Amazing Timken Experience

Days like yesterday give me faith in the American High School. Yeah, I really just wrote that. I can’t believe it, either. I have lots of faith in teenagers and good teachers, but I have been in way too many schools where administration was a weak link, and the kids suffered from a lack of vision and compassionate adults who were willing to fight for them.

Let me tell you about Timken High School in Canton, OH.

If you look at the statistics, you’d sigh. Many of the kids in this school come from what is politely called “underserved” areas, meaning their families struggle with poverty, unemployment, and a host of other concerns. These are the kids that are usually forced to accept the bottom of the barrel. Not at Timken. It has brilliant administrators (yes, I put those two words next to each other!) who have crafted a high school that offers all kinds of academic and vocational programs for their students. The school is divided into academies: a Technology Academy, an Arts Academy, and a Service Academy. Along with the elements of a traditional secondary curriculum, kids are given loads of opportunities for real-world education, and can take classes that will feed directly into post-secondary training to prepare them for jobs. I really hope some smart reporter looks into the innovative and practical things that are going on there.

My presentations were unique, thanks to the handiwork of Lynn Rudd, who coordinated my visit. Speak was chosen as an “all-school reads” book. Yep – everybody read it, including the guys in the auto body classes. Students made magnificent artwork based on the book and discussed it all over the place. Instead of just having me blather on in the auditorium, Lynn set up an extravaganza. The jazz band played while students took their seats. A beloved principal and one of their top seniors (who will study broadcasting) interviewed me on stage. And when the show was over, a punk/rock band played as students left. If any of you teachers out there are looking for information about this innovative format, or how to pull off a whole school reading the same book, please give Lynn a call.

Yes, like many schools in America, Timken is struggling. They have received a lot of attention because of the number of pregnant students at the school, an issue which they are addressing head-on. (Many of the administrative and curricular changes are recent.) Resources are stretched. But the faculty there is committed to their students in a degree which I rarely see. The kids are fantastic. People there are all working hard so that every student has the chance to grow, strive, and become the best person they can be – regardless of income or background. I left there feeling energized and uplifted by the people I met. So thank you, Timken!!! Thank you very, very much!

Oh, and when I was in the Canton/Akron area, I got to drive past the NFL Football Hall of Fame. It does not look as imposing as the photos make it look. In fact, it looks rather like the kitchen tool you use to squeeze lemon juice from a lemon, or maybe a painful medical device. I was amused.

Now I am in Columbus for a couple more days. I think I’m going to get to see the house where they filmed the Speak movie tonight. Will take photos.

(Note to a couple friends of mine who are trying to reach me by email – these hotel internet services are weird and I can’t send email out, plus I am really busy. Call me at home on Friday afternoon, or I will email you back then.)

24 Replies to “Amazing Timken Experience”

  1. The latest Seventeen magazine had an article on the pregnancy problem at Timken High School. It made the school seem so…not a good environment. I’m really glad that I was able to hear your perspective on it. You should check out the article though.

    1. I did. It was not exactly what I’d call balanced. And while, yes, it’s true, there is a tragically high number of teen pregnancies at the school, there is much more to the picture.

      The school board there decided a number of years ago on an “abstinence only” approach to sex education.

      Does anyone know of any good research being done to see if/how the “abstinence only” approach is working across the country? It’s not fair to only use one school as an example, but the Timken situation has made me want to see some statistics.

    2. YOU KNOW IT MAKES ME SUPER MAD THAT EVERYBODY BLAMES THE SCHOOL FOR THE TEEN PREGNANCYS.EVEN IF THE ‘ABSTANANCE APPROACH’ DOESNT WORK ,DID ANYONE EVER THINK ABOUT THE PARENTS?WHERE ARE THEY WHEN THIS IS GOING ON? AND IF ITS NOT THE PARENTS,IT DEFINATELY COULD JUST BE SOCIETY TODAY.TEENS ARNT THE ONLY PREGNANT ONES,POPULATION IS GROWING AT A FAST RATE WEATHER TEENS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT OR NOT.DID ANYONE EVER THINK ABOUT IT FOR A SECOND?HELLO!! TROJANS!WE PRMOTE THE SAFE SEX SYMBOLE.AND ITS VERY TRUE THAT TEEN MOTHERS AND FATHERS STILL MANAGE TO GO TO SCHOOL AND WORK AND TAKE CARE OF SCREAMING BABIES SO GIVE THEM A LIITLE CREDIT.ITS DEFINATELY NOT EASY. ALL I ASK IS FOR PEOPLE TO LOOK AT IT IN A DIFFERENT WAY RATHER THAN BLAME IT ON THE SCHOOL. I AM A TROJAN.I AM A TENTH GRADE FEMALE AT TIMKEN HIGH SCHOOL.

  2. I am from Ohio…pretty close to Cincinnati…it’s really a unique place to live. My high school offers programs extremely similar to the onces mentioned above. The faculty and administrators are really involved in student activities and are always around if we need anything at all. I am interested in going into secondary education this fall at college, so I got into the program we have called ‘Teacher Academy’ and I learned SOOOO MUCH! They also offer Cosmetology, Auto Mechanics, ROTC, ISS and soo many more. I’m very proud of my school. President Bush actually signed the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ in the Auditorium of my school…we are kind of a big deal 🙂

    Hope the rest of your tour goes well…I had no idea some of Speak was filmed so close!!

    Billie

  3. Wow, that is very true that many schools do not have the opportunity of having a great administration and attention they deserve. I have just recently began reading your livejournal entries, and I love them. I love knowing there are still adults out there who understand the teenage years and help to motivate us through them.
    As I am sure you are use to hearing, I chose to do my English Research paper on your writings. I understand you are a very busy lady, but if you do have the time to answer a few questions, I would greatly appreciate it.
    What beliefs about life, society, writing, etc. have you chosen to explore in your writing? How do these reflect your own beliefs? And last but not least, what experiences in your life have affected the subject matter of your work?
    Thank you,
    Amanda <3

    1. LHA was talking about the issue of Achievement vs. Compassion a couple months ago, in this post. I know that doesn’t answer all your questions, but it’s one social issue she’s discussed both in and out of her books. Good luck with your paper, and i hope that helps 🙂

  4. TImken

    Laurie.. It is SO nice to hear someone commenting timken for once instead of putting us down and finding absolutly everything to critisize us about. I’m not technically a Timken student, I am an Early College High School student but all the media and attention toward Timken effects me also. We really do have a great staff here and they do care a LOT about us and our education. They try so hard and they all do their best to make sure we are working to our highest capabilities. As you saw when you were here they try to make everything interesting and apply toward us. A couple weeks ago before you came when we first started the all school read, we had another asembly and it was all to introduce your book. We had a group of people miming the scene where melinda gets raped and calls the police and we had one of the teachers giving a speech which kind of sounded like melinda. It was all so cool and then reading the book was great because it wasnt the normal drone we are used to. Okay now i’m just rambling but once again thank you so much for looking beyond what is heard and seeing what is for real here at Timken. – Brianna

  5. You are in OHIO!

    I live in Ohio. If you ever need an awesome school to visit, try Northwest 😉 It’s in Cincinnati. How’s the weird can’t-make-up-it’s-mind Ohio weather like for ya?

  6. happy easter 😉

    i’m glad you had fun at timken! my grandmother told me she saw a segment on the news about that school because of its high pregnancy rate. i told her you spoke there. just thought i’d let you know. -ash 🙂
    p.s. happy easter!

