Paolucci’s History of Mentorship

By Audrey Fusillo, staff writer

OCTOBER 2022 — Vincent Paolucci joined Bio-Med Science Academy as the eighth-grade social studies teacher after graduating from Kent State earlier this year. Despite being new to Bio-Med, Paolucci is nowhere near inexperienced as a mentor, often serving as a leader for the children around him.

Above is Paolucci posing at his brother Anthony’s wedding as the best man 2018. His bonds with his family have stuck through everything and Paolucci takes it as a priority to be there for them. Photo provided by Vince Paolucci.

As a senior at Twinsburg High School, Paolucci was given the opportunity to become the captain of the middle school basketball team. He bounced between coaching at Twinsburg and Field schools as he finished college, only taking a break during his freshman year.

He’s continued to coach for a total of four years and has become passionate about basketball, among other sports.

“I think sports is a good metaphor for life, such as with adversity,” Paolucci added.

One word to describe Paolucci is “active;” he constantly does activities to stay in shape, from basketball to golf.

Although coaching opened a doorway to his future, his experiences at summer camp while growing up sparked his passion for teaching.

Raised in the Cleveland area, Paolucci’s first job was at the same camp, Twinsburg Youth Summer Camp (TYSC), he attended as a kid along with his two older brothers.

Starting as a camper, Paolucci eventually became involved in volunteering to help with camp activities. During his sophomore year of high school, Paolucci became a camp counselor and continued the role until his freshman year at college.

“Being a camp counselor was really about building relationships and to help be a role model for kids,” Paolucci stated.

As a camp counselor, he encouraged other campers to play games, go on field trips, learn how to swim, camp out, have cookouts, and more.

All of his experiences as a mentor allowed him to realize his passion for educating kids.

During his later years in high school, he visited Kent State University (KSU) and immediately took to it.

“I liked how [KSU] was closer to home and how I was still able to become independent and function on my own,” he explained. “The administration was really helpful, and it felt like home.”

Paolucci’s challenge was going into college without a plan and did not know what he wanted his major to be.

“In freshman year, I was a journalism major,” Paolucci shared. “The second semester changed, and I really had to think about what I wanted to do with my life. I thought about my experiences and figured I was really good with kids.”

Paolucci decided to utilize both his skill set and personality in teaching, specifically in the field of social studies. It was one of his favorite classes, and one that opened a teacher-student bond that he personally felt he had had with his professors.

“I have a good memory for history and love learning about different things,” he said.

Paolucci earned his bachelor’s degree in Integrated Social Studies 7-12 from Kent State earlier this year.

Before he graduated, he only had classroom experience as a student teacher in Brecksville, Ohio, along with casual jobs and coaching at the same time.

“Juggling everything at once was pretty hard, and that taught me time management,” Paolucci added.

Pictured above is Paolucci in Boston, Massachusetts, on vacation 2021. While notably visiting Plymouth Rock, he explored the area with a friend, diving deeper into history. Photo provided by Vince Paolucci.

He persevered when he realized what his goals were as a teacher and how it was crucial to his future to put effort in. And by chance, the classes he took led to connections in the Bio-Med community.

“Mrs. McLaughlin was my professor [during my] last year at [KSU]. She said there was an opening for an intervention specialist, so I applied for it, got it, and then they sent me the opening for social studies,” Paolucci recalled.

As his college professor and the current assistant chief administrative officer of Bio-Med, Lindsey McLaughlin expanded on why she felt he was a good choice for Bio-Med.

“My impression of him was that he was really hard-working. He was reflective — which is really important as an educator — he was creative in terms of lesson planning, and he really cared about kids,” McLaughlin reasoned.

Despite not having the time for much during his first year of teaching, Paolucci still finds benefit in being close to home and family. He has two older brothers: Anthony (39) and Dominic (33).

Paolucci is the youngest child, born into a medically-inclined family as his mother is a nurse at Cleveland Clinic and his dad sells medical supplies.

“[My family] made me who I am,” Paolucci said. “They’ve taught me things, and they’ve learned from me as well…. They mean a lot to me, and they feel like home.”

He loves to travel in his freetime, his camping connections giving him this ability. Paolucci went to Italy, London, Paris, Switzerland, and other parts of Europe in 2021. He was able to see the culture and taste the food at each location. He’s also visited more than 25 states in the U.S.

Living out his dream as a teacher, Paolucci hopes to continue growing with all of his efforts.

“I want to educate and help kids become the best version of themselves,” Paolucci admitted. “I want them to develop skills that will take them through their whole life, and to help them find what they’re passionate about.”

Uncategorized

Optional Masking Policies at Bio-Med Science Academy

by Elise Miller, staff writer

Pictured above is Mr. Salmen’s classroom on the first day that masking was made optional. Photo by Elise Miller, staff writer.

MARCH 2022 — Data showing signs of a decrease in COVID-19 cases resulted in the removal of the mask mandate at Bio-Med Science Academy March 7. Replacing the mandate is an optional masking policy, giving students and staff the option to wear a mask.

In the Bio-Med newsletter sent out on Feb. 25, it was confirmed the mandate would be lifted and replaced by optional masking at Bio-Med. The newsletter outlined the final decision: “While we recognize the virus is still present in our population, we also acknowledge that it is time to adjust our journey back with our case count on the decline,” wrote Mrs. Stephanie Lammlein, chief administrative officer of Bio-Med.

The newsletter also mentioned measures still being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, like supplying KN95 masks, continuing cleaning protocols, and making the masks mandated once again if cases increase substantially.

Before this decision, a Google Form was sent on Feb. 15 to Bio-Med students, asking how comfortable they would be if masks were optional. Presented to them were three simple choices: agree, disagree, or neutral. Beyond these choices lie complex perspectives and opinions surrounding optional masking.

The Google form also contained a brief introduction written by Lammlein. The form read, “Hello Everyone, As the COVID cases continue to significantly decline in our State [sic], region, and our school community, in addition to vaccinations being available to all our served age groups, we are currently considering making masking optional for staff and students. Please know that IF [sic] cases jump back up between now and June, we will bring masking back as a way to curb infection rate IF [sic] we decide to make masking optional. If you could, please take a moment and answer the question below. I would appreciate it. Thank you, Mrs. Lammlein.” Photo taken by Elise Miller, staff writer.

