By Okon Ekpenyong
Born and raised in Youngstown, Kenneth Donaldson hopes to promote multiculturalism and unity now that he is on the school board. Donaldson was sworn-in early this year, but before serving on the board, he actively used his ministering and educational background to champion inner-city youth to rise above their circumstances.
He is attending his first Ohio School Board Association Conference, hoping to gain insight into effectively reaching kids in an Urban setting.
“What I’ve seen over the years is a lack of consistency, so when there’s a lack of consistency and everything changes all the time, it brings about frustration.”
Eventually, those kinds of frustration will lead to no way, so that’s why we are here at the 67th annual OSBA Capital Conference and Trade Show, which runs Nov. 13-15 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center to listen to experts and find a resolution to tackle some of these issues.
Pastor Donalson has spent more than ten years advocating for kids as a case manager, intervention counselor, coach, mentor, and teacher. He wanted to bring unity and a different perspective when he announced his candidacy for the school board race in 2021. As an elected official, Reverend Donaldson of Rising Star Baptist Church stated he is trying to help young people realize that he was also an individual who came from nothing to become something.
According to publicschoolreview.com, Youngstown ranks 808 out of 924 school districts in Ohio; that’s a 50% average. According to some of the Youngstown school board members, the low results lie in the student’s chronic absenteeism and the social issues the kids face outside of school. “We have 67% chronic absenteeism, and that’s across the board, mainly because of housing issues for some of these students in an Urban setting. The district and county offer excellent educational resources, but we hope to get those social issues to connect with the educational opportunities that exist,” Donaldson added.
Donaldson wants to bring unity to the members of Youngstown School member, and he explains, “It is not about my agenda or anyone else’s. We need to have a collective plan where we work on the same goal, and that’s how we can change our district. We are on the board to influence our children in Education,” he said.
Throughout our conversation, Pastor Donaldson wanted to ensure that we understand that “Change does not happen overnight, especially when you have people that’s been in the school system for a while; we need to see that consistency. Everything changes all the time, and it brings about frustration.” While on the board, he wants to help promote student academic success while helping the school administrator empower their educators to think outside the box and understand that not all students learn simultaneously. “We can improve our school district’s overall performance if we change our diverse teaching methods,” he said.
“I am a proud product of the Youngstown school district, and now that I am on the board, we will make some noise for the better,” Donaldson said.
According to Donaldson, attending some conference sessions will give him a broader perspective on becoming an effective School Board Member as he sees how diverse the OSBA Board of Trustees is. Ohio School Boards Association, founded in 1955, is the leading advocate for Ohio’s public school board members and their diverse districts.
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