Former drug dealer turned renowned chef to be featured in Youngstown Schools’ new parent program

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The city school district will be offering multiple opportunities for parents to learn more and be involved in their child's education

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A new program at the Youngstown City School District is aiming to help parents and students learn virtually.

“Parent YOU” starts Thursday night at 5 p.m. on Zoom.

Join Zoom meeting, starting at 5 p.m. Thursday

Through the Parent YOU program, parents will receive credits and get awards for their accomplishments and continued learning.

The first class will feature the story of Chef Jeff Henderson and how he transformed himself from an inmate to a renowned culinary artist.

Henderson spent nearly 10 years in prison, arrested for being one of Southern California’s biggest drug dealers.

While in prison, he discovered his true passion was cooking.

“It’s a story of redemption,” said Linda Hoey, Youngstown City Schools’ chief of family engagement. “He found his passion, changed his life and now he’s living his dream.”

Henderson worked his way from dishwasher to head chef at Las Vegas’ Cafe Bellagio.

He released a memoir — “Cooked” — in 2007, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Good Morning America and The Steve Harvey Show, among others.

Henderson’s own reality TV show, The Chef Jeff Project, is expected to premiere on the Food Network this fall.

A movie featuring his story and starring Will Smith is in development.

More Parent YOU classes will be happening through May, featuring such topics as social emotional learning, diversity, literacy, and college and career awareness for English learner families.

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