Eileen Blattner is leaving a legacy at Shaker Heights High School.
After working in the Shaker schools for 48 years, Blattner has decided to retire. She worked as a school counselor at the high school for 33 years.
She graduated from Shaker in 1963 and then attended a women’s college, Elmira, but decided it wasn’t the right fit. She left and went to the University of Michigan and then her mom got sick, so she came back to Cleveland and attended Case Western Reserve. She majored in education and psychology.
After she graduated, she taught at Roxboro Elementary School in Cleveland Heights for two years. She moved to Columbus for a year to teach Special Education and then moved back to Cleveland. She settled with her family in Shaker.
When she moved back, she tutored Shaker students. When a full-time position was first offered to her, Blattner wasn’t ready to return to teaching. “The third time they asked me, I was afraid to say no because I didn’t think they’d ever ask again, so I came back full-time,” she said.
She taught first grade at Mercer Elementary School in 1977. Then, she taught third grade, and then fifth grade at Mercer, and then she came to the high school. “I made an appointment with the principal and the rest is history,” she said.
Her greatest memories are helping kids gain confidence in their capabilities. “I had a kid who was really a smart kid. Quiet, nice, nice, boy. And he would not take an honors class, no matter what,” she said. “By the end of the year, I met with him and his mother and he was willing to do more challenging work. And he did terrific, he’s been terrific ever since.” Blattner said it’s very rewarding when you are able to help a student fulfill their potential.
Blattner said she would shift the district’s focus more on the needs of students. “I think that we need smaller classes. We need to meet the needs of the kids,” she said. “We need more teachers. I can only say that over and over again. Because the teachers are what we need. That’s important.”
“Students have to write to learn to write,” she continued. “If the English classes are so large, teachers can’t assign that many essays and write meaningful comments on those essays or meet with the students after school to help them with their writing. If the classes are so big, conferences are going to be so big. That’s not to the benefit of the kids.”
Blattner said it is not acceptable when a teacher’s conference is overfilled with students. She said that’s a problem that needs to be fixed when some students don’t even have a seat.
Senior Administrative Assistant Laurie Brem said, “Mrs. Blattner’s tenure with Shaker, knowledge and experience in School Counseling and outstanding relationships with students, staff, parents, community members and colleges are what make her so special. Mrs. Blattner works at a remarkable, fast, efficient pace and is always willing to help. That is just her nature. Mrs. Blattner is well respected and loved, which ultimately contributed to a positive, caring, and prosperous climate at SHHS.”
Blattner said she fell once in the hall, and there must have been seven kids around her trying to help her up. “Those are the same kids and I’ve noticed it, and I’ve appreciated it. They deserve everything. No one should take away their teachers. They deserve it.”
School counselor Elizabeth Vokes said of Blattner, “When Mrs. Blattner spoke you listened. Why? Because you knew that what she was about to tell you was sincere, from the heart and always with the best interests of the students in mind. She was a wealth of knowledge, whether it was about colleges, scholarships, programs or classes.”
Alumna Natalie Korach said she switched her school counselor to Blattner before she came to Shaker to have Blattner, because she’d heard about Blattner’s good reputation. “I formed a really good connection with her because I think we had a lot in common. Also, she was really good at guiding me through the college process and also how to navigate my classes at the high school,” she said.
Vokes said Blattner was someone students and staff could look up to. “Eileen Blattner was an incredible role model, mentor, educator and friend. I know that she has changed my life and I will be eternally grateful for it.”
Blattner said Shaker students made her enjoy her job. “Kids today are as wonderful as they ever were. We may not have as many national merits or we may not have as many this or that, but the kids are as fabulous as they used to be. They’re kind, they’re considerate,” she said.
Korach said Blattner was always encouraging. “I’m definitely going to miss her, I think she did a lot of good for a lot of kids in the high school and I’m really impressed on how she’s able to handle all different types of students,” she said.
Junior Audrey Seguin said Blattner has helped a lot with figuring out her schedule and any conflicts that she had. “She really helped me out when I was in trouble and she made being a student a lot easier,” Seguin said.
When Blattner leaves, counselor David Peterjohn will become the head of the department. Blattner’s rising sophomores and juniors will go to the new school counselor the school is hiring, and rising seniors will continue to receive support through the rest of the college process from Blattner since she already has close-knit relationships with them. Outside of school, Blattner will do the college counseling for her present juniors, including writing their recommendation letters and sending their applications to colleges.
Apart from assisting students with college, Blattner plans to pursue her passions and aspirations during retirement. “I want to travel. I love to read what I want to read, not when someone says you have to read this for discussion,” she said. She also enjoys playing tennis, so she will continue to do that. “And I love exercise, like water exercise, and I’ll do that. I have grandchildren in town too, and I love spending time with them,” she said.
She will miss her colleagues, but the students even moreso. Each year, Blattner postponed her retirement for her students. “Every year, I couldn’t leave. I just couldn’t leave,” she said. “I can’t leave these kids, I love these kids. I can’t leave them.” She said the reason for retiring now is because the counselors spend their time differently then they did before. “I don’t love being on strategic plan committees,” she said. “I love working with the kids and having the time to do that, they’re so worthwhile and so rewarding. That’s what I love. And because of all of the things we’ve had to do, it became less and less of that,” she said.
Vokes said, “She went to great lengths to make sure that each and every student had the opportunities they needed to succeed. She was willing to and often moved mountains for students and staff. She made you feel like you belonged and that whatever you were going through she was right there by your side.”
“I was thinking I want to leave loving what I do, and I love what I do. I really do. It’s been a wonderful career to have,” she said. “I highly recommend anything working with kids. It keeps you young.”