Troy school board considers using land sale proceeds for new early childhood center

The Troy School District Board of Education has sold two pieces of property and is looking at using the sale funds to develop a new early childhood education center. Over the past two years, the board looked at selling some of the five vacant properties it acquired over the years to construct new schools, as enrollment trends indicated they wouldn’t all be needed, said district spokeswoman Kerry Birmingham. “Through our learning about what makes a world class learning organization/school district, it became clear that we need to invest in the learning of our youngest students, the way that other states and countries do,” Birmingham said in an email. (Oakland Press)


Plymouth-Canton Schools chief gets good grades on evaluation

Monica Merritt felt like her first full year as the superintendent for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools went about as well as it could have. At the district's Board of Education meeting earlier this month, Merritt found out board members agreed. Merritt, evaluated using a tool provided by the Michigan Association of School Administrators, scored an 89.4 percent score (on a scale of 100). That rating places Merritt in the "effective" category. Merritt, hired to replace former Supt. Dr. Michael Meissen near the end of the 2015/16 school year, said she was obviously pleased with the evaluation. She also said, more than the rating itself, she was appreciative of the fact she and board members have been able to work well together. (Observer & Eccentric)


UCS schools win publication awards

Utica Community Schools publications earned nearly 200 top awards in a statewide competition for student journalists. The Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA) recently held its annual Spring Awards in Lansing. Several UCS schools participated in MIPA’s contests throughout the year designed to challenge students, reward outstanding work and recognize those who contribute to scholastic journalism in our state. (Macomb Daily)


Eastpointe schools OK district name change

Nearly 25 years after East Detroit residents voted to change the name of their city to Eastpointe, East Detroit Public Schools officials are following suit with a name change. The board of education voted Monday to rename the district Eastpointe Community Schools. The change will be reflected in the buildings and programs, officials said. The name takes effect July 1. (Detroit News)


UCS special needs teacher to receive award from Macomb County Parent Advisory Committee

Chelsea Laurencelle, an elementary teacher for the Roberts Elementary Autism Spectrum Classroom CORE, has been named a recipient of this year’s Macomb County “Make a Difference” award. Laurencelle was nominated for the honor by Laura and Joe Viviano, parents of a student in the CORE program at the school, located in Shelby Township. (Macomb Daily)


DCC Quiz Bowl team heads to nationals

With its strong finish at TQBA Texas Invitational VIII, the quiz bowl team from Detroit Catholic Central High School in Novi proved itself worthy to play on a national stage. On Friday, May 26, the team will represent its school in a national competition testing team members' knowledge of history, science, literature, fine arts, geography, the social sciences, current events and more areas of study at the National Academic Quiz Tournaments' High School National Championship Tournament. Quiz bowl is a competitive, academic, interscholastic activity for teams of four students. Quiz bowl teams use buzzers to answer questions about science, math, history, literature, mythology, geography, social science, current events, sports and popular culture. The matches feature a blend of individual competition and team collaboration, because no individual player is likely to be an expert in all subject areas. Participation in quiz bowl both reinforces lessons from the classroom and encourages players to develop new intellectual interests. (Observer & Eccentric)


New assistant superintendent in Clawson schools brings business skills

A new assistant superintendent is ready to start work with the Clawson school district next month and oversee business operations for the school. Jacqueline Johnston, former superintendent of the L’Anse Creuse Public Schools in Macomb County, was hired recently and will work part-time for the Clawson district. She retired from her most recent job in December 2016 and holds a Ph.D. in education leadership from Eastern Michigan University. (Oakland Press)


Roeper teacher eliminated from ‘Jeopardy!’ tournament, says competing was ‘really fun’

Susannah Nichols was eliminated Wednesday, May 16, from a tournament for teachers on the television quiz show, “Jeopardy!” but that didn’t stop her from having a great time in the competition. Nichols, a high school English teacher at The Roeper School in Birmingham, won in her first appearance Friday, May 12. That win earned her $10,000 and qualified her to compete again on Wednesday night, where she didn’t fare as well. “More than anything else, it was really fun,” said Nichols, a Ferndale resident. (Oakland Press)


Competing on ‘Jeopardy!’ was ‘really fun,’ says teacher at The Roeper School

When Susannah Nichols appears on the television quiz show “Jeopardy!” on Tuesday, May 16, viewers can be assured that no matter the outcome, she is having a great time. Nichols, a high school English teacher at The Roeper School in Birmingham, won in her first appearance Friday in the quiz show’s teachers’ competition. “More than anything else, it was really fun,” said Nichols. As the winner of Friday’s round, she advanced in the competition and will appear on the show at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on WDIV-TV. She said being in a teachers’ competition was especially enjoyable, as all the contestants shared an “instant kinship.” (Oakland Press)