Mary Laudato, a junior at Bio-Med, decided against the optional masking policy when filling out the form.

Laudato elaborated on her decision, stating, “Ultimately masks are to prevent the spread of disease, and if we can do anything to help that, even if it’s uncomfortable for some people, I think that’s ultimately the best decision.”

Similarly, Sarah Bungard, another junior, voted against optional masking. She explained that there were a lot of situations optional masking doesn’t account for. “For example, our teacher Mrs. Aronhalt was talking about how she’s pregnant and does not want to be exposed to a bunch of kids who aren’t wearing masks while she’s pregnant,” said Bungard.

The removal of masks has also sparked another argument relating to vaccines. Now that masks are optional, individuals, whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated against COVID-19, may choose not to wear one. With this, Bungard said that it would bother her to know unvaccinated people without masks could be putting others in danger, such as Mrs. Aronhalt.

From another perspective, senior Kaytlin Haylett chose for masking to be optional on the form. Haylett proposed that “If people are scared about it, they can still wear their masks to protect themselves.”

With regard to feeling safe when everyone wears a mask, Haylett expressed that she doesn’t feel it makes much of a difference. “It doesn’t really matter anymore, because it’s not going to change now because it wasn’t 100 percent effective from the start,” she explained.

She continued, “It’s affecting themselves, and that’s why I think it should be optional because it’s ultimately your decision if you want to protect yourself.”

Vaccinated students can also go without a mask if they choose. Maddy Ross, a senior at Bio-Med, explained, “I’m vaccinated [and] I’ve had COVID, but I still wear a mask just because it makes me feel more comfortable.”

Ross also noted that on top of controversy surrounding vaccination status and masking, there comes a social aspect as well. Ross discussed how she feels the social pressures of wearing a mask or not at her work.

“At work, no one wears a mask, and I kind of feel pressured by my bosses not to wear one because you can’t wear one and be the only one wearing a mask, because then customers are going to assume you’re sick,” explained Ross.

In contrast, social etiquette plays a role when only one person isn’t wearing a mask among others wearing masks. Derik Stafinsky, another senior, explained, “I feel like [if it were] only me not wearing a mask, it’d be the common decency thing to do [putting on a mask].”

Proposing a middle ground to optional masking, senior Alivia Selander suggested that masks should be mandated in close-encounter areas like the classroom, but not everywhere throughout the school when students are more spaced out. Selander supported masks being optional on the Google form.

As for getting the vaccine, Selander expressed that “I think it should be a choice.”

Mr. Eric Salmen, a vaccinated senior math teacher at Bio-Med, also discussed the concept of vaccines as a whole. He explained, “The first thing in science that you learn is to always question the science.” He noted how questioning the vaccine is a natural part of science.

In questioning the vaccine, he explained that “when you think of a traditional vaccine, you think of chickenpox where once you get that vaccine you can never get chickenpox.” However, unlike the chickenpox vaccine, Salmen felt that the COVID-19 vaccine resembled the effectiveness of a flu shot because of how quickly COVID-19 adapts.

Salmen explained that like a flu shot, he feels the COVID-19 vaccine will “help you against that strain but not necessarily all of the other strains.”

Salmen, along with other teachers at Bio-Med, was sent a separate form with similar contents asking his opinion on optional masking, which he did not support in his response.

Even though masks aren’t entirely effective in stopping the spread, Salmen stated that “It’s going to slow the spread because it’s going to catch those droplets,” when talking about the transferable molecules that spread COVID.

From a teaching perspective, Salmen said he might take his mask off while teaching, even though he plans to wear it any other time with optional masking in place.

He also mentioned how cleaning protocols still in place made him feel slightly better about optional masking.

One of the cleaning protocols in place is the air purifier machine. As explained by Salmen, “In each of the air purifiers, there is a filter and it’ll pull in air from the bottom and if you put your hand off to the side there is a vent that blows out and essentially filters that air.” Photo taken by Elise Miller, staff writer.

Sanitization is another cleaning procedure practiced at Bio-Med, where students wipe down their desks at the end of class. “We sanitize our areas for all kinds of cold and flu and COVID,” he said, elaborating on how sanitization combats other viruses similarly to the air purifiers.

But even with cleaning and social distancing measures being taken, Salmen expressed that the topic of optional masking is “going to be a scenario where you’ll never make everyone happy.”

Selander followed up with the new policy, expressing that things more or less felt back to normal now with some people choosing not to wear masks.

But in contrast, she stated, “I’m surprised with how many people actually are [wearing masks].”

Selander herself is in between wearing and not wearing her mask with the new policy, but stated that “If I’m by a large number of people I will still wear mine.”

No matter what people’s stances on wearing a mask at Bio-Med are, mask or no mask, they now have the right to choose until further notice.

Bio-Med Politics Uncategorized

The Broken Elevator: How Bio-Med Accommodates for Accessibility

by Ken Burchett, associate editor

FEBRUARY 2022 — The elevators by the North staircase and Stair E were both out of service on Feb. 11. The elevator by the North staircase has been out of order since Jan. 24.

Boal described what happened to the elevator. “During the maintenance, a cable was loosened. While loose, it got caught on the ladder that goes into the service pit below the elevator. At that point, the service technician noted that condition and, through an abundance of caution, he took the elevator out of service until the cable could be replaced,” he said. “This was an unusual circumstance, and as such unplanned, requiring a cable that is seldom replaced. That cable is a non-stock item which has to be fabricated.”

“[That elevator is] being fixed as soon as possible. Parts have been ordered; we are just waiting for them to get here and then installed. The administration has talked with all students affected and worked on an alternative route until it is fixed.  We are doing what we can to get this resolved as quickly as possible,” said Mrs. Stephanie Lammlein, Chief Administrative Officer, though did not comment further.

The elevator by Stair E malfunctioned around 8:52 a.m. Feb. 11, and was fixed later that day. Joe Boal, the District Maintenance Director, explained, “The NEOMED head Technician and I were able to reset the elevator. However, each time we did, an error code came back up. We called for service.”

