South Side Academy Marks Move to St. Patrick School

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Administrators of the South Side Academy cut a ribbon Tuesday afternoon on the steps leading to the northern entrance of St. Patrick Church, 1400 Oak Hill Ave., to mark its new site.

The charter school had been housed in the former South High School on Market Street – it was renamed Eagle Heights Academy, then South Side Academy — but left because its board was dissatisfied with the management provided by White Hat Management Inc. White Hat, based in Akron, continues to own the former school building on Market Street.

The school itself occupies the former St. Patrick elementary parochial school, which last housed the Summit Academy. Still visible on the southern wall of the school are the black block letters against a green rectangle identifying it as Summit Academy, which Wendy Rydarowicz noted has moved elsewhereto the city’s West Side.

Rydarowicz is co-founder/CEO and chief academic officer of The Educational Empowerment Group. She described herself Tuesday as the superintendent of the system that extends to three other charter schools in Parma and Columbus.

Rydarowicz and her fellow co-founder/CEO, Reginald Ray, chief operations officer, continue to accept enrollment in the academy, along with the principal, Stephanie Groscoost. Indeed, signs outside the main entrance to the school proclaim that enrollment continues. Rydarowicz projected that between 175 and 200 students will be enrolled in grades kindergarten through eight when classes begin Aug. 31.

The teaching staff, all nine of whom have their state Department of Education licenses – “the same qualifications as public-school teachers,” Rydarowicz noted — began two weeks of in-service training in the school Tuesday in Educational Empowerment methods. One teacher is a reading and arithmetic specialist.

Education Empowerment relies on textbooks only to the extent needed in favor of hands-on and participatory learning.

Hence the participation yesterday by the Ohio State University Extension Service, which provides advice on growing plants and agriculture. Students will learn about plants and growing food at the community garden about a block south of the school.

The school does not charge tuition, funded almost entirely by the state per-pupil subsidies, Rydarowicz and Ray said. In varying degrees, it will rely on the Mercy Health system – the Mercy foundation’s Gina Marinelli was in the parking lot with its Smile Station, which will provide free basic dental services to the students – the Ohio Benefit Bank and Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown.

The Smile Station was in the parking lot yesterday only for tours, as was a fire truck from the Youngstown Fire Department.

Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County and Smarts (Students Mad about the Arts) set up tables. Akron Children’s gave away book bags (containing school supplies) to the 50 or so students who showed up and free books.

Pictured: The ribbon is cut Tuesday at the new location for South Side Academy, a charter school.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.