As an English teacher, Speech and Debate coach, and Pink Polo Campaign coordinator, Kim Gross's contributions to Saint Ignatius High School are evident and admirable. As part of Saint Ignatius High School's Women's History Month celebration, we are proud to feature our second Wildcat Woman of the Week, Mrs. Kim Gross of the English Department.
Kim Gross is a Virginia native who moved with her family to the Cleveland area in 2009. She began her time at Saint Ignatius in 2016 after spending six years at another local high school. Her decision to change schools was not an easy one, but she felt it would be good for her to keep growing in her profession and to continue teaching in a faith-based high school. Gross’s experience in an all-male household, living with her husband Ray and sons Jakob and Jansen, helped with her transition from a co-ed environment to an all-boys school.
She credits Rich Fujimoto '66, longtime English teacher and Fine Arts teacher, with his assistance when she first arrived to establish herself as an additional Speech & Debate Coach. Gross coached in Virginia and at her previous school here in Ohio.
Although her coaching efforts are focused primarily on Congressional Debate, Gross noted how involvement in any area of Speech and Debate develops lifelong skills. Between the substantial time commitment that students dedicate to after-school practices and weekend competitions, to public speaking experience, to the relationships formed with team members and students from other schools, Gross believes the Speech and Debate program adequately prepares students for successful futures in college and beyond.
However, the Speech and Debate program wasn't the only activity Gross jumped right into during her first year. She also brought the Pink Polo Campaign, a fundraiser she began at her school in Virginia, to Saint Ignatius.
"Initially, the campaign donated money to breast cancer research through shirt sales," she explained. "Then I realized that, although research is awesome in many ways, people in our school community are personally impacted by breast cancer. Cancer takes a huge financial, physical and emotional toll on families. That's why we decided to donate all the proceeds to a Saint Ignatius family in need. We are always able to find someone who needs help."
"I sometimes wonder if the boys know what they did by purchasing a pink polo- if they realize they just helped pay a bill or helped purchase something a classmate's family is in need of," she reflected. The money raised has gone to hospital bills and has helped to offset missed work for parents who are out of paid sick days. “Three years ago, we used the money to help Fr. Paul Shelton pay his mother’s extensive medical bills.”
Gross attributes the success of the Pink Polo Campaign to the interest and efforts of Saint Ignatius students, as well as to fellow English teacher, Mr. Casey Yandek. Through their combined efforts, they have been able to raise money to donate to a member of the Saint Ignatius community every year since the campaign began.
Describing Saint Ignatius as her second home, Gross is looking forward to the years to come, ultimately with the hopes of finishing her career here. Through her English classes, Speech and Debate coaching, and Pink Polo Campaign planning and coordinating, Kim Gross' positive impact on Saint Ignatius High School is clear. "In all that I do, my main goal is to keep moving forward and always get better."