Three Macomb County high schools named in Washington Post list of most academically challenging high schools

Three Macomb County high schools have been recognized by the Washington Post as being among the most academically challenging in Michigan, including one recognized as the state’s top school. The Utica Academy for International Studies (UAIS), The International Academy of Macomb and Eisenhower High School were all named, with the UAIS named the most academically challenging in the state. “This recognition reflects the district’s focus to increase rigorous opportunities for all students to support their post-secondary success,” Superintendent Christine Johns said. (Macomb Daily)

Related story:

> Source: Two UCS high schools among America’s ‘most challenging’


Grosse Pointe educator, district spar over transfer

A former Grosse Pointe South assistant principal is accusing the district of transferring her to another school in retaliation for complaints about her supervisor’s conduct, including an alleged comment about sex. Debra Redlin claims she was threatened with termination and transferred to Parcells Middle School in August 2015 after a year of escalating issues with South High School principal Moussa Hamka, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Detroit. (Detroit News)


L'Anse Creuse refinances bonds to save $6.5 million

L’Anse Creuse Public Schools has sold approximately $96 million in refunding bonds, to refinance $4.795 million of outstanding bonds originally issued in 2006, as well as $91.6 million of the school bond loan fund. The new bonds were refinanced at significantly lower interest rates, resulting in $6.5 million in savings for taxpayers over a five-year period. These bonds were originally issued to finance school building and site improvements in the district. The process is similar to refinancing a home mortgage to reduce the annual payments. (Macomb Daily)


Answer: Metro Detroit teacher is ready for 'Jeopardy!'

In our imaginary TV cabinet, Alex Trebek is the secretary of education. His mission is to promote the highest standards of teaching in the categories of history, science, literature and so on. He values truth, knowledge and answers stated in the form of a question, in that order. If only it were so. But the cerebral game show is still doing its part to highlight the importance of learning through events like the "Jeopardy!" Teachers Tournament. Representing metro Detroit this year is Susannah Nichols, a high school English teacher at the Roeper School in Birmingham. (Detroit Free Press)


Avondale students hold sit-in protest

A large gathering of Avondale students staged a sit-in Friday, May 5, to protest unhappiness with the administration. According to Avondale representatives, the students had a discussion with administrators including Superintendent Dr. James Schwarz, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Carmen Kennedy and Assistant Superintendent Superintendent of Student Services Martin Alwardt. (Oakland Press)


Grosse Pointe schools decide against tuition option

The school board for Grosse Pointe Public Schools has unanimously rejected a tuition enrollment program floated last month to bump up student population and address cash shortages. “This was one thing we were considering among many options to deal with the budget issues,” Board President Brian Summerfield said. “But the thought of the board members, generally speaking, is we have community schools; our kids walk to our schools. We want to keep our families vested in the community schools and this really didn’t fit that kind of model.” Board members Monday evening voted 7-0 against the measure, which would have broken a long-standing tradition of limiting school enrollment to residents of the district. The proposal was introduced April 24 at a public meeting. (Detroit News)


School millage results: West Bloomfield says yes, Chippewa Valley no

Voters in the West Bloomfield School District passed a $120-million bond proposal Tuesday. It was a commanding win for the district, with nearly 70% of the voters approving the proposal. The vote totals were 3,321 yes to 1,514 no. The money raised from the bond proposal will address a number of projects, including building a new middle school to house students from Abbott and Orchard Lake middle schools. "We're very pleased and excited to move forward with planning the future of the West Bloomfield school district," Superintendent Gerald Hill said tonight. (Detroit Free Press)

Related stories:

> Detroit News: Voters pass $120M West Bloomfield schools bond proposal

> Detroit News: Voters reject Chippewa Valley proposal, pass Anchor Bay

> Detroit News: Voters pass Wayne County school millages

> Macomb Daily: Voters reject Chippewa Valley, three other school financing plans


Farmington teacher receives ‘Heart and Soul’ award

Farmington Public Schools Superintendent George C. Heitsch surprised MaryBeth SiKora at Power Middle School with the Judy White-Ora “Teaching with Heart and Soul” award. SiKora has been in education for the past 33 years. She has impacted the lives of numerous students over the years in her various roles such as Career Development Coordinator, Parent-School Coordinator, Behavior Interventionist and Restorative Practice Educator. The “Teaching with Heart and Soul” Award was created in honor of Judy White-Ora, retired assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, who died on January 6, 2006. (Oakland Press)


Score one for the alliance: Plymouth-Canton wins robotics world title

In battle, it's all about who's fighting by your side. Over the weekend in St. Louis, Mo., Plymouth-Canton's FIRST Lightning Robotics Team 862's foxhole was filled with winners. Team 862, making its 15th trip to the FIRST Robotics world championships, combined with three other teams in its alliance and captured its first career world championship, topping a field of more than 400 teams. With Team 862's robot, Valkyrie, running gears like a champ and the other three alliances doing what they do best, the four-team alliance — Team 862, Team 2767-Stryke Force from Kalamazoo, Team 254-The Cheesy Poofs from San Jose, Calif., and Team 1676-The Pascack PI-oneers of Montvale, N.J. — the alliance was able to capture gold. The Cheesy Poofs have won the world title before; it was a first for the other three alliance members. (Observer & Eccentric)


Harrison benefit supports special education students

Here's how important the annual Harrison Benefit for Special Education is to Martin Ronan. He was willing to let some lucky student shave off the beard he's been cultivating since he was in eighth grade. He wound up not having to, because the student who won the prize decided not to go through with it. But Ronan, a 17-year-old junior at Harrison High School, was absolutely willing to let the facial hair go, all in support of the special education program, of which he is a part through the school's Buddies Learning Together program, which pairs mainstream students with special-needs buddies. (Observer & Eccentric)


FPS director picked for state Honors Choir

Farmington Public Schools choir director Angel Gippert was chosen to be the 6-7-8 SA State Honors Choir Conductor for the State Honors Choirs concert at DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids. The State Honors Choirs was orchestrated by the Michigan School Vocal Music Association. To be considered for performance at this level, students in grades 6-9 must audition, be in good standing in their school’s vocal music program and be a member of MSVMA. Gippert has been with Farmington Public Schools for more than 15 years and is the director of choirs at Farmington High School and Power Middle School. (Observer & Eccentric)


Five UCS teams qualify for Destination Imagination Global Finals

Thanks to victories in the state tournament, five teams from the Utica Community Schools have earned the right to compete in Destination Imagination’s Global Finals in May. Students from Ebeling and Beacon Tree Elementary schools, Davis, Heritage and Jeannette junior high schools, Stevenson High School and the Utica Academy for International Studies have qualified to compete with other international teams in one of seven, open-ended challenges that require students to apply science, technology, engineering and math skills during May 24-27 in Knoxville, Tenn. (Macomb Daily)


Clintondale teachers want pay cuts restored as part of new contract

Chanting slogans such as “Teachers care -- so should you,” dozens of educators, parents and retirees staged an informational picket outside of Clintondale High School Monday evening in an effort to pressure the school board to settle a contract with the teachers’ union. Teachers in the south Clinton Township school district say they have been working without a contract since August 2015 and several years after taking wage reductions to help the district overcome a chronic budget deficit. (Macomb Daily)


Grosse Pointe school board floats tuition option

The board of education for Grosse Pointe Public Schools is considering breaking long-standing tradition and accepting students who don’t live in one of the five Grosse Pointes and charging them $13,000 tuition. The five cities that make up the Grosse Pointes are among the most affluent and exclusive public schools in Michigan. For 23 years, Grosse Pointe Public Schools has remained out of the state’s Schools of Choice system, which provides for a school district to accept students from outside the district’s typical boundaries. But like so many public school districts, Grosse Pointe schools are facing tough economic times and declining enrollment. The district faces $2 million in budget cuts and school enrollment has dropped by 1,000 in the past decade and its expected to continue to fall, the board said during its Monday night meeting. (Detroit News)


Taylor school leaders defend plan to shut Kennedy High

Taylor school officials are defending the planned closure of Kennedy High School after the board of education reversed an earlier decision to keep the building open. The board’s vote last week means freshmen at Kennedy will move this fall to Truman High School, followed by upperclassmen in fall 2018. “Obviously, it’s not an easy thing to do; no one wants to close a high school,” Superintendent Ben Williams said. “But not only is there an economic reason to do it, even more importantly, there’s an instructional reason.” (Detroit News)


Ex-Michigan football player Alex Ofili named principal at Novi school

Former University of Michigan football player Dr. Alex Ofili has been named principal of the Village Oaks Elementary School in Novi. He’ll begin his duties July 1. The Ypsilanti native replaces Sue Burnham, who is retiring at the end of June following a 12-year career as principal of Village Oaks. “We are excited to welcome Dr. Alex Ofili to the Novi family,” said Dr. Steve Matthews, superintendent of Novi Schools, in a press release. “He has wonderful instructional and leadership skills that will benefit Village Oaks and the Novi Community School District.” (Detroit Free Press)


Farmington middle school teacher Vondrasek recognized by Michigan Lottery

A middle school science teacher in the Farmington Public Schools has been recognized by the Michigan Lottery with an Excellence in Education award. Jon Vondrasek of Warner Middle School will receive a plaque, a $500 cash prize and a $500 grant for his classroom, school or district. The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education awards in 2014 to recognize outstanding public school educators across the state. One of the weekly winners will be selected as the Educator of the Year and will receive a $10,000 cash prize. (Oakland Press)


UCS teacher earns statewide recognition for promoting excellence in technology education

Malow Junior High School Digital and Media Design Teacher Kathryn Grunow has been honored statewide for her work to promote a web-based professional resource initiative to improve technology education. Grunow received the 2016-2017 Frank Miracola 21st Century Educational Excellence Award from the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning. She was honored for supporting the 21Things4Students initiative, a statewide resource center for teachers. (Macomb Daily)


Oakland team tops in robotics at Michigan high school competition

If you want to know where the best high school-built robots are in the state of Michigan this year, look no farther than a small geographic area in Oakland County. That's where you'll find the winners of last weekend's Michigan FIRST Robotics Competition State Championship at Saginaw Valley State University. The robotics team from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac — known as the Killer Bees — formed an alliance with the Bionic Black Hawks from Bloomfield Hills High School and the Las Guerrillas team from the International Academy in Bloomfield Township to win the competition.Their robots soared over the competition by mastering the playing field, which required the robots — guided by students — to shoot balls into the boiler of an airship, deliver gears to pilots and climb a rope. They beat an alliance that included teams from Leland Public Schools in Leelanau County, Kalamazoo County 4-H and Fenton Senior High School in Genesee County. (Detroit Free Press)


Excellence in Education scholarship winners announced

A West Bloomfield High School senior whose mother was murdered almost four years ago is the first-prize winner of the 2017 Excellence in Education scholarship, sponsored by The Oakland Press and Oakland Schools intermediate district. Nina Ross has been raised by her grandmother, Sheryl Jones, since her mother’s death. The scholarship program, in its 25th year, rewards high school students who have excelled in academic endeavors while facing personal challenges. (Oakland Press)


Ferndale Schools seek community views on hiring new superintendent

Ferndale school officials are beginning their search for a new superintendent and asking district residents to weigh in with a survey and two public meetings this week. The Board of Education has hired Dr. Marlene Davis of the Michigan Association of School Boards to assist Ferndale in hiring a successor to Superintendent Blake Prewitt. Prewitt last month publicly announced he was leaving the district after three years for a superintendent’s job with the Lakeview School District in Battle Creek. Prewitt leaves at the end of the school year. (Oakland Press)


Fitzgerald to reopen Schofield Elementary and reconfigure schools by grade

Due to an increase in enrollment, Fitzgerald Public Schools will reopen Schofield Elementary this fall under a plan approved unanimously by the board of education. The plan also includes reconfiguring each elementary school by grade. This will allow the district to address its shortage of classroom space and attempt to boost student achievement. “Fitzgerald Public Schools is growing and we are seeing more young families enrolling their children in our elementary schools each year,” said Elizabeth Smith, Fitzgerald school board president. “As more families come to Fitzgerald, we are committed to maintaining quality and ensuring all students have the opportunity to learn in a nurturing environment.” (Macomb Daily)


Birmingham Schools to address diversity issues

Cathleen Fritz and her partner are parents to an Ethiopian son, multiracial twins and a biracial daughter. “They’re great kids,” she said. “But with that, it has required us to be involved in the district when it comes to discussions about diversity — and to gently push Birmingham Public Schools in tackling issues that sometimes arise in our district.” Fritz is one of several community leaders participating in a panel discussion this week that focuses on acceptance, along with tackling the issue of how to respond to hate and bias. Hosted by Birmingham Public Schools and the Race Relations Diversity Task Force, the meeting takes place 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at the Birmingham administrative building, 31301 Evergreen, directly adjacent to Groves High School. Along with Fritz, the panel will include: (Observer & Eccentric)


Troy School District recognized for commitment to music education

The Troy School District has been recognized for its outstanding commitment to music education. The nonprofit National Association of Music Merchants Foundation has given the district a Best Communities for Music Education designation. Troy joins 527 districts across the country in receiving the distinction this year. The designation affirms school districts that have demonstrated exceptional efforts to maintain music education as part of schools’ core curriculum. The district was required to supply details about the following aspects of its music programs in order to be considered for the designation: (Oakland Press)


