During this time, she met and married
her husband David. They loved Manhattan
living, although Abby remained a faithful
fan of the Cleveland Indians. But they
always knew they would return to the
Midwest when they started a family.
“We wanted a yard and a community
where we could go to football games and
plays,” she says. Max was born in July
of last year and their lease in New York
ended that September, so the young family
returned to live with her parents and
look for jobs. Although her husband also
applied for positions in his hometown of
Indianapolis, he got a job quickly at the
Wyndham Hotel and they stayed. Abby
had a year to stay home with baby Max.
When she saw an opening for a math
teacher at Shaker Heights High School,
she went to the ice cream social in May
and told her former principal Mr. Griffith
she was applying for the job.
“I walked into the interview and saw
my old math teacher, my old principal
and Lisa Scott, personnel administrator.”
She hoped they wouldn’t judge her as the
18-year-old they once knew, but as the
professional she has become.
In the interview, she stressed that
she knew how to work with students with
challenges, as well as Shaker’s competitive
AP crowd, because she grew up in an
environment where she learned to interact
comfortably with all kinds of kids.
When Goldstein started her
new job this fall, teaching freshman
Algebra 1, and Algebra 2, it felt like
coming home. Watching the band play
at a recent football game gave her goosebumps.
And those high school friends she
still sees? They’re a little bit jealous that
she’s back in Shaker.
SHAKER LIFE | WINTER 2014 53
No Place Like Home
“Wherever we go, nowhere is like where
we grew up,” says Abby Penzner Goldstein
(SHHS ’01). “I have so many wonderful
memories,” says Goldstein, who stays
in close contact with many of her high
In college, she looked forward to
vacations home to see her old friends. That
wasn’t true for her new friends at Tulane
University in New Orleans – they couldn’t
wait to leave home and get back to school.
“In Shaker, we’re exposed to different
people at an early age. I was the first Jewish
person most of my friends at Tulane had
ever met. I think they realized their home
life was more sheltered,” she says.
Goldstein always knew she wanted
to be a teacher. In addition to playing
trumpet in the marching band, Jazz
Ensemble, and Cleveland Youth Wind
Symphony, she joined activities that
involved working with younger students,
like the Student Group on Race Relations
(SGORR). But her parents, Michael
and Paula Penzner, suggested that she
leave her options open by majoring in
something other than education.
At Tulane, Goldstein majored
in History and Jewish studies. After
graduation, she applied to alternative
certification programs where college
graduates can teach with support and
earn a master’s degree. She was accepted
to New York City Teaching Fellows and
she had enough math credit – some of it
from her AP coursework at Shaker – to
start teaching math.
“I thought I could switch to history
later,” she says. “Then I remembered
how much I love math.” She also finds
she can “grab” some students who
might not be math-minded with an
She found that many of her innercity
students “didn’t have the confidence
to say what they felt, so they would
mostly go with the crowd. Shaker parents
want their kids to have confidence and
take leadership.” She tries to foster those
qualities in all her students.
“In Shaker, we’re exposed to different people at
an early age. I was the first Jewish person most
of my friends at Tulane had ever met.”
Her experiences in band and the Student
Group on Race Relations helped cement
Goldstein’s Shaker loyalty. Goldstein is
shown here with her father, Michael Penzner.
Photo courtesy of Abby Goldstein