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “When equipment is temporarily out of service for maintenance or repair, a business should repair it as quickly as possible and, in the meantime, find other ways to make its goods or services available to customers with disabilities.”

After the second elevator became unusable, all students with elevator passes were called to the office. Junior Madylin Kohout was one of those students. “We’re using the freight elevator next to Ms. [Janna] Mino’s room. It’s very out of the way of everything, in this far-away corner,” she said.

Kohout struggled to reach the cafeteria after using this elevator, as she didn’t know the layout of the second floor. “They didn’t tell us how to get to the cafeteria, so we were late to lunch. All they told us is that we go through the kitchen to get to the cafeteria,” she expressed. “I’m not mad at the school, things happen, but it’s just like, ‘Come on guys.’ I’ve been having a pretty bad flare up of pain lately, so I’m just trying not to cry all the time.”

The freight elevator is located next to Stair D. During lunch, students took the elevator to floor two, then followed a hallway until they reached the kitchen of the cafeteria. This elevator is located within the restricted maintenance area near room 1008, though students had permission to enter in order to use the elevator.

Zoey Bartholomew is another junior who uses the elevator. “They told us that the [North] elevator would be broken for, hopefully not that long, but they said probably a couple weeks, and in that time if you can’t do the stairs at all they’re going to try to figure out a work around. But I’m lucky that I can do the stairs well enough,” she said.

In order to reach the cafeteria without using the North elevator, Bartholomew typically goes down another elevator in the original wing of the building.

“However, if I want to get to anywhere on the third floor, I cannot use an elevator. I have to use the stairs,” Bartholomew stated. “So when I’m going to the third floor, I make the most of my time.”

Deanna White, the paraprofessional for grades 10 through 12, also experiences difficulty traversing the building without the use of the North elevator. “I just take the steps down one at a time. Probably takes me an extra five minutes or more,” she said. She usually waits until the stairs are free of students, as she worries she will make them late or trip them.

Many students and faculty also cite the height difference between the original building and the new building as a struggle for those with mobility issues.

Bio-Med’s new building has seven stairs that separate it from the old building. According to Boal, “The stair lift was installed at the very end of construction. It became available shortly thereafter.”

The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design require that “at least one accessible route shall connect each story and mezzanine in multi-story buildings and facilities.” It also states that “Platform lifts shall be permitted as a component of an accessible route in an existing building or facility.”

Greg Chaplin, the architect and project manager of the construction of the new building, explained the difference in floor height was to accommodate the taller ceilings necessary for the banquet facilities to the North of NEOMED’s NEW Center atrium. If the two buildings had been the same height, there would have been “unnecessarily tall” ceilings on the second floor of the addition, which would have cost more to construct.

Budget concerns also caused them to change their plans for the transition between the old and new building. “The original design included a short elevator at the location currently occupied by the stair lift,” said Chaplin. “Because of budget concerns, early on in the design process, it was decided to remove this elevator and allow occupants to use the main elevator to traverse between these two floors.”

Bartholomew experienced difficulty moving between the two buildings after being in a wheelchair for three weeks following surgery in 2020. In order to get from the original building to the new building, Bartholomew would take an elevator to the second floor. Then, she would go through NEOMED space to another elevator, which took her to the new building.

“If a teacher was with [me], it was a shorter amount of time because they were able to get into entrances quicker [due to their ID badges],” Bartholomew explained. Without a teacher accompanying her, this alternate route took an additional five to 10 minutes to get to class.

White suggested a ramp would make traversing between the buildings easier for herself and for those who cannot use stairs, as the stair lift “takes a while.” White also believes it would be less dangerous, as last year she had a student who struggled going up the stairs but continued to do so with mandatory assistance from an adult.

Chaplin agreed that “perhaps a handicap ramp instead of the stair lift would have made moving back and forth between the new and existing buildings easier.” He concluded that “the ultimate design handled the accessibility challenges that the misaligned floors presented.”

Despite the challenges presented by the layout of the building, White stated that the school handles accessibility fairly well. “I don’t think there’s much they can do at this point. When the elevator over there is working, it’s wonderful, but if not, it’s a struggle,” she said. “I think they know our limitations here. They take into account what’s going on. The teachers worked with us well; we’re adaptable here.”

Bio-Med Uncategorized

Ms. Cairns, A Teacher Who Goes The Extra Mile

by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

Pictured is Ms. Cairns (left) and her family at an event for a cancer foundation. Outside of her professional life, Cairns enjoys spending time with her husband (right) and family. She has two daughters, one is a sophomore in high school (middle) and the other is a junior in college. Cairns also considers her two dogs, Zeus and Aphrodite, and her cat, Phoebe, as members of her family. Photo provided by Melissa Cairns

FEBRUARY 2022 – Ms. Melissa Cairns is one of Bio-Med Science Academy’s newest hires, joining the school as the new 10th grade Integrated Math instructor. Cairns joined the sophomore team this summer alongside four other teachers who are also new to Bio-Med.

Cairns brought veteran teaching experience to her new position at Bio-Med, having taught for more than 20 years. She first became a teacher in 2004 when she graduated from Kent State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. Cairns would go on to teach off and on for the next 20 years, until she would later earn her Master of Science in Applied Mathematics in 2019.

After getting her master’s degree, Cairns didn’t plan to come back to teaching, wanting to go in a different direction with her career. However, “the longer I was away from students, the more I missed being in the school, and I missed my students so much that I decided to come back,” Cairns said.

Cairns was on a vacation in the summer of 2021 when she first learned about the open teaching position at Bio-Med. She left her vacation two days to interview for the position at Bio-Med as its new Integrated Math 10 teacher. “I interviewed on a Friday. I started on a Monday,” she said when explaining how she was hired as a teacher at Bio-Med.

She was excited to take on the math 10 teaching position, as Cairns has always taught and enjoyed math, describing herself as a “one-trick pony.” “Math is something that always came easy to me,” Cairns said. She was always someone friends and siblings came to for help with math, so she felt that “it was just kind of like a natural transition, to go into teaching.” That’s why throughout her career, that’s what she taught and is excited to teach it to new students at Bio-Med.

The position first interested Cairns because of Bio-Med’s integrated STEM curriculum, and she appreciated the way the curriculum was being taught. “I think ideally, for the students, this is how education should be, things should be taught, integrated, because that’s how the world works,” Cairns said.

Cairns appreciates Bio-Med’s curriculum structure, though she noted, “this is very different than any way that I’ve taught.” Cairns further went on to talk about how when entering the Bio-Med system, it was challenging to plan out curriculum and integration with different subjects, saying “it’s a lot more planning on the teachers’ part.” However, Cairns has embraced this challenge, believing, “it’s good for the students and the teachers to see how certain topics can go across the curriculum.”

She is excited to see the ways math can be taught differently and integrated more with other content areas.

Cairns has been welcomed by the community and has been settling in at the school. Early this year, Cairns started Run Club after she noticed the lack of athletic clubs at Bio-Med. Cairn’s Run Club is made up of a small group of students spanning multiple grades, and she works with them to teach about healthy living. The club does different workouts, exercises, yoga, and running activities in their weekly meetings. “Running has provided for my life; it goes beyond just the physical health. It’s emotional and spiritual well-being also,” she said. Being able to provide that for students was her principal inspiration.

Pictured is Cairns at Arches National Park. Cairns appreciates the outdoors and enjoys any moment she can get to be out in nature. Cairns is an avid runner who has done many runs and hikes across the country traveling to numerous national and state parks. Yoga is another activity that she enjoys in addition to running, as yoga, “really helped me kind of navigate a lot of transformation [in life],” said Cairns. She has been teaching yoga for 15 years and owned a yoga studio while working as a paramedic. Cairns wanted to dedicate her life to helping people and he was able to do that work as a paramedic. Photo provided by Melissa Cairns

For Cairns, running has been more than a passion of hers: “Passion might not be a word that’s representative. More like an obsession.” Cairns’s father was a marathon runner and, when Cairns was younger, she promised him “that I would eventually one day run a marathon with him.” She spent her life dedicated to running and training to become a marathon runner, and within a year of training, Cairns fell into a group of people who helped her achieve her goals.

“I’ve done four 100-milers, 150-miler, I’ve crossed the Grand Canyon three times, Probably 50 5Ks, and maybe 10 marathons. Kind of started losing track,” said Cairns. For her, it’s not about the awards for completing races, but more so enjoying the journey of completing them, though she mentioned, “The belt buckles that you get for [the] 100-miler are pretty wicked.”

Cairns has had previous experience working with students in a running environment, as she used to be a cross country coach while she taught at Akron Public Schools. For Cairns, the job, “ended up being like my absolute favorite job I’ve ever had my entire life.”  

Akron Public Schools were just one of the many places Cairns has spent time at, as she taught middle school, high school, and college education. She spent time teaching at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio, and at multiple charter schools in the Akron and Cleveland regions. Throughout her entire teaching career,

Cairns is also excited about a position she’s taken outside of school as a 5k race director. “Fed Up with Cancer,” is the race she is directing this spring at Towners Woods in Kent, Ohio, in support of an organization called Collin Cares Cure Cancer. An organization that supports cancer patients and their families. Cairns and her family would get involved with the organization after her husband was diagnosed with cancer last year.

Mark Cairns, Cairn’s husband was the recipient of an award from the organization, and Cairns only felt that it was right to give back after having been supported by her community, and that’s what led to her taking on this role. That’s how she became the race director of the 5k that is being hosted by Collin Cares Cure Cancer.  

Cairns has also spent time working at a nonprofit organization that she found and ran for six years for survivors of domestic violence.

Cairns is excited about her position here at Bio-Med and the work she’ll be able to do with the school. She is looking forward to, “being able to integrate a little bit more,” and improving her curriculum to better support her future students.

Bio-Med Uncategorized

How Snow Days Work

by Elise Miller, staff writer

Pictured above is snowfall outside of Bio-Med on NEOMED’s main campus. The city of Rootstown, where Bio-Med is located, averaged twenty one days of snowfall in the month of January according to Ohio Climate Averages. Photo by Elise Miller, staff writer.

FEBRUARY 2022 — As the snowier months set in, so does the possibility of the fabled “snow day” at Bio-Med Science Academy. Last year, it was noted that in Ohio, “February was the snowiest month of the winter,” according to Ohio Winter Summaries (2020-2021). It is likely that this February will experience a lot of snowfall as well.

Parents may even receive an alert to their devices that school is called off due to the weather conditions, otherwise known as a snow day. However, the process of actually sending this alert stems from a much longer chain of events, starting as early as 5:00 a.m.

At the forefront of this process is Mrs. Stephanie Lammlein, the Chief Administrative Officer of Bio-Med.

“I usually get up at about five if I know there’s something brewing,” said Lammlein. She watches out for snow accumulation, like “when it’s going to hit in [the] early morning [at] three to five at a high accumulation rate or ice,” she explained.

By observing if the snowfall will occur throughout the night, she can predict if it will affect the time period soon after when student transportation will take place.

Lammlein ultimately dictates whether or not Bio-Med has a snow day, but this decision depends on more factors than just the weather. A major factor she deals with is what other schools are doing within the community, which can significantly affect Bio-Med.

“I have to start to watch who’s closing,” she began. From these schools, she looks at “How big of a school is that as far as our population,” or in other words, how many students are within those districts that are closing.

She mainly observes Portage County schools. She mentioned that “About 73 percent of our kids are from Portage.” This means if the majority of Portage schools were to close, a considerable amount of the student body might not be able to get to Bio-Med due to transportation issues such as busing or being able to drive with the weather conditions.

“Once we’ve made the decision, there’s another to-do list of notifying everybody that is impacted by our closing,” she explained. First, she informs the administration, who then lets parents know through a one-call message which appears as a text.

The domino effect of notifications continues as Lammlein informs bus garages, food services, and posts the closings on social media. Through this whole process, she explained that “there is not a specific formula” to it all.

One constant, though, is how many snow days are allowed to be taken. “By law, you have to have so many hours [of instruction] depending on the age group per year, and how we build that calendar is up to us,” said Lammlein.

The Ohio state required hours for students from seventh grade to graduation is 1,001 hours in total, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

If the school does not meet those hours for students, possibly from too many calamity days, the school year is typically extended. Bio-Med has not been met with this issue in previous school years or this school year so far.

