- Candice Tolbert, executive director of SuperSeeds
- Hometown: Mt. Healthy
- Current neighborhood: Liberty Township
Why she’s so amazing: A tax preparer by training, Tolbert was inspired to get into nonprofit work after an incident involving her son. He was 12 years old, just starting the 7th grade, when the school suspended him for staring at a girl in his class. Tolbert asked if the girl had asked her son to stop and if he had refused. The school told her no, that the girl had been giggling about it, and her son stopped staring when the girl asked. Still, the school suspended her son. The story went international. And while Tolbert wasn’t able to reverse her son’s suspension, she learned that Ohio schools had suspended 200,000 children in 2014. And half those suspensions were for “subjective behavior,” such as the staring that got her son in trouble. “I thought, something needs to happen. Something needs to change,” she said. That’s when Tolbert launched SuperSeeds. The nonprofit provides school districts with alternate resources for discipline. The organization teaches conflict resolution, anger management and other skills that youth need to succeed. The biggest part of the program is Options Day. For that, participating schools tell parents that when their children have been suspended, they can attend the Options Day program for a day and a half and stay in school instead. The Options Day program takes students to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. They see arraignment court and what it’s like to be arrested. Then they hear from a panel of inmates. On the next day, they visit the University of Cincinnati and hear from students about what it takes to get to college and succeed.
“My vision long-term is that these kids will learn how to cope with life, even in their relationships, so we’ll see a decrease in the number of divorces. These are skills that they need to have inside the workforce, too,” she said. “I’m hoping that these kids will learn skills that they can carry for the rest of their lives.”