July 10, 2018
Dear Shaker Community,
The devastating fire at Fernway Elementary School tore at our hearts and left many of us overcome with disbelief. For nearly 100 years, Fernway Elementary has been the epicenter of the neighborhood. It is the safe place for learning, for playing, for coming together.
And it still will be.
Here in Shaker, we know that we are all stronger together. We build relationships with our neighbors. We lend a hand to friends and strangers in need. We believe in the collective strength of our community.
Still, the emotions over the loss of our beloved building are raw. Our first step to moving forward together is to offer grief counseling to those in need. We will be providing these services in the next 24-48 hours.
Shaker Heights Schools is tremendously grateful for the tireless, professional efforts of the Shaker Heights Fire Department, police and other first responders as well as assistance provided by departments as far west as Lakewood and as far east as Eastlake.
To members of the Fernway Community—including Fernway teachers, Fernway Principal Chris Hayward, residents and students—who stepped in with water, food and other supplies to offer support, we offer our deepest gratitude.
The Board of Education and District officials are still assessing the damage and developing plans for next steps. Of course, we will keep the entire Shaker Schools community posted on future plans and will seek out your input and guidance. Whatever those plans, Fernway will remain whole and will continue to thrive as an educational community.
In the days ahead, we ask for your patience and understanding as we work on contingency plans for our students and teachers at Fernway School. As soon as we form a plan, we will host a public meeting and communicate the necessary details. This year will be one for rebuilding in many ways. But when we’ve come through to the other side, we know our community will be just as strong as it has always been.
Dr. Stephen M. Wilkins
Shaker Heights City School District