Bio-Med Uncategorized

Loss of Planning Time; Further Effects of the Teacher Shortage

by Mallory Butcher, staff writer

FEBRUARY 2022 — During the first week that Bio-Med Science Academy returned from winter break, five teachers called off work. Due to the shortage of substitute teachers, fellow educators were obligated by the administration to relinquish their planning periods to cover for the absentees rather than the previous volunteer request. One week later, on Jan. 14, the Rootstown campus held a “Digital Day” due to the numerous staff members being unable to attend school. On Jan. 27 and 28, nine teachers were absent.

Substitute teacher Mr. Jordan Mihalik sits in the classroom of the Integrated English Language Arts 10 teacher Mrs. Tracie McFerren, covering her absence on February 10. He reads the novel Fahrenheit 451 to help answer student questions for their assignment. Below him are instructions spread across the table left by McFerren.

Sophomore Ella Wright noticed the difference in planning time for her teachers. Wright recounted, “I feel like most teachers don’t have quite as much time, so the lessons get a little messed up.”

When calling for volunteers, the Chief Operating Officer of Bio-Med’s grades 10 through 12, Mrs. Lindsey McLaughlin, typically sends an email to all teachers with information about open class periods that need to be filled. Teachers who have planning periods that align with open classes are able to respond with their intent to cover the period.

Enlisted teachers, on the other hand, were charged with their duties by the administration rather than offering their time. Teachers were determined based on if their planning period overlapped with an open class.

“There were so many staff out we couldn’t [wait for volunteers]. We didn’t have time,” McLaughlin explained.

After assigning teachers to class periods, Mrs. Charmayne Polen, the chief operating officer of grades seven through nine, Mr. Randy Rininger, the dean of students, and McLaughlin are responsible for filling in for teachers during periods no one else could. Teachers who cover for an absentee during their planning period are able to leave early with the final dismissal of students at 3:15 p.m. instead of leaving at the usually required 3:45 p.m. 

In addition, McLaughlin highlighted that, “Every full-time staff and faculty member was given a $1,000 bonus in December, and every part-time staff member was given a $500 bonus in December to help compensate for the lost time.”

According to a staff newsletter sent in December of 2021, the bonuses were to recognize and show appreciation for the hard work of the staff and its “continued efforts to support our students.” 

Another way Bio-Med compensated for the loss of planning time this year has been through the use of planning days.

These are assigned days where an educator would grade assignments and plan lessons for their class. On these days, the teacher is allowed to work off campus. Each teacher has been scheduled for one planning day during the current school year. 

Integrated English Language Arts 10 teacher Mrs. Tracie McFerren described her planning day as “half a day of grading to get caught up, and the other half, I left for planning ahead.”

A major reason for the implementation of planning days at Bio-Med was to follow the Ohio Revised Code, known to be “the codified law of the state.” Chapter 3301 of the ORC requires educators to be given 200 minutes of planning time per week. 

If a teacher worked for eight hours on their planning day, they would have 480 minutes of planning time. Spread out over four weeks in a month, they would have 120 minutes of planning time per week. Without planning periods, a planning day makes up for less than half of the time teachers were given in previous years. According to Mrs. McFerren, however, many teachers at Bio-Med have been able to retain most of their planning periods.

“When it comes to the Ohio Revised Code,” Mrs. McLaughlin said, “each teacher comes in 45 minutes early for planning time.”

Given the 45 minutes in the morning, even without a planning period, teachers at Bio-Med receive 225 minutes per week to plan lessons, grade assignments, and set up for classes. That estimate, though, is not entirely realistic, according to McFerren.

“Typically, our mornings [include] several meetings several days a week. It’s usually just kind of getting ready for what’s going on that day. It’s not really planning. It’s more just prepping,” she said.

Due to the shortage of staff, Bio-Med teachers have possibly experienced the loss of up to a quarter of their planning time from years prior. However, planning days have kept that time from dropping further. 

“As a teacher, I think we always need more time,” McFerren laughed. “I appreciate the planning day, absolutely. I’ll take it any time I can get it.”

Related Content: The Teacher and Substitute Shortage: More Education Problems Revealed by the Pandemic.

Bio-Med Uncategorized

Competitive Clubs

by Alexandra Levy, staff writer

FEBRUARY 2022 — Bio-Med Science Academy students can benefit socially and academically from taking part in competition-based learning clubs.

Science Olympiad members (from left to right) Randall Hatfield, Camryn Myrla, Skyler Earl, Keira Vasbinder, and Alyssa Cocchiola competing in the invitational Science Olympiad competition. The competition was hosted by Solon High School, but participants attended virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regional, statewide, and national competitions for Science Olympiad will remain virtual for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year. Photo provided by Ms. Janna Mino.

Tessa Wood, a Bio-Med junior, is a member of many competition-based clubs, including Science Olympiad and quiz bowl. Wood considered the impact that participating in these clubs has had on her.

“I work better in competitions. I’m a very competitive person, and clubs like quiz bowl and Science Olympiad give me more of an incentive to get things done,” said Wood. “Things with deadlines help me, and competitions have deadlines.”

Wood also claimed that she has more motivation and enjoyment when teachers add competition-based learning into their classes. 

“Small competitions like Kahoots are a lot of fun, especially in eleventh grade when you don’t really get to play a lot of games anymore in your day-to-day life. It makes it more fun and gives me a greater incentive to perform well,” explained Wood. “Exceeding mastery on an assignment is nice, but that competitive spirit is incredible.”

Wood also discussed the benefit clubs can have on developing a better sense of community.  

“I meet a lot of people in clubs. Upperclassmen are very cohorted, so it’s nice to meet people that are outside of my class and my grade. It’s also fun to bond and work together with someone in competitions, like Science Olympiad,” Wood added. “Bio-Med has a lot of great options. I feel like I have good exposure to everything: human rights clubs, computing clubs, and the clubs have great leadership opportunities.”

Science Olympiad is an international nonprofit organization with the goal of raising students’ interest in science. In order to raise student engagement, Science Olympiad has STEM-related tournaments at the regional, state, national, and international levels. 

The tournaments are described by the Official Science Olympiad website as, “rigorous academic interscholastic competitions that consist of a series of team events, which students prepare for during the year. These challenging and motivational events are well balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, and technology.”

