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Examples of Positivity from MCCTC & Valley STEM

Debunking the Perception of Public Educators

Setting the Bar High- Being an Educator at MCCTC & Valley STEM

Mara L. Banfield, Director-MCCTC; Superintendent-Valley STEM


A View From the Director’s Seat- What Makes MCCTC & Valley STEM Special.

As the proud Director of MCCTC, and the Superintendent of Valley STEM, I have the privilege of working with students and their families, and the fortune to witness education at its finest on a daily basis. Throughout the pandemic, I have seen the true colors of staff surface, manifesting in many ways including acts of kindness and gratitude. During a time when the national news media is currently highlighting public education and teachers’ unions in a negative light, I am choosing to share some examples that completely contradict that portrayal. One of our staff themes has been “today I get to”. Well, today I “get to” share what it is like inside the walls of MCCTC & Valley STEM- and it truly is amazing.

My grandmother stated, “if you become restless, turn your thoughts to gratitude”. I find that quite profound and true. Quite simply: it works. The pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone, especially when talking about mental health. Feelings of uncertainty, helplessness, and isolation are magnified by the barriers created by the environmental conditions. The dedicated staff is working diligently to serve as mentors, teachers, counselors, and more, all while preparing students to enter the workforce or college. Instead of dwelling on these circumstances, the staff has united as a team to go above andbeyond for kids.


The catalyst behind this blog is a message I received this week from a staff member. He sent an email, stating that he appreciated the trust that is given by the administration to staff, and today is the day that he is choosing to “stop and smell the roses”. He then stated that he hoped that I had a wonderful day. While the email may have taken a few brief moments to compose, it had a profound impact on me. It is not often that someone stops what they are doing in their own hectic day to simply say thank you. All people need to hear it, and it does matter. His email is the reason why I am pausing today to “smell the roses”, and share some amazing accounts of selflessness, gratitude, and positivity that I have witnessed in my role in recent weeks. In honor of my grandmother’s words, I am sharing my gratitude for the staff members who have provided these examples for me to share, completely debunking the inaccurate portrayal of educators by the media.

  • Staff members unite to raise money for needy families for the holidays, delivering holiday meals and gifts to dozens of families of students who attend MCCTC/STEM
  • Fundraising efforts for Akron Children’s Hospital and other charities
  • Notes in mailboxes encouraging colleagues
  • Staff and administration driving to the homes of students who are chronically absent to check on them, bring their work to them, and encourage them to return to school
  • Donating textbooks to the Books for Development charity for students in underdeveloped countries
  • Countless hours of conversations during teacher planning time to find ways to engage students during the pandemic
  • Students painted portraits of students in Afghanistan for and will mail to these children
  • Staff delivering food to families throughout the year who are struggling financially
  • Staff volunteering for the Salvation Army
  • Coats purchased for students who do not have the money to buy their own
  • Placing signs in student restrooms stating “You Look Amazing Today”
  • Creatively finding ways to still allow students to explore careers and find their passions while keeping them safe during the pandemic
  • Staff using their own money to purchase supplies that will make fun and engaging lessons for students
  • Staff coming together to help colleagues in need who are going through cancer treatments, such as meal trains, money for the family, and necessary structural modifications for the home. These same teachers are ensuring that this teacher’s students are not missing out on content for their future careers
  • Staff using personal leave to volunteer for Heart 911, serving communities devastated by natural disasters

These are just a few examples; there are many more


At MCCTC and Valley STEM, we realize that morale is a choice, and everyone must choose wisely. Wewill continues to take the time to express gratitude and appreciation and show students how much wecare. I want to be clear public education is not what is negatively portrayed in some of the national news media, especially here at MCCTC and Valley STEM. There are many high-quality, passionate educators, who have put their students first throughout the pandemic, and made sacrifices in order to provide an educational experience free of disruption throughout this last year. They were insistent anddetermined, from the beginning, to continue to come to work for our kids. This was ?never? a question, nor a debate; instead, they continue to seek creative ways to ensure this could happen.

I am proud to say that at MCCTC and Valley STEM, we choose to define our culture and morale through our actions on a daily basis. I see people every day who choose to be kind and take the extra step needed to radiate positivity. Positivity and gratitude are as contagious as the virus itself, and with this mindset, we have united to overcome even the toughest obstacles during this pandemic. These examplesare just a few from the amazing school in which I work with some of the very BEST educators. We havenot merely kept the proverbial “ship afloat”, but rather, we have continued to move forward and enhanceour offerings for kids.

Staff: let’s keep it up! When you appreciate someone, tell them. If you are grateful- let it be known. Let’scontinue to control our culture and climate to be the way we want it to be; we are in the driver’s seat. Surround yourselves with people who have that mindset and you will be amazed, and remember-when you become restless, turn your thoughts to gratitude.

For the outstanding educators with whom I have worked in the past, and currently, work, I am grateful.

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