Name and Occupation: Karen D. Gorman-Jones. Educator and member of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board
How long have you lived in the CH-UH district? I grew up in Cleveland Heights, and I have lived in University Heights for 22 years.
What do you like most about the CH-UH community? What I like most about this community is its diversity, its proximity to everything and the community's intellectual and artistic surroundings.
What community and civic organizations are you currently involved in? Aside from the school board, I am a member of The Word Church and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I perform at Karamu House, and I am the head track coach at Beachwood Middle School. I believe this is the first time in a long time I don't have a long list of activities.
What inspired you to run for a school board seat, how long have you served and what do you find most interesting about the work you do? As a product of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools, I wanted to be a part of what I believed was a renaissance in the district. I am proud of the foundation that I received in the district, and I want to ensure that others will receive the same rewarding experience and education that I did. I am presently serving my first term. What I have found to be most interesting is serving a community that is passionate about what they believe in. At times, I have found it challenging, but overall it reaffirms why I wanted to be on the board. It is because I have that same passion about the district, its students and the two communities.
What personal and professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Personally, I am proud of my family. I am proud to have the parents that I was blessed with that have always supported my every endeavor and given me the morals, values and work ethic to be who I am today. And then, along with my husband, being able to instill those same values, morals and work ethic into our children and watching them grow into young adults who we can be proud of.
Professionally, the accomplishment I am most proud of are my students. While at Shaw High School, I had one of the largest graduating classes in ten years. And along with the size of the class, over 70 percent went to college their freshman year. Watching them enter as ninth-graders not believing they'd graduate or could go to college and four years later they were achieving both will always be a special memory and accomplishment in my life.
What person—professionally or personally—do you most admire? So many people have played a significant role in my life, from my fourth and sixth grade teachers, to my junior high guidance counselor, to my high school biology teacher and principal, and my church family. However, the person I truly admire most is my mother. My mother has been the wing beneath my wings. No matter what I am involved in or need, even at 83 years old, she is always there for me. Her faith and her prayers have helped carry me and shape me into the woman, wife, mother, educator and friend who I am today.
What are key ways other people can make a difference locally? I believe some of the key ways that people can make a difference locally is to embrace the tradition and the diversity of our communities. One of the greatest attributes that our communities have is tolerance and respect for one another. I am hopeful that we will not become a community that is polarized by those things that make us different, but that we will continue to recognize our differences, and be willing to join together as a community to continue its tradition of excellence. One other key way is for the community to believe in our students and be willing to give them the best opportunities possible to be the best students and leaders in the future. I agree that strong schools make strong communities, and in order for both to remain strong we need the support of the citizens.