Survey finds teens feel financial anxieties because of COVID-19

By Jessie Schoonover 

The process for student lending has not changed. However, the conversation around going to college and borrowing certainly has. 

A recent survey completed by 1,000 of our nation’s teens, between ages 13 and 18 (not currently attending college), found many feel mounting anxieties related to their family’s financial situation, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Citizens Bank and Junior Achievement USA conducted a survey with Wakefield Research Group, titled “The JA COVID Impact Survey.”

Key findings of this survey indicate the following: 


  • More than half of the teens surveyed (57%) are concerned about how COVID-19 will impact their plans for the future.
  • Forty-four percent of high school juniors and seniors say COVID-19 has impacted their plans to pay for college, with a majority of those affected (58%) saying they are now likely to take out student loans to help pay for college.


“A lot of what Citizens (Bank) has been about is encouraging families to talk about their finances with their teenage kids in order for them to be prepared for how much money they have to spend for college; how is the family going to be able to afford this and what does it mean from a financial standpoint,” says head of student lending at Citizens Bank, Christine Roberts. 

“What’s very encouraging from this survey is that over 70% of the students that responded said that they are having this conversation with their parents, that they are actively having conversations around the family’s finances— how COVID-19 has affected their family’s finances— and then they are actually taking that and thinking about it in terms of now what does that mean for the next round of decisions that I need to make,” she says. 

Roberts says this can translate to the following: 

  • Do I go to a different school, public vs. private? 
  • Am I going to go someplace that is less expensive but still really good? 
  • Am I going to go closer to home? 
  • Is it better for me to stay close to home to save money and avoid any pandemic issues related to travel in the future? 
  • Do I take a gap year and wait it out since I do not necessarily want to change the school of my choice? 
  • Do I need to take out additional money or more than expected in loans to cover college costs? 

“It is a lot in some ways, but I think it’s great that these families are having these conversations,” Roberts says. 

According to Joe Faulhaber president of Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland, “our hope was to shed a light on some of the anxieties and challenges these kids have identified, as they think about their next steps in their educational journey. But, also, in the way they think about work and summer jobs and paying for college, and whether or not they go to college right away, if they are a graduating senior, or take a gap year. That was really the crux of it,” he says regarding the survey. 

“In general, really what we’re seeing is a not insignificant amount of teens that are either being relied upon already to financially contribute to their household— and given mass layoffs that we’re seeing in the news every day; our continued negative job outlook for the broader economy overall— teens are being asked and really forced to take on a more active role in the finances in their household.” 


*Survey conducted April 2020.


Little Critters Too Now Open &

LITTLE CRITTERS HALLOWEEN 20181031_165039, photo submitted

Little Critters Too is now open at  13712 Bellaire Rd. 

It is a day care center for children aged Kindergarten through 13.

One appealing thing about Little Critters Too is its full-sized gym.

WEB 2018.11.29 CMYK Gym Little Critters School, Jessie

“When the weather’s like this, it’s really nice that we have a big gym to play and run around in. We go to the gym daily and it gives them an indoor playground to use all year.” says Anna Vince, a director in training. In her role at the school, Vince also assists in transporting the children safely, using a pick-up program that is designed to send a message confirming when a child has been picked up or dropped off.

“I don’t leave a place until that child is with me or has gotten to where they need to go,” says Vince. “Safety is a real big thing with me and everyone at the school.”

The school also provides breakfast and a snack, and for longer days that include school breaks, they also serve a lunch.

“We have a nice kitchen here on site where we can prepared things,” says Vince.

Little Critters Too came following Little Critters Early Learning Center which is located at 12625 Lena Ave. This is for children aged 6 weeks through 5 years. Both facilities are owned and operated by mother and daughter, Brenda Dillingham and Zshavina Kennedy.

“We needed more space (while at the Lena facility),” says Vince. “We were getting bigger but we like to multiply,” she says, adding, “the more the merrier.”

