Jefferson Health Plan give all of our board members a feeling of satisfaction.”

    He was also grateful to be honored for his longtime service to local education.

    “I sincerely appreciate being recognized for my service and it has been my pleasure to serve with many great board members, superintendents, and staff,” Lollini concluded. “When I became a board member, I started on a path that gave me the opportunity to meet and become friends with many extremely fine and dedicated individuals. This experience has allowed me to become a better person.”

    Dr. Todd Phillipson, superintendent of the JCJVS, credited Lollini for his commitment and said the recognition was well-deserved.

    “He’s been a dedicated board member here and has shown a desire to serve and help education have a positive impact on student success,” Dr. Phillipson commented.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko echoed those sentiments.

   “The Jefferson County Educational Service Center has been fortunate to have consistent, dedicated leadership among its board members and Mr. Lollini is a great example, having just received his 25-year service award at the OSBA conference,” Dr. Kokiko noted. “The ESC has benefitted from his governance for many years and we look forward to his guidance in the future as well.”

    Now in its 61st year, the Ohio School Boards Association leads the way to educational excellence by serving Ohio’s public school board members and the diverse districts they represent through superior service, unwavering advocacy and creative solutions.

(Photo Cutline: Bill Lollini, pictured at center, a longtime member of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board, was recognized during the Ohio School Boards Association’s 61st Annual Capital Conference in Columbus this month for 25 years of service to JCESC, the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board, and previously the Buckeye Local Board of Education.)
JCBDD Spreads the Word to End the Word
Posted 11/2/2016 at 10:33:08 AM

STEUBENVILLE- The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities is reaching out to area schoolchildren about removing the R-word—a derogatory term referring to people with special needs-- from society’s vocabulary.

    Representatives, volunteers and special needs students from the School of Bright Promise kicked off the “Spread the Word to End the Word” program on Oct. 27 in front of an estimated 225 second- through fourth-graders at Pugliese West Elementary School in Steubenville. Officials hope to reach more schools in Jefferson County over the next few months about erasing the R-word from their lexicon. It is based on a national initiative supported by the Special Olympics, Best Buddies and over 200 organizations worldwide.

    JCBDD Assistant Superintendent Mike Zinno, School of Bright Promise Principal Rachel Bodo and volunteer program coordinator/advocate Monica Rogers appeared along with program coordinator Paul Smith and assistant Gabriella Page, as well as special needs individuals Alex Talbott, Michael Talbott, Reena Switzer and Kaylee Peckens. Rogers spoke about the differences between people and how to respect those with mental and physical disabilities.

  “There’s one thing we all have in common, though, and that is feelings. We all have that, but often we can’t see it and our actions cause others to have their feelings hurt,” Rogers explained. “We are focusing today on our special needs friends that don’t often speak for themselves, and so we want to give them a voice.”

    She added that like typical children, those with special needs like to have fun, dance, laugh and socialize, and she wanted youth to understand that their actions and words can impact other people’s lives.

  “One of the things that hurt them the most is what they call the ‘R’ word, and most of you know it’s the word retarded,” she continued. “It is used to describe something that went wrong or, more hurtfully, is used to describe a person. Most people use the term not thinking about its meaning or how insensitive and ugly the word sounds. It’s a mean word used for all the wrong reasons and there’s a movement trying to ban this word from our dictionary. People who use it don’t realize the impact on people with disabilities.”

    Officials noted that the R-word website has already yielded more than 652,000 pledges online and Rogers encouraged the students to get on board and also ask friends and relatives to do the same. Videos were then shown to spread the message and she also suggested the students make their own production, which would then be posted on the JCBDD website and potentially R-word’s site. The students also signed a traveling banner that officials will ultimately display at the School of Bright Promise.

    “Let this change start with you. If you feel like you’re going to say it or call somebody that word just because you’re playing around, think twice,” she continued. “If you hear one of your friends or peers say the word, kindly correct them and remind them that there are children, teen-agers and adults out there with mental and physical disabilities and they go through a lot of difficulties every day, and that’s the last thing they want to hear somebody say. Let’s stop using the R-word!”

    Zinno said the idea for the program came about as a way to encourage respect for people with disabilities.

    “I’d been thinking about it and brought it to [Principal Bodo]. Our generation says it but don’t mean to be derogatory, so we need to raise awareness for it. Monica had called me about wanting to do a sensory program in

schools, but we got together and decided to do this,” he said. “We want everybody to spread the word to end the word and hope to reach the five school districts in Jefferson County. We want to encourage schools to make their own videos and we’ll post and advertise them and maybe get them on the [R-word] website. We want to make the word extinct from our vocabulary.”

    Zinno saying the campaign would lead up to March, which is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. For more information, contact JCBDD at (740) 264-7176 or go to www.R-word.org.

 

(Photo Cutline: Representatives of the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities are spreading the word to end the use of the word “retarded” in society and addressed about 225 second-through fourth-graders at Pugliese West Elementary on Oct. 27. Pictured is volunteer program coordinator/advocate Monica Rogers with Rachel Bodo, principal of the School of Bright Promise, special needs individuals Alex Talbott, Michael Talbott, Reena Switzer and Kaylee Peckens and volunteers Gabriella Page and Paul Smith. Hopes are to travel to the five county school districts and have them pledge not to use the R-word. The visits would lead up to March, which is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.)
OATEC Facility Plans Unveiled at Session
Posted 10/28/2016 at 10:13:06 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Plans were officially unveiled for the K-20 Ohio Appalachian Technology Education Center during a session at the Jefferson County Industrial Park.

  State legislators and local educational leaders met at the George-Pugliese Training Annex on Oct. 26 to discuss the facility, which will be constructed along the south side of County Road 43 (Alikanna Road) at the industrial park. JCESC acquired approximately 2.7 acres of land at a cost of $38,000 to establish OATEC and the deal was approved last month by the Jefferson County Port Authority and county commissioners. Plans are to construct a two-story, 10,000-square-foot building to house offices for an estimated 20 employees and a facility equipped with state-of-the-art technology. OATEC will expand upon the main location at the Kenneth D. Simeral Building in Steubenville and serve as a centralized hub for 21st Century skills, focusing on curriculum development, instruction, online learning, assessments, technology, collaboration and communication, and professional growth. The project is currently estimated at between $3 million to $3.5 million and should be completed over the next two years.

  JCESC Governing Board President Larry George said the site was a joint decision among the board members and support from local and state officials has been great. The facility will provide a long-term investment in the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) and the Jefferson Health Plan (JHP), a partially self-funded insurance program established in 1985.

    “I work with and for a great board of education. They saw our vision and where we wanted to go and we have a vision and belief in this county because we are from here,” he said. Not only are we expanding to a 10,000-square-foot facility, we are getting the foundation in for a 5,000-square-foot expansion in the future.Ultimately, we hope this project will spark future development of additional professional buildings in the industrial park.”

    He also cited the work of legislators to obtain funding for the project, saying that Sen. Lou Gentile (D-30th District) and Rep. Jack Cera (D-96th District) also helped keep the multimillion-dollar plan local.

    JCESC formed a collaboration earlier this year with Eastern Gateway Community College and received funding in April when the 131st General Assembly of the Ohio Legislature approved Senate Bill 310, which granted the funds to help construct the site. Sen. Gentile and Rep. Cera were credited with introducing the legislation with bipartisan support within the Statehouse and making the funding possible. Leaders said the project is not only a boost to the county, but also to Eastern Ohio.

  “This is a great project,” said Rep. Cera. “I appreciate the work the ESC has done along with EGCC to get this together. The ESC is a statewide and national organization with the services they provide to schools. We were able to give funding in the capital appropriations bill. It’s a perfect example of various government entities coming together and will bring economic activity to the area, and it will be more educational opportunities to Appalachia.”

    Sen. Gentile said JCESC and EGCC had a vision that the legislators were pleased to be part of.

  “It was a lot of hard work and collaboration and working with Democrats and Republicans,” he added. “We were able to make sure it stayed here instead of going elsewhere. I’m glad to see this coming to a reality here and look forward to more partnerships as we move forward. This is an innovative and visionary process and we’ll continue to support education and economic development in Jefferson County.”

    JCESC CEO Dr. George Ash noted that Sen. Gentile and Rep. Cera have always been staunch supporters of education and were instrumental in the passage of legislation which allows JHP to extend beyond Ohio’s borders to help save entities in other states on healthcare costs, plus it aided the creation of an infrastructure bank program that allows members to borrow funds for construction and renovation projects.

    “In the last three years, you’ve done so much for us and worked across the aisle and have seen the vision we have,” Dr. Ash told the state leaders.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko explained that the K-20 facility would provide resources for students from kindergarten through graduate school.

 “We didn’t want to limit the educational possibilities so the vision includes opportunities for K-12, undergraduate and graduate students as well as adult learners” Dr. Kokiko said. “The ESC has done oil and gas training [for adults], and the intent is for the facility to have value for all education levels.”

    Meanwhile, EGCC will also utilize the site to develop electronic materials for curriculum and marketing and JCESC is also looking to partner with other local school districts.

  “We really appreciate all of the support the college has received from Sen. Gentile and Rep. Cera. We are about improving the lives of students and citizens in the community,” said Dr. Jim Baber, executive director of development for EGCC. “We also appreciate the ESC for all of the services [they provide] to the area and state.”

  Patrick Keenan, JCESC’s director of buildings and grounds, gave an overview of the preliminary design and said it involved a brick structure with metal roofing. The site includes a large studio area with a booth to develop materials for teachers to use in their classroom lessons, while there will also be office space for employees and a conference room. Other additions include a potential sandwich shop that could also serve surrounding businesses at the park and a small wellness center, as well as parking for 51 vehicles that could be increased to 75 spaces in the future. The facility will also go green with LED lighting and geothermal heating.

   Environmental studies and other analyses are underway on the property. If all goes according to plan, officials could break ground around June.

(Photo Cutline: Patrick Keenan, director of buildings and grounds for the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, unveils preliminary designs for the Ohio Appalachian Technology Education Center eyed for the Jefferson County Industrial Park. State legislators and local educators met to discuss the project, which should be complete within two years.)
State BOE Candidate Gathers Insight from School Leaders
Posted 10/24/2016 at 11:25:45 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Local educators had a chance to share their thoughts and concerns about school-related issues with a candidate for the Ohio Board of Education during a special gathering on Oct. 20.

    Ohio Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-94th District), who is currently running for a seat on the state school board, met with a dozen superintendents, principals, and other school officials from throughout Jefferson and Harrison County to gain their perspective on education-related issues during a gathering at the George-Pugliese Training Annex in Steubenville. In addition to JCESC officials, districts in attendance included Buckeye Local, Edison, Harrison Hills, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Steubenville Catholic Central, the Jefferson County Alternative School, and Toronto.

    Rep. Phillips, who is in her last term within the House, has also sat on the House Education Committee during her tenure and focused on educational excellence across Ohio. She said her visit was an ongoing effort to open communication lines between the state and local entities. She questioned leaders about concerns and positive aspects of issues they are facing today and subjects included testing requirements, the state report card, teacher evaluations, and Ohio Graduation Tests.

  JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko made the introduction, saying Rep Phillips’ office reached out to the JCESC based on a prior meeting with Dr. T.C. Chappelear, superintendent of Indian Creek Local Schools, and the goal was to have a central meeting place with area educational leaders.  Rep. Phillips noted that she worked on school funding reform prior to joining the legislature and had children testify at the Statehouse and legislators visit schools in other attempts to bridge the communication gap.

    “There are 60 school districts in the state board’s district. I’ve been trying to meet with different educators in the region to try to get a sense of perspective from people throughout the districts,” she said, adding that she sought input through roundtables and other venues. “I want us to be in communication because it’s a big district and it feels very disconnected from where we are legislatively. I hope we can facilitate more communication and get more educators involved.”

    She queried the group about the biggest issues their districts were facing today. Toronto City School Superintendent Fred Burns said testing guidelines are changed without notice while Harrison Hills Superintendent Dana Snider said the bar has been raised for standards and teachers were constantly working to attain them.

    Discussion ensued and talks turned to accountability for charter schools while public schools must still work to meet standards. Rep. Phillips said efforts are beginning to place more focus on that matter. She also asked if any legislative decisions proved helpful to the districts. Dr. Chappelear replied that there were aspects of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee that he found positive, particularly the response to intervention that comprises a good, quality education. However, he did not agree with the retention policy. Officials said research has shown that retention negatively impacts students.

    Other comments were that the time spent on testing detracted from actual instruction while vocational students found themselves concentrating more on academics than learning their trade in the labs. JVS Superintendent Dr. Todd Phillipson added that the graduation requirements for Career Pathways were difficult to reach under the current point system.

   “You have industry credentials that’s 12 points and not all of the vocational students are getting industry credentials. The credentials are for a person who is an expert in the field. I think it’s a misnomer and the work keys are difficult.”

    Dr. Chappelear agreed that the three Career Pathways were rigorous academically and it was not easy to reach the graduation requirement. He added that too much emphasis was being placed on testing and no credit was given on students’ classwork. Rep. Phillips believed there would be more of a push to discuss graduation requirements.

     Indian Creek Assistant Superintendent John Belt also said state testing scores were below the marks set in Columbus. Rep. Phillips hoped that Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction, would visit the local area because he also wanted to gain insight from school districts. Local leaders said the community may not realize what the scores mean, but Snider said industries do pay attention. She added that education played a vital role in economic growth because companies looked at school systems when establishing a location for a new business in the area.

    Mark Masloski, director of the Jefferson County Alternative School, also mentioned that students with severe intellectual disabilities were not taken into consideration and scores still counted against a district.

  “If you have a high percentage of student with severe intellectual disabilities, we’re holding them to the same standards, which isn’t fair,” he continued.

    Dr. Kokiko later thanked Rep. Phillips for visiting and listening to officials’ concerns.

    “The meeting from Rep. Phillips was well received by our educational leaders. The JCESC was pleased to host the event. Having the opportunity to meet with folks who are integral in the development and implementation of policies affecting our education system is a vital part of the process. Rep Phillips facilitated a balanced open discussion around issues concerning area educators as well as those which are working well. We hope the open dialogue continues and conversations center on what is best for our students.”

    Dr. Chappelear said he was introduced to the state official by Richard Murray, executive director of the Coalition of Rural Appalachian Schools (CORAS).

    “He wanted me to arrange something in the area and I reached out to Dr. Kokiko,” he said. “I think she listened and what was refreshing was she shared a lot of the same concepts.”

(Photo Cutline: Ohio Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-94th District) visited with local school leaders at the George-Pugliese Training Annex on Thursday to listen to their thoughts on educational issues impacting them today. Pictured are, front from left, Angela Hicks, director of federal programs at Buckeye Local Schools; Rep. Phillips; Dana Snider, superintendent of Harrison Hills City Schools; and Jude Lucas, guidance counselor at Steubenville Catholic Central. Back: John Belt, assistant superintendent at Indian Creek Local Schools; Dr. Chuck Kokiko, superintendent of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center; Dr. Todd Phillipson, superintendent of the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School; Scott Celestin, interim superintendent of Buckeye Local Schools; Fred Burns, superintendent of Toronto City Schools; Bill Beattie, superintendent of Edison Local Schools; and Dr. T.C. Chappelear, superintendent of Indian Creek.)
George Gains Regional OSBA Award
Posted 10/24/2016 at 11:19:11 AM

                        

STEUBENVILLE-A local educational leader has been recognized for his ongoing commitment to student learning.

     Larry George, president of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board, was one of five officials who earned the Ohio School Board Association’s Northeast Region Outstanding School Board Member Award during the fall conference on Oct. 5 in Wadsworth. George has spent three decades serving the JCESC and 27 years with the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board, the latter of which he also acts as president. During his tenure, he has seen both areas grow exponentially with the expansion of programs and opportunities for staff and students alike.

    He cited the development of the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), Help Me Grow program, the addition of shared legal services to benefit area school districts, the creation of the George-Pugliese Training Annex that was dedicated in his honor this summer. George further touted his fellow board members and plans to construct the Ohio Appalachian Technology Education Center along County Road 43 (Alikanna Road) at the Jefferson County Industrial Park. The latter includes a two-story, 10,000-square-foot structure to lodge offices for an estimated 20 employees and a state-of-the-art site to expand upon current operations at the JCESC site in Steubenville.

    “I was surprised [by the honor],” he added. “I do what I do for the students of our county through the programs we offer the area teachers and districts. I was appointed to both boards and am proud to get to serve with such great people. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along this journey!”

    A 1971 graduate of Wintersville High School, he studies professional photography around the country but said he learned the most from his father, Jim George. He is a former news photographer and present operator of Photography by George. He was appointed to both boards and earned a similar distinction for 25 years of service, as well as the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Ohio Educational Service Center Association during its Capital Conference last year in Columbus.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko praised George for his commitment to improving local education.

    “The experience was humbling.  As you sit and hear the accomplishments of those receiving the award, you begin to realize all the time and effort Mr. George placed into school board positions over the years and how fortunate the JCESC and JVS are to have this level of commitment and service to our schools and community," he said.

    JCJVS Superintendent Dr. Todd Phillipson echoed those comments, saying George has been an asset to the school and its programs for the past 27 years.

    “He has outstanding board leadership and has the best interests of the students at heart,” Dr. Phillipson concluded. “He’s interested in providing the best education for the students.”

    The award was presented by OSBA President Eric K. Germann and Executive Director Richard Lewis and other recipients included Thomas F. Brophey of Wellsville Local Schools in Columbiana County, Susie Lawson of Tri-County ESC and Wayne County Schools Career Center, Kathy A. Mock of Austintown Local Schools in Mahoning County, and Ron Register of Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools. Nineteen counties comprise the OSBA’s Northeast Region, including Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Wayne.

    JCESC provides services to local school districts including Buckeye Local, Edison, Harrison Hills, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Steubenville, Southern Local, Toronto and St. Paul Catholic School in Weirton.

(Photo Cutline: Larry George, president of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center and Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board, was one of five recipients of the Ohio School Board Association’s Northeast Region Outstanding School Board Member Award during the fall conference on Oct. 5 in Wadsworth. He is pictured at right with Reno Contipelli, regional manager.)
Bethany Team Connects with Special Needs Students
Posted 10/19/2016 at 10:27:29 AM

STEUBENVILLE-The Bethany Bison baseball team returned to the School of Bright Promise on Tuesday and deepened the connection they’ve built with special needs students.

About 46 players, coaching staff members and even Boomer the Bison mascot arrived for the third-annual “Fall Out with the Bethany Bison Day,” assisting students in class during the morning and then joining them for lunch and recess. Team members shared some baseball skills outdoors before taking the students back to class and helping them on the bus to go home. School staff and many of the students donned Bethany T-shirts previously gifted to them from the team as they welcomed the athletes for the day. But it was more than just a visit; it was a special time that has had a profound impact on both groups.

Team member Sage Micomonaco, a junior psychology student, said it was his third visit to the school and he looked forward to it each year.

“I enjoy helping the kids and being around them,” he said. “Being able to associate with them, it’s nice. I look forward to the experience and I talk about it all the time at home.”

Fellow ballplayer Tyler Frazee, a sophomore political science major, said he mostly enjoyed the interaction

“It’s nice to know they are having fun with us,” Frazee added.

Student Dale McCoy also noted his enjoyment. What did he like best?

“Baseball,” he smiled.

Teacher Ryan Finney, who instructs youth ages 15-18 years old, was equally touched by the bond that’s occurred.

“I really like their interaction with the students and how they build that bond and relationship so quickly,” Finney said.

Principal Rachel Bodo and baseball Coach Rick Carver, a family friend, formulated the idea as a fun way to make a difference in the lives of those with special needs, but Carver said it has impacted the team on a greater level.

“This is awesome. The key is making them smile and that makes our day,” he said. “They are doing more for us than we are for them. It’s wonderful.”

This year, the team interacted with smaller groups to get to know the students better, and that idea sprung from an ongoing pen pal project. Carver said the time has also given him and the athletes a greater respect for the staff that works with the children.

“These kids have touched our hearts and [as for Principal Bodo] and the staff…, we have much admiration for them.”

Since their first get-together, a true friendship has spawned with students sending handmade cards and mementos that the athletes have kept as good luck charms. The team has gifted them with jerseys, pictures and even some sweet treats around the holidays in return. Additionally, Bison members have daily updates to the school while undergoing spring training in Florida and hosted a School of Bright Promise Day last April with the students as their guests of honor. About 50 students took the trip to the college, where they enjoyed a cookout and interaction with the team prior to taking in the baseball game.

The athletes will plan to welcome the students back at another ballgame while Coach Carver hopes for something even greater in the long-term: the formation of a Miracle League Field for the youth.

Principal Bodo said the day ran smoothly and she loves to see how everyone interacts.
“It’s always such an enjoyable day,” she said. “They enjoy their fellowship.”

(Photo Cutline: Bethany Bison baseball players Tyler Frazee, Adam Becker and Sago Micomonaco work with special needs students Dale McCoy and Kyle Talbott during a visit to the School of Bright Promise in Steubenville on Tuesday. It was the third-annual “Fall Out with the Bethany Bison Day” and the athletes spent the day interacting with the students in class and at recess.)

Cancer Awareness Fundraiser at JCTC
Posted 10/14/2016 at 9:40:27 AM

STEUBENVILLE-The Jeffco Training Center has turned pink for the second year and is raising funds and awareness for a cancer cure.

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for October, the facility is hosting the Jeffco Training Center Open House Cancer Awareness Event on Oct. 19-20 at 2550 Cherry Ave. in Steubenville. Everything pink will be sold in the recreation room from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and all of the proceeds go to Trinity Health System’s Trinity Emergency Assistance Relief (T.E.A.R.) Fund at the Tony Teramana Cancer Center. The T.E.A.R. Fund’s mission is to provide modest emergency assistance for individuals diagnosed with cancer in order to lessen the burdens associated with diagnosis and treatment.

JCTC operates under the auspices of the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities and provides services to adults with special needs both on-site and in the community. Manager Conni Giamos said the center raised roughly $1,200 last year which was matched by the Jeffco Workshop Non-Profit Board and organizers were gearing up to make more money for the cause.

“All of the proceeds will go to the T.E.A.R. Fund,” Giamos said. “We are selling wreaths, blankets, scarves, pillows, jewelry, flower arrangements and hats.”

She added that those and other items will be for sale at reasonable prices, while many of the goods were created by the center’s consumers with assistance from staff members. The first day will be open to consumers’ family and friends, JCBDD board members, and local officials and organizations while the second day will be open to the consumers themselves. In addition to the sales, free refreshments will be available plus there are chances to win a blanket or wreath in a 50-50 raffle. Facepainting is also set and cornhole and carnival games will be on hand for consumers during the final day. Giamos said a Tree of Hope will be displayed in the lobby and pink ribbons can be purchased for a $1 donation and hung on the branches.

Much of the center itself is decked out in the pastel hue with a series of slogans such as “Supporting the Fighters, Admiring the Survivors, Honoring the Taken, and Never, Ever Giving Up Hope,” “Crush Cancer,” “Hope for a Cure,” and “Kiss Cancer Goodbye” while more pink décor is displayed throughout the building as part of Paint the Town Pink event sponsored in the community.

She and the consumers were excited to take part since quite frequently they or someone they know has been touched by cancer.

“I like to help others,” said consumer David Verhovic.

“I like helping,” added consumer Rosie Harris.

JCBDD Superintendent Mike Mehalik added that the cancer awareness event is an opportunity for everyone at the training center to participate in a great cause that benefits many families in the community.

“It is a chance for us to give back to the Jefferson County community,” he said. “It is a wonderful event and every connected to it does a fantastic job.”

Last year’s proceeds helped cover costs for gas cards, transportation, medication, insurance co-pays and doctor’s visits, as well as assist with nutrition, utility bills and equipment. The T.E.A.R Fund has aided more than 3,000 people.

(Photo Cutline: Consumers at the Jeffco Training Center are thinking pink and raising money and awareness during the second-annual open house slated for Oct. 19-20 at the facility in Steubenville. Pink hats, scarves, bags and other goods will be sold and all proceeds will go to Trinity Health Systems’ T.E.A.R. Fund. Pictured with a few of the items are, from left, David Verhovic, Brandon Abshire, Nick Tost, Ron Banks and Rosie Harris.)

Gossett Named to OSBA Media Honor Roll
Posted 10/4/2016 at 10:37:19 AM

STEUBENVILLE-A local reporter was honored with a special distinction for his coverage of educational issues in the community.

    Dave Gossett, a reporter for the Steubenville Herald-Star, was recognized by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board for his inclusion in the 2016 Ohio School Boards Association Media Honor Roll. Officials passed a resolution during the Sept. 27 session and thanked him for his ongoing work with the school systems.

    The OSBA Media Honor Roll recognizes journalists and news outlets that provide fair and accurate coverage of public schools. Honorees in the print, radio, and television are chosen because they work with school superintendents, board presidents, and officials and report news in a fair, accurate and balanced manner.

    “I am very honored,” said Gossett.

    Board President Larry George said the award was well-deserved.

    “We’re just so proud to give it to Dave because he’s been involved with us and coming to meetings for years,” George added. “He’s been an asset. I’ve known him for a long time and he does an excellent job, and I’m proud to call him my friend.”

Community Partnerships Key to Privatization of Adult Services
Posted 9/30/2016 at 10:55:29 AM

STEUBENVILLE- The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities is continuing its efforts towards privatizing adult services to meet federal mandates, but officials say community partnerships are essential to make it happen.

Superintendent Michael Mehalik said the board has until 2024 to privatize services for adult consumers involved with the Jeffco Production and Training centers and the key is to build partnerships to assist with work and recreational opportunities.

“Over the next five years, our adult services division at Jeffco is going to need to form partnerships with a variety of community entities to create opportunities for more integration of individuals with developmental disabilities,” Mehalik said. “Those partnerships can be with recreational facilities, local gyms, our public libraries, senior centers, state parks and other natural resources-based facilities in the community.”

Officials have established links within the area and are looking for more entities to get involved, while Mehalik said the focus was shifting from a center-based operation at Jeffco Inc. to a more community-based system.

“It’s going to be a big transition,” he added. “As part of the Medicaid waiver, it is being required of all developmental disabilities programs around the State of Ohio. One of the major problems with making that transition is going to be transportation—how we effectively set up a variety of options in the community and handle transporting individuals to those locations. As a result, it may mean that we need to develop additional providers within the community to help make this happen.”

One aspect of the overall plan is recruiting additional providers who will come in and work with the adults, as well.

“The reality is that smaller workshops may be more effective and successful in getting folks integrated into the community. It’s easier to work with smaller groups than 150 individuals on a daily basis,” he added. “As we try to recruit additional providers in the community, we want to make sure they share that vision of community integration for adults with disabilities. Community employment is a natural way to integrate people into society. The more folks we can find jobs for, the more successful we’ll be at developing those relationships for them. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’ve already seen much success here in Jefferson County with community employment. We need businesses and individuals to give people with disabilities a chance for jobs within their operations.”

Assistant Superintendent Mike Zinno said opportunities could also include volunteerism and involvement in local organizations.

“There’s a lot more out there and it’s a matter of us trying to find it, not just Steubenville but around Jefferson County,” Zinno continued. “It would be volunteer work, socialization, clubs and organizations. We’re seeking ideas and have been asking around.”

He noted that they should also align with the consumers’ capabilities to make it the right fit.
“I think we’re scratching the surface. We need to look outside the boundaries of Steubenville, for sure.”

Officials are also looking to improve efforts with community employment. For now, 24 adult consumers work in society while another 55 are at the production center and 74 consumers are at the JCTC on Cherry Avenue. JCTC Manager Conni Giamos said a lot of legwork has been done to prepare for the change.

“The outcome is we can offer something to express their individuality,” she noted. “We’ve become more person-centered.”

To that end, consumers at the production and habilitation centers were surveyed about their interests to match them with available activities in the community. They were queried on art, music, health and wellness, recreation, volunteerism, and other topics. Personal profiles were then created that will enable each individual to work and participate in recreational activities. On-site work is still available at JCTC and consumers have assisted with painting, lawn care, can crushing, gardening, paper shredding, and janitorial work, but the training center also collaborates with Trinity Health System’s T.E.A.R. Fund and Images programs, Weirton Medical Center’s All About Women program, and the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County. The center implemented a Day Hab program in June to provide consumers with events to do both on-site and in the community. Consumers walk five days a week at Fort Steuben Mall, have lunch at local parks, interact with residents at Dixon Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Wintersville and Gables Care Center in Hopedale, see a movie at Carmike Cinemas, and travel to the library each month for a social movie event. In addition, they exercise at the Rocky Road Gym in Wintersville and representatives also visit the training center to be more accessible to the clientele. Giamos added that they are also assisting the Urban Mission Inc. with newsletter mailings.

She said the training center also holds community-based events such as a cancer awareness fundraiser for the TEAR Fund at the Tony Teramana Center; a “Go Red” activity for the American Heart Association; and a Christmas shopping mall for consumers to purchase items for the holidays. More ideas include making treat packages and delivering them to animals at the Jefferson County Humane Society; joining the Prime Time senior organization and taking part in their activities; and holding indoor and outdoor games, an art studio, greenhouse gardening, weekly craft and literacy classes, and a breakfast café at JCTC.

Additionally, Shaffer Plaza Residential Apartments has undergone some streamlining so it can increase services to a smaller amount of consumers. The facility now has 27 residents and comes equipped with 24-hour staffing, regular activities to promote self-esteem through socialization and recreation in the community, and individualized program planning and provision of services to meet the resident’s needs.

“We’ve downsized by four beds. The state is saying that individuals can have a better level of care [with] a smaller number of clients,” said Kim Dunlope, director of residential services through JCBDD. “I hope it works out best for the clients involved.”

Meanwhile, Mehalik said that the JCBDD will only monitor and not provide many adult services. While the change may be difficult for employees, it may also pose questions among the parents of those being served by the program.

“It’s something many parents will question simply because it’s different and something they’re not used to, but I think as they see the success of their sons or daughters, they will be in favor of the changes as they are implemented,” he said. “The bottom line is we really don’t have a choice. The federal government indicated that our window of opportunity is by 2024. By then, they expect to see most of the individuals with developmental disabilities have access to the community on a regular basis.”

For more information or to become a community partner, contact the JCBDD at (740) 264-7176.

(Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities is continuing efforts to privatize services and integrate more of its adult consumers into society. The goal is to provide more off-site activities such as jobs and recreational events and leaders say community partnerships are key. Pictured are, from left, consumers Scott Shean and Mark Cashdollar performing work at the Jeffco Production Center.)

Alternative School Finds New Home
Posted 9/26/2016 at 9:13:23 AM

STEUBENVILLE- The Jefferson County Alternative School Program has found a new home to help students with disciplinary issues thrive both in school and in life.

     Formerly housed at the Jefferson County Justice Center and operated in collaboration with the county juvenile court, the alternative school is now located at the Coleman Professional Building on Johnson Avenue in Steubenville. The program now falls under the auspices of the JCESC but continues to provide students in grades 5-12 an opportunity to succeed academically and progress to graduation outside the traditional class setting. The alternative school provides a structured, behaviorally-enhanced approach to students who demonstrate a pattern of maladaptive behaviors such as poor attendance, aggression toward others, withdrawal, poor peer/adult relationships and court involvement. The primary goal is to teach students the behaviors necessary to return to their home school program and function within acceptable norms of the community, while the school’s curriculum is aligned with Ohio Learning Standards.

    The move occurred on Aug. 1 and director Mark Masloski is overseeing the program, which has worked with nine students so far and serves county youth in grades 5-12.

Masloski previously taught at Conotton Valley and Harrison Hills City Schools and was an intervention specialist at Steubenville High School for 15 years, plus he taught scholar history and government and was a department chair. He said his new position allows him to implement programming that would benefit students with disciplinary issues.

    “Administrators in the school districts decide after going through the intervention process and disciplinary issues [to send those students to us]. “If an in-school suspension or time out doesn’t work, we are the alternative solution for them,” he explained.

    He added that students must attend at least five days, at which time they are assessed so they could receive further assistance.

    “My three goals are to ensure that everyone has an [Individualized Educational Plan], so every student gets a baseline assessment in reading and math to determine what their levels are; to give them coping strategies with counseling through Coleman Professional Services; and preparing for career readiness,” Masloski said. “I wanted to provide an entire curriculum in seven academic courses including English, science, social studies and math. Everything’s lined up with state standards and testing is done at the alternative school. After five days, we send an assessment with grades and comments on their strengths and weaknesses.”

    And being located at the Coleman Professional Building provides an advantage with counseling programs available to assist the youth.

    “We have a new partnership with Coleman for group and individual counseling,” Masloski continued. “We hope to get parents involved, as well.”

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said many people were involved in the transition to the current ESC-operated program and he thanked the Jefferson County Commissioners and Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Corabi for their support in making the shift seamless, as well as local school boards and superintendents who have backed the alternative school. They include Buckeye Local, Edison Local, Indian Creek Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Toronto City, and Steubenville City Schools. The JCESC also worked with Sheriff Fred Abdalla and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) to provide security for the site.

    “The districts worked as a group with the JCESC to develop a dynamic experience genuinely rooted in education and counseling aimed at correcting behaviors that have led students to the program,” Dr. Kokiko added. “We believed strongly in having an alternative education setting for the both the districts and communities we serve.”

    JCSO Deputy John Parker said security is only one of the tasks the sheriff’s office fulfills.

    “We are providing security to keep the campus safe so the student has a good, safe learning environment and assist the instructor to try to bridge the gap between law enforcement, education, and whatever social issues that may come forward to the actual school resource officer,” Parker commented. “We are trying to bridge the gap with them and help them get back on track in their academic career and help them be better individuals in society.”

   The program also works with Deputy Joe Porter, social educator Alison Burell, Coleman Professional Services Director Lisa Ward, and counselors Daniel Cook and Vivian Minto to help keep the youth on track. For more information, contact the alternative school at (740) 996-7104.

(The Jefferson County Alternative School has a new home at the Coleman Professional Building on Johnson Road in Steubenville and is working with youth to keep them on track in education and society. Pictured at the school is director Mark Masloski, who took the post this year.)
Utica Shale Academy Changing Fiscal Agents
Posted 9/23/2016 at 11:25:46 AM

SALINEVILLE-The Utica Shale Academy will gain new fiscal agents as leaders get closer to signing a deal with the Warren County Educational Service Center.

Officials met on Wednesday at the Southern Local Board of Education office and reviewed the agreement, which is expected to be formally approved at the October session. Warren County ESC representatives Alleyn Unversaw and Philip Hinson met with USA board members and representatives of the Jefferson County ESC, which sponsors the academy.

“We are working through October and transitioning accounts. On Nov. 1, it will be up and running,” said JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko. “That’s our plan.”

Officials discussed services the Warren ESC will provide in order to complete the move, which was prompted by state legislation.

“Organizations are no longer permitted to be both the fiscal agent and sponsor of a school due to recent legislative changes,” Dr. Kokiko explained. “In order to continue sponsoring the school, JCESC is assisting Utica Shale Academy in the transition to a new fiscal agent. The process of changing fiscal agents can be tedious, so there have been ongoing talks and this is an opportunity for all parties to sit down face-to-face, discuss policies, and meet everyone involved.”

Unversaw said there was an elaborate checklist but the Warren ESC would work closely with JCESC Treasurer Don Donahue to finalize details. He also asked the USA Governing Board to name the Warren ESC as fiscal agent. Leaders reviewed a draft contract and requested to be present when the board went into executive session on financial matters. Other discussion included the length of the contract and reorganizing board agendas and minutes.

“We’ll assist with General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) conversion and audits,” Unversaw added. “Right now, we do sponsorship and fiscal work at two charter schools. We work with the Greater Ohio Virtual School and Akron Digital School.”

He continued that the Warren ESC does not handle matters involving Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), grant applications, bank fees, audit and GAAP converter fees, and fiscal software fees.

“We’ll get the actual agreement in place and vote at the October meeting,” said Dr. Kokiko.

Meanwhile, the board heard from USA Director Eric Sampson, who said the academy yielded a total of 67 students at its locations at Southern Local and Columbiana high schools. Of those, 45 were from SLHS with 22 students at Columbiana. The breakdown included 25 seniors, 13 juniors, 18 sophomores, and 11 freshmen.

Sampson added that Brian Logue of Express Energy was continuing to speak at both sites and coordinate field trips for students. Several students have also earned RigPass credentials and 23 pupils were in oil and gas certification programs. He was also obtaining information on what was needed to obtain industry credentials and he was speaking with a representative later that week.

“We had submitted an application and will be walked through the process,” he said. “Things seemed positive. My goal is to figure out what we need to do to get approved so next year our students can go through the process.”

In other business, the board:

--Heard from Donahue, who said the present cash balance stood at $143,642 but payments would be due down the line. He added that the state now requires the annual budget to be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education by the end of October. He was working with Unversaw and Hinson to keep them apprised of matters;

--Adopted a resolution approving the Utica Shale Academy’s 2015-16 annual report;

--Adopted a resolution to approve the Sponsor 2015-16 Annual Report;

--Adopted resolutions to approve mercury and student concussion and head injury policies to update the student handbook. Officials also adopted the updated handbook;

--Approved a field trip to Zane State College in Cambridge in early October;

--Adopted a resolution to approve an updated attendance policy;

--Adopted a resolution to approve a federal programs staffing agreement with the Southern Local School District. Leaders said SLHS Principal/District Federal Programs Director Tony Delboccio will handle the duties on a part-time basis;

--Set the next meeting for Oct. 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the JCESC office in Steubenville.

(Photo Cutline: Members of the Utica Shale Academy Governing Board met Wednesday with representatives of the Warren County Educational Service Center, which will act as fiscal agent for the academy once a contract is approved in October. Pictured are, from left, board member Mark Johnson; Alleyn Unversaw and Phil Hinson of Warren ESC; board President Dr. Charles Joyce; USA Director Eric Sampson; Jefferson County ESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko; board member Mike Biasi; JCESC Treasurer Don Donahue, present fiscal agent for USA; and board member Bill Pitts.)

St. Paul Catholic School Joins JCESC
Posted 9/19/2016 at 10:08:56 AM

WEIRTON- The Jefferson County Educational Service Center has extended its reach across the Ohio River and now includes St. Paul Catholic School in Weirton under its umbrella.

    St. Paul School, which serves about 207 students in grades PreK-8, joined this year and has already seen the benefits of the center’s many services. Principal Lucas Parsons said the parochial school signed on following discussion with JCESC CEO Dr. George Ash and Director of Education and Outreach Teresa Silvestri.

    “We discussed trying to get it over here because we thought it would be a great fit. It’s been fantastic,” Parsons said. “We use the ESC to take advantage of professional development for me and my teachers and the eighth-grade takes elective classes twice a week.”

    Parsons noted that the site is incorporating the Virtual Learning Academy, which offers an online curriculum of 150 core and elective courses. One advantage is that seventh-grade students can now take Spanish, something which had only been offered to eighth-graders in the past. Meanwhile, the K-8 students can sign up for an afterschool program in October and spend one hour on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday taking elective courses in English, science and other subjects. Another plus is that teachers may incorporate the services into their own classes.

    “We’ve also been using [JCESC programs] for enrichment. If a student is behind, we use it to get them at a pace they can handle,” Parsons added. “As of now, we’re the only Catholic school in the area that offers it.”

  JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko welcomed St. Paul School into the fold.

  “We are pleased to have Mr. Parsons and St. Paul’s become part of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. As a group, we have a lot to offer our members and one another,” Dr. Kokiko said. “Being involved in education, we share many of the same challenges and having the ability to work together provides the opportunity to capitalize on each other’s strengths and collectively provide the best education possible to those we serve. Having another educator at the table further strengthens our group and increases the positive impact we can have on students.”

    Dr. Ash echoed those sentiments.

    “I wish to welcome Mr. Parsons and St. Paul Catholic School as they join the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, and I also want to commend Mr. Parsons for having such an innovative educational vision and mission.”

VLA Expands Course Offerings
Posted 9/15/2016 at 1:04:30 PM

STEUBENVILLE- The Jefferson County Educational Service Center’s Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) has expanded its course catalog to provide even more educational offerings to users.

     Teresa Silvestri, director of education and outreach at JCESC, said staff were continually adding courses to the fall 2016 online curriculum.

    “We’ve added Intro to Sign Language and Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word 2013,” Silvestri said. “To help better prepare students for testing, we are developing more test prep courses. We already have those for ACT, Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) and basic study skills, but now we are adding AIR.”

    AIR, as it is known, stands for American Institute for Research and the new course will center on English and Language Arts. In addition, a revised course is offered for computer applications and U.S. and World History.

  “We’ve revised courses to update them and the content and technology changes to make it more relevant,” she added. “We’ve added the Intro to Jazz and Intro to Rock-n-Roll for fine arts. We’re also working on additional test prep courses in American History.”

    Currently, the VLA offers more than 150 different courses and Silvestri said they extend beyond classroom subjects.

    “There are career training courses for students to find out about careers they may be interested in, as well as interviewing, resumes, and dressing properly. We’ve also added two gaming courses to learn development, marketing and scriptwriting. There are a total of nine entertainment and technology courses.”

    She continued that the VLA curriculum strives to stay ahead of Ohio Department of Education standards and requirements while officials also obtain input from the school districts they work with. The courses are based on need or state and national standards and help better prepare students.

    VLA is a robust, online educational delivery system that provides full-year and semester courses for students in grades K-12. It works in cooperation with school districts and can be used to service any student who is home-bound, homeschooled, in need of credit reclamation, dropped out, special needs or at risk, and assigned to alternative schools. For more information, call (740) 283-3347 or (888) 283-3347 or go online to www.jcesc.k12.oh.us.

Superintendents Hold First Meeting of the Year
Posted 9/6/2016 at 11:50:53 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Local superintendents convened at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center for their first meeting of the new school year, where they were updated on issues including increased truancy liaisons through a program with the Jefferson County Juvenile Court.

    Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Corabi and members of his staff addressed officials during the monthly superintendent’s cabinet meeting on Sept. 2, saying additional positions were created thanks to a federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant the court received this summer. The program began last year with Edison, Indian Creek, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School and Toronto participating but Buckeye Local, Steubenville and the Jefferson County Alternative School have since gotten involved. The court, JCESC, and districts have split the costs but the $225,000 grant will make their contributions significantly lower. The new liaisons include Aaron Hunt, Steve Eft and Denise Rusnak and officials said the overall goal is to substantially reduce the number of excessive absences among students.

    “We’ve hired three new liaisons besides [current official Sean Tucker],” Judge Corabi added. “The goal is to give you better coverage more often and get into the lower grades to nip it in the bud.”

    Court administrator Joe Colabella said the participating districts will be invoiced over the next few months for a one-time payment of $1,475 and the contracts run from Sept. 1, 2016, to August of next year.

    “It’s pretty significant savings with [additional] manpower,” Colabella continued.

    Since the program’s inception, the number of absences decreased from 52,000 in 2015 to about 47,000 last year. That is something the court hopes will continue with the increased service. Tucker noted that he would begin training the new liaisons over the coming week and they would be introduced at the schools next Friday. Each liaison will oversee truancy matters in two districts with Tucker also visiting sites for service continuity.

  “The following week they will be on a schedule and you will set the school liaisons in the schools twice a week,” Tucker said. He also thanked officials for their cooperation, saying, “We’ve always had a very good rapport with the superintendents.”

    Following some discussion, JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko thanked Judge Corabi and the court for their efforts on the grant and the program.

    “We are getting a lot more service at a reduction in cost,” Dr. Kokiko added.

    “We look forward to working with you and I think it will continue to be a good relationship,” Judge Corabi responded.

    Meanwhile, superintendents met Raymond Robinson, program administrator for Children’s Services at the county Department of Job and Family Services, who discussed his new role. Robinson said he worked with delinquents in the Pittsburgh area in the past and was transitioning into his new job but hoped to work collaboratively with the superintendents.

   Other matters on the agenda included the following:

--An update from the State Support Team about webinars to prepare for the Every Student Succeeds Act that goes into effect next year;

--An update from Angie Underwood, director of OMERESA, regarding technical programs and shared services through the agency;

--An update from Blair Closser, director of curriculum and professional development at JCESC, about upcoming professional development sessions and related information for educators;

--An update by Linda Lenzi, gifted coordinator for JCESC, on Gifted Enrichment Response to Intervention and Differentiated Instruction (GERD) meetings and other offerings for the year. She noted that an $8,000 Ohio Arts Council grant was received to host a related arts session with Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center on Project Based Learning on Sept 14 from 8:30-2:30 p.m.;

--Southern Local Superintendent John Wilson mentioning a state testing meeting with ODE representatives on Sept. 7 in Salem;

--Dr. Kokiko discussing home visits for prenatal mothers and other services available through the Help Me Grow program. He also offered the George-Pugliese Training Annex for professional development sessions to the school districts.

School of Bright Promise Begins a New Year
Posted 8/30/2016 at 2:35:01 PM

   STEUBENVILLE- The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities has started another year with some new additions at the School of Bright Promise.

    New staff, busing plans, communication systems, and amenities were added as the school opened its doors to roughly 80 special needs students on Aug. 29. Assistant Superintendent Mike Zinno said Lori Trikones and Carla Shields joined the faculty while Megan Mirasola was hired as speech therapist. Also new to the staff are Toni Wukelic as a one-on-one aide through Steubenville City Schools and Mary Close and Chris Thorne as substitute aides. Zinno said the new hires fill spots vacated through retirements and resignations and he was very enthusiastic about the program this year.

    “In my 17 or so years here, our school program is the best I’ve seen. I think the new staff members who are coming aboard are coming into a good system to the families and kids we serve. We’re doing a lot of things in the school program,” he continued. “We also have a pretty comprehensive professional service with speech therapists, an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistant (OTA), and physical therapy assistant (PTA). All of the professionals are housed and employed here.”

    The entire staff got prepared through a series of in-service programs for professional development, with topics ranging from fire safety and policies and procedures to reporting major unusual incidents and reviewing school behavior plans.

    Meanwhile, the mode of transportation will differ for children and adults utilizing the JCBDD’s services. Zinno said

a more normalized method is being instituted that will enable both sets of passengers to reach their destinations in separate vehicles, with yellow buses transporting approximately 60 children to school while about 95 adults will use vans and white transit vehicles to get to the production and training centers.

    “For the first time in our history, the children and adults will ride separately,” Zinno said“In January, we will have two additional transit vehicles that will help normalize adult transportation.”

    He noted that the school has another layer of protection with a $10,000 phone system that was funded with safety grants provided by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

    “Each room has its own phone to dial from class to class, to the office or the whole school if there’s an emergency. We’ve never had that before,” Zinno commented, saying the project was fully funded with two $5,000 grants through the JCESC. “World Radio Telecommunications did the installation this summer and we are thankful to the ESC for including us in the grant program. It was a big help to us in providing communication between classrooms and the main office. It will improve communication and is ultimately for safety.”

    Additionally, a new proprioceptive gym is being developed to help students release some extra energy. Rachel Bodo, principal at the School of Bright Promise, said the estimated $10,000 system is under construction in the Jefferson Regional Spectrum Center and could be completed in October. The gym, which is located in the physical/occupational therapy room, will feature safety mats on the floor and walls, a series of punching bags on a track system to move kids through, a crash pit secured with foam padding, and ultimately a rock climbing wall for exercise and exerting energy. Bodo said the idea was formulated last January and maintenance crews were assembling the system.

    “It’s a different way to meet another type of sensory need,” she said. “It’s the opposite of our sensory room, which is a more relaxing mode. It was a vision our OTA Anita Keenan had because we have the sensory room, and with the proprioceptive gym I think we are hitting all of the areas. We worked with her [on the design] and will have a schedule for use, but it can also be used as needed.”   

    The system gained financial support from the Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church in Weirton, which donated $2,000 to the cause, while the JCBDD is providing the remaining funds. Bodo added that proprioceptive gyms have been developed in many areas to aid autistic children and there was a similar need at the Steubenville school. However, the system will be available to all students.

  The School of Bright Promise and Jefferson Regional Spectrum Center serve seven school districts including Buckeye Local, Conotton Valley, Edison, Harrison Hills, Indian Creek, Steubenville and Toronto, and Zinno appreciated their support.

  “I thank the school districts for supporting our autism unit and Spectrum Center,” he concluded. “Without them, we don’t think it would be possible to do what we do.”

    For more information about the JCBDD and its services, contact the site at (740) 264-7176.


(Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities has some new additions this year by way of staff and equipment. Pictured with School of Bright Promise Principal Rachel Bodo, third from left, are new employees Toni Wukelic, Chris Thorne, Mary Close, Megan Mirasola, and Carla Shields. Not pictured is Lori Trikones. The facility also acquired a new phone system with safety grants, restructured transportation for adult and young passengers, and is now creating a proprioceptive gym for special needs students.)

Utica Shale Academy Enters Third Year
Posted 8/25/2016 at 10:15:55 AM

SALINEVILLE-The Utica Shale Academy has entered its third year of helping high school students get on track and into the energy field.

   Director Eric Sampson said a total of 56 students are currently enrolled for the 2016-17 school year at the main location at Southern Local High School in Salineville and the satellite site at Columbiana High School at Columbiana, but he anticipated the number to grow.

  “We have 37 students at Southern Local and 19 at Columbiana. I expect the number to increase during the first week of school.”

    Sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, the Utica Shale Academy offers flexible scheduling to students in grades 9-12 who live across Ohio. Utica Shale Academy offers all of the courses required by the Ohio Department of Education, as well as PetroEd industry certification courses. Sampson said this year’s program will continue to provide learning opportunities through guest speakers and field trips to area oil and gas sites, as well as chances to obtain certification that are advantageous when entering the workforce.

   “I believe we’ve found our way and the kids understand the expectations,” Sampson added. “We’re looking at different certification programs and [we already have] OSHA-10 certifications that can be used in any field. If they have certification, they are already very marketable.”

   He said the program will continue to educate students and officials have gained input from oil and gas representatives in the quest to prepare potential workers for the future.

   “We had an advisory committee meeting in April and they helped guide us on what the industry is looking for,” he continued. “We’ve also been able to build a relationship where their people can be visiting speakers and we can visit their sites. Brian Logue of Express Energy [who has assisted the academy] has also been planning site visits and speaking engagements. ”

   The word has gotten out about Utica Shale Academy and companies are taking notice.

   “We’re here and each year we have students coming out that are employable. They can work in the field after graduation or attend a four-year institution of higher learning.”  

   For more information, contact Sampson at (330) 420-5353 or through the website at uticashaleschool.com.

JCESC Hosts 28th Annual Administration Breakfast
Posted 8/12/2016 at 6:13:48 PM

WINTERSVILLE-School and community leaders converged upon St. Florian Hall in Wintersville on Thursday as the Jefferson County Educational Service Center hosted its 28th annual Administration Breakfast.

    Eighty-seven people representing school districts, colleges, community organizations, courts, and local government gathered to hear speakers, fellowship, and get ready for the school year. Dr. George Ash, chief executive officer of JCESC, welcomed the crowd and thanked the governing board for sponsoring the breakfast for nearly three decades. He also recognized board President Larry George, who along with Vice President Ken Simeral had a building named in his honor this past week. A new professional development building on Estelle Avenue is now known as the George-Pugliese Training Annex, which is also in tribute to the Charles M. and Theresa M. Pugliese Foundation, while the JCESC office has been renamed the Kenneth D. Simeral Building. Dr. Ash also thanked Mayor Dominick Mucci, who was on hand, and Steubenville city leaders for supporting the acquisition for the annex. Finally, he lauded Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko, who has led the educational service center since last Sept. 1.

  Dr. Kokiko then welcomed officials representing Eastern Gateway Community College, Franciscan University, Brightway Center, Jefferson County Alternative School, and St. Paul’s School and recognized new district and school administrators. He also summarized JCESC’s achievements, namely the more than $900,000 in grants secured for local school districts; $590,000 in safety grants given over the past 13 years; $170,000 worth of savings through shared legal services; the implementation of a truancy liaison with the Jefferson County Juvenile Court that has helped decrease excessive absences; trainings and other professional development that has helped more than 2,700 teachers and administrators over the past school year; $110,000 in savings through the Virtual Learning Academy; and the $32 million saved for Ohio members through the Jefferson Health Plan. He further noted that JCESC serves 82 of 88 Ohio counties through VLA and/or the health plan and is also one of eight ESC’s in the state to have accreditation through AdvancED, which serves 20 million people internationally.

  He concluded that, in essence, schools were part of the Nigerian proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”

  “The basic meaning is that a child’s upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family, sometimes called the extended family,” he said. “Even the wider community gets involved, such as friends and neighbors. Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community. I would contend that educating a child is, as well.”

    Meanwhile, superintendents Fred Burns of Toronto City Schools, Bill Beattie of Edison, Dana Snider of Harrison Hills, Dr. T.C. Chappelear of Indian Creek, John Wilson of Southern Local, and Melinda Young of Steubenville City Schools, as well as Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Principal Dan Hartman introduced their respective administrators in attendance and gave a brief overview of happenings in their school districts.

    The main speakers included Anastacia Galloway, a Weirton native who currently serves as a professional development associate at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo., and Cleveland-based attorney Mark Jackson.

    Galloway said Eagle Rock’s purpose is to engage young people in education with emphasis placed upon the high school level and full scholarships are provided to youth from low-income areas. Galloway also provides professional development services and has collaborated with JCESC and local schools for the past year on such events as the Principal’s Learning Academy. She has also worked with Toronto officials to address such issues as disruptive behaviors and interventions for discipline and plans to bring a team from Eagle Rock to the area on Sept. 14-15 for Common Professional Development Days and a Principal’s Collaborative event. Galloway will also host a screening of the documentary “Most Likely to Succeed” at Harrison Hills on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. and invited educators and members from surrounding communities to attend and provide input.

    Attorney Mark Jackson, who has provided legal counsel for school districts and the Jefferson Health Plan through JCESC, highlighted a series of state and federal court decisions that affect educators. The crux of his presentation focused on social media involving school employees and Jackson said policies could be put into place to address acceptable use and disciplinary action for misconduct.


(Photo Cutline: Weirton native Anastacia Galloway, a professional development associate at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo., addressed educators and community leaders during the 28th annual Administration Breakfast sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center on Thursday. About 70 officials gathered at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville to fellowship and prepare for the new school year.)

Buildings Dedicated to ESC Board Members
Posted 8/10/2016 at 12:56:28 PM
STEUBENVILLE-Two Steubenville buildings were dedicated in honor of some special leaders who have committed themselves to the furtherance of education.

Roughly 70 educators and area dignitaries gathered for a luncheon at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville on Tuesday to respectively name the Jefferson County Educational Service Center office and adjacent annex in honor of JCESC Governing Board leaders Kenneth Simeral and Larry George. The office located at 2023 Sunset Boulevard will now be known as the Kenneth D. Simeral Building in recognition of Simeral, who is vice president of the JCESC Governing Board, while a former church situated behind the office at 1913 Estelle Ave. will be called the George-Pugliese Training Annex in honor of current board president Larry George.

Dr. George Ash, chief executive officer of the JCESC, welcomed everyone to the event and said both men held a combined total of 60 years’ experience in improving education. As a result, the JCESC board wanted to show its appreciation and chose to rename the sites in their honor. During their long tenure, they and the board implemented the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA); provided shared legal and public relations services to save costs; formed the Utica Shale Academy at Southern Local and Columbiana High Schools to prepare students for the oil and gas workforce; and disbursed $590,000 in safety grants and $300,000 in other contributions for education. Additionally, Simeral and George have supported the Jefferson Health Plan, a partially self-funded insurance program that has saved entities $32 million annually, and also helped establish an infrastructure bank program that was approved this year by state leaders and offers capital improvement opportunities to local schools participating in the health program. Today, the Jefferson County ESC serves 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties through VLA and the Jefferson Health Plan and is one of 20 International Technology Centers in Ohio. Simeral and George further helped JCESC achieve accreditation through AdvancED, making it one of only eight ESC’s in Ohio to earn such a distinction.

Simeral, who served as JCESC board president for 30 years and is currently vice president, has also been part of the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School Board for 30 years as both president and vice president. He spent more than 40 years with The Ohio State University Extension Office and served Jefferson, Columbiana, Harrison and Monroe counties, eventually retiring as an associate professor emeritus. He was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the JCESC Governing Board and served as president for three decades, while he has spent the past two as vice president. He was introduced by Alan Hall, executive director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County and a longtime friend, who heralded him for his dedication to education and the community.

“People said Ken was a community leader and a community educator, and they were correct in that analysis. He’s supported the library system and has had a strong commitment to youth and education,” Hall said.

Simeral was humbled by the honor, saying the board’s sole focus has been to improve educational opportunities. He thanked God, his family, the past and present ESC board, administrators and staff, and local educators for supporting him through the years.

“I believe the board of education should set broad goals and agendas and hire good administrators and staff to help carry on the goals. I believe the community is only as good as the public education system can be. That’s why I believe it’s vital to fund public education,” Simeral continued. “I believe in shared services and I believe in the ESC’s concept to have education and services as close to the students as possible. Thank you so much for this great honor.”

George, a former news photographer and present owner of Photography by George in his hometown of Wintersville, has spent 30 years on both the JCESC and Jefferson County JVS boards and current acts as their president. He was introduced by Dr. Ash, who said George played an integral role in the acquisition of the training annex and assisted in gathering comments from neighboring properties on the plan. The structure will provide some much-needed space for professional development of local educators and houses the Help Me Grow and Family and Children First Council for both Jefferson and Harrison counties.

“Since I’ve known Mr. George, he’s always been an advocate,” Dr. Ash added. “He’s done excellent work and continues to show his passion and drive.”

“It’s been an interesting journey and I hope we’ve got many more years to ride,” George said. “It’s been a good experience. The county board…is there to help teachers and give them training and designs so they can do their jobs better. This honor should be the George-Simeral-Cunningham-Lollini-Schaefer-Pugliese Training Center [for all of the board members]. I feel as a county office, we have to be dreamers and go forth.”

More comments were made by governing board member Bill Lollini and Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Graham while proclamations were given by Ohio Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), state Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville), and Craig Burford, executive director of the Ohio Educational Service Center Association (OESCA).

“To provide over 30 years of leadership is amazing,” said Lollini, who added that the honorees’ heads and hearts centered on the needs of students and schools. “The biggest honor is to be able to call them my friends.”

Commissioner Graham said Simeral and George represented the best of both Jefferson County and humanity, while Rep. Cera and Sen. Gentile commended them for their service. Burford saluted the honorees and said buildings were brick and mortar, but the real work occurred inside those spaces.

JCESC has operated at the Sunset Boulevard site since 1981, but the building was owned by county commissioners until the ESC purchased it in 2002. Meanwhile, the former House of Faith Church and parsonage were acquired in early 2015 as a professional development center, which is imperative since the ESC conducted nearly 120 sessions this past school year and trained nearly 3,000 teachers and administrators. JCESC officials also recognized the Charles M. and Thelma M. Pugliese Charitable Foundation, which has funded well over $5 million in charitable grants since 1999 to help improve schools, communities, and nonprofit organizations. Because of the foundation’s continued support, the Pugliese name will also be bestowed upon the new annex. Furthermore, Steubenville city leaders were lauded for supporting the property acquisition.

“It feels good to be able to do what we can to help, and the Pugliese Foundation has been able to donate funds to the community that can help enhance the area,” said Tom Timmons, a trustee for the Pugliese Foundation. He added that the training center was another viable means to assist the community.

“Over the past several years, I have witnessed first-hand their dedication to area youth and educatíon. As we move forward, may the signs outside of George-Pugliese and Kenneth D. Simeral Buildings serve as a reminder to all those who walk through the door of what it means to be dedicated and provide service to the community,” concluded JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko. “May all the decisions and activities that take place ínside of those walls be made in the best interest of the students we serve and may we continue carry out the exemplary practices set by these two leaders.”

(Photo Cutline: Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board President Larry George, left, and Vice President Ken Simeral were recognized on Tuesday when two buildings were dedicated in their honor during a luncheon in Wintersville. The new professional development center will now be known as the George-Pugliese Training Annex and the JCESC office is now called the Kenneth D. Simeral Building. Both men have served on the board for the past 30 years to help improve education in local schools.)

Utica Shale Academy Promoted at Event
Posted 8/8/2016 at 4:29:47 PM

SALINEVILLE-The Utica Shale Academy is promoting its program during the upcoming back-to-school event at Southern Local High School next week.

   Director Eric Sampson said a booth will be set up at Southern Local’s Back to School Bash on Aug. 18, which runs from 5-7 p.m., and he will be available to answer questions and enroll students interested in being part of USA. Enrollment has already begun for the third year of the program, which helps prepare students for jobs in the oil and gas field. So far, more than 50 students are enrolled for the 2016-17 school year.

   Sampson said the program will continue to educate students and help them obtain safety and other certifications to give them an advantage in the workforce.

   “We will continue to offer all the courses required by the Ohio Department of Education for graduation, the PetroEd industry certification courses we have offered in the past, and we are looking to incorporate new certification opportunities for the students of USA,” he commented.

   He added that industry representatives have also provided input about bolstering the curriculum to help the academy’s students succeed in the field.

   “We met with folks from the industry at our advisory committee meeting held in April, where we talked about changes within the industry and what we can do to help increase the employability of our students. We received some great ideas and are exploring how to make those a part of our current program.”

   Sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, the Utica Shale Academy provides for flexible scheduling to students statewide in grades 9-12 and currently operates in two locations at Southern Local and Columbiana High School. Sampson said anyone who is unable to attend the Back to School Bash may contact him for more information at (740) 679-8162 or through the website at uticashaleschool.com.

Summer Manufacturing Camp Shows “How It’s Made”
Posted 7/22/2016 at 12:26:29 PM

STEUBENVILLE-Ten students got a close look at inner workings of local businesses during the inaugural “How It’s Made” Summer Manufacturing Camp on July 18-22.

Sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (R-Ohio), Jefferson County Educational Service Center and Eastern Gateway Community College, the event included middle school students from Jefferson and Columbiana counties and tours of area companies with related projects conducted at EGCC. Ryan Pasco, director of energy and engineering initiatives at EGCC, said the group toured facilities such as Nelson’s Fine Art and Gifts in Steubenville, Ohio Coatings in Yorkville, Cardinal Power Plant in Brilliant, Barium & Chemicals Inc. in Steubenville and ARM US Inc. near the Jefferson County Airpark in Wintersville. Following each trip, the students returned to the community college and worked with EGCC professors and instructors on projects centered on what they learned each day. Pasco said the small group number made starting the program easier and hopes are to build up participation in the future.

“They had a really good time. When they were done taking tours, they came back to the college and would do hands-on experiments and projects related to what they’d seen that day,” he added, saying officials hoped to continue the camp on an annual basis. “Sen. Sherrod Brown has already done this camp with other districts. We wanted to instill the idea that there is a career in manufacturing and may not require a four-year degree. We got together with the Jefferson County Community Action Council, Jefferson County ESC, Mayor Domenick Mucci and city council.”

Officials met since February and collaborated with the Jefferson County Port Authority to contact local businesses for their participation. The five sites readily opened their doors and Pasco, along with EGCC administrative assistant April Poynter, conducted pre-tours to gather ideas for each curriculum. Students spent Monday learning about computer-aided design and Photoshop-based production at Nelson’s Fine Arts, which creates everything from Catholic crosses to T-shirts; went to Ohio Coatings and enjoyed a full day of instruction in the company’s lab; toured Cardinal Power Wednesday, followed by further activities at EGCC; went to Barium & Chemicals on Thursday and studied crystallization and water filtering; and wound down with a trip to ARM, concluding with a virtual welding activity in EGCC’s lab. EGCC and JCCAC representatives chaperoned during the program while such eateries as Subway, Domino’s Pizza, Arby’s and Convenient Food Store donated food for the students’ lunches. Pasco further cited work by EGCC professors Dave Moffat and Ben Alexander, plus welding instructor Gary Coulter in the school labs. He also recognized Mark Nelson of Nelson’s Fine Arts, Rachel Blankenship of Barium & Chemicals for closing down its lab for the program, Ross Ivkovich of Steubenville City Schools for volunteerism, and Toronto City Schools for providing bus transportation.

Students on hand represented the Indian Creek Local, Southern Local, Steubenville City and Toronto City school districts and said they enjoyed the unique learning experience.

“It’s been lots of fun,” said Southern Local Junior High student Emily Walker. “It’s been really educational.”

“I mostly liked visiting the Cardinal Plant saw how it worked,” added Alfred Carducci, a student at Harding Middle School.

Caden Mason, Carducci’s schoolmate, echoed those comments.

“I also liked the Cardinal Plant because they took us up [14 stories],” Mason added, saying he has an interest in structural engineering but believes the camp helped show something people don’t always get to see. “If I [planned] to be an electrical engineer, I think it could help gain some experience.”

(Photo Cutline: Southern Local Junior High student Eric Colussy works on a water filtering system in a lab at Eastern Gateway Community College during the “How It’s Made” Summer Manufacturing Camp sponsored through U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office, Jefferson County Educational Service Center, and EGCC on July 18-22. Students toured local companies and completed activities at the college’s labs that were based on what they learned at the businesses.)

Substance Abuse Prevention Training Held
Posted 7/13/2016 at 4:00:49 PM

Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Educational Service Center hosted a substance abuse prevention workshop on July 12 in conjunction with the Family Recovery Center. Grant Coleman, program coordinator of the Family Recovery Center’s education department, provided information on drug trends, prevention, recognizing the influence of the drug culture on children today, and stopping problems before they start. It was the first time such a training session was held. Coleman, who currently chairs the United Prevention Partnership and the Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention’s Data and Resources Committee, is also a certified crisis prevention trainer through the Crisis Prevention Institute and has spent over a decade doing prevention work. Additionally, he has received countless hours of training regarding substance abuse prevention, including successfully completing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) nationally recognized Substance Abuse Prevention Skills training.

Manufacturing Camp Offers Unique Opportunity for Youth
Posted 7/1/2016 at 11:31:11 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Youth in Jefferson and Columbiana counties have a unique opportunity to learn about production through the Summer Manufacturing Camp set for July.

    The program, which is entitled “How It’s Made,” is being held on July 18-22 at Eastern Gateway Community College from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It is sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s Office, EGCC, the City of Steubenville, the Jefferson County Community Action Council and the Jefferson County Port Authority and is open to students between the ages of 11-14. The camp helps them learn about the types of careers available in the community through tours of local manufacturing plants and presentations by experts. The deadline to register is July 8, so interested youth are encouraged to sign up now. There is a $50 fee but scholarships are available.

    JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said it was the first time the educational service center was involved in the camp, which gives local youth a chance to view local businesses as they ponder their own career paths.

  “The overall goal is for kids interested in pursuing careers in manufacturing to experience this at an early age as they start to consider classes in high school which focus on the fields in which they hope to work,” Dr. Kokiko added. “You always hear conversation about the loss of manufacturing jobs in the area and how important they are to the local economy. We want to make sure the children know of the manufacturing jobs that are still here and promote interest in those jobs.”

    U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), whose office is coordinating efforts with JCESC and EGCC, said the five-day camp promotes manufacturing, teamwork, and local production facilities. The senator’s representatives met with local educational, government, and workforce leaders to offer the event for children in the area and JCESC is involved since it is considered to be a bridge between the senator’s office, mayor’s office, and school districts.  

      “Ohio has a proud manufacturing history that has driven our economy and attracted investment in our state,” said Sen. Brown. “To continue that tradition, we must get a new generation interested in manufacturing. The goal of our Summer Manufacturing Camps is to teach young people about the manufacturing job opportunities in our state and inspire them to reach their full potential.”

    It gives local students entering the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades a chance to learn about careers in their community, tour local manufacturing facilities, and learn from experts. Students learn how products are made, participate in team-building exercises, and work on a project specific to their community.

    The group will meet at the community college before being transported to the various locations. EGCC staff members will supervise the students, who will tour area manufacturing plants including Ohio Coatings LLC in Yorkville, Cardinal Power Plant in Brilliant, Bates Amusements in Wintersville, and Timet Corp. in Toronto. Then they will return to EGCC where instructors and business representatives will lead them in hands-on activities. Participants can make new friends and get a closer look at how products are made. They will also receive a certificate of completion and free T-shirt while a light breakfast and lunch will be provided. In addition, bus transportation is offered for all field trips.

    EGCC President Dr. Jimmie Bruce said the college has been involved with meeting with manufacturers to determine how to translate their production processes into a curriculum that the faculty could incorporate into instruction following the field trips. In addition, college officials have been handling details such as ensuring safety during the site visits and coordinating volunteers to supervise the students while at EGCC.

    “EGCC is thrilled to be a part of the Summer Manufacturing Camp!  It is a great opportunity to begin to expose students to the changing landscape of manufacturing.  So much of the manufacturing process is ‘high-tech’ and ‘low sweat’ compared to the manufacturing of the past.  Additionally, manufacturing job openings currently exceed the supply of trained workers and have an excellent salary and benefit package.  It is a great career path for many young people,” Dr. Bruce added. “The Summer Manufacturing Camp is a natural extension of our current TAACCCT grant. The TAACCCT Grant is a collaborative effort with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturer's Coalition to develop and equip an advanced manufacturing educational facility with both degree and certificate options for students of EGCC.”

    For applications or more information, contact JCESC at (740) 283-3347.

Summer Workshop Aimed at Substance Abuse Prevention
Posted 6/10/2016 at 7:33:05 PM

STEUBENVILLE-The Jefferson County Educational Service Center will offer a one-day summer workshop aimed at substance abuse prevention.

    The session is slated for July 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at JCESC’s Professional Development Training Center, which is located on the lower level of the building. The workshop is open to the public and will be presented by Grant Coleman, program coordinator of the Family Recovery Center’s Education Department in Jefferson County. It will provide information that all adults need to help prevent drug use and to recognize the influences of the drug culture on our children.

    Teresa Silvestri, JCESC director of education and outreach, said it marked a first for the event and aims to raise awareness about drugs that youth may be confronted with today. In addition, it will help recognize current drug trends and participants will learn specific strategies in an attempt to prevent substance abuse problems before they start. Silvestri said officials saw a need to address the serious issue and it also was the first time Coleman was involved.

  “We are happy to be working with Grant and the Family Recovery Center to offer such a great program and spread awareness on this important topic,” Silvestri added, noting that 20-40 people have attended JCESC’s workshops in the past.

    Meanwhile, Coleman currently chairs the United Prevention Partnership and the Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention’s Data and Resources Committee. He is also a certified crisis prevention trainer through the Crisis Prevention Institute and has spent over a decade doing prevention work. Coleman has received countless hours of training regarding substance abuse prevention, including successfully completing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) nationally recognized Substance Abuse Prevention Skills training.

    Attendees can opt to earn one continuing education unit (CEU) or one graduate credit hour from Franciscan University of Steubenville. The cost is $75 for one CEU or $225 for one graduate credit hour. For more information, contact JCESC at (740) 283-3347.

Utica Shale Grads Empowered to Become Trailblazers
Posted 5/31/2016 at 2:56:02 PM

SALINEVILLE-With a turn of the tassel, fourteen seniors became the latest graduates of the Utica Shale Academy.

   Southern Local High School hosted the second annual commencement ceremony on Thursday and celebrated the newest crop of alumni with words citing them as trailblazers who were carving their own path in the world. Seniors Christian Gillespie and Anthony Scalise respectively led the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation and Academy Director Eric Sampson welcomed guests, calling the occasion a brief moment in time that for graduates was years in the making.

 “As I was thinking about this evening and these students and the journeys they have taken to get here, I was reminded of a famous poem,” he said, quoting a line from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.

 “Graduates, all of you have been faced with the decision of which path to choose in life. Some of you go left, some of you go right, while others make a trail through the forest. Regardless of which path you have chosen you’ve all ended up at the same place. Here today, ending this journey, beginning anew. I must say, I am proud of all of you and congratulations.”

   He then introduced commencement speaker Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP). Utica Shale Academy has counted OOGEEP among one of its partners and a vital resource when it comes to preparing a future workforce for the shale industry. Reda also congratulated the graduates and said they had an opportunity to join an amazing venture that helps people near and far.

   “You should certainly be proud of yourself for accomplishing this goal,” Reda added as she also recognized families for their support. “Graduation is just one of those steps in life that defines a coming of age. You may be a leader, you may be a doer…but you will make an impact. The future can be extremely exciting and very scary, too.”

   Reda said life may not always be what people plan and there may be battles along the way, but true success is defined by how they handle those times.

 “It’s a tough world out there and nothing is handed to you. You have to earn it, and when you earn it you feel better because you earned it and it wasn’t handed to you.”

   Reda described the oil and gas industry as a close-knit family of dedicated and extremely hard workers who can face long hours and something different each day. She said there were a wide variety of careers available from truck drivers to machinists and seismologists, and at the end of the day they can say they applied scientific methods to extract natural resources from the earth. Those resources ultimately create those products that impact every person’s life, from fuel and plastics to tires, parachutes, and even medicine, and that was a remarkable experience to be part of.

 “We want to make a difference in the life of our family, we want to make a difference in our community, we want to make a difference in our country, and we want to make a difference around the world,” she noted. “If oil and gas is your career, you are part of one of the most advanced careers out there and that touches many lives. You certainly have taken key steps forward. It is hard work, but you have spent months training with new skill sets. It’s not the path to graduation itself that counts, it’s what you’ve learned along the way. Seize the opportunity. In this region, there are phenomenal opportunities. Go out there and make a difference.”  

   Echoing Sampson’s remarks, Reda also quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

   Sixteen seniors earned diplomas and Sampson and USA Board President Mike Biasi presented them to the 14 graduates on hand: Taylor Ballard, Josef Gibson, Christian Gillespie, Wesley Householder, Charlie Knight, Austin Lemasters, Jaqulen May, Brandi McCall, James Miller, Katherine Oates, Gabriel Richards, Anthony Scalise, Makayla Nicole Spicer and Tylor Thompson. Senior Charlie Knight then led the group in the turning of the tassels on their caps, presenting the Class of 2016.

   Dr. Mark Furda, superintendent of the academy, made closing remarks and recognized the board members and partners for the opportunities they provided the youth. He also credited Brian Logue, representative of Express Energy LLC and member of USA’s advisory council, for sharing his expertise with the students. Moreover, Dr. Furda thanked the graduates’ families for supporting their children and the academy itself. He encouraged the new alumni to thank those who have supported them in their journey and also to continue their education.

 “It’s probably the only thing in life you can’t get enough of. Learning and education are valuable, and no one has ever regretted learning.”

 One of those graduates is now on his way. Wes Householder, of Richmond, plans to study engineering technology and management first at Ohio University Eastern and transfer to the main campus in Athens. He said his time at the academy has shown him what the industry entails, and he is grateful.

 “It gave me an idea of what the industry goes through. It opened my eyes on one hand with safety,” he said, adding that his chosen field covers a wide area. “I like to work and there are a lot of jobs in the oil and gas field. Coming here really gave me an opportunity to see what’s out there in the industrial world.”

   Enrollment is currently under way for the new class. For more information, contact Sampson at (740) 679-8162 or go to the website at uticashaleschool.com.

(Photo Cutline: Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, was the featured speaker during the Utica Shale Academy’s commencement ceremony on Thursday. Fourteen seniors were on hand to obtain their diploma and were encouraged to blaze a trail into a successful future.)
Officials Gather Ideas to Enhance Utica Shale Academy
Posted 5/17/2016 at 1:48:46 PM

 STEUBENVILLE- As the Utica Shale Academy enters its third year, officials have begun looking at ways to expound upon programs and offerings to enhance education for a future workforce.

   Representatives of the Utica Shale Academy Industry Advisory Committee met May 4 with officials from Chesapeake Energy, Express Energy LLC, West Virginia Northern Community College, and the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP). The session was conducted at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center in Steubenville, which sponsors the academy, with the purpose of enhancing training opportunities to give students a true advantage as they venture into employment.

   “We brought people in from different parts of the oil and gas industry’s business and education sector to discuss things we want to look at as we move students through the program,” said USA Director Eric Sampson. “It was a roundtable brainstorming session to get ideas of what makes kids the most marketable and certifiable.”

   Sampson added that leaders were looking to incorporate those ideas into the academy’s program, and some suggestions included adding first aid, SafeLand, and heavy equipment certification. The next step is to view logistics to make it all happen.

   Among those in attendance were Leo Gonot of WVNCC, Brett Farnsworth of Chesapeake, Tyler Krimm of Express Energy, Charlie Dixon of OOGEEP, JCESC CEO Dr. George Ash, JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko, Southern Local Schools Superintendent John Wilson, USA Advisory Board President Mike Biasi, USA Superintendent Dr. Mark Furda and Brian Logue, a representative of Express Energy and committee member.

   “We convene each year to keep a pulse on the industry and see what we can do to make students more marketable or able to go on to secondary education,” Sampson noted. “I want to give a big thank you to those who took the time out to come help us improve our program.”

   “One of the goals of Utica Shale Academy was to offer an education path to students in preparing for a career in Ohio’s oil and gas industry,” added Dr. Kokiko. “As sponsor of the school, we are pleased to see the school staying true to their mission and working directly with experts in the field to provide a genuine experience with the best learning opportunities possible.”

   Meanwhile, Logue saw the gathering as an opportunity to bring officials together under one roof and formulate ideas to expound upon the program.

   “The meeting was successful,” he said. “The input we got from individuals will help with programs next year at the Utica Shale Academy. There were some really good ideas. [The industry’s] slow but it’s still strong in Ohio, and it will increase hiring in the future.”  

   As of now, 16 students are set to graduate and is an increase from 10 people during its inaugural year. A banquet and ceremony will be held at Southern Local High School starting at 6 p.m. for graduates and their families and members of the Utica Shale Academy Board of Directors will confer diplomas. Keynote speaker for the evening will be Rhonda Reda, executive director of OOGEEP and Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Foundation.

