December 2017
Mercer fourth graders learn how to balance together as they practice mindfulness with instructor Erin Peron.
The Shaker Schools Connection

A Message from the Superintendent
The 2017 calendar year has been a year of milestones for Shaker Schools. In January, our PTO, families and students came together for our first annual Martin Luther King Day of Service. In the spring, Shaker residents passed a bond issue that will fund the District's most critical capital needs and improve the teaching and learning environments for our students and staff. This fall, Shaker families gathered for two CommUnity Market events to share resources and food and to build community. And just last month, the District played virtual host to two NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

One of my personal milestone moments this year was testifying in front of our state legislators about our community's concerns with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. In my testimony, I urged Ohio lawmakers to adopt alternative assessments as measurements for student mastery including nonacademic measures such as internships, international travel, service projects, and community outreach. I believe this is what is right and what is necessary if we are to accurately and equitably assess our students.

As a District, the practice of thoughtful and intentional assessment of our students enables us to determine that our young people are making progress and, even better, gives teachers the information they need to make important instructional decisions in a timely matter. I encourage each of you to review the latest in our "101 Series" on assessments. In it, you'll learn a little about the history of assessment in the United States, what assessments we administer here in Shaker, when students are assessed and where you can learn more. Our hope is that you'll have a better understanding of why we assess students and how we use the information to improve the Shaker experience for everyone.

Finally, as we move into the final month of 2017, I hope each of you finds the time to reflect on your own growth and learning this year. Perhaps you discovered a new hobby, maybe you decided to take action for a cause that's close to you, or perhaps a personal experience enabled you to see things differently and will shape your perspective moving forward. Whatever the lesson or challenge, my hope is that we all commit ourselves to lifelong learning and encourage our students to do the same.

Enjoy the winter break and I wish everyone a Happy New Year.


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

Assessment 101: Why Do We Test Students and How Does it Help?
Standardized assessment of nation's public school students is a practice that dates to the 19th century but experienced its most significant growth more than a century and a half later with the No Child Left Behind Act, enacted in 2002. The practice was introduced in Boston schools in the 1850s by education reform advocate and politician Horace Mann, who wanted to determine the best teaching methods in the hopes of eliminating any gaps in achievement. Over time, however, standardized testing critics have argued that these assessments do more to highlight achievement gaps and privilege than they do to guide teaching methods. (Read this  brief history of standardized testing in the U.S.)

Shaker Heights Schools seeks to balance what's best for students and their learning with state and federal testing requirements. The District is intentional about the assessments it selects for students and mindful of over-testing.

Even so, assessments remain a helpful tool that contribute to a more complete view of each student and his/her progress. Assessments enable teachers to evaluate and monitor progress in specific subject areas, fulfill federal and state requirements, and provide information on where our students stand compared to students around the country. The results of these assessments---along with teacher observations/feedback, student work and regular progress monitoring---help guide instruction and determine the effectiveness of our instruction.

We realize that information on assessment can be both overwhelming and confusing. To help clarify the what and when of assessment, we've created this  Assessment 101. We'll define the tests we administer and why students take them. We'll also explain when your student will be assessed.  Read Assessment 101 .
Signs of Support for Shaker Schools
Thanks to the generosity of the City of Shaker Heights, the Shaker Schools Foundation has received hundreds of Shaker street signs as part of a sign replacement project. The Foundation will be offering them for sale, with all proceeds benefiting the  Shaker Schools. You can acquire a little bit of Shaker Heights---perhaps the street where you grew up, the street where you live, the street of your favorite school, or all three!  

The signs will be sold using a two-week online auction:
  • The online auction link will be live until December 13 at 9 p.m. EST
  • There are more than 1,000 signs available, though quantities of each street name vary.
  • A "buy it now" feature is available for each sign for those who would prefer to purchase a sign outright rather than to bid during the two-week auction.
  • More information is available at the Foundation's website
Bid early and often to support the Shaker Schools!
Tutoring Centers are Open
Homework help is here! Students can get assistance from certified teachers in all subject areas at one of the District's three Tutoring Centers.

