Crystal Cespedes– a beloved friend, teacher and colleague

Courier Staff

Solon High School lost a beloved teacher, friend and colleague when Crystal Cespedes died on April 27, 2023. After Cespedes’ passing, the Courier staff sent a Google Form out to students and staff to share their memories and thoughts about Cespedes. With this information the Courier staff created a tribute in order to commemorate her life and legacy.

Cespedes–a kind and caring teacher

Crystal Cespedes joking around in her classroom.

Cespedes wasn’t only inspiring in an academic matter, students claimed she was a caring and kind person and advisor, who had an emotional impact on many students. In fact, she advised clubs such as Mental Health Matters and would have been the advisor for Young Hearts Club.

“She was the club advisor for [the] Mental Health Matters Club, she would show up to each meeting although we only had a couple of members,” an anonymous source said. “She never gave up on the club.”

Cespedes helped students through difficult times in their high school career. SHS graduate Karlie Polomsky was Cespedes’ student during her sophomore year.

“During the worst time of my life mentally, she was the one to pick me up every single day,” Polomsky said. “It’s like she knew when something was wrong every time I walked into her classroom, and she even went out of her way to send me hall passes to come spend time with her during my lunch and study hall periods when I didn’t want to be around anyone else.”

Many students claimed that Cespedes helped them through the pandemic and online school. 2021 SHS graduate Jessie Kwiatkowski had Cespedes during the pandemic.

“[She was] one of the only teachers that showed her raw self in the midst of the pandemic and laughed with us as we struggled through online school,” Kwiatkowski said.

According to Polomsky, Cespedes was a teacher who truly supported her students.

“Ms. Cad [Cespedes] wasn’t just a teacher, she was my best friend for my last two years of high school,” Polomsky said. “I know that so many people say that, but she truly was so much more than a teacher to me.”

Many staff considered Cespedes not just a colleague, but a friend

Anna Guiselo, Karen Davidoff and Crystal Cespedes in downtown Cleveland before a baseball game.

Math teacher Anna Guseilo was hired the same year as Cespedes and worked with her for 16 years.

“She was kind, funny and was a generous friend,” Guseilo said.

Another close friend of Cespedes, Social Studies teacher Jill Harvey, says Cespedes was a joy to be around.

“She was always very supportive, she was there to lend an ear if I had to vent about things,” Harvey said.

Harvey has many memories with Cespedes, who loved Cleveland sports teams.

“We went to Browns games together, Indians games together,” Harvey said. “We went to the Cavs parade when they won the 2016 playoffs. That was fun.”

Kirsten Ahrens worked with Cespedes in the science department.

“She truly was a friend to all,” Ahrens said. “I don’t think she had an enemy. She was one of the nicest people that I’ve ever worked with. When I got hired she was the first one to come and introduce herself, and we had lunch together all the time.”

Cespedes was a favorite teacher among many students

Claire Stoltz (with her daughter), Nicole Geiger, Kirsten Ahrens and Crystal Cespedes (with her son) at a staff appreciation football game. Senior football players each selected one teacher to honor on the field at half-time. Photo courtesy of Kirsten Ahrens.

Students also expressed how they felt about Cespedes and her qualities as more than just a teacher. Junior Matthew Dunn was one of the many students that admired Cespedes.

“She was a perfect teacher who inspired her students to be curious, compassionate and environmentally conscious,” Dunn said.

A student who has chosen to stay anonymous, has given other memories of how Cespedes treated her students, making class interesting.

“I remember she once described ´chemical Y´ as a ´dangerous´ substance that ´will burn your skin,´” a student said. “When my lab partner and I needed a refill, she just poured water from the faucet into the beaker. The dangerous, skin-burning chemical was just tap water. This was one of our very first experiments that quickly introduced me to her quirky and witty personality.”

Throughout her years teaching at SHS, Cespedes touched both students and staff with her kind words and helpful actions.

“Mrs. C has always been a one of a kind type of teacher,” Jamie Johnson said. “She always cared the absolute most about her students’ well-being and grades. Even if people were falling behind, she’d extend due dates to accommodate for the entire class. She was caring and funny and an overall type of teacher that students truly needed.”

She will be missed by both current and past students, as well as those in the clubs she advised and those who saw her throughout the school.

“Passing her in the hallway, I saw her talking with a student and laughing,” an anonymous source said. “I saw a woman who cared about her students, and genuinely wanted to see them succeed.”

She had a great personality that many people thoroughly enjoyed and wanted to be around.

“Having her as a teacher was an honor, and I hope to always emulate her supportive and encouraging personality,” an anonymous person said.

Crystal Cespedes, Vincenzo Delgado, Dylan Gartner and Mathew Dunn. Photo courtesy of Vincenzo Delgado.

In conclusion, Cespedes was an esteemed friend, colleague, mom and role model. Her memory and legacy will live on forever.

“Ms. Cespedes legacy will live on through the many lives she touched and lessons she taught,” Dunn said. “Her impact on her students and the community will be remembered for years to come. Though she may be gone, her influence will continue to shape the world in a positive way.”