PIQUA — The 17th annual Doug Smith Memorial Banquet, sponsored by Promoting Recognition of Diversity (PROD), will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 7, in the Yuri Wilcox Commons at Piqua High School. This year’s theme is “Seeking Light in a World of Darkness.”
PROD is honored to host the event again in the Yuri Willcox Commons because Willcox, a well-known educator and administrator in Piqua City Schools, was the first speaker chosen by PROD to address the Doug Smith Memorial Banquet in the school year 2001-02.
Doug Smith was a Piqua native who was celebrated as one of the nation’s best educators while teaching at Columbus East High School. He was killed in an automobile accident en route to a family reunion in Piqua in 1999 and PROD soon after chose Smith as a local model of excellence in promoting an educational career path.
The PROD keynote speaker for this year is Matthew Boaz, Wright State University’s chief diversity officer. Boaz is a nationally recognized leader in diversity, inclusion, equity and access. As chief diversity officer, he provides leadership in promoting a campus culture that supports diversity and inclusion, forging strong partnerships with students, faculty and staff. One of his goals is to create and maintain an environment in which every member of the Wright State community will feel valued because of their unique identity and authentic self so they are proud of their experience with the university. Originally from Van Wert County, Boaz and wife Angie are parents to a son, Isaiah.
PROD creates a program booklet for the banquet that is used as a recruiting tool to attract minority teacher candidates to apply at educational institutions serving the communities of Piqua and Troy in West Central Ohio.
PROD, a 501(3) non-profit organization also has sought to assist the recruitment of minority teacher candidates through encouraging local students of color to consider teaching as a career path and offering scholar assistance to those who will major in education and apply locally to teach and live in the area. PROD currently is assisting Greg Johnson of Troy attending Walsh College, Dasia Cole of Troy attending Sinclair Community College, Darien Wilkerson at Bowling Green and Tyeal Booker at The Ohio State University. Wilkerson and Booker are Piqua graduates. Each of these area students receives a $1,000 scholarship annually.
PROD welcomes scholarship support to eligible scholars and challenges local individuals, churches, civic organizations and businesses to pledge their donations in the support of future PROD Scholars seeking scholarship assistance. Businesses are currently being contacted to support the PROD program booklet. Individuals are also being encouraged to patronize the organization and show their support of PROD goals.
Any person, business, church or civic organization can send their contribution or make further inquiries about PROD goals to PROD, 1104 Maplewood Drive, Piqua, OH 45356 or call 778-1035.
Tickets for the 2018 PROD Doug Smith Memorial Banquet will be available for purchase at the Lincoln Community Center, 110 Ash St. in Troy, and at Joe Thoma’s Jewelers, 312 N. Main St. in Piqua.