- Columbus City Schools
Centennial Senior Naa Shidaa Korley Leads the Way in School, Community
May 25, 2023 -- Whether in class or out helping her community, Centennial High School senior Naa Shidaa Korley puts her heart into everything she does.
Her drive and passion have led to her achieving excellence in and out of the classroom. Korley serves as class president and has stayed in the top 5% of her class, earning her the title of valedictorian.
Additionally, she is a member of her school orchestra and has enjoyed playing soccer and basketball. Her dedication, especially in soccer, has resulted in her earning three varsity letter awards and an all-city award.
“Not only do I spend a lot of time at school, but a lot of my time is also spent as a steward and leader in my community,” Korley said. “At church, I am a Sunday school teacher and a youth group leader, and in my community, I like to remain active by joining many different service projects or even hosting some myself.”
One service project she has especially enjoyed is an initiative started by her Centennial peers – Remarkable Readers. The program began early in the pandemic, and it serves CCS students and beyond. The goal is to help young learners develop and hone their literacy skills.
“We tried to make the process fun by including different games like Kahoot,” she said. “We split ourselves up into different age ranges. I had third and fourth-graders. We read different books, and it was really cool to see how students developed their reading skills. We had testimonials from teachers saying they saw an improvement in their students.”
The most rewarding experience, Korley said, was seeing kids gain confidence in their reading ability. She and her peers hope to continue the program, even through college.
“Even if it’s in the summer or once a week, we still want to meet with the kids,” she said.
This is just one way that Korley pours into her community. Korley hopes to continue making a difference in people’s lives and that her actions inspire others to do the same.
“Your actions can impact someone’s life,” she said. “I think that if you don’t put your heart into it, you’re also not going to get the benefits that community service offers. You’re developing leadership skills and becoming more compassionate. I put my whole heart into whatever I can do to help, no matter how small because it might be enough to change someone’s whole course in life.”
Korley’s leadership has garnered additional accolades, including being selected as one of the mayor’s 20 Under 20 recipients. She was also chosen as a Steward of the Community by Columbus City Councilmember Shayla D. Favor.
“That experience was enriching because I got to meet different city officials and employees in our government,” Korley said. “It was cool to see how leaders use their voice to advocate for the community. It’s a skill I got to develop through that program.”
She credits many mentors and educators who helped her along the way, including Nina Barksdale, Centennial’s internship coordinator, and Sara Penny, school guidance counselor.
“Ms. Barksdale just came here, but she and I are so close,” Korley said. “She has been very helpful, not only in my academic journey. I’m also able to talk to her a lot outside of school. Ms. Penny has also been a great help in informing me about scholarship opportunities and things like that.”
From staff to classmates, one of Korley’s favorite parts about Centennial is the sense of community.
“I love my classmates,” Korley said. “I feel like Centennial, since we are so diverse, we can bring in our different ideas and new ways of thinking. Even at my lunch table, we planned a day to bring in our cultural foods because we’re so proud of our cultures. Plus, everyone at Centennial makes you feel super comfortable with your own culture and to express it.”
Korley plans to attend The Ohio State University, majoring in Health Sciences. She hopes to eventually work as a neonatal surgeon, continuing her passion for helping others. Her advice to younger CCS learners is to find ways to help others and not be afraid of being unique.
“Throughout your educational journey, you should be yourself,” Korley said. “You shouldn’t try to change yourself to be popular or to fit in. I want students to know they are special in their way, and being unique and different isn’t a bad thing.”