Any student who resides in the Shaker school district is eligible to use the Tutoring Centers. Students should bring assignments to work on and may also bring class notes or papers. 

Hours for the Tutoring Centers (Holidays and Conference/Professional Days excepted): 
  • K-6 Tutoring Center at Woodbury is open Monday-Thursday, 4:30-7 p.m. (Please note: A parent/guardian must sign students in and out, and students may stay no longer than one hour per night.) 
  • Middle School Tutoring Center is open Tuesday and Thursday, 4-5:30 p.m.
  • High School Tutoring Center is open Tuesday-Thursday, 4-6 p.m.
Learn more about the Tutoring Centers and download the schedules online.
Shaker Heights Grads Often Circle Back to Help Beloved Community
A November 26 Crain's Cleveland Business article featured 13 Shaker Heights High School grads who are all working to strengthen the Greater Cleveland Community. The group includes newly elected School Board member and Case Western Reserve University School of Law professor Ayesha Bell Hardaway ('93), Executive Director of MidTown Cleveland Inc. Jeff Epstein ('93), and Managing Director of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization Jenny Spencer ('96), among others.

The article states: "It's hard to know if, as a group, more Shaker grads are working for nonprofits, educational institutions, government or other civic-minded organizations than any other high school in the region. But it's clear in hearing from them that their Shaker experience played a role in drawing them to the civic arena. Some are boomerangers, drawn back home by family but also by the attraction of Cleveland and Shaker Heights."

Read the entire story online at Crain's Cleveland Business.

Shaker Heights Schools Job Fair is December 9
Attend the Shaker Heights Schools Job Fair on Saturday, December 9 from 9 a.m.-noon and learn what makes the District a great place to work. What to expect: 
  • Onsite interviews
  • Meet current employees
  • Get fingerprinted onsite for $20 (cash only)
  • Refreshments
Classified substitutes may apply in advance online or onsite. Also substitute teachers may  apply in advance online or in person.

Vaccines for Children Available at Cuyahoga County Board of Health
Effective January 1, the City of Shaker Heights Health Department will close and the City will join the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH). The decision was made after three public meetings and input from the community. Shaker Schools families who have been vaccinated at the City's Health Department can instea d receive those services at the CCBH, which offers vaccine shots for infants, children, teens and adults. As part of the Vaccine for Children Program, CCBH is able to vaccinate children under 18 years of age free or at a low cost. Call 216-201-2041 for an appointment or more information. Starting in January, Shaker Schools families will be able to access vaccination services at CCBH's new East Side clinic at South Pointe Hospital in Warrensville Heights every first and third Friday of the month from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
First Shaker Heights Middle School Heart Healthy Challenge is a Success
Middle School teachers and staff join Principal David Glasner in a line dance at the Healthy Heart Challenge Activity Fair.
The Shaker Heights Middle School staff celebrated the end of their first Heart Healthy Challenge just before Thanksgiving Break with an Activity Fair on Monday, November 20. The nine-week Challenge, which began on September 18, was the brainchild Middle School principal David Glasner to support the District's Shaker Has Heart campaign for 2017-2018.

PE teacher Rob Senor oversaw the initiative and was pleased with the response. "Overall, we had about 35 teachers participate in the challenge," Mr. Senor says. "I think it was a great opportunity for us all to work together toward a common goal of personal wellness."

Reading teacher Rebecca Doles says the Challenge inspired her to get back on track to a healthier lifestyle. "I was even able to incorporate healthy activities into the daily routines in my classroom," she says.

During the nine weeks, staff members were encouraged to try new healthy foods and recipes and to find new ways to exercise.The staff kept track of their progress on an activity bingo card and turned them in at the Activity Fair for a chance to win raffle prizes, including gift cards to Dick's Sporting Goods, Heinen's and Whole Foods. Participants who contributed a slide to the Challenge's Heart Healthy Google Slides presentation and completed the bingo card earned additional chances in the raffle.

"The Heart Healthy Challenge was a great way for our staff and faculty to build community while engaging in healthy lifestyle activities," Mr. Glasner says. "We will continue to emphasize the importance of taking care of ourselves and our health and fitness in the future."
Woodbury and Onaway Receive New Water Fountains from Delta Dental

The Delta Dental Foundation awarded Woodbury and Onaway Elementary Schools new bottle-filling water fountains as part of its $200,000 Rethink Your Drink: Water's Cool at School campaign, which encourages children and adults to drink water, rather than sugar-sweetened beverages. The Delta Dental Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Michigan-based Delta Dental, a dental plan administrator.

Both schools applied for a grant from the foundation earlier this year. The fountains will be installed this winter and the foundation also will provide each student and staff member with a refillable water bottle. Onaway and Woodbury are among 54 Ohio schools to receive new water fountains or bottle-filling stations.

"I think this reinforces the importance of drinking lots of water and the healthy benefits associated with consuming more of it," says Woodbury Principal H. Danny Young. The Woodbury fountain will be installed near the main office.

At Onaway, the water fountain will be installed outside the cafeteria. "I'm excited that this came from a parent willing to lend support in grant writing and I'm looking forward to more opportunities like this," says Onaway principal Eric Forman. "This will really help support our push for kids to embrace healthy lifestyles."

Teri Battaglieri, Delta Dental Foundation director, says that water is critical to maintaining good oral health. "When children choose water over sugar-sweetened beverages, they can reduce incidents of tooth decay, the most common chronic childhood illness in the U.S."

District Pilots Flexible Furniture

Chante Thomas-Taylor's New Furniture in her Fifth Grade Classroom at Woodbury

One classroom in each K-8 building and three classrooms at the High School received new "flexible furniture" while students were away during Thanksgiving Break. The furniture is part of a pilot program that will enable teachers and administrators to determine what type of furniture might be purchased moving forward as the District transitions to a 21st Century learning environment. 

Teachers selected the furniture they thought would best suit their students, including curved bookshelves and cabinets with one white board side, chairs with stability ball seats, stools that rotate 360-degrees and bicycle desks. Most of the items are on wheels, enabling for multiple configurations in the classroom. 

See more pictures of the flexible furniture online.
Employee Spotlight: Jayce Bailey and Kathy Manning
Employee Spotlight: Jayce Bailey, High School Math Teacher

Shaker Heights High School math teacher Jayce Bailey flashes his broad, warming smile when he talks about his fiancé Shannon (whom he'll marry on April 21), the Nintendo 3DS he carries nearly everywhere (he's a proud video game junkie) and the students he affectionately calls "my kids."

By any standard, Mr. Bailey is a good guy in a good life place. And he's remarkably humble: yes, he's worked very hard to become a teacher, but he's also quick to acknowledge the role that teachers who kept watchful eyes over him and the kindly stranger who donated the balance of his high school tuition with shaping him into the person he is today.

Employee Spotlight: Middle School Art Teacher Kathy Manning

Kathy Manning came from a large family and as the eldest of six, she spent her teen years babysitting younger siblings. So when she went to college, she knew she most definitely did not want to pursue a career in teaching.

Ms. Manning took premed classes to scratch her science itch, and classes in her first passion, art. But after graduation, there weren't any jobs in art, so she did the unthinkable and became a teacher. Nearly 35 years later, she's still hard at work doing the job she thought she never wanted and she's having a marvelous time at it. Better still, her career has included both of her interests: she's been a teacher of both science and art.

mindfulSchool Spotlight: Mercer Students are Mindful
Instructor Erin Peron leads Mercer fourth graders to connect their bodies and minds through mindfulness.

At 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in November a group of nearly 20 fourth graders were lying quietly on yoga mats, their toes and arms relaxed out to their sides and palms facing up. They were practicing one of their four annual sessions on mindfulness, led by yoga instructor Erin Peron, who encouraged them to focus on their bodies, one part at a time. "Mindfulness is paying attention to what's happening to our bodies right now," she told them, walking around the room. "All you have to do is breathe and listen."
For the next 30 minutes, Ms. Peron (who is also a Woodbury and Fernway parent) led the students through exercises that emphasize body awareness and the importance of teamwork. Some students were more focused than others throughout the session, but they were all paying attention.

This is the second year of connecting IB units of inquiry with mindfulness for all Mercer students---Ms. Peron plans the lessons with Mercer IB coordinator Maria Baker. "I've noticed a change with the first class [from last year]," Ms. Peron explains. "They are able to tune in to the self-regulation and calming exercises with more ease. They also understand that we are not trying to do more, but do less by taking our time to pay attention to ourselves, our breathing, stillness and how we move."

To supplement Ms. Peron's four sessions, Mercer occupational therapist Patrish Ferreri extends mindfulness lessons into brief classroom experiences for students. "Teachers sign-up to have Mrs. Ferreri come to their classrooms to develop students' social-emotional intelligence and provide them with beneficial tools for self-management," says Ms. Baker.

Read more about mindfulness at Mercer and hear what students and teachers think of the practice.
IB in Action
David Asante Takes a Risk and Learns He's a Good Leader

Shaker Heights High School senior David Asante remembers his first conversation with Shaker Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. "I went to a City Council meeting and talked to Dr. Hutchings afterwards," he recalls. "He told me that if I really wanted something that I had to keep on after it because not everyone was going to help me. I was in the eighth grade when he said that to me and ever since then, I've run with it."

Last year, as a junior, David ran with it all the way to getting himself elected to the Speaker of the House for his Government class Model Congress simulation last December. The experience was one that changed the way he looks at himself, his teachers and his future.

Read more about David Asante and his perspective-changing experience .
Eighth Graders Collaborate with Third Graders Over Earthquakes

Eighth Grade science teacher Chris Oryl and Onaway third grade teacher Jim Sweeney saw the power of collaboration first hand last month.

The two teachers, with some insight and planning from instructional coaches Jen Weisbarth (at the Middle School) and Kristin Clark (at Onaway), hosted the District's first Google Hangout video collaboration for students in the two classes. The idea was for the older students, who had just completed a unit on earthquakes, to share their learnings with the younger students. The third graders, in turn, used their newfound knowledge to build earthquake-safe structures made from toothpicks, marshmallows and gummy bears.

Community Engagement: Shaker Makers Build Relationships
Visit the Cleveland Botanical Garden's Glow holiday exhibit before December 31 and see three gingerbread houses on display designed by the Shaker Makers, a group of multi-age, multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-talented kids from Shaker Schools and the Design Lab Early College High School in Cleveland.

Shaker parent and a Shaker Makers founder Julie Kaufman says she the impact Shaker Makers has on participants goes beyond the tangibles, like the gingerbread houses. "It reminds me of what amazing things can happen when different people come together," she says. A total of 15 students from both schools spent six hours over three days constructing the houses.

The Shaker Makers originally started as a after-school Fernway club two years ago, then grew beyond the school walls in an effort to create connections and foster friendships among students from a variety of cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. The group has a broader goal to strengthen the Shaker community through these connections and friendships that begin with our youngest residents.

"Shaker Makers is an intentional way of bringing people together. These kinds of things might start off feeling inauthentic, but we have to start somewhere," says Ms. Kaufman. "And if that means putting people together who otherwise wouldn't have crossed paths, then that's the intentionality of it and then that's how we start building relationships."
We Want your Feedback
Have a comment, suggestion or concern? Share it with us using our new Feedback form on the District's website, . 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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