The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

Retiring Teachers Fond of Their Shaker Years

Charles Longo: Former Shaker student enjoyed classroom

Social Studies Department Chair Charles Longo had quite the Shaker experience. Longo has taught in Shaker for 34 years, was head baseball coach for 19 years and attended Shaker as a student.

“Shaker is my alma mater,” Longo said. “I’ve loved my job. I love coaching. I love the interaction with students.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve enjoyed the classroom for 35 years,” Longo said. When he received his teacher’s license, he spent a year teaching at Avon Lake. However, he received a call from Shaker’s personnel director asking him to teach at Shaker. That’s when his amazing Shaker experience started again.

Why call an end to the Shaker experience? “I want to go out on top . . . I want to retire from Shaker loving Shaker,” he said.

Longo’s immediate retirement plans are to purchase a house in Sarasota, Florida, where he will go to the beach, walk his dog, play golf and bike a lot. Once he starts losing track of the days, “Maybe I’ll think about getting a part-time job,” he said.

Longo also plans to travel around the world, and said he would like to visit South America and Antarctica. He said, “I want to see the penguins.”


 Leslie Foote: Decision to retire hard to make, loves school

Spanish teacher Leslie Foote’s love for Shaker is immense. Foote is retiring this year after 35 years of teaching, a difficult decision because he loves teaching at Shaker so much. However, “There comes a time in everybody’s life where it’s natural to move on,” he said.

“Shaker is the best thing that happened to me,” said Foote. Foote had nothing but good things to say about his experience at Shaker, and described his teaching career as “more than a job.”

Foote said when he leaves he will primarily miss the people. “The students are fantastic—my colleagues are just amazing,” he said. Foote said through the years there has been great support from the community for his Spanish program.

According to Foote, the last thing he wants to say when leaving is, “Thank you.” They are “cliché but true,” he said.

Foote plans to be busy during retirement. He has three grown kids and wants to spend a time with his family. Foote also wants to travel.

Foote said he wants his successor to have “a passion for the language” and to be “someone who really cares about the students.”

Kenneth Culek: Science teacher will keep busy after Shaker

Kenneth Culek, who is currently in his 35th year teaching, retire at the year’s end. He said the thing he will miss most about teaching is the classroom itself.

He formerly taught at a junior high in Cleveland Heights and then smoothly transferred to Shaker, which was similar at the time. He had completed his student teaching at Shaker and was already familiar with the system upon his arrival.

Asked about the highlights of his career, Culek said one event stood out. “A few years ago, I got to go to Washington, D.C. because a student of mine was a Presidential Scholar and elected to bring me. That’s definitely the highlight,” Culek said.

Culek has plans for the years following his retirement. “Actually, I bought a trailer. We’re going to go out west and do some camping,” Culek said. “I also have a woodshop at home. I want to learn how to make good furniture. I’ll have no problem keeping busy,” he said.

Asked what his last words will be when walking out the door, Culek was quick to answer.
He said, “My words? I did my best.”

Gene Zajac: Will miss colleagues, students after 41 years

Gene Zajac, who has taught in the Shaker school district for 41 years, is the well-known astronomy teacher whom many students remember from field trips to the planetarium during elementary school.

Some of Zajac’s fondest Shaker memories are camping trips with sixth-grade students, as well as the entertaining questions from young students in the planetarium.

Asked what he will miss the most about Shaker, Zajac said, “The people I work with here, the elementary school teachers and the colleagues, are fantastic. I have some wonderful friends that I’ve made that I will continue to see.” Zajac said he will also miss all of the students. “It’s so great when you students come back. I can’t always remember the names . . . but I may remember where you sat, or stories about you.”

In the years following his retirement, Zajac plans to spend time fishing and gardening while living with his wife in the house he has redone on Put-In-Bay. He also has four grandchildren that he is excited to spend more time with.

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