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Educator Spotlight: Schwark & Sisson

Educator Spotlight: Schwark & Sisson

Congratulations to our May Educator Spotlight honorees: West Shore Career-Tech paraprofessional Joanne Schwark and Lincoln Elementary teacher Kathy Sisson! They have been singled out by their peers as outstanding employees and colleagues. Click on Read More below to find out more about these two staff members.



Joanne Schwark seamlessly demonstrates all six Vision of a Lakewood Educator competencies in her job as a West Shore Career-Tech paraprofessional, however according to her nominator, West Shore director Yakoob Badat, “what’s most important is how she makes people feel.”

“She is positive and thoughtful with her words,” Dr. Badat says,  “always optimistic and encouraging.” He also praises Joanne’s great collaboration skills. Joanne, who joined the District in 2017, says she enjoys working together with her fellow West Shore paras to make sure classrooms are covered or to help out with events such as the Passport Assembly. 

Joanne, who worked as a chemist earlier in her career,  enjoys drawing on her critical thinking skills to help students find ways to access difficult curriculum such as in Electronics or Project Lead the Way. It’s the best part of her job, she says. “The material is challenging and you work with them to get them there. I like to help them think critically and to help them find ways to be more successful,” says Joanne. 

Joanne says a growth mindset is required of her every day.. “I have to be open to learning new things all the time” in order to help the students learn, Joanne says.

Joanne is so valuable to the West Shore team that Dr. Badat says she shouldn’t just be honored for May, he recommends her as educator of the year!




Lincoln Elementary teacher Kathy Sisson might well add the title “coach” to her name because she views her and her students each year not just as a class, but as a team. Each August, her “team” comes up with a theme for the school year (Sisson’s Smarties this year) designs a logo and creates their own t-shirts in the school’s makerspace.

“If they sense we’re a team, it makes us much more cohesive” and easier for us all to work together. “They feel ownership of the classroom,” says Kathy, who prides herself on building personal relationships with each of her students. 

Kathy doesn’t just use her team-building skills with her students, she also is a great collaborator with her Lincoln colleagues. She uses her natural gregariousness and love of people to help create a sense of family among staff. Kathy’s nominator, Lincoln teacher Kate Bunsey, praised Kathy for her kindness and empathy, such as inviting Kate to join her at lunch in Kate’s first days at Lincoln. 

Kathy recently organized two schoolwide events: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Bus and a Junior Achievement day after seeking input from staff. It’s important to Kathy that students have fun at school and have something to look forward to each day. “I want them to be happy and like coming here each day,” she says.

According to Katie, Kathy’s empathy is spread far and wide: “Kathy is kind and understanding to a wide range of learners and takes extra care with those who need an even more teacher TLC. She works tirelessly advocating for the best interests of her students.”