Saturday, Jul 23, 2016
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Police work

The STRIVE program shows that Toledo cops understand they must do more with young people than arrest them

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Through the STRIVE program, Toledo Police Officer Flo Wormely has helped many young people graduate from high school.

THE BLADE
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For the past 15 years, young people in Toledo who might otherwise not have graduated from high school because they failed the Ohio Graduation Test have gotten the help they needed through a summer tutoring program.

The STRIVE program at Scott High School is remarkable because it’s run by the Toledo Police Department’s Police Probation Team. Students who failed any part of the Ohio Graduation Test can receive tutoring and retake the test.

Officer Flo Wormely — sometimes called “Officer Love” by the young people she works with — founded the program in the late 1990s. Her own son’s experience convinced her that young people in Toledo lacked opportunities for positive summer activities.

Running a summer tutoring program might not sound like police work, but Toledo cops understand that public safety means more than arresting young people. It means providing opportunities for them to grow and succeed.

“STRIVE is outside traditional police work, but we support it 100 percent,” TPD spokesman Sgt. Joe Heffernan told The Blade’s editorial page. “As police officers and members of this community, we recognize how much earning a high school diploma relates to a person’s future. We have a vested interested in young people succeeding.”

STRIVE is not the only youth program that Ms. Wormely and other Toledo police officers run. A year ago, the Police Probation Team started taking Toledo youths to Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit, where they talk to prisoners about avoiding trouble and making responsible choices.

A high school diploma is essential to earning a decent living, enrolling in college or vocational training, and staying out of the school-to-prison pipeline. STRIVE has helped hundreds of teenagers get a diploma, with enrollments each year of about 80 students.

This year’s class includes a 38-year-old woman who’s taking the program’s math course and the state test. She discovered that not having a diploma was keeping her from advancing in her job.

Classes in STRIVE (Success Through Review, Incentive, Vision, and Effort) cover reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. STRIVE also includes a unit on drug awareness. Parents need to know what help is available for their children in the community, and then take advantage of it.

STRIVE classes, taught by Toledo Public School teachers, start Friday; testing runs through June 20. Students in the program achieve some of the city’s highest Ohio Graduation Test scores, passing about 80 percent of their tests.

“We need to help young people change and succeed,” Officer Wormely said. “It’s rewarding to help them become the person they want to become.”

STRIVE represents a preventive approach to public safety that the community should applaud and encourage the Toledo Police Department to expand.

For more information about STRIVE, call Officer Wormely at 419-245-1367. Students can also register at Scott High School on June 6, the day classes begin, starting at 8 a.m.

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