   Enrollment is currently under way for the 2016-17 term and is open to any student in grades 9-12 from throughout Ohio. The academy, which yields 70 students between its main location at Southern Local and satellite site at Columbiana High School, offers a tuition-free program incorporating traditional high school subjects and specialized courses relevant to the energy industry. The program provides flexible scheduling, blended learning, and hands-on activities. Students will also be eligible for oil and gas-specific certifications so they can leave high school ready to enter the job market. The site works with PetroEd to help students gain International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) certification, which includes Drilling Instructors Training (DIT), WellSHARP, and Safety RigPass.

   For more information, contact Sampson at (740) 679-8162 or go to the website at uticashaleschool.com.

(Photo Cutline: The Utica Shale Academy Advisory Committee recently met with oil and gas officials to brainstorm ways to improve upon programs as the academy prepares to enter its third year. USA and has already expanded from the main site at Southern Local High School and a satellite location with another location at Columbiana High School. Pictured are, clockwise from left, Leo Gonot of West Virginia Northern Community College; Brett Farnsworth of Chesapeake Energy; Tyler Krimm of Express Energy Services LLC; Brian Logue, advisory committee member and representative of Express Energy LLC; Dr. George Ash, CEO of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center; John Wilson, superintendent of Southern Local Schools; Eric Sampson, director of Utica Shale Academy; Charlie Dixon of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program; Mike Biasi, president of the Utica Shale Academy Advisory Board; and Dr. Mark Furda, superintendent of the Utica Shale Academy.)
Students Honored at ACT Recognition Breakfast
Posted 5/12/2016 at 12:27:42 PM

WINTERSVILLE- Juniors and seniors who achieved high scores on their ACT tests were honored on Wednesday during a recognition breakfast.

    Sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, the inaugural event was held at Zalenski’s Family Eatery and Pub in Wintersville and honored a dozen students from Jefferson, Harrison and Columbiana counties. JCESC Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko congratulated the eight students on hand representing Buckeye Local, Edison, Harrison Central, Indian Creek, Steubenville, and Southern Local high schools.

    “This is to let you know that you are in an elite group of students,” Dr. Kokiko said. “Our qualifier [for recognition] was to have a 30 or higher on the ACT. Nationally, that puts you in the top 5 percent of students who take the ACT. When talking locally, it puts you in the top 1.33 percent of graduates in all eight high schools.”

    He thanked the students’ parents for supporting them in their success. Dr. Kokiko also lauded Southern Local Superintendent John Wilson, who inspired the event, and thanked the JCESC board for sponsoring it. He hoped it became a local tradition.

    Larry George, president of the JCESC Governing Board, recognized parents for helping the students become high achievers and added that two of the honorees were juniors.

    “It’s quite amazing to see [that] we’ve got education’s finest in this room,” George added. “You are going to go places, but don’t forget your past. Go off to college but come back and help your community. Shoot for the moon but keep your feet on the ground.”

     Keynote speaker was Dr. Charles Joyce, former superintendent of Steubenville City Schools and past director and professor of graduate education at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Dr. Joyce discussed the value of an education and said he saw plenty of promise among the group.

    “I have a great sense of your success and I congratulate you on your accomplishment,” he said. “It gives me a glimpse into the future. Unlike other professions, we in education don’t always get to see the fruits of our labor. After talking to you students, I know our future here is very bright.”

    He said education not only led to opportunities for good, high-paying jobs but also made people more likely to contribute to society by volunteering in their community to voting.

    “The capacity of education is an equalizer,” he added. “Education has the power to level the playing field. We can even say education is a universal currency that is respected around the world.”

    He spoke about how his parents encouraged him and his five siblings to gain an education and go to college, and although he initially obtained a degree in advertising and marketing, he found his true calling as an educator. Dr. Joyce said the honorees’ parents have great expectations of them and no one achieves success without support.

    “Education is not about filling a pail; it’s about lighting a fire. The purpose of education, despite getting good grades and having a better job, is about making you a well-rounded person. Only you understand and will know what lights your fire. Your education will identify and confirm what lights your fire. I congratulate all of you students and parents for all of your success on the ACT and wish the best in all your endeavors.”

    Among the students recognized were Jayllex Mills, Ryan Moffo, and Rachel Romestan of Buckeye Local; Kayleigh Westbrook of Edison; Drew Mizer of Harrison; Kelly Kovach, Andrew Markja, and Harrison Trikones of Indian Creek; Reno Tarquinio and Maurkesha Young of Steubenville; and Haley Crews and Troy Holden of Southern Local.

    Buckeye Local Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller closed the event with words of encouragement, telling the students they deserved to celebrate their accomplishment.

    “It’s a great opportunity and I’m somewhat intimidated by the high level of IQ’s in the room. You students are in the top 1 percent of the [local] high schools,” Dr. Miller continued. “It is outstanding to see what you’ve done.”

    He encouraged them to keep rising to the challenge and work hard to become successful in the future.

(Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board honored juniors and seniors in high schools from Jefferson, Harrison, and Columbiana counties for scoring a 30 or higher on their ACT tests during a recognition breakfast on Wednesday. Pictured, front from left, are Larry George, president of the JCESC Governing Board; Andrew Markja, Indian Creek High School; Kayleigh Westbrook, Edison; Jayllex Mills, Buckeye Local; and Maurkesha Young, Steubenville. Back: Kelly Kovach, Indian Creek; Ryan Moffo, Buckeye Local; Reno Tarquinio, Steubenville; and Drew Mizer, Harrison Central. Not pictured are Rachel Romestan of Buckeye Local, Harrison Trikones of Indian Creek, and Haley Crews and Troy Holden of Southern Local.)
JCBDD Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week
Posted 5/6/2016 at 9:50:30 AM

STEUBENVILLE- The Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week with a full slate of baseball-themed events to honor staff that are in a league of their own.

    The School of Bright Promise surprised teachers with a newly redecorated lounge on Monday, complete with a fresh coat of paint, new countertops, and updated décor. Principal Rachel Bodo said the staff was told the lounge was off-limits for repairs over the weekend. She noted the new look was a homerun with the staff, but that was just one of many ways they were shown appreciation.

    “This week has a baseball theme, ‘Knock It out of the Park.’ Not only did they get a new lounge, but each day they got treats such as Cracker Jacks and Baby Ruth bars. They do need a quiet space for 20-30 minutes to be refreshed for when they go back into the classroom.”

    Plans were made in February, and since spring and baseball are pretty synonymous the staff was greeted with goodies and one highlight was a concession stand featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, pretzels, nachos, and drinks. Officials covered all the bases by playing related music such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while the building was decorated with sports-themed signs to spur excitement. More treats were distributed throughout the week and Friday featured a baseball cake to enjoy.

    Bodo said the purpose was to show how the staff really worked as a team to help the special needs students they serve.

    “They come in each day, and this isn’t your typical school day,” she continued. “When working with special needs kids, we don’t get to tell them all the time what a great job they do. I think all teachers, no matter what school they are in, should feel appreciated and it goes a long way. My staff deserves it a lot.”

    JCBDD Superintendent Mike Mehalik echoed those comments.

   “The staff at the School of Bright Promise does a wonderful job of helping students achieve everything they possibly can. Their efforts often help students achieve much more than ever expected, and it’s amazing to see the wonderful accomplishments of the students because of their efforts.”

 (Photo Cutline: Staff members at the School of Bright Promise enjoyed ballpark concession foods at a makeshift stand during Teacher Appreciation Week on Wednesday. School officials distributed baseball-themed goodies, decorated the school with related signs, and surprised staff with a newly remodeled lounge complete with fresh paint and countertops.)

Utica Shale Academy Graduating Second Class
Posted 5/4/2016 at 10:11:51 AM

SALINEVILLE-The number of graduates is growing at the Utica Shale Academy, which is planning its commencement on May 26.

   Members of the Utica Shale Academy Board of Directors will confer degrees to 18 seniors during the event, which begins around 6:45 p.m. and will be preceded by a dinner for the graduates and their family. Keynote speaker will be Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) and Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Foundation.

   According to her biography, Reda helped form the organization in 1997. Prior to that, she served as vice president of internal affairs and public information for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association for more than a decade and had worked for several oil and gas companies including CGAS Exploration, Inc., Philip Brown Oil Well Services, Inc., and Halwell/Energy Omega, Inc. Collectively, she has more than 26 years of experience in the crude oil and natural gas industry. Reda also serves on the Public Outreach Committee of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) and the Communications Committee for the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and is an active member of such organizations as the IPAA, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the Ohio Geological Society. Additionally, she has received numerous state and national awards and accolades for OOGEEP’s efforts including the Ohio Oil and Gas Association’s Oilfield Patriot Award, the American Association of Petroleum Geologist’s Eastern Section’s Presidential Award for Public Outreach, the EPA’s Ohio Environmental Education Award for Outstanding Program, and the IOGCC’s Public Outreach Stewardship Award, to name a few.

   Director Eric Sampson said the number of graduates has increased by eight people, and now they will head out into the world with an advantage in the workforce. Between guest speakers from the industry to visits to area rig sites, students have been getting schooled on what the energy field is about. They have also gained certification that goes a long way when working in the business.

   “We went to a rig site in Piedmont, had lectures from Brian Logue [of Express Energy LLC] , and students received OSHA 10 training, plus we took a field trip to West Virginia Northern Community College to look at their associate degree program,” Sampson added. “We have also applied for Industry Credential Certification and are waiting for approval. If students earn certification through the Utica Shale Academy, they can do work assessments in reading and math through the state as an alternative to taking AIR and Ohio Graduation Tests to graduate.”

 The site works with PetroEd to help students gain International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) certification, which includes Drilling Instructors Training (DIT), WellSHARP, and Safety RigPass.

   The Utica Shale Academy is a tuition-free program that incorporates traditional high school subjects and specialized courses relevant to the energy industry. Sponsored by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, the program provides flexible scheduling and blended learning to students statewide in grades 9-12, as well as hands-on activities. Pupils will also be eligible for oil and gas-specific certifications so they can leave high school ready to enter the job market.

   Now wrapping up its second year, the Utica Shale Academy has a total of 70 students between its main site at Southern Local and a satellite site at Columbiana High School. Registration is also being taken for next year’s program. For more information about the Utica Shale Academy or its satellite location, contact Sampson at (740) 679-8162 or go to the website at uticashaleschool.com.

JCESC, EGCC Collaborating on Technology, Education Center
Posted 4/27/2016 at 10:21:24 AM

STEUBENVILLE-A collaboration between Eastern Gateway Community College and the Jefferson County Educational Service Center has gotten a financial infusion from the state and hopes are to provide a state-of-the-art facility for learning.

Officials learned last week that the 131st General Assembly of the Ohio Legislature approved Senate Bill 310, which granted $250,000 through the state’s Capital Budget to form the K-20 Ohio Appalachian Technology and Education Center (OATEC). Although plans remain preliminary, educational leaders want to establish a site in the Steubenville area that will serve as a centralized hub for 21st Century skills and focus on curriculum development, instruction, online learning, assessments, technology, collaboration and communication, and professional growth. Plans are to build a facility and the goal of OATEC is to foster a collaboration between JCESC and EGCC and the local and surrounding learning community. The center would combine premiere training essential to the online learning environment and bridge the digital divide.

Dr. George Ash, chief executive officer of JCESC, said an application was submitted last year and it was a competitive grant process, but he was thrilled to learn that the OATEC was awarded funding. It is also another example of the educational service center’s longtime partnership with EGCC to enhance learning opportunities.

“We were fortunate to receive $250,000 to create a state-of-the-art technology and education center to serve our surrounding community. It is a competitive process against larger cities, and for JCESC and Eastern Gateway to be awarded is fantastic. We have worked together collaboratively for a number of years on different projects, and we look forward to working with [EGCC President] Dr. Jimmie Bruce and his staff on this technology and educational center. Dr. Bruce has a vision to enhance online learning program at EGCC and we also want to expand our online capabilities. We would have an opportunity for shared space for teachers to do state-of-the-art videos and create animation.”

He further credited state Reps. Jack Cera (D-96th District), Andy Thompson (R- 95th District), and Tim Ginter (R-5th District) and Sen. Lou Gentile (D-30th District) for introducing the legislation. It also received support from Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-29th District), Rep. Jim Buchy (R-84th District), Rep. Robert Cupp (R-4th District), Sen. John Eklund (R-18th District), Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-31st District), Sen. Frank LaRose (R-27th District), Rep. Ron Maag (R-62nd District), Sen. Tom Sawyer (D-28th District), Sen. William Seitz (R-8th District), and Rep. Ryan Smith (R-93rd District). More supporters have included Jeannette Wierzbicki, executive director of the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA); Misty Casto, executive director of the Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District; James Kinnick, executive director of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments; and John W. Hemmings III, executive director of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC).

“We had bipartisan support and certainly can’t stress enough how our legislators have brought funding back to the area. Sen. Gentile and Rep. Cera were instrumental in the process and their support has been invaluable,” Dr. Ash continued. “We appreciate the support of Rep. Ginter and Rep. Thompson for the submission of our Capital Budget request also.”

JCESC Board President Larry George echoed those remarks and said the legislative support will help carry local efforts for education well into the future.

“It’s fantastic that the politicians on both sides of the aisle felt we had a need,” George added. “Sen. Gentile and Rep. Cera were on board since the beginning. When we explained what the plan was, they were instrumental in sponsoring it and making it happen. [The center] will house virtual learning and OMEGA liked the fact that it could open up possibilities for districts in the Appalachian region. It’s just one more step for us to look to tomorrow with the ESC and continue moving forward, and it will keep us viable far into the future.”

EGCC provides post-secondary education at its campuses in Steubenville, Youngstown, and Warren, as well as through online degrees, programs and certifications. Growing emphasis has been placed on developing and expanding online educational options, and the OATEC would provide the space and resources necessary to prepare people within the Appalachian region for the workforce. Meanwhile, the JCESC is also looking to partner with other local schools in the area.

For its part, the JCESC has offered programs for school-aged children and adults through its Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), which offers more than 200 courses that are fully aligned with Ohio’s educational standards. Since 2004, it has enrolled over 50,000 students in 173 school districts statewide. JCESC is a nationally accredited educational resource center for districts in Jefferson, Harrison, Carroll, Belmont, and Columbiana counties and the service area spans more than 1,378 miles, in addition to providing services to more than 18,000 students, over 300 political subdivisions, and 82 of 88 counties in Ohio.

Friendship is in the Cards
Posted 4/19/2016 at 11:44:16 AM

Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities

STEUBENVILLE-As the Bethany Bison baseball team hosts students at the School of Bright Promise for a day of fun and sports on April 19, a sweet story has come to light about a sentimental gesture among the players.

A friendship formed over the past several years as the team visited the school for Fall Out with the Bethany Bison Day in October, and since the team has provided jerseys and pictures plus daily updates to the school while undergoing spring training in Florida. Now they are hosting School of Bright Promise Day next week with the students as their guests of honor. About 50 students will be joined by school staffers during their trip to the college, where they will enjoy a cookout and interaction with the team prior to taking in the baseball game. A special extended school day is set and the students are scheduled to arrive at Bethany College around 11 a.m., where they will congregate with the baseball players, enjoy a meal, and attend the 2 p.m. ballgame. The buses are set to return to Steubenville and students can be picked up at the school around 4:45 p.m.

The special needs students have also sent homemade cards to the players with messages of cheer and thoughtfulness, and Coach Rick Carver recently learned members were keeping them as good luck charms after player Kelean Welch nearly damaged his during a game.

“We were getting ready for a game and the player was frantically looking around the dugout,” Carver said. “I asked him why he was doing it and he said so the note from the kids wouldn’t get wet.”

Carver said four other players then produced similar cards, which they had laminated and kept in their pockets.

“Other guys had cards and one was from around Christmastime,” he added. “The classes keep sending stuff and they are personally addressed to the players. I know the guys are happy to get stuff in the mail and some put them in their rooms. It was amazing to me that it happened. It’s very touching, and what really overwhelmed me was when the other guys had their cards.”

He said the time players have spent at the School of Bright Promise has had a profound effect on them. The visits to the Steubenville site began a few years ago as a sort of wake-up call after hearing his team members complain about issues in their own lives.

“The first reason we needed to do it was to get them to appreciate the good things going on in their lives,” Carver explained. “They needed to be thankful about what they do have as opposed to what they don’t have.”

He continued that the School of Bright Promise students are excited when they see the team.

“The treatment they give us is what you dream about. The team is idolized by a bunch of kids and they sign autographs.”

Welch, a sophomore from Follansbee who plays outfielder for the team, said he had his card all year and even took it to spring training.

“I love the kids at the school. It’s a fantastic experience to be around them. It’s very humbling,” he said. “Initially, it had nothing to do with the school. My dad has been a huge part of my life, and when I wasn’t doing well [at sports] he said to put something in my pocket. I was struggling at the beginning of the season and decided to change it up. Coach Carver game me a card and I kept it in my pocket.”

He recalled the day his team took on LaRoche College and he had sat in rainwater, causing some of the ink to run on the card. He looked for a plastic bag to protect his valuable trinket and wrote on the bag: “Who do you play for?”

“I only play with this one,” he continued. “I have all of them. There’s one from Easter and a few thank you cards.”

Welch was familiar with special needs students since his mother often worked with them as a kindergarten teacher in Brooke County Schools. He visited the School of Bright Promise for the first time this past fall and was moved by the experience.

“It meant so much to them, and you don’t realize how fortunate you are until you leave an experience like that.”

Like Welch, teammate Alex Fenstermaker, a junior from Kirtland, Ohio, who is a team pitcher, said he was brought up around people with disabilities since his own mother has worked for the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

“I grew up working with adults at the workshop each summer,” he said. “Special education and developmental disabilities have always been an important part of my life.”

Fenstermaker is currently minoring in special education and has been completing his observation hours at the Jefferson County site. As for keeping the card and working with the developmentally disabled, he said he enjoys it.

“It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy working with the kids,” he said. “I held onto my card. It was after our Florida trip and the coach gave us mail they sent to us. I put it in my pocket and forgot about it, but then I left it there. If something works, don’t fix it.”

Rachel Bodo, principal at the School of Bright Promise, said it touched her heart when she learned that members of the baseball team were keeping her students’ cards close by.

“To see college players hold value to cards given to them by kids with special needs is indescribable,” she said. “They have made an attachment to special needs children and they hold them dear to their heart. I think that’s something that’s few and far between in this world.”

(Photo Cutline: Bethany Bison baseball players Alex Fenstermaker, Jake Stemmerich, Joe Hoffmann, Kelean Welch, Ryan Bisi, and Hunter Kaschke hold the homemade cards they’ve kept from students at the School of Bright Promise. The players said the time they’ve spent with the special needs children has been rewarding and inspiring, and now some of them consider the cards to be good luck charms.)

Church Grant Aids Spectrum Center
Posted 4/8/2016 at 10:10:20 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Funding from a West Virginia church is helping the Jefferson County Regional Spectrum Center set its sights upon climbing equipment to help special needs children.

The Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church in Weirton recently donated $2,000 to the Steubenville site, which is looking to procure a playset that will allow overstimulated children to expend their energy and calm their senses. The climbing area would include padding and other features that would enable the children to move about safely. The contribution made possible through the church’s Pension Holiday fund, a new program implemented by the West Virginia Conference United Methodist Church to help churches help others.

Pastor Carol McKay of Pleasant Valley UMC said her congregation has long supported the School of Bright Promise by providing rewards for behavioral incentives and other items to fulfill the school’s needs. The idea was formed through church member Tammy Cain, a behavioral support specialist for the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, amid discussion on how the church could help the community at Christmastime. It began with toys for the holidays and grew to include Easter and beyond. Most recently, the church provided bubble lights to soothe students in the sensory room and gave covers for more than 20 iPads that were acquired through a separate donation from the Cadiz Fraternal Order of Eagles Post 2162.

McKay said the church’s Mission in Ministry Group agreed to make the allocation and the members were happy to give back to the community.

“This is the first year they’ve ever done [the grant fund]. The money the church would pay into the pension plan stays in the church and pays for missions. Pleasant Valley decided to help with extra special things,” McKay added. “We got the bubble lights and Tammy mentioned the climbing equipment. We can’t do the whole thing, but maybe we could do a portion of it. I think [the church members] are tickled to do something to help the children.”

She noted that the congregation is composed primarily of older members, and while no youngsters take part in services the church still helps youth in the area.

“Even though we don’t have children in our pews, we can help children outside our walls,” McKay added. “With the Pension Holiday, we can do something even bigger that can help. We’re just very happy to share the blessings we’ve received with other folks. It seems like such a great relationship that we’ve built [with the school] and we love to help any way we can.”

Cain said the climbing area was necessary for the Spectrum Center and the church discussed the allocation for several months. Meanwhile, Pleasant Valley has been an ongoing supporter of the Jefferson County site.

“We’ve been supporting the School of Bright Promise for the past two or three years,” she said. “We discussed [how the school enjoyed the support] and their stories got the church excited. They asked me what more they could do. The church collects money each week and it’s been set aside for the School of Bright Promise to purchase iPad covers, basketballs and toys for behavior reinforcements and rewards. For me, I’m excited, but it’s my church and I’m proud of what it can do.”

Principal Rachel Bodo said children with autism like to climb and the equipment would offer a safe way for them to do so. Officials have not selected any models at this time but were looking to possibly place it in either the sensory room or another area. Costs vary depending on size, but the hope is to find something financially and structurally feasible to help the children.

“All we’re trying to do is meet the needs of the kids,” Bodo added. “It’s actually overwhelming how much the church has helped us. It’s the little things such as toys to reinforce behaviors, and it adds up. It’s like a blessing in disguise that they are able to help us and that they’ve chosen our school to help give back to the kids.”

She continued that Anita Keenan, a certified occupational therapy assistant (CODA) at the Spectrum Center, introduced the climbing apparatus as a way to relieve overstimulated students.

“Because of her ideas, I looked up smaller equipment we could use,” Bodo commented.

Keenan said children with spectrum disorder have sensory needs that regularly require attention.

“They are either overdriven or overstimulated by their environment or physical being. The kids who are overdriven or overstimulated need activity, and if they do work-producing activity they will hopefully have a calming reaction and can return to their classroom,” Keenan said. “Having a contained room makes it safe for them to have a heavy work activity, and you have to make it fun instead of exercise.”

No timeline has been given to secure the climbing area and officials hope to raise more funding for the acquisition. Anyone interested in making a contribution may contact the Jefferson County Regional Spectrum Center at (740) 264-7176.

Jeffco Training Center Observes DD Awareness Month
Posted 3/23/2016 at 1:00:01 PM

STEUBENVILLE- More than 100 consumers and staff members at the Jeffco Training Center have been busy observing Developmental Disability Awareness Month throughout March with a variety of activities.

     Manager Conni Giamos said the group began recognizing the national event on March 4 and prizes and activities have been given each week. The commemoration kicked off with consumers and staff wrapping each other in toilet paper, followed by staffers getting pies to the face on March 11 and 23. A luncheon was held March 22 featuring chicken, macaroni salad, and desserts of popsicles and ice cream, while events wind down with a second pie toss, fake tattoos and hair coloring, indoor field day activities, and a penny wars coin collection campaign. Giamos said the consumers have been enjoying the festivities and the prizes.

    One new offering this year was a presentation on March 15 by dental hygiene students from The Ohio State University. Giamos said OSU student Vaida Louk, who has worked as a summer helper, approached her about speaking to the consumers.

    “In the summer, we hire college students,” Giamos added. “Vaida asked if she could do an oral presentation. They had displays and spent nearly an hour with the consumers.”

    Louk and fellow students Jessica Pepper and Kayla Dentkos gave demonstrations and touched upon the importance of properly brushing and flossing, plus they discussed foods that are good and bad for the teeth. Displays were also included in the event and officials said the program was informative and educational.

    “This was the first time we’ve done this. I think the clients enjoyed them,” Giamos added.

 (Photo Cutline: Jeffco Training Center consumers, from left, Nick Tost, Richie Matyas, Guy Anderson, and Alan Ammon were among those recognizing Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March. They have tossed pies, covered staffers in toilet paper, and took a brief break from their duties with Liberty Distribution to enjoy a luncheon. Events run until the end of the month and also include penny wars and an indoor field day.)

Superintendents Learn about Programs
Posted 3/8/2016 at 11:21:47 AM

STEUBENVILLE- Local school leaders learned about programs to benefit students during the regular superintendent’s meeting at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

Dawn Kelley-Cowher, educational services specialist through the U.S. Army Recruitment Command in Cleveland, spoke to superintendents on March 4 about a series of programs and scholarships that could help students have a successful future. Among them are March2Success, which is an online tutoring program; the S.T.A.R. Club, a partnership between high schools and the U.S. Army that targets increased retention and scores; the Montgomery G.I. Bill for college funding; and the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which was enacted for personnel who served following the Sept. 11 attacks..

Kelley-Cowher explained that March2Success was a free, web-based program that makes high quality test preparation available to current or former students. Sections include high school math and verbal skills; a high school science hub; ACT and SAT programs with seven timed practice tests; and a College Readiness Online Course at an advanced level, among others. She added that March2Success was a public service and there was no obligation to students and teachers. The Army also does not collect information or track participation by school affiliation. Details are available at march2success.com.

“It goes through the steps they need to take for college and the actual entrance exams before they take [the exams] at college. Basically, it promotes overall educational success,” she said.

She further touched upon S.T.A.R. Club and said it does not require a service obligation. Instead, it uses a faculty advisor and intends to help students reach their full potential.

She also discussed the Concurrent Admissions Program, or ConAP, which is a partnership between the U.S. Army Recruiting Command and more than 1,900 participating colleges and Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) to link new soldiers to college at the time of their enlistment. Army recruiters would refer new soldiers to the ConAP colleges in their local area and future military members sign an agreement with the college stating their intent to enroll during or after their enlistment. The colleges would agree to consider credit for educational experiences while in the Army, as well as courses taken while the soldier is serving. The goal is to transition soldiers directly from the Army to their ConAP college, while the Army will pay full tuition and authorized fees up to $250 per credit hour, whichever is less, with an annual ceiling of $4,500. The rate is based upon undergraduate and graduate courses and is applicable for traditional college and distance learning. Among the local colleges and universities involved are ITT Technical Institute in Youngstown, Kent State University campuses in Tuscarawas, Salem and East Liverpool, the University of Akron and Youngstown State University in Ohio and Wheeling Jesuit College and Bethany College in West Virginia. More information is available at soc.aascu.org/conap/default.html.

If they choose to go into the military, there are opportunities to become an officer through Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), U.S. Service Academies, and Officer Candidate Schools (OCS).

There also is an ASVAB Career Exploration Program that is geared toward students in grades 10-12. She said it was not just a test for the military and students have an opportunity to review different careers. Details are online at www.asvabprogram.com or by calling 1 (800) 323-0513.

Furthermore, she said the Army has a variety of other community partnerships to help students attain success.

“We want to help keep kids in school and make them functional members of society.”

Also in attendance were Irene Moore and Ken Perkins of the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District, who informed officials about upcoming contests and events designed to promote the environment. Moore said SWCD’s are conditioned to provide education and outreach, and the local organization has provided Fifth Grade Field Days at Fernwood State Park and other events.

“One of the highest priorities is the protection of water quality,” Moore said. “In Jefferson County, all of the watersheds flow directly into the Ohio River. There is an opportunity for us to educate students on water quality.”

One is a visit from the Gateway Clipper on Sept 10. The event is currently sold out but students and parents will go aboard for a river cruise and hear from speaker Chad Pregracke, founder of Living Lands and Waters. Perkins added that it was the first time for the program and opportunities were available for students in Jefferson, Belmont, and Harrison counties in grades 4-7 and 8-11. Funds for the program come from sponsorships and ticket sales with no taxpayer money used. He said Pregracke will also speak the night before during a free event at Eastern Gateway Community College.

Essay contests are also being held for elementary through high school pupils that are related to the river. The elementary kids will write about river recreation while the upperclassmen will pen essays about land use management effects on the waterway. The deadline is May 20. Additionally, Ohio Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp was announced for June 12-17 at FFA Camp Muskingum in Carroll County.

In other matters, Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko disbursed $8,400 in checks to seven school districts as they prepared to send students to the Close-Up program in Washington, D.C. Each check was worth $1,200 and was given to Buckeye Local, Edison, Harrison Hills, Indian Creek, Southern Local, Steubenville, and Toronto. Close-Up brings teens from across the nation together to inform, inspire, and empower them to exercise rights and accept the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.

Polverini Dedicated to Special Needs Kids
Posted 2/24/2016 at 9:53:46 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Tisha Polverini has long held a soft spot in her heart for special needs children, and for nearly 18 years she has dedicated herself to helping them at the School of Bright Promise.

    Polverini, of Wintersville, has served as a teacher’s assistant but also has worn many other hats when necessary. She said she has always enjoyed working with children and applied at the school when a job became available in 1998. Polverini began as a substitute but eventually became a full-time employee, and today she is one of the longest-serving aides at the site.

    “I’ve always liked kids and I love working with them,” she said, explaining that her tasks range from assisting with academic subjects such as reading, writing, and math to building basic personal skills. “We do a lot of community-based work and get them ready to go into the community on their own.”

    She began assisting then-teacher Rachel Bodo, who presently serves as the school’s principal, and worked with children of all ages and disabilities in the classroom. In addition, she’s taught the home living program to hone their skills in personal hygiene, housekeeping, and cooking, delegated nursing, and also worked in the kitchen. She currently assists teacher Ryan Finney in class and helps him coordinate the school’s haunted house event each fall.

    Polverini has aided countless students and watched them grow up before her eyes as they moved from preschool to graduation. She finds that aspect among the best parts of her job and noted that she’s enjoyed seeing their personal growth along the way.

    “You see them from the time they come to preschool and then go on to graduation. I’m now with the older children in class and I had them when they were little,” she added. “It’s very rewarding when you see their progression.”

    She recalled a past student who was reluctant to talk to anyone except her and Bodo, yet today he has become much more sociable. Polverini also has been thrilled to see students head back into public schools and become productive members of the community. She still sees those she’s worked with from time to time at the Jefferson County Training Center, and they certainly remember her.

    Still, it is not an easy task to perform and Polverini said those who do the job make a real commitment.

    “Once you start here, you have to want to do it,” she said.

    Bodo said Polverini has been an asset to the school because she sees so much potential in the students.

    “Not only does she care about their schoolwork and academics, she brings in clothes and does their hair and knows they should feel good about themselves. She cares that this is a safe place and a home for them.”

 

(Photo Cutline: Tisha Polverini, a teacher’s assistant at the School of Bright Promise in Steubenville, has worked with numerous special needs students on academic and other skills and watched many of them grow from preschool to graduation. She is pictured here helping student Cheyenne Hooper with an assignment.)
Shaffer Plaza Gives Residents a Sense of Independence
Posted 2/24/2016 at 9:52:23 AM

STEUBENVILLE-For the past 35 years, Shaffer Plaza has provided a sense of independent living to people with developmental disabilities.

    The complex near John Scott Highway opened its doors around 1981 and has served as a residential alternative with three 11-bed intermediate care facilities. It operates under the auspices of the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities (JCBDD) and comes equipped with 24-hour staffing, regular activities to promote self-esteem through socialization and recreation in the community, and individualized program planning and provision of services to meet the resident’s needs.

    “The purpose was to make them as independent as they could possibly be,” said Kim Dunlope, director of residential services through JCBDD. “It would prepare them to go into less restrictive setting and have more community inclusion.”

    House Manager Phyllis Westfall said Shaffer Plaza was outfitted with two-person bedrooms for privacy with community dining and living rooms to interact with others. Each home initially included 10 residents and a respite room, but now there are 31 residents in 11 bedrooms and 40-50 staff members on hand to assist with their care. Residents also have the benefit of occupational, physical, and speech therapy and other aid to meet their physical and mental needs. Residents range from the mild to profoundly disabled and are typically referred for placement. They undergo a series of physical, occupational, psychiatric, speech, and dietary and behavioral assessments before an admission committee completes a review, and then an Individual Habilitation Plan (IHP) is implemented and reviewed on a quarterly basis to ensure people receive the best care possible. Costs are covered through Medicaid and the facility is licensed by the Ohio Department of Health and Developmental Disabilities.

    “The homes were started out of a need,” Westfall said. “Our goal here is to teach them as much about independence as possible.”

    One of the facility’s longest inhabitants is Irondale native Loren Welch, who moved into the facility with his sister Ethel and two brothers, Bud and Russell, shortly after Shaffer Plaza began. A third brother, Kenny, resided in Wellsville but the mildly disabled siblings occupied rooms in two of Shaffer’s three buildings. It became commonplace to see Loren and Ethel walk to the Fort Steuben Mall, where they were known to fill out applications at Sears and gain free gifts such as plates.

    Today, Loren is the last of the surviving children. The 84-year-old strolls through his building with the aid of a trusty wheeled walker he calls his buddy, and he heads into his two-bed abode. Pictures of family members adorn his dresser and walls, while a number of videos, DVDs and CD’s fill a bookcase near his bed. Most of the movies are westerns, or “shoot ‘em ups” as he calls them, and he favors the likes of John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and the Lone Ranger.

    “I like living at Shaffer,” he said. “We have nice beds here and I got my own television.”

    He recalled working at the sheltered workshop until his retirement last year, stapling and boxing pieces for contracted clients and doing some finishing work in the woodworking department. At one time, he helped create steel lines, or the bands wrapped around steel coils, for the local mill. He said the work earned him “cabbage” and he has made many friends during his time there. Meanwhile, friends from his hometown still send him letters or even candy for the holidays and he competed in bowling for Special Olympics, where he made his way to the state meet in Columbus.

    JCBDD officials reciprocated by saying they were glad to help Welch and the other residents.

     “Loren is a wonderful, happy man that we have been able to serve for many years. He is a unique guy and a great friend,” said Superintendent Mike Mehalik. 

    Residents range in age from 21 to 88, and Westfall said a handful of previous occupants ultimately managed to live on their own and integrate themselves into mainstream society. Those who remain at Shaffer Plaza still get to experience independent living by learning some basic lessons, such as sorting laundry, maintaining hygiene, and fire safety to shopping and balancing a checkbook, but they also work and socialize within the community. Some have been part of JCBDD’s Sheltered Workshop or the Jefferson County Training Center, while others have performed janitorial, housekeeping, and other services for local businesses. Additionally, they have volunteered at the county animal shelter or Trinity Medical Center.

    Westfall added that on-site activities include playing bingo, but a lot of time is spent going to movies, bowling, concerts at the First Niagara or Fort Steuben Amphitheaters, heading to Kennywood, enjoying Wheeling Nailers or Pittsburgh Pirates games or even watching plays. The group also learn Scripture and socialize at the God’s Choice Community Outreach for individuals with disabilities in East Liverpool and socialize at the M&M Party at Toronto Nazarene Church.

    “The community is always great,” Westfall continued.

    For more information, contact Shaffer Plaza at (740) 264-7112.

 

(Photo Cutline: Loren Welch has been a resident of Shaffer Plaza since the alternative living opened its doors in the 1980s. Shaffer Plaza operates under the auspices of the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities and helps provide people with mild to profound disabilities an opportunity to live more independently with the added measure of a 24-hour staff to help meet their needs.)
Jeffco Training Center Dancing for Heart Health
Posted 2/24/2016 at 9:49:40 AM

STEUBENVILLE-In observance of American Heart Month for February, a special dance is taking place this Wednesday at the Jeffco Training Center.

    Consumers, board members, and associates have been invited to the Heart Dance on Feb. 24 from 12-2 p.m. at the site on Cherry Avenue in Steubenville. It is the first time the free event has been held but the center has become active in promoting healthy practices. Manager Conni Giamos said an open house benefit in October was quite projective with sales of jewelry, crafts, and other items raising $1,200 at the conclusion. Those funds were matched by the Jeffco Workshop Non-Profit Board and about $2,416 was donated to Trinity Health System’s Trinity Emergency Assistance Relief (TEAR) Fund at the Tony Teramana Cancer Center. The Heart Dance is raising awareness only and encourages consumers to be heart healthy through nutrition and exercise.

    “Since the cancer awareness event was such a huge success, we wanted to give back to the community,” Giamos said. “We wanted to do something for the American Heart Association. The staff got together and brainstormed, and since February is Heart Month, we decided to have a dance for ‘Go Red for Women’ and the American Heart Association.”

    She said the dancing itself promotes exercise and staying active, while health-based light refreshments and raffles will also be on hand. DJ Rockin’ Rodney will play tunes and the festivities will also include a photo area, health information table with material provided by Trinity Medical Center and Weirton Medical Center, and a health screening by the on-site LPN. Trinity also provided a display for heart education and T-shirts for staff members, while consumers and other attendants are encouraged to wear red. The event and raffle are free but Giamos said “Go Red for Women” pins were purchased for the occasion and 15 percent of that money goes to the AHA.

    “The raffle items in the baskets will be heart healthy and the consumers will receive nutritional packets. The health screening will include blood pressure, temperature, and weight,” she added. “It’s just for awareness and this is our first event for the American Heart Association. We were so successful with the cancer awareness event and people are hoping we will do it again next year.”

    Some of the consumers expressed their excitement for the day, which is for a good cause. They also commented on the importance of being healthy.

    “Eating good, good exercise, and making sure you are doing stuff right,” said Mike Wilson.

    David Verhovic says he stays healthy by being active and he will enjoy the dance.

    “You are supposed to have plenty of energy,” said Patsy Wickham.

 

(Photo Cutline: Members of the adult program at Jeffco Training Center in Steubenville are getting ready for the inaugural Heart Dance this Wednesday from 12-2 p.m., which will include music, light refreshments, information provided by local hospitals, and even some health screenings in observance of American Heart Month. Pictured are, front from left, Patsy Wickham and Chris Sogan. Back: Billy Mason, Mike Wilson, Marlene Sawka, and David Verhovic.)
College Credit Plus Night at EGCC
Posted 2/17/2016 at 10:45:57 AM

STEUBENVILLE-Junior and senior high students can get ahead in college while still in high school during the second annual College Credit Plus Night at Eastern Gateway Community College.

    Hosted by Jefferson County Educational Service Center and EGCC, the informational session gets underway on March 14 at 6 p.m. on the bottom floor of Founders’ Hall and refreshments will be provided. High schools being represented include Buckeye Local, Southern Local, and Toronto while Indian Creek, Edison, and Harrison Central are also involved with the program but held separate functions at their respective buildings. Officials from such local colleges and universities as EGCC, Kent State University-East Liverpool, Ohio University Eastern, and Belmont College will also be on hand to discuss program offerings and the event is completely voluntary.

    “College Credit Plus allows students to earn high school and college credit during their high school years,” said Blair Closser, director of curriculum and professional development at JCESC . “Courses are offered at the high school, at the college, or via long-distance learning. College Credit Plus Night is for those students and parents who are interested in participating in the College Credit Plus program.”

    Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said the audience members could speak with principals and guidance counselors from their respective schools and visit with college and university officials to learn more about College Credit Plus (CCP).

    “The audience will get an overview of the program and its requirements and also learn how schools and institutions of higher learning are working together to provide a unique educational experience,” Dr. Kokiko added.

    It was created by the State of Ohio to replace the Post-Secondary Education Option (PSEO) and Dual Enrollment. It is open to students in grades 7-12 and promotes rigorous academic pursuits beyond the classroom while providing a wide variety of options to college-ready students. Taking CCP courses from a public university or college means there is no cost for tuition, books, or fees. High schools may have an agreement with a local college for specific courses; however, students can choose to take CCP courses that would benefit their future from any college. Students can apply for CCP admission to a public or private participating college and will be admitted on college readiness in one or more subject areas. They can finish their high school degree and earn credit towards college at the same time.

    Sarah Fletcher, admissions advisor and recruiter for EGCC, was delighted to see the state open the program to grades 7-12 and said the free cost to students gives even more people—including those from lower income households—a chance to further their studies. As of now, she said approximately 980 students were enrolled in more than 1,900 courses through the community college.

    “A lot of students are taking their math, English, science, social sciences such as sociology and psychology, art, and history,” she noted. “They are taking a lot of their high school requirements and getting both high school and college credit. One semester of math and English with us equals one full year in high school.”

    Some new offerings through EGCC include more online courses so students can still receive college credit while remaining in their high school classroom. Students can receive three or more credit hours for a college course or one Carnegie unit at the high school level if successfully completed, while a two credit hour college course will earn them two-thirds of a high school credit and a one credit-hour college course will covert to one-third of a college credit. In all, students could earn up to 30 credits per year if they are full-time. High school graduation requirements would not be waived as a result of participation in CCP and students will not receive a diploma until after the course is successfully completed and graduation requirements are met.

    “If parents think their student is college-ready, they should definitely come and get information on it,” Fletcher said.

     Meanwhile, parents of students planning to take courses during the 2016-17 school year should notify their school about participation by April 1. For more information, contact Fletcher at (740) 266-9735, or Closser or Linda Lenzi, coordinator of gifted services at JCESC, at (740) 283-3347.

Safety Grants Awarded to School Districts
Posted 2/12/2016 at 12:04:55 PM
STEUBENVILLE- An estimated $50,000 in safety grants have been awarded to area school districts in a bid to make their learning environment more secure.

    During the monthly superintendent’s meeting on Feb. 5, Larry George, president of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board, presented 10 grants worth $5,000 each to Buckeye Local, Edison Local, Harrison Hills City, Indian Creek Local, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Steubenville City, Southern Local, Toronto City Schools, the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and the Utica Shale Academy.

    George said JCESC invested in school safety long before the tragedies of Columbine and Sandy Hook, and it has been and always will be a priority.

    “It’s another thing the ESC is proud to be part of. We wish we could give so much more,” he said. “We distribute funds to over 10 different entities and hope it helps to the point where we see a difference in safety and attendance.”

    Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said the funds have been awarded for more than a decade and the intent is to help meet one of the most fundamental needs for children: a safe place to earn an education.

    “If kids feel safe when they come to school, then we can focus on the things they need to be doing such as learning,” he commented. “We value our children because they are our most precious resource. The Jefferson County ESC wants to make sure they have a safe learning environment.”

      He estimated that more than $590,000 has been given in grants through the years to help fund school resource officers and upgrade security cameras and other equipment. Districts such as Buckeye Local, Harrison Hills and Southern Local contract with sheriff’s offices in Jefferson, Harrison, and Columbiana counties to place a deputy within their school systems as school resource officers (SRO’s), while others such as JCJVS and JCBDD have also utilized allocations for equipment updates in recent years.

    Edison Local Superintendent Mr. Bill Beattie said his district will use its portion to defray costs for its resource officer.

    “We appreciate the ESC for the funding, and it’s important to have [the SRO] with us because we utilize him in many capacities,” Beattie added.

    Toronto City Schools Superintendent Fred Burns noted that the board will officially accept the grant at its Feb. 18 meeting and the plan is to cover expenses for school liaison Sean Tucker, who works to increase school attendance.

    JCBDD Superintendent Michael Mehalik said further upgrades are in store for the school.

    “Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities is looking to upgrade our internal communication system by adding phones in each classroom for use in emergency situations,” he said. “The phones will be for internal use only and will give immediate access to other rooms and the front office. Emergency alarm systems will also be updated as necessary as part of the project.”

     “The JVS is very appreciative of the grant money,” added Superintendent Dr. Todd Phillipson. “It will be used effectively to make sure we provide a safe environment and the funding will be beneficial to the students, staff and whole district.”

    Meanwhile, Dr. Kokiko thanked the JCESC Governing Board and staff for allowing the grant program to continue.

   “I thank the board for its leadership and the ESC staff for their hard work to put us in a position to be able to give back to the local schools we serve,” he concluded.

(Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Educational Service Center disbursed a total of $50,000 in safety grants to 10 local school districts, which will be put to use for school resource officers and security equipment updates, as well as a school liaison to improve attendance. Mr. John Wilson, Utica Shale Academy; Mr. Larry George, JCESC Governing Board President)
Safety Grants Awarded to School Districts
Posted 2/12/2016 at 12:00:19 PM

STEUBENVILLE- An estimated $50,000 in safety grants have been awarded to area school districts in a bid to make their learning environment more secure.

    During the monthly superintendent’s meeting on Feb. 5, Larry George, president of the Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board, presented 10 grants worth $5,000 each to Buckeye Local, Edison Local, Harrison Hills City, Indian Creek Local, Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, Steubenville City, Southern Local, Toronto City Schools, the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and the Utica Shale Academy.

    George said JCESC invested in school safety long before the tragedies of Columbine and Sandy Hook, and it has been and always will be a priority.

    “It’s another thing the ESC is proud to be part of. We wish we could give so much more,” he said. “We distribute funds to over 10 different entities and hope it helps to the point where we see a difference in safety and attendance.”

    Superintendent Dr. Chuck Kokiko said the funds have been awarded for more than a decade and the intent is to help meet one of the most fundamental needs for children: a safe place to earn an education.

    “If kids feel safe when they come to school, then we can focus on the things they need to be doing such as learning,” he commented. “We value our children because they are our most precious resource. The Jefferson County ESC wants to make sure they have a safe learning environment.”

      He estimated that more than $590,000 has been given in grants through the years to help fund school resource officers and upgrade security cameras and other equipment. Districts such as Buckeye Local, Harrison Hills and Southern Local contract with sheriff’s offices in Jefferson, Harrison, and Columbiana counties to place a deputy within their school systems as school resource officers (SRO’s), while others such as JCJVS and JCBDD have also utilized allocations for equipment updates in recent years.

    Edison Local Superintendent Mr. Bill Beattie said his district will use its portion to defray costs for its resource officer.

    “We appreciate the ESC for the funding, and it’s important to have [the SRO] with us because we utilize him in many capacities,” Beattie added.

    Toronto City Schools Superintendent Fred Burns noted that the board will officially accept the grant at its Feb. 18 meeting and the plan is to cover expenses for school liaison Sean Tucker, who works to increase school attendance.

    JCBDD Superintendent Michael Mehalik said further upgrades are in store for the school.

    “Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities is looking to upgrade our internal communication system by adding phones in each classroom for use in emergency situations,” he said. “The phones will be for internal use only and will give immediate access to other rooms and the front office. Emergency alarm systems will also be updated as necessary as part of the project.”

     “The JVS is very appreciative of the grant money,” added Superintendent Dr. Todd Phillipson. “It will be used effectively to make sure we provide a safe environment and the funding will be beneficial to the students, staff and whole district.”

    Meanwhile, Dr. Kokiko thanked the JCESC Governing Board and staff for allowing the grant program to continue.

    “I thank the board for its leadership and the ESC staff for their hard work to put us in a position to be able to give back to the local schools we serve,” he concluded.

(Photo Cutline: The Jefferson County Educational Service Center disbursed a total of $50,000 in safety grants to 10 local school districts, which will be put to use for school resource officers and security equipment updates, as well as a school liaison to improve attendance. Mr. Dana Snider, Harrison Hills City Schools Superintendent; Mr. Larry George, JCESC Governing Board Superintendent)
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2023 Sunset Blvd. Steubenville, OH 43952
Tel: 740-283-3347 Fax: 740-283-2709

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