In an era marked by rapid societal changes and complex global challenges, the cultivation of strong leadership skills among youth is imperative. Recognizing this critical need, The Ohio State University Student Leadership Research Collaborative (SLRC) has emerged as a transformative initiative dedicated to empowering high school students with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities needed to become effective leaders in their schools and communities. As a dedicated sponsor and advocate for student learning, Veregy is deeply committed to supporting the SLRC and its mission to nurture the leaders of tomorrow.

The Vision and Purpose of the SLRC

At the heart of the SLRC lies a powerful vision: to empower students to identify and address real issues within their schools and communities through leadership, research, and collaboration. Through a multifaceted approach that combines workshops, training sessions, and guest speaker presentations, the SLRC equips students with the necessary tools and perspectives to drive positive change. Under the guidance of Dr. Adam Voight, a professor of urban education at Cleveland State University, students are introduced to the Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) Method, a transformative framework that empowers them to engage in meaningful research and advocacy efforts. Students then apply the framework to gather data on a real problem in their school and present their findings and solutions through a capstone presentation to district administrators at the conclusion of the school year.

Noteworthy Speakers and Experiences

One of the hallmarks of the SLRC experience is the opportunity for students to interact with accomplished leaders and inspirational figures from various fields. Past speakers have included notable personalities such as retired NBA player and current CBS analyst Clark Kellogg, NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon, and Erin Gruwell, whose story inspired the hit movie “Freedom Writers.” Students have also had the opportunity to visit several college campuses, including Ohio State University, Columbus State University, and Cleveland State University, which has exposed them to careers and majors well beyond those available only in their local communities. These experiences not only provide students with valuable insights and perspectives but also inspire them to dream big and strive for excellence in their own endeavors.

Dr. Keith Bell, SLRC Facilitator

Jon Saxton, Veregy Account Executive, Former Superintendent

Leadership of Dr. Keith Bell Sr., SLRC Facilitator

As a well-known leader in the K-12 space, Dr. Keith Bell Sr. serves as the facilitator of SLRC. He is also the Director of Leadership Services at the Educational Service Center (ESC) of Northeast Ohio, an Instructional Coach for Advancing Inclusive Principal Leadership (AiPL) through the University of Cincinnati, and works with Cleveland State University, Department of Urban Education to support the SchYPAR (School Based Youth Participatory Action Research) initiative. Dr. Bell has been a head basketball coach, teacher, principal, and was superintendent of Euclid City Schools prior to joining the ESC. He received his doctorate from The Ohio State University. In his dedication to providing a positive experience for the students in SLRC, Dr. Bell worked with Cleveland State University to secure a $4.1M grant over five years to explore taking the initiative strategies from the OSU SLRC and integrating them into classroom learning to improve student achievement.

“What I’m really happy about with the collaborative is that over the last three years, the quality of the student work from beginning to end has been unbelievable. To watch them take their ideas, authenticate them, and develop new parameters has been outstanding.”
– Dr. Keith Bell Sr., SLRC Facilitator
Veregy’s Impactful Involvement

As a committed sponsor of the SLRC, Veregy has played a pivotal role in supporting the program’s growth and impact. Jon Saxton, Veregy Account Executive, and Former Superintendent, has been actively engaging with SLRC students, sharing his wealth of experience and wisdom on leadership strategies. Saxton’s recent presentation at the February 2024 event, focusing on leadership presence, empathy, and authenticity, resonated deeply with students and reinforced Veregy’s commitment to their development.

“I am most at home in the K-12 market. As a school leader, that was my job for the 34 years I spent in public education. It is what comes naturally to me and is deeply embedded in my heart. In my sales career, I have realized I don’t have to change my “why” from what it was in my previous career. It’s who I am. Helping, advising, and coaching are things I do best. Helping schools, their leaders, and their students is why I think I am here.”
– Jon Saxton, Veregy Account Executive, Former Superintendent

In 2022, Veregy co-hosted a Leadership Learning Session geared towards superintendents and invited SLRC Program Director, Dr. Keith Bell, along with three HS students from Worthington, New Albany, and St. Charles to speak about leadership and their experience in SLRC. This session not only highlighted the invaluable contributions of SLRC students but also fostered greater collaboration and understanding between educators and students.

Expanding Participation and Making a Difference

One of Veregy’s key initiatives has been to expand SLRC participation among rural schools, ensuring that students from all backgrounds have access to its transformative opportunities. Examples abound of SLRC students from rural schools making significant impacts in their communities, whether through advocacy for legislative changes or initiatives to address local issues such as building cleanliness. For example, SLRC students from Logan High School took their leadership skills to the next level by attending a national leadership conference in Texas. SLRC students from Chesapeake High School testified before the House Education Finance Committee and were instrumental in helping secure funding as a result of their testimony. They also presented to their local board of education and were successful in getting additional custodians to address building cleanliness issues in their school. These success stories underscore the profound ripple effects of the SLRC, demonstrating its ability to empower students to make a tangible difference in their communities.

The Ohio State University Student Leadership Research Collaborative stands as a beacon of hope and empowerment, shaping the leaders of tomorrow and fostering positive change in communities across the state. Veregy is proud to stand alongside the SLRC in its mission to nurture and empower student leaders, going above and beyond to support their growth and success. Together, we are building a brighter future, one student leader at a time.

To learn more about the Ohio State University Student Leadership Research Collaborative: