Miss STEM Academy brings foster care awareness to community


By Kasie McCreary - [email protected]



Miss River Days candidate Faith Claypool poses with a backpack designed to ease the transition for children in foster care. With the help of gala attendees, Claypool raised donations for local foster care organizations.

Miss River Days candidate Faith Claypool poses with a backpack designed to ease the transition for children in foster care. With the help of gala attendees, Claypool raised donations for local foster care organizations.


Claypool (pictured C) welcomed her fellow Miss River Days candidates to her gala. Despite the competition, Miss River Days candidates often attend one anothers’ community service events to show solidarity and support.


PORTSMOUTH—Faith Claypool, the first ever Miss River Days candidate to represent Portsmouth STEM Academy, recently hosted a gala supporting local foster families and organizations.

Inspired by her two adopted sisters, Kennedy and Tommi, Claypool said that despite labels and the legal processes surrounding the adoption, the two have always been her sisters from the minute they entered her family home.

“I have two adopted sisters who were adopted in 2020. I knew that I needed to cover how important it is to foster to adopt in our community because of my sisters’ story,” Claypool said.

Throughout her life, Claypool shared that her parents worked with the foster care system to accept placements of children in crisis. She knew that opening her home and offering love and security to those children was an invaluable gift, for them and for her family.

“I personally think that the people who need to be foster parents are the people who say, ‘I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t let them go, I’d get attached too quick’—those are the people we need,” Claypool explained. “Because [the children] need someone to attach to them, not just a placeholder. I know that every single kid throughout our home has known at one point or another, ‘that family truly loves me and would do anything for me.’ And that’s what they need, because they’ve never experienced that before.”

So naturally, when Claypool learned that she would represent Portsmouth STEM Academy as the school’s first ever Miss River Days contestant, her community service platform felt like an obvious choice.

“I feel like our community is very much focused on the drug epidemic when they should be thinking about the children,” explained Claypool. “A lot of times, I’ve noticed that it’s very easy for one to relapse. But children are totally different. One thing I cannot stress enough to our community is that if you want to make a difference for the next generation, pay attention to the kids.”

Through community efforts and collaboration with Oasis Therapeutic Foster Care Network, Claypool organized a formal gala in order to speak to her community about what she feels is a vital cause.

Claypool talked to people already interested in becoming foster parents, in addition to offices at the Scioto County Courthouse. By collaborating with Oasis, she was also able to reach people who were considering starting the process of becoming foster parents. Claypool additionally accepted donations, which went directly to Oasis.

In addition to monetary donations, she is collecting donations of items like fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors—all of which are required for foster families to have in their homes.

“I’m buying things to stockpile at Oasis so that when people want to become foster parents but they can’t really do the cost, there’s [something] available,” Claypool explained. For those who are considering fostering but who are struggling with initial costs, Claypool has also gathered donations to cover costs of background checks and other expenses.

Those who attended the event heard informative speakers, including Claypool and one of her foster siblings, in addition to County Commissioner Bryan Davis and his wife, Lori—the Davises spoke about their own personal experiences as foster parents.

Lori Davis also spoke about the Bear Hug Effect of Scioto County, a charity she founded designed to fill backpacks with child-friendly comfort items and toiletries. Inspired by witnessing children transitioning from foster care with only a few possessions crammed into a garbage bag, the charity helps to provide dignity and care in these transitions.

“The backpacks are supposed to help with the move, and it gives the kids something of their own, that they own,” said Claypool. “[Lori] has a lot of things like blankets and coloring books and stuffed animals, and I at some point am going to help them put together the backpacks that they have and I’m going to help deliver them.”

Debbie Potts, a foster parent for nearly 17 years, also spoke at the event. She recounted her personal experience and called the community—and anyone who had ever considered becoming a foster parent—to act.

“She has seen every type of case that you could possibly imagine. She’s seen the good, the bad, and the dirty. And that’s really important. And she could not stress enough how much these kids needed someone who believed in them, who loved them,” Claypool said.

Claypool also invited staff educators from Oasis Therapeutic Foster Care Network, including its founder Dr. Kay Wheeler-Cameron, to address attendees of the gala. Above all, she and the speakers wanted to teach attendees that even if they couldn’t open their home as foster families, there was still a way to help.

Through donations, applying for a license as a respite care person (which Claypool likens to an “emergency babysitter” for children in foster placements), or raising awareness among others looking to expand their family, Claypool knows that her mission is one the entire area can share.

She wants her community to know that there are children within it who need and deserve loving homes—especially teenagers in the system who Claypool said often feel overlooked and forgotten.

At the end of the day, Claypool hopes that her pioneering legacy as the first Miss STEM Academy will inspire her community to help or become a foster family.

“I just want people to really consider fostering. There are so many kids in our area and so many of our homes are full. And that’s not fair to these kids. Sometimes these kids go into kinship [care], but sometimes that isn’t an option because of drug use or abuse—it’s not safe for them. I want loving and supportive homes for these kids.”

Follow Miss STEM Academy, Faith Claypool, as well as the other Miss River Days candidates online at friendsofportsmouth.com/river-days-festival. The Portsmouth River Days Festival will take place from September 2nd through September 4th, 2022.

Miss River Days candidate Faith Claypool poses with a backpack designed to ease the transition for children in foster care. With the help of gala attendees, Claypool raised donations for local foster care organizations.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_MissSTEM2.jpgMiss River Days candidate Faith Claypool poses with a backpack designed to ease the transition for children in foster care. With the help of gala attendees, Claypool raised donations for local foster care organizations.

Claypool (pictured C) welcomed her fellow Miss River Days candidates to her gala. Despite the competition, Miss River Days candidates often attend one anothers’ community service events to show solidarity and support.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_MissSTEM1.jpgClaypool (pictured C) welcomed her fellow Miss River Days candidates to her gala. Despite the competition, Miss River Days candidates often attend one anothers’ community service events to show solidarity and support.

By Kasie McCreary

[email protected]

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931 or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved