March 2018
Onaway kindergarten students pose with the signs they made for the February 23 Peace March.  
The Shaker Schools Connection

A Message from the Superintendent
On Wednesday, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida returned to school---a seemingly impossible task after last month's shooting---carrying with them unshakable feelings of fear, loss, outrage and despair.

As global citizens, we must take action to prevent any more of these senseless attacks on human life. We must raise our collective voices to ensure that there will never be another Sandy Hook, another Columbine, another Parkland. We must stand together so that the survivors of the Parkland shooting and other school shootings never feel as though their fellow students and teachers died in vain.

I am so moved by the insistence on the part of our nation's young people, led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas students like Emma Gonzalez, to enact and demand change. I am proud that our students, right here in Shaker, are organizing and executing their own plans to stand up and say that enough is enough, whether that takes the form of a student walkout on March 14 or a Peace March, as Onaway kindergarten students did last week. Know that the District supports any and all respectful and structured protests by students. And most importantly, the District will work with students to ensure that their planned events are safe and secure for all.

In the coming weeks and months, there will no doubt be refinements made to school safety protocols around the country to further protect our students' lives and their right to a high-quality education. We will keep our Shaker families and students up-to-date on any changes we pursue and will communicate those changes clearly in a timely fashion. Our staff will continue to meet the social and emotional needs of our students with the goal of identifying potential trouble before it turns into a tragedy. And finally, if you or anyone in our Shaker Schools community sees something suspicious, please say something to a law enforcement official or to a responsible adult within the Shaker Schools. We must all be active partners in safety.

A few items of note inside this issue:
  • Learn more about developing the District's next Five-Year Strategic Plan .
  • Stream my State of the Schools address to High School freshman and sophomores on Thursday, March 15 at 9 a.m. A recorded version will be available on the District's YouTube Channel. 
  • Read about commentary writer, journalist and SHHS '93 grad Jamil Smith's recent visit to the High School.
  • Get to know Karen Dunbar and Rebekah Sharpe in this month's Employee Spotlight.
  • Learn about the life-saving difference Fernway nurse Louise Haffke made for the Jones family.
  • Celebrate 30 years of the Takatori Exchange Program.
  • Visit Junior Gabby Holt's photographic tribute to black history, " Looking Back, Moving Forward," now on display in the High School egress and learn what inspired her to create the project.
This month and beyond, let us all move forward, advocate and be champions for change together in these challenging times. For ourselves, and especially for our young people---because they deserve so much better.


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

strategicplan Strategic Plan 101
The District began implementation of its current Five-Year Strategic Plan---which establishes priorities in academics and student experience, continuous improvement, policy, human resources and facilities, communications, and finance---in July 2014. With 15 months remaining, the District recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to support our work with the next Strategic Plan and the Equity Task Force. Our intent is to select an entity or consultant by April 1.

Once again, the District will design a process to establish another 44-member Strategic Plan Committee with the hope of finalizing membership in April 2018. The District anticipates that the Strategic Planning Committee will meet in May and June before recessing for the summer.

The expected timeline to create the next Five-Year Strategic Plan, 2019-2024, is as follows:
May 2018: First meeting of Strategic Planning Committee
June 2018: Strategic Planning Committee meets and recesses for the summer
September-November 2018: Strategic Plan Committee resumes work
December 2018: Strategic Plan Committee presents Five-Year Strategic Plan to the Board of Education
January 2019: Board of Education adopts the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan
July 2019: Implementation of the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan begins
July 2019-2024: Provide updates and progress via mid-year and yearly data analysis, written reports, and consultation

Review the RFP for Strategic Planning Services and Facilitation of Equity Task Force.

SELF Registration Now Open!
Registration is now open for all 2018 Summer Exploration Learning and Fun (SELF) camps! SELF provides a wide selection of summer program options for all students in our District. Our programs address barriers that currently exist and focus on equity, excellence and exploration by providing differentiated services and enrichment opportunities for all Shaker students at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  

Programs focus on the arts, STEM, global languages, skills, career and personal development.  All of our programs offer a robust curriculum that includes a focus on the Literacy and Math standards.

Sessions fill quickly! Learn more and register now online.

