In December 1984, a group of women—mostly composed of single moms—received keys to the former Peaslee School in Over-the-Rhine, after having led fundraising efforts to ensure their children access to quality education.
“They didn’t know where their positive steps would go, or how far that would extend for people in this community, but they just did it anyway and that’s inspiring to me,” says Jennifer Summers, executive director of Peaslee Neighborhood Center
“It’s a narrative that’s not a typical narrative of low income people in our community, and that motivates me to make sure that there are consistently spaces in this community that are accessible to everybody across all types of backgrounds.”
Now, 30 years later, Peaslee is celebrating its space in the community that demonstrates how far the women’s positive reach has extended, in creating "a peaceful place,” where everyone in OTR is welcome and can learn from and through one another.
One of its particularly successful programs, and one that Summers says shows the ways in which social change is at work, is its community education partnership with the Miami University Urban Teaching Cohort
“It brings people from the community—moms, volunteers, recent graduates of Cincinnati Public Schools
—together to help educate young, new, potential teachers on the things they can’t learn in a book about teaching,” Summers says.
“So the college students see community members on a regular basis, and those relationships are formed over five or six years, so by the time that student is teaching in the local school here, they have a network of support so they can support the students in their classroom in a way that makes sense to them, that honors their experience and that is effective.”
One way relationships are formed is through bonding activities like quilting and storytelling.
“People connect across generations,” Summers says.
“You can’t create any kind of change collectively unless you can get comfortable enough with each other and comfortable enough to do challenging things together, and I feel like we’re leaning into that. We’re promoting basic enrichment and educational services to the community, and we’re reaching beyond that to say, ‘How do we build a world we don’t just function and survive in, but that everybody thrives in, so that our successes are tied together?'”
• Help Peaslee celebrate 30 years by attending Peaslee Presents: A Place for Everybody
on November 6.
• If you're interested in putting together a team from your workplace or community group, volunteer
to complete a project for Peaslee.
Peaslee by donating.