Volume 20 | March 2024
We Elevate charter schools.
We Empower students.
We Emulate research-based practices.
We Engage community stakeholders.
EEG News & Updates
The mission of the Educational Empowerment Group is to promote knowledge, wisdom and understanding to all stakeholders that empowers success in our global society.
The vision of the Educational Empowerment Group is to elevate the experience for students and stakeholders by positively changing the landscape of charter school education.
A Message from the CEO
Here is something to ponder. Everything we do at the Educational Empowerment Group positively impacts the lives of our students. Whether you are in the schools daily or not, your actions carry weight. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” We are actively contributing to change through education, and our team is the mechanism by which students are learning, graduating, entering the workforce and changing communities. Everything you do is valued, and it matters!
I would like to express my gratitude to every department and the leadership of every school. You put in the work to continue the charge of societal change through education. 
I would also like to express special thanks to our facilities team who picked up over 500 books donated from J Merrill Publishing, Inc. in Columbus, OH. Because of you, we have the capacity to expand our school libraries and add to our collection supplemental curricular resources. 
I encourage each of you to remember the value of what you do. May your work give you the intrinsic satisfaction of knowing you are shaping a better world. Thank you for all you do!
                               – Wendy Rydarowicz
In the Spotlight
“Soar to Excellence.”
The Middlebury Academy Falcons are soaring above the mentality mediocrity and moving toward success. This promising school in Akron, OH is demonstrating upward movement, and the community is taking notice of the positive culture, caring staff and awesome leadership. Let’s learn more about Principal Michael Zografos and Middlebury Academy.
What motivated you to become an educator?
What motivated me to become an educator started when I volunteered for Special Olympic events in my community and surrounding counties. It was such a rewarding experience helping students with special needs and building relationships with the families. At that point, I envisioned a career/life change as an Intervention Specialist and went back to school. 
What is your personal educational experience?
I attended Baldwin-Wallace University and hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. I also attended Grand Canyon University and hold a Masters in Education: Special Education.
What are some things you would like to share about yourself? 
I am the youngest of six children with five older sisters and the first to attend college. When I was growing up in Brook Park, education in our family had very little importance, like most students we serve today. Being blessed to play football led me to college, where I earned my degree from BW.  I made a career change around 2012 from being a Regional Operations Manager for a retail organization to jumping headfirst into the education field. Since then, I have never looked back and feel blessed at having the opportunity to make positive changes in my students’ lives.  
My wife and I have three children, four stepchildren, two grandbabies, two dogs and two cats. We both enjoy golfing, watching our Ohio State Buckeyes and spending time with our children. I have always been a gamer and still enjoy jumping on my PS5 occasionally. I enjoy sports and being outdoors.
What is unique about Middlebury Academy?
Middlebury Academy is unique because the culture of excellence we have built over the past two years is sustainable, as you can see from our enrollment increase from 110 to 210. Students want to be here, and our staff enjoys educating our students.
We offer students a vision for their future and parents the opportunity to be a part of their journey. Our competition cheer team has been invited to perform all over Akron in parades and other competitions. Our basketball teams (MS Boys, MS Girls, and K-5) are competing against other club teams and school districts. We offer after school free tutoring by grade level where all teachers are willing to help grow their students. We are a uniform school and have raised the bar with our students and staff academically, socially and emotionally. 
What sets Middlebury apart from other K-8 schools in the Akron area?
What sets Middlebury Academy apart from other K-8 schools in Akron can be defined by student centered learning. Our students always come first mentality has placed us above any other charter or public school in Akron. We are no longer seen as a school where you take your behavior students who get kicked out of other schools. We are the school where parents want to send their children, and they become instant Middlebury recruiters of other families in our city.  
Explain the culture of Middlebury. How did you build it?
