Inside ECS – Sheila Mravec, Cleveland

In nearly every classroom at Cleveland Elementary, hand-painted chairs hold children as they explore lands of adventure within books. The chairs are designed after authors and well-known children’s books, and they are clearly well-loved by the students. At the heart of these chairs, and Cleveland Elementary, is paraprofessional Sheila Mravec, who estimates she has painted over 150 chairs.

For over 18 years, Sheila has called Cleveland her second home. Her coworkers call her the glue the holds it all together, and the love she feels for her school, students, and coworkers is evident as she walks down the halls to hugs and greetings. Sheila loves to welcome students by name when they are dropped off for the day, and she tries to talk to every child at Cleveland.

Sheila began her career in education as a preschool teacher. When her children were old enough to attend school at Mary Feeser, the school asked her to consider becoming a paraprofessional. She worked at Mary Feeser for three years, and then moved to Cleveland.

“The staff at Cleveland has made this such a home to me. I’ve always felt welcomed by staff and principals here.” Sheila has worked with students and teachers at every grade level, and is working with kindergarten and second grade this year.

This year, Cleveland is all-in for PRIDE, and it’s made a difference in Sheila’s eyes.

“This year has been a different vibe with the students. They are so proud of their classrooms and their PRIDE-based shield art work. It’s such a positive place to be – the students are positive, the teachers are positive. Bringing PRIDE to Cleveland has really given such a great feeling to the building.”

Sheila’s artistic ability isn’t limited to painting chairs – her artwork can be found throughout the buildings with inspirational quotes along the hallways, character portraits hanging on the walls, and life-like magic treehouse displays in the kindergarten area. Painting has always been a way for her to connect with students.

“The most special moments to me are when former students come back to visit or invite you to their graduation party. A lot of them remember a special project we painted together. It means so much to me that I left a positive impression on them.”

It’s clear that as much as Cleveland is all-in for PRIDE, Sheila Mravec is all-in for Cleveland.

Outside of work, Sheila enjoys spending time with her grandsons, and is looking forward to painting pumpkins she grew in her garden.

Sheila is currently reading: Magic Tree House books, as inspiration for her work with her kindergarten students. She wants to read what her students are reading, so she can discuss the books with them.