Stories of Support

Kenneth Subak

Aug 29, 2023

A familiar quote from St. Francis de Sales is “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” With that in mind, the saint aptly describes Ken Subak, who serves on The Charles and Salome Reymann Foundation Board of Directors.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this quiet and unassuming man. Ken is a great listener, and selectively chooses to opine only when he can bring value to the conversation. But when he speaks, the room is silent, with others eager to absorb his wisdom.

Ken built his career as an Intervention Specialist, and currently works for the Six District Educational Compact, which includes the Summit County public high schools of Tallmadge, Woodridge, Hudson, Stow, Kent Roosevelt and Cuyahoga Falls. He expands on his title as “…more of a career-based interventionist. I help students with disabilities develop a path for successful post-graduation employment.” Paired with the initiatives of the Reymann Foundation, Ken has become pivotal in developing Transition-To-Work programs, involving both high school and college level students.

Motivated to embrace the field of Special Education by both his wife and children, Ken observed inequity in school systems when addressing the concerns of students with disabilities. “In the 1980’s, things started to shift at the federal level when legislators dictated that educational services cannot be denied due to disabilities. It’s a civil right, and Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) help protect that right.” Ken further explains how critical it is for a parent to advocate for their child, and how extremely important it is to have a well-defined IEP in place as a tool to ensure that child’s future.

It is inspiring to hear Ken’s stories about the difference he has made for his students. “Teachers don’t always know how students were impacted by your help and guidance”, says Ken. “It’s typically years before you hear from them, but every once in a while, someone reaches out with gratitude, in unexpected ways.” Upon receipt of an order for home renovation supplies, Ken was pleasantly surprised to see that the shipping employee that packed his order was one of his former students. “He included a very kind note, thanking me for providing the training and support he needed to secure a job that he enjoys. It made my day!” chuckles Ken.

How do you wrap up a fulfilling career when planning for retirement? Ken jokingly quips, “I’m not really going to retire. But I am planning on utilizing my knowledge and talents for what could and should be done to assist the special needs community. I’m going to continue to advocate and make a difference with all that I have to offer, on my own terms.”

The culmination of Ken’s career experiences may very well be in the creation of a Transition-To-Work program with The University of Akron. With Ken’s quiet humor, he states, “Before I check out, I want to see this become a reality. This program will be a true, fact-based and data supported program, the first of its kind at the college level.” Formally titled The Urban Youth Transition Center at The University of Akron, the program includes experiences and training for area high school students with disabilities, all on Akron University’s campus, with the goals of gaining job and life skills and securing great job placements upon completion. The program is a careful orchestration of efforts between the Six District Educational Compact, select department heads at The University of Akron, and The Charles and Salome Reymann Foundation. But to Ken, “It’s simple. We know what we need, and this program is created to deliver on that. Everyone involved is excited to see this come to fruition.” Ken adds a bit more personal history, “I’ve been thinking about this and planning this program for ten years, I just didn’t think it would happen so fast. But I finally found the right people, people with heart, and they found me. And together we are going to make it a reality.” The Reymann Foundation is fortunate to have been introduced to Ken, and Ken to us. Clearly, he has been patient for quite a few years. And at this point, Ken believes, “Let’s go big. Let’s get the program launched and explode this thing as much as we can. There is so much that we can do, and we are well on our way.” One thing is for sure, don’t be an obstacle in Ken’s way!

The Urban Youth Transition Center at The University of Akron program, funded by a grant from the Reymann Foundation, is scheduled to launch September 2023 during the University’s first semester. We are all anxiously awaiting the public announcement of the program, and look forward to seeing the impact on our students, and on our community. And hopefully one day in the future, we will receive a note from a participating student, sharing their story of employment satisfaction and success.

The appreciation for a job well done goes to our own Ken Subak!