To learn more or register your child for Little Critters Too, contact Anna Vince, at email,

CMYK Little Critters Hallway Photos






Hungarian food, Dec. 1

From noon until 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, you can get your fill of chicken paprikash, Hungarian chicken soup, and dumplings. The West Side Hungarian Reformed Church, 15200 Puritas Ave., offers these foods on the first Saturday of each month. The church has two Sunday services — 9:30 a.m. in Hungarian and 11 a.m. in English. For details, call 216-476-3736.

Area craft fairs set

Keep your eye on the following craft fairs to find unique West Park treasures and unexpected gifts.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 @ West Park Station and Backstage Bar, 17007 Lorain Ave.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 @ West Park Community Elementary School, 16210 Lorain Ave.

Photo by Jerry Masek

Metroparks offers winter fun

Cleveland Metroparks offers West Park residents several
opportunities for nearby winter fun.

Nov. 22: The Metroparks Zoo offers free admission on Thanksgiving Day, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Nov 23: From noon until 10:30 p.m., the season opens at one of the tallest and fastest public ice chutes in Ohio, at The Chalet Recreation Area in the Mill Stream Reservation. Chutes open at 6 p.m., Thursday through Friday, and noon Saturday and Sunday. Call 440-572-9990 for information and reservations, or go to

Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16: On these weekends, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., bring in the family for a photo opp with Santa.
Big Met Golf Course rents snowshoes and cross-country skis. From 9 a.m until 4 p.m., call 440-331-1070 for more information.
The Rocky River River Reservation includes three golf courses — Big Met, Little Met and Mastick Woods .
Each has a hill for sledding.

Cleveland charter school receives nearly $500,000 in new federal funding

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In a highly competitive process, one of Cleveland’s public charter schools has been awarded nearly a half million dollars in new federal funding. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) recently notified Northeast Ohio’s only Mandarin and Spanish immersion school—the independent, public charter school known as Global Ambassadors Language Academy (GALA)—that it would receive $493,277 over a two- year period to support its unique education model and growth. GALA is the only school in Ohio awarded funding this year under the DOE’s Office of Innovation and Improvement program. With additional funding expected if GALA meets milestones during the grant period, the school could receive a total of about $1.2 million from DOE over the next five years.
The additional funding will allow GALA to continue to meet the demands of a growing student population, adding grade levels and building new classroom spaces to accommodate children from kindergarten through 8th grade. GALA is tuition-free, relying on philanthropy and grants to supplement public funding that does not typically provide the resources required for its unique educational model. In year one, 21.6% of the total cost of the program will be financed with Federal money, and approximately $200,000 (11.3%) from non-governmental sources.
The Charter Schools National Dissemination Grant Competition supports excellence in charter schools, providing funds for growth and expansion of high performing schools. In receiving the award, the tuition-free GALA, located on Cleveland’s west side, demonstrated its success in helping its diverse and fast-growing population of young students thrive academically, as well as provide a solid path to become bilingual and bi-literate in both English and in Spanish or Mandarin. These youngsters are already achieving high levels of academic success and developing cross-cultural skills that will help them succeed in years to come.
The new funding will allow GALA to expand and serve more than 500 students, kindergarten through 8th grade, by 2023. Currently, the Cleveland west side-based school draws a diverse body of students from across Northeast Ohio, most of whom are considered low-income (families qualify for free or reduced lunch). GALA’s students bring diverse experiences and cultures to the classroom, coming from Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, White and multi-racial families. They are residents of Cleveland and 25 surrounding suburbs: Avon, Bay Village, Bedford, Berea, Brooklyn, Brunswick, Cleveland Heights, Elyria, Euclid, Fairview Park, Lakewood, Lorain, Maple Heights, Middleburg Heights, North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls, Parma, Richmond Heights, Rocky River, Shaker Heights, Strongsville, Solon, Warrensville Heights, Westlake and Wickliffe.
The Department of Education first notified Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of the award as the school resides in her Congressional district. “The Global Ambassadors Language Academy, which is the first dual language immersion school in Northeast Ohio, is successfully bringing federal education dollars back to our region,” says Kaptur. “In our ever globalized and interconnected world, any competitive edge we can provide Ohio’s youth will open doors beyond imagination. I congratulate GALA on winning this competitive grant which will help them expand and grow to serve more students.”
“GALA is an extraordinary learning environment for our children. Every day, students are immersed for 4 or more hours, receiving instruction of math, language arts, science, and social studies, in Mandarin or Spanish; while 2 to 2.5 hours are spent learning in English. GALA’s unique model helps students build dual language proficiency, excel in academics, and expand cognitive and socio-cultural skills,” says Meran Rogers, founder and executive director of GALA. “Our mission is to ensure that our students achieve lifelong academic success, bilingualism and appreciation for diversity. We believe that GALA is a successful model for addressing the great disparity in education by bringing the kind of language and cultural immersion experiences normally only available in high income suburban districts.”
“The decision by the Department of Education is an extraordinary vote of confidence in the educational model and the immersion process at GALA,” says Kristen Laughlin, GALA Board Chair. “We believe we are educating and preparing a new generation of engaged citizens of the world, starting in our diverse community of committed parents, students, faculty and staff. This award says we are doing it right, setting new standards, and to keep building on our vision.”
GALA was the brainchild of Meran Rogers, a parent, educator, and entrepreneur who grew up near GALA, in a multilingual immigrant household. She attended and worked in Cleveland and East Cleveland public schools, and was a teacher in Taiwan at an immersion school.
In 2012, GALA established a Board of Directors and 501c3 status. In December 2015, GALA submitted a charter application (Academic, Operation, and Financial Plan) to the Ohio Council for Community Schools (OCCS) and received sponsorship in May 2016. After nearly five years of planning, on August 3, 2016, GALA opened its doors to 60 K-1 students Today, GALA has more than tripled enrollment to 186 K-3 students this 2018-2019 school year.
Lenny Schafer, Executive Director of the Ohio Council for Community Schools congratulated GALA leadership: “The recognition is well-deserved. There simply is no school like GALA. It is changing the face of public education while providing a unique educational experience for almost 200 kids in Cleveland. We are extremely proud and looking forward to continued growth and progress.”
This year, there were 32 charter schools across the country awarded funding through the DOE’s Office of Innovation and Improvement program. GALA was the only school in Ohio.

