Hubs: A Four-Letter Word, Changing Student Lives
Change Maker Sponsor - United Way of Greater Toledo

Hubs: A Four-Letter Word, Changing Student Lives

United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County.


“That boy is a natural speller. And funny too! I don’t know where Tyrell* gets his jokes, but he makes his father and I laugh to tears,” said Kay*, who had stopped over to her new neighbor’s house to introduce herself.

“One time,” she continued, “He got sent to the office for causing mischief in class. When I asked his teacher what he did, she said, ‘I just needed him out of the classroom for a few minutes so I didn’t start laughing in front of the other students!’ She told us he’s her best student—polite and intelligent.”

Kay was so proud of her son, soon to start fourth grade. Life hadn’t started out easy for Tyrell. Yet, through the support of their school, Kay felt he could beat the odds initially stacked against him.

Tyrell’s Elementary School is what Toledo Public School district calls a “Hub School”. There’s a handful around the city, and in Kay’s mind, she believed there should be one in every community.

“What does any mother want for her child?” Kay said to her new neighbor; a kind woman who also was a mother—as was evident by the young toddler tugging at her shorts. “To be safe. To have a good education. To be healthy. To just be a kid. But sometimes, life has its own plans. It sure did for my son...”

Tyrell was born with a condition called hydrocephalus. That means there’s a blockage in his brain causing fluid to collect, which creates a lot of pressure. Doctors put in a shunt to divert the fluid and that seemed to do the trick. For a while, anyway.

About midway through last school year, Tyrell’s teacher entered him into the school’s spelling competition. One day, as they were practicing, the shunt malfunctioned, causing bleeding in Tyrell’s brain, leading to a stroke.

“You lucked out with this neighborhood,” Kay continued, as she recalled the terrifying experience to her neighbor. “Not sure if you’ve heard yet about this ‘Schools as Community Hubs’ strategy, but it’s support has been lifesaving for our family.”

There’s a handful of Hub Schools around the city,
and if you ask me, there should be one in every community.

Hubs offer after-school enrichment programs for their students, family supports for parents, and community events and services that the whole neighborhood can participate in. And, most importantly for Tyrell, his school had onsite pediatric services, so that kids who couldn’t make it to doctor’s appointments could get their wellness checks and immunizations right there in the school.

“One of the Hubs pediatric nurse’s kept Tyrell stable during his stroke, as emergency services were called,” Kay said, starting to get a little emotional. But, it was getting close to dinner time and she knew she’d have to wrap her story up soon.

Trying to keep it short, she continued on. “Tyrell underwent four major brain surgeries. He missed a lot of school, but the school’s Hub Director helped by offering so much support—keeping us connected with school administration, Tyrell’s teacher, hospital professionals and even home instruction, so he didn’t fall behind. Our Hub provided us with the resources and support we needed while he recovered.”

“Mo-oooo-mmm! I’m hungry!” shouted a voice from across the street. It was Tyrell. That boy is always hungry, thought Kay.

“This a great place to live. Welcome to the neighborhood and to a community that really cares,” said Kay, as she headed home to start dinner.

Walking back towards her house, she remembered the hardships of last year. The funny thing was, with all the struggles Tyrell faced, he’s still upset that he missed the spelling competition. He had already started practicing for next year.

This year would be different, she thought. With the support of her school, together, they could manage any challenge—even the spelling bee!


CHANGE MAKER ACTION: Because of your support, students like Tyrell are able to thrive and grow academically, no matter their current health or socio-economic status. For our students to be successful, we must ensure their emotional, physical or social service needs are not a hindered, so they can graduate and live a successful life.

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*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by a Schools as Community Hub Director, on behalf of the Schools as Community Hubs Strategy. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles. 

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