Staff Spotlight Honorees: Foote & Saksa
Teaching & Learning Coordinator Christine Foote has spent her career in education laser-focused on one mission: improving student literacy.
“My passion is to improve life through literacy outcomes,” Foote says. By improving literacy, she says, more opportunities open up in life. The passion was stoked in Foote's college years when as a student she volunteered in an inner-city program and saw how literacy challenges held students back.
Foote, who joined the District in 2005 as an instructional coach, carries out her mission by assisting our secondary-level teachers in developing curriculum and instructional strategies and facilitating professional development opportunities. Her collaborative spirit and deep knowledge gained from years spent as a teacher from elementary to college level are invaluable assets as she helps faculty write courses of study, select textbooks and develop assessments for their students.
Over her nearly 15 years with Lakewood Schools, Foote has been able to develop relationships and gain trust with teachers and administrators across all grade levels which makes the collaborative process of developing curriculum easier.
Foote says she is grateful to be able work alongside passionate educators who all have the same goal in mind of helping students succeed. “The collective energy here is amazing,” she says. “People here make the magic happen.”
Lakewood High Health teacher Jason Saksa has always been about staying fit and healthy, going back to his childhood days as an athlete and continuing into his early career as a PE teacher. For the last 20 years, he’s been able to share his passion for building and maintaining physical, mental and emotional health with his students.
“Jason is devoted to helping students learn the skills they need to make healthy choices throughout their lifetime,” says Saksa's nominator, intervention specialist Lisa Crane.
It is in Saksa's classroom that LHS teenagers learn about so many of the issues they often cope with during the high school and young adult years – anxiety and depression, social media, alcohol and drugs, eating disorders, etc. Or as Saksa likes to say, “I teach life class.”
Saksa, who joined the District in 1998 and LHS in 2001, engages his students with interactive and real life lessons, often through the many outside speakers he brings into his classroom. Speakers have included recovering opiate addicts and eating disorder patients, professionals with organizations such as LifeBanc and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. He feels the speakers offer a new voice and perspective during class and give the students a boost of energy. “They can tune you out if they only hear your voice every day,” he says.
The potential his class has to change the path of a student from making poor to healthy choices is not lost on Saksa. “It’s pretty powerful to think that you can make an impact that might change somebody’s life.”
PE teacher Joshua Dolsonich, another of Saksa's nominators, believes Jason is the right guy for the job: “He is a great teacher full or knowledge and does an excellent job of transferring that knowledge to his students.”
Adds Dolsonich: “Jason is always willing to go above and beyond to help students and to make sure they understand the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.”