College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services

College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services

CECH Hosts “Community Canvas” Event for CPS Leadership Summit

Participants of the Summit with CECH's Kathie Maynard and the CPS' Laura Mitchell

Front row, left to right: Laura Mitchell, Deputy Superintendent of CPS and Kathie Maynard, Assistant Dean in CECH. Back row, left to right: Peer Leadership Summit attendees Zephaniah Watkins, Hazaiah Yisrael, Mary Ndao, and Ronald Harris.

The College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) hosted a Community Canvas event on Thursday, September 8, to display the hard work of 110 Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) students, 55 teachers, and the Deputy Superintendent of the district. From May 31st - June 2nd, this group came together to learn about new leadership skills and competencies, empowerment, and to brainstorm ways to positively change their schools and communities.

A partnership between CPS, CECH, StrivePartnership, KnowledgeWorks, the Mayerson Foundation, and Magnified Giving, the Peer Leadership Summit has been a great success to date, instilling a new sense of leadership in its youth participation. Marina Hopkins of StrivePartnership describes the summit as “exciting! It’s wonderful to see students determining for themselves what a leader is, and seeing these cross-school relationships coming together to create positive change in our community.”

The event, Community Canvas, included installations of chain-link fences with interwoven art depicting how these students have come to define leadership. The art, designed by graphic facilitator Mike Fleisch with the support of Happens, Inc., in Northside, visually displayed the effectiveness of the summit. “The installation demonstrates the power of giving voice to these students,” remarks Laura Mitchell, Deputy Superintendent of CPS. “They can now be advocates for themselves and their communities, and lead successful campaigns to make positive change.”

A student weaves art through the chain link fence.

Peer Leadership Summit attendees and UC Scholars Academy participants from Hughes STEM High School, Mary Ndao, Hazaiah Yisrael, Ronald Harris, and Zephaniah Watkins, learned a lot of important life lessons in the process of this summit. Ndao explained that she gained “a better work ethic. In school, I’m not as challenged by homework and classes sometimes. But for this summit, I had to work hard, read a lot, and couldn’t just coast.” She added that her biggest take away from the program was that “being a leader isn’t always being right.” Supplementing that lesson, Watkins added, “I learned that the way things are doesn’t have to be the way things always will be. It is good to question and critique authority.”

Another lesson that both Harris and Yisrael learned from the Summit was that their future was not limited to just a STEM field. They both are looking to pursue higher education after high school in more artistic pursuits, with STEM knowledge to back it up. Harris wants to be a video game designer and Yisrael is thinking about fashion design.

These four students and their fellow participants will now take these acquired leadership lessons and employ them in their schools to recruit other students and make positive, lasting changes to their schools and communities. They aim to grow their leadership to 550 by next summer, truly a positive change the summer sought to produce.

For more information on this partnership, contact Kathie Maynard, Assistant Dean in CECH at 513-675-3536.