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A Nurturing Heart

Grand marshal exudes
positive attitude and passion

Schumm is organizer of the
organization Operation PARENT

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2011) – The influence Jean Schumm exerts over teenagers and parents is overwhelmingly supportive. With her common sense techniques, she is a guiding force within the community when it comes to communication and keeping families together.

PARENT team

Photo provided

Pictured from left (back row) are
Ryan, Amanda, Jean and Walt
Schumm, with (front row from left)
Kelly, Holly and Chris Schumm.

Schumm’s extraordinary efforts to keep teens and parents connected have earned her the title of Grand Marshal for this year’s Oldham County Day Parade. She aptly fits the 2011 theme: “Keeping Families on Track.”
One of her major accomplishments is the organization of Operation: PARENT. “It seems like there’s a perfect fit between the theme, “Keeping Families on Track,” and our mission to educate, equip, encourage and engage parents of teens and pre-teens,” said Schumm, originally from Pittsburgh.
She began Operation: PARENT in 2005 at South Oldham High School. The organization “creates on-going opportunities for parents to network with one another and learn about teen culture in the process,” said Schumm, 53. “The goal is to create a positive social environment where the learning is fun, convenient and on-going for parents.”
A mother of five children – Ryan, Amanda, Kelly, Chris, and Holly – Schumm has always been highly involved with school activities. “After reading a book titled, “A Tribe Apart,” she realized that most parents are disconnected in some fashion from their teenagers,” said Paul Upchurch, Superintendent of Oldham County Schools.
Upchurch said Schumm came to him for help and he assisted her in getting the right agencies and people together and a classroom to use at South Oldham High School. It was to be “a special room for parents to talk and get training,” he said.
From there, Operation: PARENT was born. “It’s a really powerful program for parents to help support them with issues their teens face,” said Upchurch. The program is so influential that he sees it becoming a national movement.
Headquartered in Middletown, Operation: PARENT offers a unique parent-driven model for parent education that can be duplicated in a variety of places such as schools, churches and businesses. This model offers a Parent Handbook, classes, events, resources and a website to aid parents.
When Schumm was in the midst of raising her five teens, there was “no real place to turn to get educated on today’s teen culture and network with other parents in the process,” she said.

Jean Schumm

Schumm

Through this non-profit program Schumm “has had such an impact on our schools, community and in Jefferson county and other places as well,” said Upchurch. “There’s no question that she is an excellent choice for grand marshal. She’s not one to seek out recognition, but she deserves it.”
Schumm will serve as grand marshal of the Oldham County Day Parade on Saturday, July 16.
She will be honored with a noon luncheon the preceding Tuesday, July 12, at the John W. Black Center in Buckner.
“She has dedicated herself 12 hours a day to Operation: PARENT over the last five years,” said husband, Walt Schumm. “She has a real passion for kids. Her experience has given her wisdom and insight that she can pass on to other parents. She gives back relentlessly.”
Walt, who is Vice Chairman of the Oldham County School Board, backs his wife’s organization 100 percent. “The community has done so much for us; it’s the least we can do to give something back.”
Married for 31 years, Walt said one of his wife’s best qualities as a mother is her sense of humility. She has a willingness to serve her own children and other families as well. “She’s worked tirelessly to raise our own kids. She’s patient, she listens and hears what kids are saying.”
Schumm’s future goals for Operation: PARENT include “reaching out to communities across the United States so no parent ever feels isolated or alone while raising their teen,” she said.
She hopes to create a parenting video, develop more classes and continue to print and distribute a Parent Handbook (in multiple languages) throughout the United States. “The model we started in Oldham County can be duplicated in other communities.”
Two classes, Parenting 101 (focusing on teens and youths) and Parenting 201 (focusing on parents) are offered in 25 schools. Oftentimes, “parents facilitate these classes,” she said.
A monthly seminar series, “Wake Up & Smell the Coffee,” is also offered by Operation: PARENT. The series is comprised of presentations and discussions led by professionals with experience and knowledge on different topics such as the May topic: “Drugs in Your School…How serious is it?”
From her humble beginnings at South Oldham High School, Schumm said that one parent heard her vision and shared it with her father-in-law, who in turn donated a 5,000-square-foot building in Middletown for Operation: PARENT’s headquarters. Having made technological updates on the building, it is now ready to be used for seminars and classes.
Operation: PARENT has also started going into area businesses with its “Lunch and Learn” series “so working parents can take the class while at work, on their lunch hour,” said Schumm.
Anne Courtney Coorssen, General Council for the Oldham County Board of Education, met Schumm in the summer of 2005, when Operation: PARENT was in its infancy stage. Coorssen, who is on the board of directors for Operation:  PARENT, said, “Jean is one of the most passionate, caring and enthusiastic people I have ever worked with. When it comes to Operation:  PARENT, she is a visionary and purpose-driven leader.”
Coorssen said Schumm “positively impacts everyone she meets in some way. No one compares in terms of sheer optimism and her belief that anything can be accomplished if you set your mind to it. She has already filled an important gap in parenting education and resources, and she’s just getting started. ” 
Schumm believes it is important to reach out to teens and their parents because “these are the critical years that make or break families. If teens and parents can stay connected during the middle and high school years, chances are they will be family for life. It’s all about coming together as a community and helping each other when we’re “in the trenches” and parenting through the tough issues.”
Schumm said the most important thing she has taught her own children is her faith in Jesus Christ. “Her faith drives her,” said Walt. “She feels she was called to do this.”

• To purchase tickets for the Oldham County Day Parade Grand Marshal Luncheon, contact Teresa Kinney at (502) 222-2665 or Page Weeks at (502) 222-0437.

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