April 2017

The Shaker Schools Connection

A Message from the Superintendent
Here in Shaker, we exercise our right ---and our duty ---to speak out about the important issues and policy changes that effect the way we educate and evaluate our young people, teachers and administrators. We know that our voice is power.

In that spirit, on March 9, I headed south to Columbus to testify before the Ohio General Assembly's Joint Education Oversight Committee ( read my testimony online). I urged lawmakers to delay submission of the state's implementation plan of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from this month to an alternative September deadline. Why? Because the new ESSA gives states an unprecedented amount of autonomy and flexibility in school improvement, assessments, teacher evaluation, student services and early childhood education. Taking more time to finalize a plan that includes innovative measures of assessing a student's mastery of academic material and funding for high-quality preschool programming, Career Technical Education and STEM programs will only serve to benefit Ohio's public school students.

Once again, our Shaker voice, joined by other voices from districts across the state, was heard: on March 13, the state superintendent announced he would delay finalizing Ohio's ESSA implementation plan.

Thank you to the parents, teachers and students who served on our ESSA Task Force and wrote our White Paper, and to all of our community members who continue to support the Mission of Shaker Schools.

Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools

Student Art on Display at Administration Building
April 2017 art in Erin Herbruck's office
Each month, the Shaker Heights High School art department selects a work of art by one of its many talented students to be displayed at the Administration Building. Now on display: Lady in Red, a mixed media painting by High School senior Victory Farrell. Gold flecks of modeling paste adorn the subject's hair, while her dress is fashioned from actual fabric. Victory wove a brass cuff onto the subject's arm to complete the three-dimensional effect. The piece is one of a series of four portraits of women that she created in her Portfolio class. Victory also created companion pieces for each portrait in her jewelry class. Read more about the artwork
Staff and Students Raise $400 at Hoops for Hunger
On March 16, Shaker teachers and staff challenged high school students to a friendly game of Hoops for Hunger, a Harvest for Hunger Food Drive Fundraiser. Combined admission fees and canned goods donations raised nearly $400 for the the food drive. The annual event, organized by High School science teacher Bill Scanlon, is now in its 14th year. This year, the staff was victorious and defeated the students 35-24. 
Building and Operations News
The Service Center installed plastic sheeting over the ceiling of the cafeteria at the Middle School during spring break. This temporary cover will remain in place until the cafeteria ceiling is repaired or replaced over summer 2017.  

This month through June, the Food Services Department will pilot a biometric finger scanning technology. This software program will provide better security for students' cafeteria accounts, eliminate clerical errors and provide students an easy way to identify themselves when using the cafeteria. If the pilot is successful, the District will use the finger-scanning process beginning in August 2017. The software:
  • Scans the finger for identification. It does not store a copy of the fingerprints.  
  • Creates a template of the unique fingerprint characteristics. These templates are stored in the school's database with the same high level of security as all other student records. When a child graduates or is no longer enrolled in the school system, the templates are deleted. 
  • Does not store fingerprint images. Fingerprints cannot be recreated or delivered to any agency, government or otherwise.
School principals have been asked to volunteer a grade(s) for the pilot and will inform parents accordingly.  

Lomond El Sistema Orchestra
After a busy day at school, the last thing most elementary students want is more instruction. Yet, three days a week, a diverse group of 46 Lomond students happily gathers to participate in El Sistema Orchestra---with many more clamoring to join in. The local chapter of this renowned national program provides string instruction and performance opportunities for students in grades 2-4.  Read more about Lomond El Sistema .
Employee Spotlight
Gerald Stewart
Bus Driver and Lomond Lunch Aide

Gerald Stewart may be a new face for the Onaway and Woodbury students he's driven to and from school this year, but he's no stranger to Shaker. 

In fact, each day Stewart  takes a trip down memory lane as he weaves Shaker's neighborhoods on Bus 64. The Shaker graduate (SHHS '81) can't help but recall a week-long field trip to the Nature Center when he was in elementary school and picnics at Horseshoe Lake Park. 

"I feel at home here," says Stewart, who grew up on Menlo Road and attended the former Moreland and Malvern Elementary schools and Byron Middle School. "It's where I grew up." Read more about Stewart


Rebecca Harper
Shaker's First Class PreK Teacher

One of Rebecca Harper's first teaching jobs was at an inner-city Chattanooga elementary school where she taught third and fourth grades. She enjoyed the work, but found herself drawn to the idea of teaching "the little people." So she asked her principal about the possibility of switching to kindergarten. "The principal looked at me and was like, 'What? But you're so tall and you're so good with the older ones,'" she remembers. Still green and only a few years out of Lambuth University (where she played varsity basketball) Harper dismissed her idea and stayed put. 

Today---nearly 20 years and lots of early childhood experience later---Harper knows her first instincts were right. Which is why she was excited to join the District last summer as a PreK teacher for Shaker's First Class at Onaway. "It's the only age group I ever want to teach again," she says. Read more about Harper

Student News
Senior Jordan Pazol received the Jeanette Grasselli Brown and Glenn R. Brown Cutler Scholarship at Ohio University. The Cutler Scholars program is OU's premiere scholarship program, providing civically engaged students with opportunities and experiences to develop their leadership skills. Congratulations to the winners of the High School's Audrey Stout Learning Garden Logo Competition. Lydia Murphy-Patton earned First Place with her design, "Open Mind." Sedona Jolly's "Brain on Tree" tied for Second Place with Prejwal Sharma's computer graphic. All submissions are on display in the High School's Eli Gallery and the Small Auditorium Gallery. High School Senior Sheila Scanlon was awarded a full scholarship for theater to Case Western Reserve University. Shaker Heights High School inducted 25 new members into the Sociedad Honoraria Hisp√°nica on March 16. The Sociedad is for students who have made a commitment to learning the Spanish language at a high level. On April 1, seniors Joe Berusch, Nat Crowley, and Vishnu Kasturi appeared on the Newsnet 5 Academic Challenge, competing against teams from Cleveland Heights and Strongsville. The team earned second place. For more news about student accomplishments throughout our District, visit www.shaker.org.  

Faculty and Staff News
Elementary school students around the District are cultivating a new way to explore their own unanswered questions, thanks to our teachers' work with SOLE Cleveland, an educational group that promotes Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) for children. 

SOLEs encourage children to work together to answer their own vibrant and challenging questions, using the Internet as a resource.  Both Onaway and Boulevard staff have received professional training on the SOLE process, which includes: 

Step One: Introducing a "Big Question." Big questions aren't easily answered, typically lead to more questions, and require critical thinking. Big questions often connect with what students are learning in school and extend across subject areas. 
Step Two: Students self-organize into small groups and investigate answers online.
Step Three: Students present their discoveries and receive constructive feedback from teachers on their findings and presentations.

"We have always done a good job of generating great questions," says Onaway Principal Eric Forman. "But I think SOLE has given kids a great structure to explore their own and others' questions." Examples of Big Questions that Onaway students have SOLEd this year include:
  • How do people communicate their ideas?
  • What is energy, and where does it come from?
  • What does it mean to live a healthy lifestyle?
  • How are communities similar or different? 
SOLE supports the District's strategic goal to incorporate inquiry-based learning opportunities for staff and students. Students at Boulevard, Fernway, Lomond, and Onaway have all used the SOLE structure in class this school year. Mercer is building a relationship with SOLE Cleveland and will soon incorporate SOLEs in the classroom, as well.
Community Engagement
Fernway "Makers" Build Bridges to the Community
There's a lot of bridge building going on at Fernway Elementary school---literally and figuratively speaking. At an after-school Shaker Makers club sponsored by the Fernway PTO, 24 fourth-graders have been designing and building bridges over the past five weeks using popsicle sticks, glue, a ruler, and their ingenuity. Their mission? To build relationships with one another as cooperative problem-solvers, while constructing a bridge that is at least 14 inches long and can bear some weight. Read more about the Fernway Makers.
We Want your Feedback
Have a comment, suggestion or concern? Share it with us using our new Feedback form on the District's website, www.shaker.org . Simply choose the "Contact" drop-down menu at the top of the website and click on "Feedback." You can select the particular department you want to receive your message.  

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