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Photo courtesy of Ryan Banks Academy

January 7, 2022

Valerie Groth MSW ’08 appeared on The Ellen Show to tell her inspiring story of founding Ryan Banks Academy. At the end of Valerie’s segment, guest host tWitch surprised her with a special appearance from her students as well as much-needed gifts from premium art supplies company Arteza. Watch Valerie’s appearance.

After graduating from Dominican, Valerie worked as a school social worker in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). While she loved the work, Valerie grew increasingly frustrated that so many of her students faced significant challenges outside of school—such as poverty, homelessness, violence, and other forms of trauma. 

Valerie eventually left her CPS role with the intention to build a school that was focused on the holistic care that her students were looking for. Ryan Banks Academy—named in honor of a former student who was shot and killed at the age of 12—is now open and serving Chicago students. During her time as the founder and CEO of Ryan Banks Academy, Valerie wore multiple hats from fundraising to community outreach to architecture and construction.

Valerie currently serves as the Head of Partnerships at Stella, the fastest-growing PTSD treatment in America. Valerie is also the author of the book The Power of the Possible: The Dire State of Inner City Education and One Woman's Revolution to Fix It. She is a sought-out speaker who has spoken alongside the former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as well as at international conferences.