New Staff at Shaker

Journalism I reporters round up the news in their first published stories.


Brendan Zbanek

New English teacher Courney Blakeman’s fourth period class.

The district made staffing changes for the 2022-2023 school year in line with the nationwide teacher shortage.

This year, the district hired a total of 37 teachers, 13 of whom work at the high school. The high school also hired 14 new staff members in positions like security guards, which are now in higher demand because all schools are back in person.

“During the pandemic, people had the opportunity to kind of think about their work situation and whether or not it’s something they want to be committed to for the long run,” said Dr. John Morris, president of the Shaker Heights Teachers’ Association and high school English teacher. Data released by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the workforce at public schools shrunk by seven percent over the pandemic.

Morris also said that there’s a shift in the way that people view teachers. “The public perception of teachers going from heroes to not being willing to be in person negatively affected teachers’ perceptions of themselves and their future,” he said. A 2022 survey done by the National Education Association showed that 55 percent of teachers were planning on leaving the profession sooner than planned because of the pandemic.

The district has set up a system to help new teachers. “I have a mentor teacher, and she’s super helpful,” Courtney Blakeman, a new high school English teacher, said. Marina Wasserman, Blakeman’s mentor, has helped her settle into her new role in Shaker. Said Blakeman, “I really like the atmosphere, I think the culture is really nice.”

Declan Teeter

New COVID Booster Now Available

A new COVID-19 booster that targets Omicron subvariants is now available to high school students for free.

The FDA recently approved a new vaccine from Pfizer that targets both the original strain of COVID-19 and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which are extremely contagious. The COVID-19 virus evolves, creating variants and different types of each variant, called subvariants which are named for their lineage, according to the CDC

To be eligible for the booster, an individual must be at least 12 years old and have gotten the original COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago. The booster is available for free at pharmacies across the country including CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid locations. 

School nurse Kathleen Longmeier recommends “anything you can do to help yourself from getting COVID” to all SHHS students, including getting the booster. Even if someone does get COVID-19, she said that being vaccinated lessens the symptoms.

SHHS students expressed various opinions on the new booster. Some said they had not heard of it. Others are already scheduling appointments to receive the vaccine. 

Freshman Sophia Steinweg said, “I think people should get it. There’s a reason why it’s getting advertised and the government strongly recommends that people should get it.”

Olivia Cavallo


Work Permits Required for Student Jobs

High school students who want to get a job must fill out and submit a work permit, which is required for jobs throughout the school year and summer. 

Permit applications can be found in the main office. The form requires basic information like age, name, and address, the approval of a physician and the employer’s agreement to pay and treat the student in accordance with Ohio’s Minor Labor Laws

According to an email sent by Administrative Assistant Mae Morrical, the office processes the permits throughout the year, especially in June. “When school ends in June we process about 100 work permits for summer jobs. During the school year we can do 1 to 20 a month – sometimes more, sometimes less,” Morrical wrote.

In the summer of 2020, teen employment dropped significantly. According to the Pew Research Center, only 30.8 percent of teens in the United States had a summer job during the worst of the pandemic. In May 2022, more than 5 million 16-19 year olds were employed — 145,000 more than in May 2021. Despite this increase in the teen workforce, employers are still displaying help wanted signs.

Any student age 14 or older is eligible for a job in Ohio. However, there are laws that prohibit minors from working dangerous jobs such as mining, demolition and operating power-driven machines. Some restrictions vary by age. For example, students must be 16 or older to cook and bake. 

Morrical also wrote that while not everyone who hires a student will ask for a permit, you should always have one to ensure that your workspace is safe. Employers who do not require a permit are taking a chance. Morrical wrote, “They risk having the state come in and check and see that they are violating the law.”

Daniel Carroll


Standardized Testing Approaches This Quarter

Ninth and tenth graders are taking MAP tests during a two-week period, and tenth and eleventh graders will take the PSAT on Oct. 12. 

The MAP, or Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Process, is a computer adaptive test designed to monitor academic progress. Students are taking the MAP during their Language and Literature and Math classes. The date is dependent on individual schedules. The test is untimed, and students may use a second block to complete it if needed. 

Computer adaptive tests adjust to each student’s learning level, providing a unique set of test questions based on their responses to previous questions,” the NWEA website states. Shaker students take the reading and math MAP in the fall, winter and spring.

A full-day schedule for the PSAT has not been approved yet. “But we are going to have two grades testing for most of the day,” Student and Campus Activities Coordinator Sara Chengelis said. 

The PSAT, also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, measures reading, writing and math skills. It prepares students for the SAT, and opens National Merit Scholarship opportunities.

Some students find it difficult to return to class after taking standardized tests. “Any standardized test is draining, so it’s not specific to the MAP,” language and literature teacher Nalin Needham said. “Especially if they happen first thing in the morning, it can be really hard to re-engage.”

Isabel Siegel

Comment using your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail account