desks for success students

Kids Cook at Home with Edwins

Move over chicken fingers and mac and cheese: make room for spinach sausage parmesan orzo and caesar salad. Lomond students and their families upgraded their weeknight dinner repertoire with a little help from chef Brandon Chrostowski of Edwins Leadership Institute & Restaurant. The Foundation supported a virtual ten-week “Kids Cook at Home”  program by purchasing pots, pans, and other supplies so that all Lomond families could join in the fun of learning some advanced kitchen skills and trying new foods

We enjoy cooking with Edwins because it’s one of the rare times we get to cook and eat dinner together,” says Tammy Bell. She and her husband and their Lomond student, Drazden, work as a team in the kitchen, sometimes inviting other students or family members to join them. 

Says Drazden, “The thing I liked best was cooking with my friends. It was fun and the food was good!”

Tackling Leadership and Life Skills

football players

Players and coaches on the Shaker Heights High School football team built up some different kinds of muscles this year: leadership, positive thinking, and goal setting. 

More than 50 students and their coaches participated in the “Always Ready” leadership program, supported by the Shaker Schools Foundation and the District’s Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Roy Hall, Executive Director of the Driven Foundation, led a series of eight virtual sessions that included hard-won wisdom and practical advice from his years as a football player with The Ohio State University and in the NFL.

Head coach Alex Nicholson was impressed with the way the program has fostered stronger connections among the teammates and with the coaching staff, who use the tenets of the program to help the players set goals for academic, social, and athletic success throughout the school year.

Says Hasim Rashid, a junior who plays defensive end, “The program helps me stay motivated and focused in school and keep my grades up.  I have all A’s and B’s right now. The program teaches us to always be grateful and never take anything for granted, which is especially true now with Covid.”

Flynn Bloch, a sophomore who plays quarterback and cornerback on the team, explains how the program gave him food for thought – literally. Each session begins with a thought exercise that features an image that can be interpreted in multiple ways. Says Flynn, “In one session, there was a picture of a man in a jail cell and he has a stick. Within his reach is a loaf of bread and a key that would let him out of the cell. The man is shown trying to reach for the bread. This is a great metaphor for someone trying to do what they want in the moment, but not thinking about the future. At that moment, the bread would quench the man’s hunger, which is a short-term positive effect, but the key is more beneficial to him because it has a long-term positive effect. In school, when I’m assigned a project that’s due in a week, my first thought is ‘Oh wow, I can go home and watch TV because the project isn’t due for a week.’ But I’m really better off chipping away at the project each day so I’m not rushing on the last night to do it. Not rushing is better because I’ll probably get a better grade on it.” 

Freshman Will Berglund, who plays on both the football and baseball teams, likes the program’s emphasis on positive thinking.One thing that has stuck with me is that Roy talks about being more grateful. Now,  every morning I write down one thing I’m grateful for.  He talks about how to carry yourself both on and off the field, how to be a better person. I think everyone on the team will be positively impacted – it will really help the team bond and become better friends.”

Building Success, One Desk at a Time

In the face of a global pandemic that illuminated disparities in resources, three Shaker Heights High School students decided to act locally by providing an essential item for remote learning: desks. Says junior Grace Wilkinson, “I started by just Googling simple pictures of school desks and chose my favorite prototype.” From there, she recruited fellow students, Rachel Coxon and Olivia Peebles, to join her in co-leading the project they dubbed Desks for Success. Their goal is to build 50 desks and distribute them to students who do not have an ideal remote learning setup. To help them reach that goal, they enlisted the help of principal Eric Juli, who was happy to act as their cheerleader and mentor. 

“I saw this as an opportunity for the students to solve the problem they identified on their own,” says Eric. “ I had partnered with Soulcraft Woodshop as a principal in Cleveland, so I connected them with the team at Soulcraft, where they have supported our students from design through implementation.” The Shaker Schools Foundation stepped up to provide funding to help cover the cost of the mentoring, tools, and materials they needed to launch their project.

In approaching the design problem, Olivia explains, “We drew and measured out prototypes according to what the user will need– we considered storage, the perfect universal height of the desk, how much space we should leave for textbooks, etc. I am excited to tackle any issues related to the design cycle.” 

Says Rachel, “It’s been really cool to get out of a classroom setting to learn more about the real world, and everyone has been treating us like adults. It’s been hard for students to adjust to everything going on and I couldn’t imagine attending online school without a place to work.”

The students have recruited a fleet of other student volunteers to help them in their project, all of whom are excited to apply hands-on learning to a real-world problem: educational inequity.

“I truly hope that through our efforts and the help of Soulcraft, the Shaker Schools Foundation, Mr. Juli, and many other students, people will take the time to consider others who are struggling through this time and acknowledge educational inequities,” says Olivia. 

Your gift to the Shaker Schools Foundation helps provide hands-on, experiential learning for students in every grade, Pre-K through 12. Thank you!

Providing New Pathways

With the return to some in-person learning, Shaker Heights High School students couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new equipment in the new machining and manufacturing room at the High School. New equipment was installed over the summer using funding from the Shaker Schools Foundation’s Innovation Fund, to bolster the High School’s Engineer pathway that will provide Career Tech Education credentials.

Dr. Joe Marencik, who heads up the CTE program and teaches Engineering and advanced Robotics, was excited to add to the more high-tech “toys” for the students to gain hands-on experience, including 3D printers, laser cutters, a thermal vacuum former, a wind tunnel, industrial robots, and industrial mills and lathes. 

When student Naukiya Worley first walked into the machining room, she says, “I was kind of shocked because I’ve never seen this type of equipment before in a school. I’m excited to use it because I feel like you can get the experience for yourself instead of just hearing a teacher talk about it.” 

Machining and manufacturing teacher Marty McGuan agrees. “Students will be getting an extensive amount of hands-on experience working with hand tools, power tools, and the various machine shop tools,” he says. “There is no shortage of what a student can learn in this classroom. They can really become practitioners of the mechanical arts.” 

These opportunities will provide Shaker students not only with engaging, hands-on learning, but will open new career pathways to them as well. Students can earn in-demand industry certifications like OSHA 10-hour training, Autodesk, and FANUC robot programming. And, students will be able to take part in internships arranged with local manufacturing companies who are eager for skilled employees. 

Shaker senior Evan Ward says, “I had taken Robotics last year so I had some familiarity with the tools, but I had no clue how a lathe works. Now I know how to use it to cut metal. Mr. McGuan said that this knowledge is very helpful for mechanical engineering or future work with vehicles or at NASA.” 

Your gift to the Shaker Schools Foundation supports innovation and technology for all grade levels. Thank you!

Pathways video

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