Eunice Lopez, Bennett Venture Academy principal, was excited to hear that Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz wanted to visit the school and its scholars. The visit was rescheduled from the fall to March 22. He has been Toledo’s mayor since January 2018.
The 90-minute visit allowed time for Mayor Kapszukiewicz to tour the school, see the lunch process, speak to students, and meet some staff members, including Lori Shields, dean of lower elementary, and Jennifer Watson, dean of special education and intervention. The mayor recently started visiting schools more frequently, now that COVID-19 restrictions have relaxed.
“His interest in Bennett Venture came about because he actually grew up a couple of blocks from Bennett. His parents still live in that house. He shared that story with the students. He recalls the property being a plain field,” said Lopez. “He said he was excited to see the plain field has become an educational institution focused on the surrounding community.”
Mayor Kapszukiewicz stopped to talk to an eighth-grade ELA class to see what they were reading. The scholars talked about the poem and unit they were working on about Frederick Douglass.
“He asked about Frederick Douglass and also asked students if they knew the definition of abolitionist,” said Lopez. “He then spoke to the students about the underground railroad and the only time Frederick Douglass visited Toledo back in 1864.”
Principal Lopez was able to sit and talk with the mayor for part of the visit. She was able to tell him about Bennett Venture, and highlight NHA, its mission, and the support Bennett receives from NHA as a network.
“We also spoke about the teacher shortage, enrollment, and school transportation. The mayor was excited to learn that at BVA we have over 300 students walking to school which means BVA is family/community oriented. He asked if we had any concerns or needed support with anything,” said Lopez. “I took the opportunity to talk about crossing guards and police patrol for our dismissal process. He was able to understand that with the number of walkers we have, it is important that we have those two things in place.”
Improving educational opportunities is one of the mayor’s top goals.
“He asked if there were two things that I could identify that can impact the future of the education system in the United States. I expressed I was concerned about the teacher shortage and that I strongly believe that will be something we will navigate in the next year,” Lopez said.
Lopez and the mayor also spoke about education and the impact the pandemic has had.
“I also expressed how virtual education has impacted our school system. We both agreed that students need to be in school, learn academics, and socialize. He shared he is concerned about the impact COVID will have in the future as our children’s everyday world at school has changed so drastically. Meaning, we are relying on virtual education more and more as parents work from home and enjoy the virtual world.”
Everyone enjoyed having the mayor visit the school and take a tour.
“He came by himself and was very humble,” Lopez said. “I enjoyed talking to him and seeing his interaction with the kids. There was definitely a connection between him and kids. He commended us for the great work we were doing for this community.”
Bennett Venture Academy, a school in Toledo, Ohio, is a partner school in the National Heritage Academies network of over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz Visits Bennett
Published: Mar 25, 2022NHA Communications Team