‘Leaders & Legends’ night celebrated at West Park Academy

West Park Academy Leaders and Legends Night

By Jessie Schoonover

West Park Academy held its second annual ‘Leaders and Legends Night’ from 6 to 7 p.m. on October 30th.
A total of 60 students were honored during the ceremony.
“In order to be here tonight,” West Park Academy Principal Michael Jaissle, said, “it came down to how students performed on state achievement tests.”
“It is the result of a lot of hard work that students and staff put in day-in and day-out in West Park,” he said, adding the support and commitment of students’ families played a humongous role, also.
“I’m hoping next year we honor 70… 75… 80 (students), and just keep going from there.”
The tests students received evaluations for included ELA (English Language Arts), Math, and Science.
To be named to the 2017-18 ‘Legends and Leaders’ list, a student had to score ‘proficient’ or higher on one or more of the AIR Assessments (American Institutes for Research).

Inside the Zen Center of Cleveland

West Park Times CloudWater Zendo Article

A Special Report by the West Park Times

Teachings come in many different forms.
CloudWater Zendo, The Zen Center of Cleveland, is a place for all to learn and be calm.
“The interesting thing about the Buddhist tradition is that it’s flexible enough to allow people to practice it the way they want,” says the Ven. Shih Ying-Fa, instructor, and founder of CloudWater Zendo.

“It can be a way of life,” he says. “You don’t have to be Buddhist to practice Buddhism. There are non-Buddhists who come here to meditate. So, you’ve got the religious aspect, the philosophical aspect, the way of life aspect, and the system of education aspect. Our attitude is if there is something that we have that you think you can use to assist you in life and to assist you to alleviate whatever suffering you may be experiencing- please take it- no strings attached.”