Senior physics teacher and Science Olympiad advisor Ms. Janna Mino discussed the benefits that she has seen in the members of the club.

“Well, it definitely helps people who are going into STEM fields: you just get more STEM content than you would just from classes alone; you get practice studying for and taking tests which prepares you for college, plus designing and testing builds, which you might do in a college STEM course or STEM career field even. It’s also a great way to build [a] community while you’re here at Bio-Med, and a lot of kids from the club stay friends after graduating,” said Mino.

She continued, “There are some other perks: seniors who have been in the club long-term can apply for scholarships through Science Olympiad National, and they get special cords at graduation. Overall, I tend to see that students who participate in the club already have an interest in STEM content, but my deepest hope is that there are at least a few students who joined the club uncertain about STEM and gain some confidence and interest in STEM. Research shows that afterschool programming like Science Olympiad clubs can help underrepresented groups participate in STEM, which is something I’m really passionate about. It is really hard doing mostly after school meetings for kids who take the bus or can’t get other transportation, but we’re trying!”

Mino observed how her students’ work ethics improved when they were in a competitive environment, however, she also addresses how she reduces the stress within the club leading up to competitions.

“I definitely think the pressure of competing lights a fire under most of our students —kind of like an approaching deadline for a project — but I think as a team, we overall have the mindset of wanting to have fun at the competitions more than stressing too much about scores,” Mino added. “There are other schools who definitely have more resources and seem to take it a lot more seriously than us, in my opinion. Lots of schools have try-outs to get in, and some even have a scheduled school course all year long to prepare. They also are able to afford to bring multiple teams to competition so each kid can really specialize in an event or two. Those schools can afford to financially support their team with the registration feees, but also they have lots more students, whereas we have our kids spread across four or five events sometimes, and they may have gotten thrown into one a few days beforehand! Our kids work really hard and we generally do okay. We’ve even made it to states a few times! But I love that our team as a whole isn’t too stressed out about winning or performance. I wouldn’t want this to be a source of stress. I think we all already have enough of that in our lives, right?”

Mino also found that while the club enhanced her students’ work ethics, it also helped her to develop new teaching techniques. 

Mino explained, “I try to bring some of my organizational skills to the exciting tornado that is Science Olympiad when it comes to scheduling, checking in, accelerated term, communication, etc. I also have been inspired by the Science Olympiad events when designing projects and curriculum for both chemistry and physics and even accelerated term courses over the years! I’ve also learned from the club that I can personally loosen up in my courses a little bit and can still provide a rigorous learning environment, so I personally feel that the club has made me a better teacher.”

Another competition-based learning club that Bio-Med offers is the Health Occupations Students of America club (HOSA). HOSA is an international career and technical student organization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education to prepare students for future healthcare careers through competition-based learning. The healthcare-centered competitions differ in how students participate, some competitions are tests, presentations, lab simulators, etc.

Bio-Med juniors Mary Laudato and Emma Aguilar pictured on the highest podium after winning first place at HOSA’s regional competition in the Health Career Display category. Aguilar commented, “HOSA has helped me practice my presentation and professional skills as well as develop a greater knowledge of my medical areas of interest. Going into regionals this knowledge propelled my partner, Mary Laudato, and I to do the best we could and ultimately win first place.” Photo provided by Alex Levy.

Junior biomedical engineering teacher and advisor of HOSA, Ms. Elissa Fusco, discussed her experience of what it’s like to participate in competition-based clubs for students and teachers. 

“Since this is only my second year as a HOSA advisor and my first year with in-person competitions, I have to say it’s been a little hectic! However, no matter how crazy it gets, it’s been really neat watching students step up and take responsibility for their competitive events or fundraising. Watching students have dozens of ideas for our chapter has been very rewarding to see,” said Fusco.

Fusco also described the welcoming environment that HOSA maintains while in a competition-based setting that she and co-advisor Ms. Erin Bradley seek to create. 

“HOSA is pretty inviting! It can be intimidating at first because veteran members are self-driven and experienced with competitions. However, no one has had an issue sharing their experiences in their event categories or how a competition goes,” Fusco added. “Everyone’s first year is always a little awkward because students are timid to bring up their ideas. After a few months, though, a lot of members open up about what they want to do in competition. They get excited about fundraising ideas, like making bracelets or stickers, and they have no problem participating in the different lessons Ms. Bradley and I prepare.”

Fusco also said that students are more driven to learn when they are working towards a competition. 

“Having an end goal is so important for motivation, especially when you’re new in the chapter,” said Fusco. “If students don’t have enough time during meetings, they sometimes need to work on their competitive event projects outside of school. We always offer any art supplies and love to give feedback. As for the events that are more test-based, we can guide students to the event guidelines, but we are currently working on getting some of the texts HOSA recommends for events.”

Jim Scott is the HOSA state advisor of Ohio. Scott discussed the benefits of students participating in HOSA.

“HOSA connects students to different healthcare industries. There are over 80 different competitions for students to participate in. When competing, students gain that additional opportunity to apply for scholarships. HOSA also gives students a heads up in preparation when going through the job application process,” said Scott. 

Scott explained the concept of the competition structure in HOSA. 

“There are competitions available at the regional, state, and national level. There is also a variety of activities, leadership activities, and conferences available at all levels. At the upcoming state competition in March, there will be an available leadership conference. When students make it to the international level, they are able to network with students from Germany, China, Canada, the United States, Trinidad, and more. The students are able to focus on their competition category like biological lab science, medical assisting, research writing, and speaking. There are also 12 different competitions where we use tests from National Geographic available at the state and national levels.”

Scott also described the changes that most students go through after joining HOSA.

“The most notable change is their confidence level,” said Scott. “They learn technical skills, strive towards attainment of their goals, while HOSA helps connect them with colleges and businesses. Which makes for a smoother pipeline from school to their career choices.”

Scott concluded by talking about how competition-based learning differs from traditional education. 

“You learn more because you’re using what you’ve learned and going beyond the classroom. Students are applying skills and competing against other like-minded students from different areas. It helps scholarships to see that you are competing and meeting people worldwide; it’s competing on a much larger scale. Competition builds the knowledge base and the confidence in students’ chosen profession,” remarked Scott. 

Bio-Med offers numerous opportunities for students to take advantage of competition-based learning. More information on Bio-Med’s clubs can be found here.

Bio-Med Uncategorized

Saying Farewell to Ms. Janna Mino

by Ken Burchett, associate editor

During her physics class, Mino lies on a bed of nails to demonstrate the distribution of force. Mino did this activity when she was an undergraduate student, except she was sandwiched between two boards. “My friend actually jumped on top of me and I was like, ‘aaaah!’ and he was all, ‘Trust in the physics, Janna. Trust in the physics!’ The nails didn’t hurt. It was just the weight. He was heavy!” Mino said. Photo provided by Janna Mino.

FEBRUARY 2022 — Ms. Janna Mino, senior physics and Environmental Science for Agriculture and Natural Resources instructor, is leaving her position at Bio-Med Science Academy on Feb. 17. She accepted a position as a STEM education program specialist for the Ohio Department of Education and will begin her new position the week of Feb. 21.

As a STEM education program specialist, Mino will be responsible for helping Ohio STEM schools receive and maintain their designation. She will also help Ohio schools experiment with STEM teaching practices, such as project-based learning, integration, and alternative grading systems. 

“They have given me some guidelines that the previous [person in the] position used to do, and I’m sure there are some parts that I will need to do to contribute to the team, but the team is also growing, and they’ve said they’re open to my input,” Mino said. 

Mino wishes to use this position to collect research to improve education, saying, “No one’s going to take a medicine unless it’s gone through the processes that shows that it’s safe and effective. I think approaching education through a scientific lens of experimenting and collecting data, and being open to what that data tells you to do, is what can help us move past the models of education that have been around since the 1800s.”

Mino started teaching at Bio-Med in 2017 and has enjoyed seeing it change over the years. “I started the first year they opened the middle school. Every year since then, we’ve added more and more grade levels, and we’ve added more and more staff to accommodate that,” Mino said. “It’s really just so much bigger, which changes a lot of things in the day-to-day, and the overall culture. We’ve added all the CTE stuff, and other things have come and gone and changed, so it’s been a lot of fast growth.” 

Mino discovered the open position at the Ohio Department of Education after a friend sent her the job application in the summer of 2021, and Mino felt she couldn’t let this opportunity go to waste. Mino said she always looks out for back-up plans and opportunities to further her career, citing her parents for the instillation of this mindset. She forgot about the position until they reached out to conduct interviews during Winter Break.

Initially, Mino assumed the role wouldn’t begin until the end of the 2021-2022 school year, but it had been vacant and needed to be filled as soon as possible. 

“It was a tough decision. I was hoping to get a little more time at Bio-Med to ease the transition and negotiate a middle ground, but it was the kind of opportunity I have a hard time passing up,” said Mino. “I think it’ll be a cool chance to do something different that might help education, and if not, at least I tried. At least I won’t be wondering what could have happened.”

Part of the decision to leave Bio-Med was due to transportation purposes. Mino lives over an hour away from the Bio-Med Rootstown Campus. However, as the STEM education program specialist, she will be working from home for the foreseeable future, which will ease the stress of transportation. 

Mino is one the advisers for Bio-Med’s Science Olympiad team. She co-runs the club with Ms. Shana Varner, the 11th grade anatomy and physiology instructor, and has done so since 2017. The last in-person event the Science Olympiad attended was the 2020 Mentor Invitationals, pictured above. Pictured from left to right are (back) Ms. Laura Sass, Daniel Zalamea, Aliva Selander, Nora Haddon, Maddy Ross, Kaytlin Haylett, C.J. Delaney, Zackary Kelly, Chloe Baker, Camryn Myrla, Mady Kohout (front) Angelina Cocchiola, Emily Richmond, Kelsea Cooper, Lauren Huntley, Ana Sadeghian, Ms. Janna Mino, Brian Mekker, Paige Chinn, and Alyssa Cocchiola. Photo provided by Janna Mino.

Ms. Alexis Bell, the 12th grade Apex Instructor, will be acting as a long-term substitute teacher for Mino’s physics and Environmental Science for Agriculture and Natural Resources classes. Science Olympiad, a club that Mino currently advises, will continue to be run by the remaining advisor, Ms. Shana Varner, with assistance from Ms. Laura Sass, the STEM quality and curriculum administrator.

Despite looking forward to her new career path, Mino regrets not being able to teach the class of 2023 again. She didn’t have the same sense of closure as she does with the current seniors, saying, “I counted it up. We only have 54 school days where I won’t be here with them in the classroom, which isn’t that long. I’ve had enough notice. I’ve had time with them. They’ve known I’m leaving, and we’ve really reached a point where I feel like we have closure.” 

Unlike the seniors, Mino taught the juniors during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was excited to teach the class of 2023 during a more “normal” school year. “We were going through it together, and even though we didn’t get to do all of the cool projects and labs that I would have normally liked to have done with [them], and some students I never saw in person the whole year, I still felt like I got to know [the juniors] as people, and we built relationships, and we had a good time.” 

Mino expressed this sentiment in an email to the junior class and encouraged students to reach out to her if they need letters of recommendation or want to share science-related content. 

Mino’s final advice to her students is to stay curious. “Keep your mind open, ask lots of questions, be comfortable with not knowing things, but keep trying to understand as much as you can. I fundamentally believe science literacy can help us all connect with each other and be better to each other,” she said. 

Mino concluded by saying, “I’m very grateful to be leaving on good terms, and the whole staff has been really supportive despite me leaving before the school year ends, which I know is an inconvenience for any school at any time.  I’m sorry that I won’t get to be in the classroom with [students] here at Bio-Med, but [they’ll] always be my students and I’m proud of [them] all.” 

Bio-Med Uncategorized

International Day of Women and Girls in Science: February 11th 

by Meadow Sandy, staff writer

FEBRUARY 2022 – Women around the world have fought for spots in male-dominated fields for years, and that fight still continues. Feb. 11  marks the seventh annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science, as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.