Buy Tickets for A Night for the Red & White by Wednesday, March 7
Prepare to Innovate Shaker at A Night for the Red & White on Saturday, March 10, at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. Join parents, neighbors, faculty and staff in celebration of our outstanding community of learners. This annual event draws nearly 800 attendees yearly for an evening of dinner, dancing, a silent auction and live performances from our talented students.

Since 1992, this gala event has raised more than $2.6 million for the enrichment of technology, the arts, humanities, and health and fitness for all Shaker students. In addition, this year the Shaker Schools Foundation is pleased to launch the Shaker Innovation Fund to provide hands-on labs that cultivate creativity, design and personalized 21st century learning for all students.

Tickets must be purchased by March 7. Buy your tickets now online.
SOTSState of the Schools is Thursday, March 15
Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. will deliver his final State of the Schools address to an audience of Shaker Heights High School freshmen and sophomores at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 15. The State of the Schools address will be streamed live at each school building, while Shaker Schools families and community members also may stream the address on

Dr. Hutchings' address this year will be a call-to-action for all students to inspire, create, achieve and sustain positive change here in the Shaker Heights Schools community and beyond. He also will share a five-year review of the accomplishments and initiatives implemented by the District's talented faculty and staff. Guided by the District's Strategic Plan, this work upholds our commitment to our aspirations of excellence, equity and exploration for all students.

A recorded version of the State of the Schools address will be available for viewing on the District's YouTube channel.
Tour Your Schools is Monday, March 19
Shaker Heights Schools will host Tour Your Schools on Monday, March 19. The event will occur from 10-11 a.m. for PreK-4 buildings and the Middle School, and from 1-2 p.m. at Woodbury and the High School. All community members are invited to attend. The program will include comments from the building principal and a tour by student ambassadors. Please register to attend .
Register New Students and Kindergartners Online!
Registering your children in the Shaker Heights City School District has never been easier. Now parents and guardians can access our new online registration process that will save time and ensure that we have accurate, up-to-date information on your student.

Register online or learn more about our new system.
March Theater Roundup
Students at many grade levels will hit the stage this month to exercise their thespian muscles. Have some free time on a weekend? Be sure to catch one of these performances:
  • Sankofa | High School: Friday, March 2, 7 p.m. (6 p.m. pre-show); Saturday, March 3, 1 p.m. (noon pre-show). Tickets $8, on sale at the High School Cafeteria and in the office.
  • Seussical, The Musical | Middle School: Friday, March 9, 7 p.m., Saturday, March 10, 2 p.m. Tickets are free.
  • Space Pirates | Mercer School: Saturday, March 17, 7 p.m.; Sunday, March 18, 2 p.m. Tickets $5.
  • New Stages 36 | High School: Wednesday, March 21, 7 p.m.; Thursday, March 22, 7 p.m.; Friday, March 23, 7 p.m. & 9:15 p.m.; Saturday, March 24, 7 p.m. Tickets available online (closer to event date).
  • Onaway Little Theater presents Seussical Jr.: Friday, March 23, 7 p.m.; Saturday March 24, 7 p.m.; Sunday, March 25, 4 p.m. Tickets $5.
Cleveland NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO)
The NAACP's Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) is a year-long achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students. ACT-SO includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, and performing, visual and culinary arts. Almost 300,000 young people have participated from the program since its inception. Students can select up to three competitions from a total of 29 offerings. Learn more about the ACT-SO Competition online. All first-place winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to compete at the NAACP National Competition in San Antonio, Tex., July 12-15, 2018.

Want to compete? High School students will receive registration forms at the NAACP Youth Council ACT-SO information session from 3-4 p.m. on March 7 in room 154. The deadline to submit ACT-SO applications to NAACP adviser David Peake is Friday, March 23. Download the flyer for more information
Get Alerts on Your Student's Grades in ProgressBook
Be a stronger partner in your student's education and stay up-to-date on student progress by signing up for alerts on missing assignments or low assignment marks in ProgressBook. Simply log in to your account and select the appropriate student. In the left-side navigation, under Family Information, select Alerts. Enter a valid email address to receive alerts, then select the alert type you'd like to receive. Save the information by clicking Update.
News from
Journalist Jamil Smith ('93) Returns to SHHS to Discuss His Career and his Time Magazine Cover Story on Black Panther
Journalist and commentary writer Jamil Smith
Jamil Smith spent his days at Shaker Heights High School as a wrestler, track athlete, MAC Scholar and editor at The Shakerite. Today, the 1993 SHHS grad lives in Los Angeles and works as a freelance journalist, writing commentary on politics, identity and race for the Huffington Post and for the Los Angeles Times. And just last week, his piece, "The Revolutionary Story of Black Panther," earned the coveted cover of Time magazine. 

He returned to his alma mater on Friday, February 23---through the generosity of the Shaker Schools Foundation---to speak to a large group of students during a morning assembly and then returned in the afternoon to meet with MAC Scholars and MAC Sister Scholars.

"Everything here set me up for success going forward. This school provides you with a base. It provides you with one of the best templates for learning that you can ever ask for," he told the MAC Scholars and Sister Scholars. "You have a place here that cares about educating you, that cares about your success and your welfare. Those things do make an impact later on."

IB in Action: Diploma Programme Students Create "This I Believe" Audio Journals
The High School IB Theory of Knowledge class embraces ambiguity of thought, perceptions and beliefs. Through the course, students expand their understanding of the complexity of knowledge and how it intersects with past experiences and culture by analyzing their thinking through ways of knowing (e.g., reason, emotion, memory, etc.) and areas of knowledge (history, natural sciences, ethics, etc.). A crucial first step on this journey is reflecting upon who we are as knowers and how our beliefs shape the way we make meaning of the world. To that end, Theory of Knowledge students recently traveled inward to create their very own "This I Believe" audio journal entries to explore their inner workings. Click below to listen to extracts from the following students' journals and hear what they've learned about themselves and others.

Employee Spotlights: Karen Dunbar and Rebekah Sharpe
Karen Dunbar, Administrative Assistant, Administration Building

For newcomers to Shaker Schools,
Karen Dunbar often is their first point of contact with a District employee. Mrs. Dunbar, a 13-year veteran at the District, is the Administration Building Administrative Assistant. You'll hear her voice when you call the District's main number and see her seated at the reception desk when you enter the Admin Building. 

Although Mrs. Dunbar's days as an official student are behind her, that hasn't tempered her curiosity or her love of history: when she's not busy directing callers and visitors, you can find her in the Admin Building break room reading a book, newspaper or magazine. The IB world would label Mrs. Dunbar an Inquirer, a Thinker and Reflective, for sure. 

Rebekah Sharpe, Middle School Choir and 8th Grade Orchestra Teacher

When Rebekah Sharpe was a young girl growing up in nearby Cleveland Heights, she knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Today, she is in her third year of teaching choir, honors choir, 8th grade orchestra (she co-teaches with Nicole Clouser) and directing plays and musicals at Shaker Heights Middle School. This is her second teaching position and one that she says has taught her an important lesson: the essential role that she and her colleagues play in supporting students and allowing them to be who they are so that they can become strong men and women.

Ms. Sharpe is a 2006 graduate of Cleveland Heights High School who earned her undergraduate degree from Capital University and her masters in music education at Kent State University. 

Student Spotlight: SHHS Junior Gabby Holt Presents Her First Photo Exhibit
Junior Gabby Holt poses beside her exhibition.
When junior Gabby Holt transferred to Shaker Heights High School, the demure teen learned that she had an inner artist.

"At my old school, there weren't a lot of programs in the arts, but when I came here, everything was about the arts," Gabby says. "I really appreciated it because the exposure has helped me grow as an artist and as a person."

Since last April, Gabby has been hard at work on her first exhibition, a collection of recreated photographs from iconic moments in African-American history called "Looking Back...Moving Forward." The exhibition includes Superintendent Dr. Hutchings posing as Malcolm X and several of her peers posing as Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Barack and Michelle Obama, John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Gloria Steinem. In another image, Gabby portrays Rosa Parks in her mug shot.

Family Spotlight: The Jones Family is Thankful for the Keen Eye of Fernway Nurse Louise Haffke
Hudson, Eva, Logan and Autumn Jones
Last October, Fernway fourth-grade student Eva Jones paid a visit to the school nurse, Louise Haffke. She complained of chest pain.

Never dismissive, Mrs. Haffke checked Eva's blood pressure and noted that it was high, so she cautiously monitored Eva throughout the day. Eva's mom, Chris Jones, remembers getting a phone call from Mrs. Haffke at the end of the day. "Even though Eva had just had her well check two weeks prior, she recommended that I take Eva to her pediatrician," says Mrs. Jones. So off Eva went to her doctor for an EKG, which indicated an abnormality. After several tests and visits to a cardiologist, Eva was diagnosed with Long QT syndrome, a heart condition that can be lethal to young athletes. Long QT is also genetic, so the entire Jones family was tested.

Following the tests, the family learned that Mrs. Jones and three of the Jones children have Long QT.  "Three of our four children are competitive swimmers," explains Mrs. Jones. "It's very possible that this diagnosis saved at least one of our children's lives."

Today, the Jones family members with Long QT are receiving treatment and doctors are confident that they will continue to live active lives. "We are so grateful for the care Mrs. Haffke gave Eva. Our nephrologist recently mentioned what a fabulous job our school nurse has done in terms of providing data and support. It has made his job so much easier and helps Eva get the care she needs," says Mrs. Jones. "Mrs. Haffke is a treasure to Fernway and the entire Shaker School system. We are very thankful."
School Spotlight: High School Takatori Exchange Celebrates 30th Anniversary March 10-23
Students at Takatori-Kokusai High School in 2016
Later this month, a visit from a group of 20 Japanese high school students will mark the 30th anniversary of the Takatori Kokusai Exchange program between Shaker Heights High School and Takatori-Kokusai High School. Takatori-Kokusai High School, located in central Japan's Nara Prefecture, is a magnet school geared toward students who want to study languages, specifically Chinese, French, Spanish, Korean or English.

The Takatori Exchange program began in the spring of 1988 when retired Shaker Heights High School social studies teacher Terry Pollack created an Asian Studies class to emphasize a cross-cultural understanding between Japan and other Asian countries and the United States and to draw on the knowledge of local experts. Ever since, the exchange has happened on even years, with a group of Japanese students visiting Cleveland and a group of Shaker students returning to Nara.  

Zen and Zumba: District Wellness Initiative has Shaker Staff Getting Healthy in Mind and Body
Shaker Schools staff pose with Zumba instructor Sarah Smith
The Human Resources team at Shaker Schools is piloting a staff wellness program this year to support and enhance the physical and mental health of District staff.

Human Resource Generalist Sarah Fish says that so far, the program's offerings of Zumba, yoga and a six-week Biggest Loser weight loss challenge have been a success. "We're trying to find as many ways as we can to touch as many people as possible to get them involved in a way that works for them," says Mrs. Fish. "There's been so much camaraderie and excitement in our Biggest Loser challenge. The staff all work together and really encourage each other."

Human Resource Generalist Melissa Hogan says that the District hopes to offer cycling and mindfulness meditation soon. She adds that feedback has been positive: employees have commented that the program has been fun, a stress reliever and a terrific workout. "The programs will run through May and if the attendance stays strong, then we'd love to continue it next year, too," Ms. Hogan says.

"District Weekends" Events Return in March
Celebrate the historic cool of Shaker's tallest building and the guaranteed fun that Thornton Park delivers at March's District Weekends events:
  • Tower East Happy Hour (Thursday, March 8, 5:30-7:30 p.m.): Mingle with friends, neighbors, and office tenants at Tower East (20600 Chagrin Blvd.), Shaker's iconic high-rise office building, designed by German architect Walter Gropius (and listed in the National Register of Historic Places). Food and drink specials offered by Saffron Patch, with entertainment by renowned jazz pianist and composer Marshall Griffith, presented by the Cleveland International Piano Competition. Have a drink (cash bar) and head on out or stay for a delicious dinner with your friends.
  • Afternoon at the Ice Arena (Saturday, March 10, 2:30-4:30 p.m.): Families can gather for an afternoon of ice skating and other fun and games at Thornton's Ice Arena (3301 Warrensville Center Rd.). Not a skater? No problem! Play broomball in street shoes, watch figure-skating demonstrations or participate in winter-inspired STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities. Indulge in snacks from the concession stand.
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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