2013 marked the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the SCSD Educational Foundation. The Foundation paid tribute to Dr. Stephen Jones, his late wife Marilyn, and the founding members of the Foundation Board who gave the organization it’s start in 2002-2003.
Dr. Stephen C. Jones began his career as a Social Studies Teacher with the Baltimore County Schools (MD) and during his 28 years in Maryland served as assistant principal, principal, coordinator of minority education, area superintendent, and associate superintendent. He then served as Executive Director for Community of Caring at the Kennedy Foundation in Washington D. C., an educational values program focused on preventing teenage pregnancies.
Dr. Jones was appointed Superintendent of the Syracuse City Schools in 1999. He served the Syracuse City School District for six years and in 2005 left Syracuse to become the Superintendent of Schools in Norfolk, Virginia. He retired from the Norfolk District in 2010.
Not long after arriving in Syracuse, Dr. Jones hosted a number of discussions with School Board member Laurie Menkin and Gary Pickard, a local developer and community leader, about establishing a fundraising organization for Syracuse City Schools. There had been several unsuccessful attempts to create a fundraising foundation in the District, so Dr. Jones enlisted the support of his wife, Marilyn, to research how to successfully form a non-profit foundation. As a professional fundraiser and someone who had spent her professional career establishing contacts for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Marilyn Jones created the framework for how the Syracuse School District should proceed in forming an Educational Foundation.
With a generous contribution from Gary Pickard and an initial outreach plan to approach community leaders and individuals to support a foundation, the seeds for the SCSD Educational Foundation were planted and the organization was officially incorporated in 2003.
The SCSD Educational Foundation Board of Directors is honored to announce that the Foundation will offer a Marilyn Jones Life and Learning through Arts Grant in her name to schools in the District as part of the Foundation’s annual grants program. Each year teachers will be able to apply for up to $5,000 in funds to support any arts project including fine arts and visual and performing arts projects.
Marilyn Jones had a love for all arts and enjoyed attending symphonies and plays at Syracuse Stage, the Landmark Theater or watching the SCSD students perform. To Marilyn, the arts went beyond the performing arts, visual arts, music, theatre, fine arts, dance, media and movies; it was more the enjoyment of seeing the individualism of people, which included their cultures and values. She also knew that in addition to individual expression, the arts very often could lead to careers and could foster life-long learning and appreciation for all forms of the arts. Marilyn was an inspiration to students and teachers, and together with her husband, former SCSD Superintendent Dr. Stephen Jones, dedicated her life to supporting and nurturing children through education. Marilyn Jones played a key role in the formation of the SCSD Educational Foundation in 2003. She lost her battle with cancer in 2007 but will live on in the hearts and minds of Syracuse school children.
Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection (HW-SC) is a nationally-recognized youth development program. HW-SC helps at-risk youth living in poverty stay in school, graduate from high school, and continue on to
post-secondary education or employment. HW-SC addresses the chronically low graduation rates and job readiness of high school youth. HW-SC serves more than 4000 students in grades 7 through 12 in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Prince George’s County Maryland. In Syracuse, they currently serve 941 students at nine area schools. Students range in age from twelve to nineteen. Ninety-eight percent are at a low socioeconomic level. Students must exhibit two or more risk factors for dropping out, including: meeting federal poverty guidelines; failing two or three core subjects; low standardized test scores; low school attendance rates; multiple school suspensions; and being over-age for their grade level. HW-SC pairs students with a professional Youth Advocate through high school graduation and for an additional two years post-high school. School-based Youth Advocates work directly with students during and after school, as well as with teachers and administrators. Youth Advocates monitor and regularly review grades, test scores, attendance, and other issues with students. HW-SC provides the following interventions to help students succeed: mentoring; academic enhancement services; social, life skill, and leadership development; Youth Employment Training Academy (YETA); job placement; and Post-Secondary Preparation and Support (PSPS) Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection works with public and private funders to sustain and increase support for expanding the program. Through board and staff leadership, new partnerships with employers, and communicating the successes of the program, HW-SC has generated funding to increase the number of students served in Syracuse this year. Additional private support is essential in order for Hillside Work-Scholarship to improve the graduation rates for more at-risk youth in the City of Syracuse.
Wayne O’Connor, a life-long resident of the Syracuse area, has a more than 40 year career in education, school administration and youth development, all with the Syracuse city school district. He attended Delaware Elementary School and graduated from Central High School in 1965. O’Connor began his teaching career at Shea Junior High School in 1970 as a Social Studies teacher. While O’Connor enjoyed teaching, he was drawn to school administration and in 1983 became the Vice Principal of Shea Junior High School. After serving three years as Vice Principal, O’Connor was promoted to Principal. In 1991 O’Connor became the Principal of Frazer K-8 School and in 2000, he was appointed Area Superintendent of the Syracuse City School District. In 2004 O’Connor retired from the Syracuse City School District and became director of Syracuse Choice Program, a non-profit that worked with at-risk middle and high school students, helping them to stay out of gang related activities and succeed academically. In 2007 O’Connor became the Executive Director of Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection. Since leading the organization, O’Connor has helped grow the program from 33 students in 2007 to nearly 915 today. This year Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection is projecting to have its largest graduating class with 155 youth and next year it is expected to grow to more than 200.
The SCSD Educational Foundation, in cooperation with the Syracuse City School District, was proud to recognize these men and women who help to ensure educational excellence in Syracuse, New York.
Elementary Teacher: Meghan Freeman, ESL Teacher – Delaware Academy School
Secondary Teacher: Jennifer Benedetto, English Teacher – Nottingham High School
Support Staff: Cynthia Pace, START-Behavior Teaching Assistant – Danforth Magnet School
School Administrator: William Ottman, Science & Technology Coordinator