  7. Thanks for the positive on Timken

    Thank you so much for your positive letter about Timken, I’m glad someone sees Timken for what and who the kids are. We have had alot about the teen pregnancy rate, but you know what at least these girls are still trying to get their education. No we haven’t sent them to live with their aunt in some far away place and at least they are not going to some back alley, to have an abortion. I think it takes great courage for these girls to stay in school and get their education, and I’m very proud of all of them. I am a graduate of Timken the Class of 82. I’m proud to be a Trojan. I hope Timken will be around for a very long time. Once again Thanks.

  8. yeah so i know i’m really late on responding to this but i really feel like i need to. Timken is now notoriously known as this horrible school with horrible people and horrible staff. Well, if they know so much about this school then why don’t THEY go here? Yes, I am a Timken Trojan, and honestly i love it here. Those people criticizing us are those that have no idea what goes on in this school, and I bet I could tell them at the same time that our school cares more, and succeeds more then theirs. But thank you so much for coming to see us about the book, and then for putting in a good word for our school!!!

  9. super powers

    You claim that I already have the power of stamina. So my next vote is to be able to still see you when you are invisible. The ultimate power is the invincible force field. No matter the circumstance you can protect yourself and others. MWA

  10. Timken High School

    It is great to hear a compliment instead of criticism about Timken. As a member of the Canton City Schools staff I greatly appreciate the kind words! Pregnancy is on the rise everywhere, it is a shame these students have been singled out. Timken has many great things to offer the students of Canton. They even offer an Early College program where students can graduate with an Associates Degree from a local College while they attend high school. They never have to leave the building!

  11. Timken High

    I am recently doing a school project on the pregnancy epidemic at Timken High and was looking of a positive something to put in it to show there is hope and all school has struggles. I am very glad I came across you article thank you very much. I would like to hear more information on Timken High. You can e-mail me at thompsch@mtlsd.ca

    Thanks

    Chloe

  12. TIMKEN

    THANKS FOR COMING AND TALKING WITH US I AM A GIRL THAT GOES HERE AND I DON’T HAVE A KID. MY OLDER BROTHER GRAD AND MY OTHER BROTHER AND SISTER GO HERE MY YOUNGER SISTER IS GOING HERE NEXT YEAR I LOVE IT HERE AND I DON’T LET ANYTHING GET TO ME READING YOUR BOOK WAS SWEET MY MOM HAD 3 OF US READING THE BOOK WE ASK EACH OTHER LIKE WHAT YOUR PAGE YOU ON AND SO ON WE TALK ABOUT THE BOOK EVERYDAY SO THANKS VERY MUCH FOR COMING TO OUR SCHOOL AND GOOD LUCK

  13. Comments from Canton

    Just passing through, was trying to find a name and address for Timken HS. Thought I’d leave a comment…

    I have substitute taught at Timken HS probably 20 times for more. There are A LOT of committed faculty, administrators and students there. There is, unfortunately, some dead weight in terms of teachers, and quite a few students who coast along in a lazy way. It is a school with challenges, but potential.

    As for the Pro Football HOF, looks are deceiving. When you go inside the HALL it if World Class, all the way. I was totally surprised when I first went in there after having lived in Canton for two years and driving by only.

    take care,
    Jim

  14. Timken Senior High School

    Thank you! I just discovered your site tonight (and I read your book when they did, and loved it). When all the hype was on, you saw Timken for not only what it was, but what it could be.
    We are still on the upward path – grad rates up, Continuous Improvement status, Early College High School strong on the campus, a college branch here also, and Canton coming together as never before (well, not in a very long time). I’m just a mom – five kids, 1 graduated from Canton McKinley, 2 from Canton Timken, one at Timken now, and the baby ready to start at McKinley in the fall. This is not the town I was raised in, but it IS the town I CHOOSE for my children to be educated in. Of all the “urban” areas in Ohio, I am glad my family is here.

    People need to know – the divide is growing smaller – Timken is no longer the “poor sister school” in this town – they have arrived!! Sports, academics, vocational, Canton has it all – at BOTH schools! You can’t lose if you are here and you work for it – we have the best of ALL worlds – GO CANTON!!

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