Twelve Zanesville High School Juniors earned their Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification while learning the Lean Six Sigma methodology under the facilitation of Master Black Belt Brad Hollingsworth.

The training was made possible thanks to funding from The Ohio State University Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). Their Workforce development initiative strives to train the potential future workforce of manufacturers. The credentialing is in alignment with the State of Ohio’s Each Child, Our Future, where students who earn industry-recognized credentials are poised to enter the workplace or to go on to two-year or four-year colleges.

Lean Six Sigma is a recognized industry standard and structured team-based problem-solving approach to improve quality and productivity with a relentless focus on the voice of the customer. Team members with the certification are recruited by organizations, business, or industry with a philosophy of continuous improvement and outstanding customer focus. With three levels of certification, participants learn to be effective team members, project leaders, or trainers.

Lean Six Sigma is a formal, structured, and dynamic problem-solving method that relies on a collaborative team, a champion, a team leader, and a project coach to solve problems and implement lasting solutions that are controlled and measured over time. It focuses on continuous improvement by reducing unnecessary costs, improving quality, and demanding a relentless focus on the customer or end-user.

The Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification indicates that an individual is an effective problem-solving team member. The Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification indicates that a participant is an effective problem-solving team leader. People who earn this certification have effectively led a team to solve a problem that yields measurable improvement.

In addition to the students who completed their Yellow Belt certification, Zanesville City Schools educators and administrators who completed their Yellow Belt certification include Tom Crowley, Wendy Curtis, Elisse Greenleaf, and Nate Seekatz. Those who went on to participate in the Green Belt certification include Eric Baldwin, Michelle Neal, and Mike Schrieber. The following individuals completed the train-the-trainer session in addition to the Yellow and Green Belt certifications: Doug Baker, Stacie Deavers, Deb Gingerich, Andrea Minnich, Maureen Montgomery, Lisa Kester, Tashia Woerner, and Garrett Young.
As the Green Belt participants lead a process improvement project and complete the train-the-trainer session, they are then certified to incorporate the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training into their class curriculum for their students. They can also teach and coach students who wish to earn the Green Belt certification when mentored by a Master Black Belt.

The educator and administration teams completed two process improvement projects as part of the initiative. Two additional projects are still in process.

One project sought to increase teacher engagement in grade level team meetings with the goal of improving intervention for students, streamlining the meeting process, and enhancing student success. The team surveyed meeting participants and then used a Pareto Chart to analyze survey results and develop solutions. With the implementation of the solutions, teacher participation and satisfaction with the meeting planning and agenda items improved by more than double the team’s goal. In addition, teacher perception of engagement and follow through increased.

Another project considered the internal flow of information for IEPs. Through the team’s solutions, understanding of effective use of the tool that follows students as they progress through their educational career increased by 25% over the confidence level prior to implementing the team’s solutions that were identified as part of the process improvement project.

Dr. Doug Baker, superintendent, participated in the yellow and green belt certifications to see firsthand what the students gain by adding the Lean Six Sigma training to the curriculum. “The educators in the Lean Six Sigma training selected projects that they were passionate about, as well as projects that they felt they could directly impact, to the benefit of their students, families, and colleagues, with the guidance of their coaches and champions,” Baker said.

“Many times, we recommend that students ‘work as a team’ to resolve a dilemma or problem,” Baker explained. “The Lean Six Sigma training provides students with the knowledge and skills to “know how" to work together as a team.” In addition, he said, “This training planted the seed of continuous improvement when it comes to problem solving. This knowledge and skill set will serve our students well into their futures.”

“The students at Zanesville City Schools are fortunate to have their faculty and administration and The Ohio State University MEP provide this certification,” Hollingworth said. “The training provides opportunities for the students to contribute to value-added process improvement projects at their schools and in their future careers.” He went on to say that the projects the educators and administrators completed provide them with real world experience to understand the tools that make Lean Six Sigma effective as they facilitate their students’ learning.

Baker echoed Hollingsworth’s appreciation to the MEP for providing funding to make the student certifications possible saying, “MEP’s support allowed us to pilot and incorporate Lean Six Sigma training for our students to better position them to become contributors in the ever-changing world economy.”

For more information about Lean Six Sigma process improvement trainings or facilitation, visit to contact Master Black Belt, Brad Hollingworth.

ZCS article and photos here.

Zanesville Times Recorder article here.