Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

Heights Educators Swim with the Sharks

CH-UH educators who participated in Heights Shark Tank.

Feb. 15, 2018 -- A group of 20 CH-UH educators swam with the “sharks” at last week’s Professional Development Day in order to qualify for opportunity grants courtesy of the Heights School Foundation (HSF)

The HSF was offering grants directly to teachers for amounts up to $500. However, the teachers first had to face a panel of sharks, who determined whether the proposals were worthy of the investment. Each teacher who submitted a proposal was given two minutes to make their pitch and then another 60 seconds of back-and-forth with the panel. 

In the end, a shark had to make an offer to fund the proposal with an opportunity grant. The Heights Schools Foundation awarded more than $8,400 to CH-UH educators at the event, which was modeled after ABC’s award-winning reality show Shark Tank.

Educators from all CH-UH schools participated in the event with proposals including grants for alternative student seating options (wobble chairs, bicycle desks), STEM items such as Lego Mindstorms and programmable drones, special events and field trips, a science speaker series, and educational garden supplies. For the complete list of approved proposals, see below.

HSF Executive Director Julianna Johnston Senturia hosted the event. The four sharks included HSF President Susan Carver, HSF Treasurer and CH-UH 21st Century Grant Coordinator Meghan McMahon, RoxArts President Rosemary Rackl-Pierce, and CH-UH Supervisor of Communications Scott Wortman.

The HSF plans to host another Shark Tank event during the 2018-2019 school year.

Heights Shark Tank Proposals

Eric Cohen, Fairfax
The teachers, administration, and PTA of Fairfax Elementary School are hoping to provide the fourth grade students of Fairfax Elementary School with an opportunity of their lifetimes to visit our state capitol this spring.  Students will be inspired by the roles of government and politics in our society, while they learn about the rich history of Ohio’s Statehood. 

Toni White, Boulevard
I would like to purchase alternative seating options for my classroom. Some examples include a bicycle desk, exercise balls, wobble chairs, and bouncy bands. These options will promote better focus and attention to all students but especially those who have attention issues. "Physical activity is correlated with higher academic performance, better overall health, and improved behavior.  Studies have found that short bursts of movement in the classroom contribute to better on-task behavior, with the most improvement seen in children who were the least on-task initially. And offering changes in positions and movement opportunities throughout the day provide these short bursts of activity."

Steven Warner, Heights High
My classes over the years have created an educational garden at the Delisle Center. We use the garden for lessons during the school day. As the garden and lessons continue to develop the garden is in need of maintenance. The funds for this grant would go towards materials to keep our garden alive.

Jackie Taylor, Boulevard
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History offers a speaker series.  We would like to bring in science professional speakers that align with the curriculum taught in grades K-5.  We want all students to be exposed to science professionals as we are a STEM school.  By bringing in the speakers, we are hoping that the students will not only gain a better understanding of the content being taught in the science curriculum, but also find that such careers are attainable to them.

Tamara Heldman, Gearity and Noble
I would like for students to have the opportunity to work with Lego Mindstorms products in order to learn computer programming and robotics skills. I have had a number of students interested in both topics in the past but have lacked the proper equipment for students at the elementary level. The Lego Mindstorms products would allow my students the ability to engage with something that would teach them new and relevant skills that connect to the STEM field, as well as learn perseverance skills with trying new things. 

Amy Robinson, Oxford
Second grade students at Oxford participated in an hour of code on November 21, 2017. During this hour, I witnessed ALL students engaged at Students were cooperating in a very easy and natural way to problem solve. Many students who struggle with regular academics found they had a strength with coding. Most of my students were unaware of coding and expressed interest in this skill.  The coding game and robot that I am requesting are 2 ways to excite further students and  incorporate more  coding activities into  my classroom. I intend to use the robot and game as a cooperative learning activity that supports the online coding experience.

Sarah Adair and Jackie Connelly, Oxford
We would like to take our class of first graders to the Cleveland Museum of Art school studio program. In a studio class, students spend 20-30 minutes in the galleries and engage in an art-making activity for an hour. We would like to have the students learn about portraits and write about their portrait back in the classroom. Our hope is that students will not only learn from this incredible cultural experience, but also be motivated to write about their own art. We would also like to purchase children's books about art to help build prior knowledge before the trip. 

Brian Stern, Gearity
We are using the iPads to teach coding using Tynker. The students have the ability to code a drone using the iPad to follow a set of instructions and challenges. This use of drone robotic programming requires students to use logic to solve problems. Currently we have one mini drone (mine) that students are using. My idea is to purchase at least six mini drones that can be programmed. This will allow an entire class to work in groups to solve challenges. The challenges include measurement, collaborative teamwork, reading and interrupting, and logical thinking.

Sherri Malek and Caren Golenberg, Gearity
Gearity first grade would like to hold a Read-a-thon as part of our capstone project.  Our Read a-thon is a fun evening where children read with their families and collect coins for their reading.    This event has not been implemented in a few years; however, we would like to bring it back.  This event is always successful.  The money earned will go into a fund called The Helping Hands Fund to help families in need.  The fund has helped families with food, gas, and clothes.  The  money from this grant will help us provide dinner, raffle prizes, and a STEM activity book. The Read-a-thon includes all subject areas.

Sara Friedel, District-wide
I would like to institute the Bal-A-Vis-X program with my occupational therapy students.  Our students who are currently receiving therapy services are seen for such a short period of time each week which can slow progress.  I would like to implement these exercises with my students that specifically work on balance, auditory, vision, full body coordination and sustained attention.  The grant would allow for me to send each student home 2 balls to complete exercises and a home exercise program.  It would be a way for the students to build upon their skill learned in therapy at home and progress with their goals faster. 

Amy Statler and Dianna Neal, Heights Middle
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a pre-engineering design class.  Students are involved in project-based learning, designing and building prototypes.  Our most in-demand material is cardboard.  We would to be able to supply safe and effective tools that will allow students to build stronger structures and enhance their methods of construction.  The materials we would like to purchase are specifically designed for use with cardboard and mimic screws, nuts, and bolts, providing new ways that students build their prototypes.  The items we are requesting for our classroom are reusable, therefore they will be able to be used for students in PLTW through the years.

Mark Dougherty, Heights Middle
Take Back the Night is a rally and march that advocates for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault while educating the community about these issues.  I have been working with the Heights PTA, Heights High, and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center to bring this event to CHUH as I had when I was at a different school.  For more information, please visit

Julie Walker, Boulevard
I plan to buy a class set of "People of Sparks" which is the second book in the City of Ember series.  We are currently reading book 1 and my students are devouring it.  It ties to our science curriculum - specifically Physical Science. We received copies of the first book from our PTA and the students love having books in their hands during read aloud.  They are more engaged.  Our read aloud time is during the transition between recess and math and I have to say it's everyone's favorite part of the day. 

Sherri Bellini, Boulevard
I would like to have an Entrepreneur Fair for all our 4th grade students at Boulevard.  I want to have students make a budget, buy materials, create a product, advertise and then "sell" their product.  I feel that by getting students involved in this project that they will have a better understanding of what an entrepreneur does, which is one of the fourth grade standards. The grant would be used to buy materials for the student products and create equity by eliminating the need for students to purchase materials on their own.

O’Dasha Blue and Lisa Hunt, Heights High
Black History month festivities including the following:
- Blacks in science (3 Wednesdays)
- ALL district soul food dinner, karaoke, and game night
- Blacks in love (healthy relationship discussion)
- Historically black college panel (to discuss the importance of college and allowing students to explore historically black universities)
- Entrepreneurship panel (allowing students to explore the possibility of owning their own business)

Shu Hui Lin, Heights High
Chinese New Year celebration is a big event for Chinese programs in the CH-UH school district.  It has become an important event for high school, especially since we just started this tradition last year.  As a Chinese teacher, I try to find resources and opportunities for other subjects/teachers to merge with my Chinese lessons.  The learning target of the event is to share the Chinese culture, provide authentic materials for my students to experience, and to learn the Chinese language. Through this event, the principal, teachers, parents, and students in our school will come and learn about Chinese New Year. By sharing the Chinese culture and traditions, we open the minds of our students and increase an appreciation of the world in which we live.  All students are welcome to attend, and my Chinese students with cross-subjects students will perform Chinese songs, dance, and cultural activities.

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