Kiara Krunich, a ninth-grader, learns how to solder in her engineering class. Bio-Med strives to give opportunities to students interested in STEM fields. “I like that we get to do lots of hands-on activities and everyone gets to work together. My favorite part about engineering is learning about the different things you can do in it,” Krunich stated. “Another thing about STEM is that we get to do activities and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, it’s all equal.” Photo provided by Cadence Gutman, staff writer.

According to The American Association of University Women (AAUW), gender stereotypes affect young children. As a result, children as young as preschoolers are underestimated in their studies and steered away from STEM fields. This is a driving factor that steers young girls away from STEM.

Becky Hill-Dickey, the eighth grade technology instructor, said, “I think about when I grew up and the reality of how I thought STEM jobs weren’t possible for me. The jobs that were advertised for females were very traditional roles, so I think this is important to recognize now that anyone could do any position.” Hill-Dickey continued, “It’s important to create more diverse settings, so they are more inclusive to everyone. Education [will help address gender disparities in science,] if  people don’t know about the field or what it does, they won’t know if they’re interested. I think that’s why I like teaching. My ultimate goal is to expose those who are interested and help create possibility and passion.”

Heidi Hisrich, the ninth grade science instructor, stated, “Men far outnumber women in STEM educational tracks and also in the workforce, especially in high income and fast growing fields like engineering and computer science.”

“Women make up half our population and should theoretically make up half of the STEM workforce, but they currently only make up about 28% of it. The International Day of Girls and Women in science can help raise awareness about the lack of representation of females in science and also about the importance of changing that,” she continued.

Women represent only about 33 percent of researchers, as stated by the United Nations (UN). In fields such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), only about one in five professionals is a woman. This makes up only about 22 percent of people in those fields. Of the small percentage of women in STEM fields, Black women only make up about two percent, according to Barnard.

Additionally, women are generally paid less than men in career fields. In 2020, women only earned about 84 percent of a man’s salary, according to Pew Research Centers. It was also found that for 25- to 34-year-olds, for every dollar a man makes, a woman would make only 93 cents.

Along with a pay gap, women are often offered smaller research grants compared to men, Hisrich stated, “I have not [been affected by smaller grants.] I have applied for grants, and often received them. Sometimes I have received grants in part due to my gender. For instance, I benefited from a grant from the Wayne County Women’s Fund when I lived in Richmond, Indiana.”

Hisrich offered her thoughts on how gender disparities can be addressed: “We need to purposely develop confidence in females in the areas of math and science. This can be done by intentionally giving them the chance to master skills in those fields.” Hisrich continued by stating, “We need to improve STEM education, starting as early as kindergarten. Colleges and universities need to actively recruit women into their STEM programs, as do employers need to continue to support women once they have enrolled or been hired.”

Feb. 11 is a day dedicated to celebrate women and girls who love STEM and strive to make a better world. As education evolves, teachers like Hisrich and Hill-Dickey want to help students succeed in STEM fields and encourage them to continue.

STEM Uncategorized

The Return of the Bio-Med Toy Machine

by Randall Hatfield, staff writer

JANUARY 2022  — The Bio-Med Science Academy toy machine has been present for much of the school’s history. Many students have had the opportunity to pass by the small, red dispenser, but for most of its lifetime, the machine has remained empty. A paper sign, formerly attached to its front face, explained that it was meant to hold student-made toys, coming sometime in the future. Now, for the first time in its long history, a new seventh-grade project has breathed new life into the toy machine.

During the middle of December, many students noticed that the machine had new branding and was filled with multicolored plastic capsules that students could now purchase for fifty cents.

The toys in the installation were a part of a project by the seventh-graders. The person behind the project is Ms. Hajnal Eppley, the seventh-grade tech teacher. 

“I think in my first week at Bio-Med, I saw [the toy machine], and I saw that it was empty and thought it was really cool that it existed,” Eppley said. At the time, the machine had still been inactive, leftover from a former fundraiser that was never fully realized. An opportunity to revitalize it had appeared.

Eppley and her classes began planning out their toys several months ago, in order to ensure that there would be no issues with installation. “It took us a little while to get some of the logistics of getting the capsules into the machine, but we worked on that [from] mid to late October,” said Eppley. This time allowed students to create the toys that would eventually be sold inside.

Each of the toy machine’s capsules contains one temporary tattoo. These tattoos are student designed, with each one representing a specific memory that its creator wanted to illustrate. The capsules also contain a paper card with a written description of the tattoo, as well as what it represents.

“The seventh-graders are the newest to Bio-Med, and also the youngest,” Eppley said. “I think the goal is just to help other people in Bio-Med get their names and get to know them a little bit.”

Many students have been seen interacting with the machine since its installation.

“I definitely was surprised at how the first day that I put things into, people were already taking stuff and using it,” Eppley said, “I hadn’t even had a chance to print out the sign to put on it yet. It feels good that this is generating some interest.”

Pictured is the toy machine in its current location, outside the MakerSpace in the new building. The small basket nearby is meant to be a place for students to return their empty capsules for reuse. Photo by Randall Hatfield.

An integral part of helping the project succeed was finding a way to use the funds from each fifty-cent purchase. Two seventh-grade students had an idea to put the money towards the Portage County Animal Protective League. According to its website, the Portage APL is a local nonprofit organization that works to improve animal welfare and responsible pet ownership.

These seventh-grade students, Ava Edson and Evelyn Fleck, spoke about their idea for the fundraiser.

“One day we were sitting in the hallway and we just came up with the idea, like ‘Hey, what [if] around Christmas time we did some kind of fundraiser for dogs in shelters who aren’t getting the proper care [that] they need,’” Edson said.

Their idea began to take shape, aided by some of Fleck’s past fundraising experience.

“In fifth grade, I hosted a really big food drive, and I thought we could do something like that again,” Fleck said. “We thought of a different plan, which was a food drive for dogs.”

For students who may have missed the chance to support the installation’s cause, Eppley stated that there may be other projects involving the toy machine in the future. Some possible ideas proposed include using the school’s 3D printers or laser engravers to create new products for sale. 

While the toy machine initially originated as an incomplete project, it has grown into a new way for students to get to know each other, express themselves, and give back to the community. As time passes, it is likely to continue developing new projects, and serve as a way to unify the Bio-Med student body for years to come.

Bio-Med Uncategorized