Our culture at Middlebury has completely changed in the past two years, and this has been built by every staff member, parents and our community. Our “Failure is not an Option” mantra provides our students with expectations inside our building and outside within our community. Our House Program was the building block in changing our culture among students. It has provided mentorship from our older students down to our younger students in their perspective houses. The accountability piece within our House Program provides students a platform to lead by example and the ability to speak their mind. 
What programs are offered at Middlebury?
Middlebury Academy offers programs in Art, PE, Reading and Math Title, Girl Scouts, Basketball, Cheerleading, STEM, After School Tutoring, Boys and Girls Club, Games Club, Minority Behavioral Group, Beechbrook Counseling Services, Kindergarten Boot Camps, Summer Excellence Program, Family First Health Services and Career Based Interventions (CBI).
What are your biggest accomplishments?
Our biggest accomplishments at Middlebury Academy have been the growth of our school and adding 100 students in two years. Our State Report Card PI Score has increased from the mid 30’s to 44% over the past two school years. The culture change in our building with our staff and students has made so many positive changes in our school and community. 
What are your goals this year?
Our goals this year at Middlebury Academy:
  • Increase our State Report Card PI Score over 50%.
  • Increase Reading / Literacy performance by 19.4%
  • Increase Math performance by 19.4%.
  • Increase attendance to 93%.
What else would you like to tell us about Middlebury?
Middlebury Academy is a place of learning where students are challenged and empowered to reach their full potential academically, socially and emotionally. 
We are proud of the amazing growth at Middlebury Academy which can be attributed to the leadership and staff of this great school. We are excited about this school’s progress and anticipate many more milestones in the future!
“Middlebury Academy is a place of learning where students are challenged and empowered to reach their full potential academically, socially and emotionally.”  
-Principal Michael Zografos
Who’s in the News
Riverscape Career Tech High School
Congratulations to RCT High School for receiving Ohio’s CTE Equipment Grant! Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted are hosting an event on behalf of the Governor’s Office of Workforce and Transformation, in which they will announce the recipients of this grant award. Our own, Principal Victoria Carter, will be in attendance. We are especially thankful for Kate Travers, our Director of Career Technical Education, for playing a crucial role in writing this grant.
Mobile Dental Visits MVA
Our philosophy includes an emphasis on the holistic care of children. Without meeting their basic human needs, students will encounter challenges with learning. Our schools partner with community entities to bring services into our schools.
Miami Valley students enjoyed a visit from Mobile Dental and received needed dental care. This services helps parents who may not be able to take their students to the dentist regularly because of work or transportation barriers.  
Student Research at Main Prep
Third and fourth grade students at Main Prep Academy (MPA) are diligently conducting research to discover information regarding animals, insects and amphibians to satisfy an assignment. MPA is definitely preparing our students for a successful academic career and the future. Our students will be ready to make their marks in the world.
Farm 2 Fork Workshop at ACT
Through its relationship with Rid All Green Partnership and Hood Honey, the students of Akron Career Tech High School (ACT) participated in an engaging workshop which allowed students to learn more about Black farmers in Ohio during Black History Month. Students also explored healthy eating habits and vital information to apply to their lives. Rid All Green Partnership is a community based organization which focuses on urban agriculture. Hood Honey is also a community organization which contributes to the environment by harvesting natural honey and vegetables in Cleveland, OH.
The Health Corner
National Kidney Month
The month of March is National Kidney Month. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 37 million Americans are impacted by kidney disease and 90% are unaware they have it (National Kidney, 2024).
National Kidney Foundation (2024). https://www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/fsindex.
This month’s issue of Live Well, Work Well shares beneficial information which will assist with kidney health. Click the link below for details.
Where to Find Care
Have you ever been challenged with a medical issue and wondered whether you should go to the emergency room or schedule a doctor’s appointment? Do you know where to find the best care for your health? We want to maximize your health benefits by offering additional information to point you in the right direction.
Take a look at Medical Mutual of Ohio’s Where to Find Care flyer to discover when you should go to the emergency room, visit urgent care or simply schedule a telehealth appointment. Click the link below for more information.