Dr. Glenn Looman
By: Arielle Stambler 2010
During its seven years of existence, the Aspire program and the girls it nurtures each summer have received recognition by not only the Hathaway Brown community, but the outside population as well. However, the kind of attention the girls have been given by these sources cannot be matched by the care and devotion they have received from Dr. Glenn Looman, HB Middle School teacher for twenty-one years and Aspire Directing Teacher for the past three, and his wife Wendy Looman, a senior research analyst at Benjamin Rose Institute.
This year, the two created the Glenn and Wendy Looman Aspire College Access Endowment to support Aspire girls looking toward college. Looman described the endowment as "intended to level the playing field." He went on to say that "we [he and his wife] wanted to give a gift to the school but we wanted it to align with what we felt would support the school and would provide funds for kids who needed it." The endowment money will be used to help Aspire girls navigate the college process and will cover the cost of college access programming as well as application fees.
Looman's fund truly embodies the mission of the Aspire program. According to Koyen Parikh Shah, one of the program's founders, the primary goal of Aspire "is to identify a group of high-achieving students whose leadership potential might be overlooked and find ways to support them in Middle School and now in high school." In its pursuit of this goal, the Aspire program makes college a real option for many girls. Shah said that the idea for the program arose when she and Cammy Howe Dubie, the program's other founder, began to notice the difference between schools that offered a challenging curriculum and provided students with a supportive environment and the schools that didn't have the resources to do that. Both felt that HB could and should help address that problem.
Looman has enjoyed working as a Directing Teacher and acting as a resource for the Aspire girls. However, the idea for the endowment came from a discussion he had with a group of Junior Teachers one day over the summer. The high school students saw that Aspire girls would need financial help with the college process in the future and wanted to do some kind of fundraising that would benefit them. Looman said, "I was so moved by the fact that they had the foresight to think about what the Aspire girls would face as they look to their futures." Looman decided to spare them from having to do a car wash to raise funds for the Aspire girls (their original idea) and established the endowment instead.
About seventy percent of Aspire's funds come from grants and fundraising, and more than one million dollars have been raised since the start of the program. Gifts to the Aspire program like Looman's are immensely crucial to its continuation. Shah said, "This gift from the Loomans will make college more accessible to a number of young leaders in the Cleveland area, many of whom will be the first in their family to attend a four-year college. The Loomans know the power a good education can play in the life of a young woman. I'm moved by their efforts to address educational disparities in our region."
Looman said, "It is our hope that other people will see the importance of this kind of gift to the program and see a need to contribute." Anyone who does wish to donate to this fund can contact the Development Office and earmark money for the endowment.
All of the work that Shah, Dubie, Looman, and all of the other supporters of the Aspire Program leads up to the graduation ceremony for the eighth graders at the end of each summer. Looman said, "I look at all those young women [at the ceremony] and…[I know] there's so much potential there and that potential needs to be nourished."
In moments like those, it becomes clear that the Aspire girls are no different from HB girls in terms of their dreams.
This article appeared in The Review, Hathaway Brown School's student newspaper.
It has been shortened and reprinted with permission.
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