Every Saturday, the Zen Center of Cleveland, located at 4436 Puritas Ave., holds group Zen meditation with formal Zen tea from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. This does not cost anything and is open to the public. There will also be a free introduction to Zen meditation class starting at 7 p.m. every Monday throughout the month of April.
Looking for something in particular or of a different variety? A full listing of events can be found on the calendar page of the CloudWater Zendo website, at:
So, what does the name, CloudWater Zendo, mean exactly?
“The name of this temple is from an old term, which started in China and got popular in Japan… in Chinese Feng Shui which means clouds and water because Zen monks were expected to float like clouds and flow like water. It’s freedom and activity but all flowing together.”
West Park is lucky not only to have the Zen Center, but Ying-Fa also, as a resident.
“I love West Park,” he says. “I’ve lived here since 1990.”
According to Ying-Fa, the original Zendo was founded in 1994 at the intersection of Triskett and Warren.
There are several Buddhist stereotypes which exist. However, despite any pervading misconceptions, CloudWater Zendo focuses on teaching the history and truth of Buddhism.
“A lot of people don’t know a lot about this tradition,” says Ying-Fa.
“I think having an understanding of the history enhances what you do but it’s not necessary going in,” he says.
“We teach an eight-week class that we’re in the middle of right now. It’s eight classes. It’s called the ‘Basics of Buddhism’ and it’s a survey class- it covers the history, the formation of the traditions, the teachings and all that other sort of thing. We do that twice a year,” he says. “Two of the eight classes are about history because there is such a misunderstanding about Buddhist history in the west… Buddhism can be very complicated. Not because it’s roots are complicated but it’s outgrowths became complicated. It’s going through so many cultures and picking up terminology and history from there.”
According to Ying-Fa there are three major divisions of Buddhism: “the original Buddhism that started in India, the Theravada (teaching of the elders); the Mahayana, a wider vehicle was an outgrowth of the original Theravada and it’s the Buddhism that prevailed in East Asia. Then the third major division didn’t come along until the eighth century of the Common Era and that was Himalayan Buddhism. Westerners call it Tibetan Buddhism because it was the most influential country. But there were more countries than that involved.”
According to Ying-Fa, his career in the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), is what led him to Cleveland. It also influenced his future involvement with the Buddhist tradition.
“The VA is what brought me here,” he says. “And the VA is what kick-started my Buddhist path because I was a very stress-laden individual. . It was very difficult working in that environment back then, I can’t speak to it now- but for me it was a little bit rough. So, I began the practice of meditation which then led me to the fellow who was my first teacher who was the priest of the

Cleveland Buddhist temple in Euclid. And, after meeting and talking with him it was like a big bell just went off in my whole being that said this is where you need to be. Thirty-two years later, here I am.”
Meditation is helpful for many to manage stress while promoting self-awareness.
How does meditation do all of this?
According to Ying-Fa, meditation is helpful because: “if a person can find five minutes a day in which to meditate-what that does, is, a a term I commonly use, it’s lamination. Lamination is thin layers built up over time. In meditation it’s layers of concentration that built up over time.
“It’s like eating a sandwich,” he says. “You eat the sandwich and all the components of the sandwich don’t go to your bloodstream, or your tissues or your bones right away. It’s a process of getting it there.”
Meditation can allow your mind to focus more on the present; manage stress while building skills to manage stress; increase imagination, tolerance, patience, and creativity, say the Mayo Clinic.
There are several different types of meditation. Some are guided, while others focus on mindfulness and mantras, or the silent repetition of a phrase or word. There is also Qi gong, tai chi, and transcendental meditation.

For approximately two decades, Ying-Fa has been providing an invaluable service to the world from his home-base in West Park.
Ying-Fa is known for his quick and helpful responses, with a typical response time of 24 hours.
Do you have a question for the Ven. Shih Ying-Fa? Visit the “Ask a Monk” form at:
You may even indicate how soon you would like a response.
Classes and additional event information may be found at: