Education is opportunity…

by Shannon Syperski


Education is opportunity. My parents moved to Sylvania in 1975 in order to give their children the opportunity to thrive in an education-minded community. Like many families before us and many families since, we moved to Sylvania because of Sylvania’s schools.

It was not an easy move for us, because living in a good school system costs money. For much of my childhood, we were a six-people-in-a-three-bedroom rental, scrape-together-11-dimes-to-buy-school-lunch kind of family. We were also the volunteer-at-every-chance kind of family, because my parents understood that public education is a community commitment. What we couldn’t lend in financial support at the time, we made up for in sweat contribution.

The local burden of compensating for state and federal education underfunding is not a new phenomenon. My parents volunteered tirelessly to pass school levies over the years knowing full well that, whether as raised rent or raised property taxes, their efforts would result in tightening our already-tight family budget. However, they also realized that contributing to the underfunding by voting against a needed school levy was something our family and our community simply could not afford long term. Fewer teachers, crowded classrooms, buildings in disrepair, and unreliable transportation are not acceptable in any community, much less one built on quality education.

Sylvania Schools not only helped to build my community, it helped to build me. My eyes were opened to the world through rigorous, insightful instruction by a dedicated staff. My heart was opened to the world by sharing classrooms with kids of different socioeconomic standings, different cultures, different creeds, different abilities, and different political views. That is not just going to a school; that is receiving an education – an education that helps to define the course of a life.

When my husband, also a Sylvania graduate, and I started our family, we knew that we wanted our children to have the same kind of educational experience we had in Sylvania Schools. We pledged to move back to Sylvania as our oldest child readied to start kindergarten, and we did. As that kindergartner readies to enter Southview High School next year, it continues to be one of the best decisions we could have made for our now family of five.

My parents saw education as an investment more than 40 years ago, and that foresight continues to pay dividends to three generations of our family today. Their four kids, whose dilapidated family car once literally caught on fire on the way to Northview High School, are now a successful entrepreneur and community leader; a nuclear engineer; an assistant dean at the University of Toledo and nationally-recognized inspirational speaker; and me, a professional writer, Sylvan/McCord mom, and current president of Sylvania Schools Parent Organization. What the Sylvania community once gave to us, we are dedicated to returning to our communities through hard work, leadership and financial contribution.

Education is opportunity. As students, it is the opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed. As a community, it is the opportunity to pass that opportunity along to the next generation for everyone’s benefit. I will be voting for Sylvania Schools on November 8th. My FOR vote is a thank you to every taxpayer who ever helped pave my way and a promise to every child in this community that I am committed to our future.