A trio of teachers joined Cleveland School this fall. Shawna Zabinski teaches physical & health education, David Roberts teaches math, and Heather Scherr teaches Spanish.
Shawna Zabinski was raised just down the road in St. Peter and graduated from St. Peter High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education, health education and a minor in coaching from the University of Northwestern in St. Paul.
Before coming to Cleveland, she student taught at Brimhall Elementary in Roseville and Andover High School in Andover. She taught one year in Alexandria at the middle school and high school levels.
She knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl.
“I just never knew what subject or content area I wanted to teach. When I was a freshman in college I went to a College & Career Center at my college to help talk through which would be the best course for me, and they helped me focus on my passion of nutrition and exercise.”
She applied to CHS because she wanted to move closer to home so she could spend more time with her family. Cleveland was a school near her home that was hiring.
She said adjusting to the unexpected makes teaching difficult, but watching her students grow is the benefit.
“Being able to remain calm and in control of situations that you never thought possible of arising is challenging,” she said. “Watching the students develop all the way through in skill and a whole communication as well is rewarding.”
In her spare time, Zabinski likes horse-back-riding, reading and exercising.
Besides his role at CHS, David Roberts works as an instructor at Mathnasium in Mankato, his hometown. He is a graduate of Mankato East and earned a secondary math education degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Prior to coming to Cleveland, he taught at Le Sueur-Henderson and Dakota Meadows Middle School in North Mankato.
He said that being a coach was the start of a career in education.
“In the summer of 2004 a friend of mine asked if I’d like to help him coach a youth football team. After a few years of doing that I decided to pursue teaching as a way to help kids as well.”
Like Zabinski, Roberts chose Cleveland because it is close to his home.
“I look forward to teaching some high school classes. Also, my grandma lived in Cleveland growing up, and I always enjoyed my time over here.”
He said it can be difficult getting kids over the stigma that math sometimes carries.
“The challenge in math is often to improve how the students feel towards the subject. Many find it intimidating and stressful. It is rewarding when you see students start to solve problems on their own that they wouldn’t have been able to solve before.”
In his spare time, he enjoys coaching 9th grade football at Mankato East. He also likes collecting vintage 1980s and 1990s wrestling merchandise.
As a returning teacher to Cleveland, Heather Scherr is technically not new to CHS, but it’s been a several years. She previously taught at the school from 2004-2007.
Like Roberts, she was raised in Mankato, but she graduated from Mankato West. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and secondary education with minors in general business administration and speech communication from MNSU. She also holds a diploma from the Fundación Ortega y Gassett in Toledo, Spain.
Before returning to Cleveland this year, she taught Spanish in Lorena, Texas (just outside of Waco) for the past twelve years.
She said her passion for the Spanish language was born on a trip to Spain during her junior year in high school.
“I have always loved Spanish, and my university plan was International Business,” she said. “During my junior year, God placed a professor in my path who clearly steered me away from business, so I followed my love for Spanish and went into teaching. This was the best move ever for raising our son.”
Scherr networked with her former boss when she and her husband Michael decided to move back to Minnesota for his employment.
“I contacted Mr. Phillips (CHS Superintendent Brian Phillips) about Spanish positions in the Mankato area when I learned we would be returning to the area because I truly enjoyed my time working at Cleveland before moving to Texas.”
The demand on teachers makes the profession difficult, she said, but watching her students acquire the language makes it worthwhile.
“Teaching is challenging due to the quantity of requirements put on teachers. Teaching is rewarding when I see my students start with no Spanish knowledge and progress to using Spanish in the real world to communicate in their jobs, on mission trips, in university coursework, etc.”
When she is not teaching, Scherr enjoys listening to music, walking, reading, traveling, and Starbucks. Also, this summer marked the tenth trip where she served as a missionary in Chincha, Peru.
Scherr’s son Carter attends McCombs Business School at the University of Texas at Austin. She also has a soft-coated wheaten terrier “Jake.”