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Students find success in mind, body

United Way programs

Ginny Pasha, president of United Way of Trumbull County in Lincoln's food pantry with Shaina Shardy, Lincoln's community liaison and Dani Burns, Lincoln's 3-5 principal.

WARREN — The United Way of Trumbull County has been helping Warren City Schools students find success in both mind and body by providing academic programs to enhance learning as well as food pantries to keep the students fed.

“Our philosophy is to be a resource to the schools. If there’s a way we can help, we will,” said Ginny Pasha, president of United Way of Trumbull County. “Our vision for Trumbull County is that everyone meets their potential and we offer a wide array of programs to help children and families thrive.”

The United Way began its relationship with Warren City Schools by helping out academically. Jefferson PK-8 School was the pilot school for many of the United Way’s academic programs. Both the Reading Great by 8 and the ABC Reading Ready initiatives have been successful in increasing literacy by the time students leave third grade. Carrie Boyer, the PK-2 principal at Jefferson, has seen dramatic shifts in the school’s academic performance.

“We’ve seen significant gains and growth from children entering third grade. The data here has been on a climb, currently with 95 percent passing. They love it and become so excited to read,”said Boyer.

When Jefferson started Reading Great by 8 in the 2014-2015 school year, they retained 22 third graders. This past year, 2017-2018, they only retained three.

ABC Reading Ready bridges the gap between kindergarten and first grade.

“It gets kindergarteners ready to transition to the tougher academic world of first grade. In the two years we’ve had the program, the data has made a huge shift in literacy,” said Boyer. “Last year, 26 percent of students who were entering kindergarten were ready for first grade but by the end of the school year, 75 percent were ready.”

United Way of Trumbull County also has implemented food pantries in the schools because the students’ needs didn’t end with the classroom. The first food pantry was established in the the fall of 2017 at Warren G. Harding High School. Now, there are pantries at Willard PK-8, Jefferson PK-8 and Lincoln PK-8. McGuffey PK-8 will be getting a food pantry early next year.

“The current pantries have been visited over 10,000 times,” said Pasha “The great thing about having them in the school is that if the kids don’t have food at home, they can get it right here. And with the holidays coming up, each student will be allowed to take a box full of food and supplies to last them until school resumes in January.”

These pantries are referred to as “Raider Pantries” to instill a sense of pride within the schools and because they offer hygiene products, clothing and supplies in addition to food.

The Warren City School District has been utilizing this whole child approach for many years.

Superintendent Steve Chiaro said that with the student poverty level being roughly 90 percent in Warren, he is in favor of this approach.

“We try to ensure that everything we do is meeting the needs of the district’s children. For many years, we’ve had the whole child approach and we’ve been loyal to that because it is the most effective. Also, with the addition of the McGuffey PK-8 pantry next month, the Warren City School district, I believe, will be the first district in Northeast Ohio, if not all of Ohio, to have a pantry in every building,” Chiaro said.

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