Chaney Principal and Coach Score for the Kids

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Chaney High School principal Rob Kearns is committed to opening doors that lead his students to a successful future for their lives and careers. Football coach Chris Amill is committed to getting his athletes a college education or a certification in a skilled trade.

The two are working to turn around the Youngstown school that received an F on the part of the September 2019 state report card that measures performance and achievement.

Kearns and Amill are trying a family-style approach to provide tools and opportunities for improvement and rallying families and the school community to help.

Chaney received an overall D rating on the September state report card. The school also scored a B rating for graduation rates with a 90.3% four-year graduation rate and a 98.6% five-year graduation rate. The four-year percentage is above the district rate of 84.9% and the state’s 85.3%. 

There are 700 students enrolled at Chaney. Of that population, 64% are African-American, 16% are Hispanic, 13% white and 8% multiracial, according to Denise Dick, spokeswoman for the school district. The overall poverty rate at Chaney is 100%.

Kearns is in his second year as principal; Amill is in his first year coaching Chaney, which hasn’t had a varsity football team since 2010.

Chris Amill (left) and Rob Kearns (right) help Marquan Herron achieve his goals.

Both are aware of the poverty level, but don’t want that to keep their students from opportunities to succeed. Kearns brought in the student-led Aspiration Prep business to help Chaney students prep for the ACT college entrance exam.

While many high school coaches use Thursday as a final preparation for the Friday or Saturday game, Amill allows his players to forego the first part of practice to attend the test-prep class after school. He knows the importance of getting into college.

Other players are attending Choffin Career and Technical Center to work toward certifications in carpentry, auto body, technical trades and firefighting.

Amill has eight players who already have football scholarship offers, including Marquan, Marshall and Marquis Herron, triplets who not only play football, but also won a state title with Mi’Kel Holland in the indoor track 4×400 relay. Marquan Herron has two Division I scholarship offers, and Marquis and Marshall Herron have Division III offers. 

“The biggest key is that football is just a vehicle to get you where you want to be,” says the coach who played football for Cardinal Mooney and earned a full scholarship at Kent State University. “To be able to get a college education and come out and not owe a penny, that’s what I want for them.”

Kearns wants his students to have dreams, and he wants his staff to help children to fulfill them.

“We want to make sure nobody is sitting at home with nothing to do. We want to make sure all of our kids have a goal and they are taking steps they need to fulfill it.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.