Posted by: COSI | November 26, 2008

An amazing teen

Many teachers would probably tell you that the most rewarding part of teaching is seeing that spark of interest you get when you know you have made that crucial connection with your student. It’s that aha moment. I miss that.

But I’ve found one area that I can enjoy a little of the satisfaction I had in the classroom.Our Miracle Gro Capital Scholars (MGCS) program has COSI providing a supportive environment and system for almost 50 Columbus Public School youth –working with them from middle school through graduation and into college—with tuition support from the generosity of the The Scotts company and Hagedorn Family Foundation. I’m proud of our team’s efforts with these youth, but more importantly I’m proud of the youth and the progress they’ve made.

One stands out for me, though. I was first really introduced to Ari Toles when I had some of our teens invited to join us at a special dinner with scientists. Ari was impressive in his aspirational plans for the future and the confidence he exuded. Later that evening Tifani Kendrick, the program director, let me in on a little of Ari’s history with the program—including his dismissal at one point. To Ari’s credit, he gathered himself together, learned from the “tough love” action and lobbied to rejoin, a changed person.

Ari Toles, T. Street & Tifani Kendrick

Ari Toles, Tei Street & Tifani Kendrick

So it’s been a pleasure to watch Ari and his fellow MGCS teens grow into young adults. I had another time to chat with Ari when he and another MGCS teen were conducting interviews with the astronauts and NASA officials we had at COSI. Ari continued to impress me in his role at the event—and seemed to enjoy it.

So I felt like the old teacher enjoying the pride of a star pupil doing well when I found out that Ari was recently selected, in a competitive process, to join Columbus’ Youth Commission. The Youth Commissioners’ mission is to bridge the gap between the youth of metropolitan Columbus and their city government by researching and articulating the concerns of Columbus youth to the Mayor, City Council, and Community Leaders.

Ari & Columbus Youth Commission Members, Mayor Coleman and City Council Members

Ari & Columbus Youth Commission Members, Mayor Coleman and City Council Members

And Ari, as you see in the photos, is in distinguished and notable company. I’m proud of him. I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to share the accomplishments of these teens who see COSI as a second home and that I’m getting to know better over their years here.

Sometimes an Ari story is just as good as it gets for me—COSI impacting someone who will positively impact our society is really what it’s all about here at COSI.

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