Here at Dohn we honor and celebrate our Teachers and Staff – Monthly, Weekly, Daily! They are here because of their passion and dedication to Dohn Students… Being The Difference and Making The Difference!
On a recent pop-in to Dohn CHS’s North Campus (on Reading Road in Roselawn), Director Ramone Davenport was in awe as he looked around the building – every single student was on task, focused, engaged. As he surveyed the room, a smile spread on his face and his gaze settled on the Building Coordinator. “This is it!” Davenport thought. “This is what Dohn is all about!”
As the school year settles in, we are giving you (our reader) an insider’s peek into the inner workings of Ohio’s top credit-recovery high school, one staff member at a time. Today we sit down with Dohn CHS’s North Campus Building Coordinator, Eric Randolph.
Mr. Randolph grew up on Hemlock Street, which is nestled almost exactly between Dohn’s Main and East campuses in East Walnut Hills. With an absent father and 2 sisters, he was often found on the basketball courts at the Bush Rec Center. Playing ball kept him busy and too tired to stay out late and get into trouble. We asked Mr. Randolph a few questions to dive a little deeper:
–What was or who was the most influential thing/person for you while you were in school?:
ER: “I chose to go to Withrow High School because the basketball coach was Black. But my gym teachers were these two white ladies, who encouraged me to get into education. Both of them pulled me aside and said that I should become a teacher because they said I was smart, I was a leader, I was a loner and at the same time I was friends with everybody. They told me there was a huge demand for Black males in teaching and showed me a statistical graph that proved that fact. I graduated from Withrow and went to Kent State and majored in Education.
–Tell us a little bit about your journey to Dohn?
ER: I started teaching in ‘98. I taught preschool for 2 years, ran a certified home daycare, and also worked at Lighthouse Youth Services teaching and running a group home. I took a hiatus to play basketball in Germany for a few years before returning to teaching at Harmony Community School. That is where I first met Mr. Davenport – I was teaching Math and Science and Davenport was running a Work Bridge program there. I had also been designing shirts since ‘98 (I bought my first 2 heat presses and a cash register for $150). Mr. Davenport called me for shirts one day, we talked about Dohn, and now here I am! I’ve been at Dohn for 8 years now.
–Why have you stayed at Dohn? What sets Dohn apart from teaching at other schools?
ER:Teachers have more autonomy at Dohn than at other schools. Besides our teaching credentials, Mr. Davenport hires educators with strong character, whom he can trust implicitly with the task of making a difference in students’ lives. That trust gives teachers the flexibility to change a method or add a new program when something is not working. Ultimately, it’s the kids. I still keep in touch with many of my past students.
–Many students enroll at Dohn because they could not succeed elsewhere academically. How do you break through and connect with these students
ER: One Day at a Time. I learn their names. I start off calling them by their last name, then add their first name, then I’ll start calling them by their nickname. I talk to them like they are one of my little cousins (without crossing boundaries). Sometimes they need tough love, but I always stay positive, finding that balance. I earn respect by giving respect. Sometimes I’ll see a student wearing a dirty shirt because it’s the only one he has. I’ll give him a new shirt to wear. Once students trust you (teachers), they start trying harder.
–Tell us a little bit about the other teachers and staff that you work with? How is it a team effort?
ER: The receptionist at the North campus, Victoria Patman, is a real “Urban Auntie” figure. She gets to know the kids on a personal level. When she greets them every day, she knows what’s going on in their lives and asks about it. She makes that first connection, and peels back the first layers of the onion. Greg Saelens, the other teacher at North, comes from a different educational background than myself. We educate each other as we are teaching our students, and our teaching styles really compliment each other.
–What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
ER: I like making shirts and creating something from nothing – bringing big ideas to life. I also enjoy mentoring kids. I like to feed my soul, not my pocket or my belly.
–What is your most often used emoji?
ER: The Green Checkmark! I like crossing things off my list and letting you know it’s done, that everything’s ok. And with the students, I use the Graduation Cap!
-What song coil you listen to over and over, and why?
ER: It depends on my mood, but Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” is the first song that made me write down the lyrics.
-People would be surprised that I…?
ER: Produced Music
-My biggest hero is…?
ER: My mom. And my grandma. The women in my life have been my rock. They taught me a new level of smarts – Emotional Intelligence.
-My mantra is:
ER: Everything happens for a reason. Everything that has happened to me happened for a reason, to make me the person I am today. And I am ‘Mr. Randolph’. Using that formal name is respect that I give myself, and ask others to give me. My mom even calls me ‘Mr. Randolph’.