Clarkston approves pre-Labor Day start to school year

District superintendent Dr. Rod Rock said the district will begin classes on Aug. 28 and end on June 8, both of which are half-days. Rock said he felt the new start date will offer some flexibility for students and staff to adjust to the year. “We thought it would make sense to start before Labor Day,” Rock said. “We think it would be a nice acclimation for teachers and students.” (Oakland Press)


When your child isn’t safe at school

Opinion: Parents always want to protect their children from harm. For parents of kids with special needs, their concerns are heightened. School is supposed to be a safe place for students, including those with disabilities. But when it’s not, it is a betrayal. A family in Novi feels very betrayed by the school their autistic son attended. They shared their story this month in the Autism Alliance of Michigan’s newsletter. April is Autism Awareness Month. When their son told them a classmate — also with a disability — had inappropriately touched and sexually harassed him for months, they were shocked and outraged. (Detroit News)


Making the grade: Crestwood students gain acceptance to MIT

Two Crestwood High School students, Yara Komaiha and Yousef Mardini, have been accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but the seniors went about their applications in very different ways. Komaiha eagerly thought about her potential colleges and used time during winter break to apply for MIT, but her hopes weren’t high. Two years ago, she watched a bright group of older students who she looked up to get denied by the prestigious school. She had to try anyway. (Dearborn Press & Guide)


Northville Schools could seek bond issue to upgrade buildings

Aging facilities, increasing enrollment in some areas and a desire for more flexible school spaces could prompt Northville Public Schools officials to send a tax proposal to district voters this November. The 7,200-student district has charged a 29-person committee of parents, students, teachers and officials with studying facilities needs and options for borrowing the money, through a bond sale, to pay for them. The bonds would be supported by property taxes that would require voter approval, and officials say their intent is to have any new tax offset by decreases in the district’s debt millage, so that there would be no net increase. The district currently has an annual debt levy of 3.64 mills, or $3.64 for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. (Detroit Free Press)


Utica schools graduation rate continues to improve

Utica Community Schools graduation rate showed improvement for the fifth consecutive year and remains one of the region’s top performers, according to a recent report. The Center for Educational Performance and Information annual report of Michigan graduation rates showed a UCS graduation rate of 93.06 for the 2015-16 school year. This represents an increase from the 2014-15 rate of 92.44. Student graduation rates in UCS continued to improve as state averages declined slightly. UCS graduates outpaced the state of Michigan average of 79.65 percent by more than 13 percentage points. (Macomb Daily)


Rogers School gets a library again, thanks to retirees

For at least four years, Pontiac’s Will Rogers Elementary School had no librarian, so the books sat on the shelves, largely unopened and unread. That is, until a group of retired teachers and school librarians heard about the problem and sprang into action. Sharon Postnieks, for 30 years a librarian with the Van Dyke Public Schools in Warren, caught wind of the situation through a contact in the American Association of University Women. (Detroit News)


Lake Orion Spanish teacher named as regional teacher of the year

Melissa Dalton, Spanish teacher at Scripps Middle School in Lake Orion, was selected as the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ Teacher of the Year. The honor was announced on March 10 at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. Dalton, who was named as the 2016 Michigan World Language Association Middle School Teacher of the Year, competed against seven other state teachers of the year for the honor. The award recognizes best practices and excellence in the teaching and learning of languages. (Oakland Press)


Catholic Central Academic Team sweeps tournament

The Detroit Catholic Central Academic Team competed at the NAQT State Tournament recently at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. The A Team swept the field en route to its record seventh straight state championship, while three other teams from CC placed in the top five — C team took second, B team took fourth on a tiebreaker and D team took fifth. This state championship helps the A Team keep its number-one ranking in the nation as it moves toward the national tournaments. The National Tournaments will be in late May in Georgia and in early June in Chicago. (Observer & Eccentric)


Oakland Schools students to build home for family in Pontiac’s Unity Park neighborhood

Oakland Schools construction technology students from nine districts will begin building a house this week in the Unity Park neighborhood of Pontiac in partnership with the Community Housing Network. The house will be located at 31 Collingwood St. in the city and construction for the project will be managed by West Construction Services, the same company responsible for renovations of the Flagstar Strand Theatre for the Performing Arts in Pontiac. Once completed, Community Housing Network will match a family with the home. “I’m a hands on guy so for me, it’s easier to learn this way,” Austin Beckman, 17 from the Clarkston northwest campus said. (Oakland Press)


UCS Teacher of the Year awarded with two-year lease

Utica Community Schools honored its three Teachers of the Year finalists with a presentation on March 22, and one of them walked away with exciting news – and, soon enough, new keys. For her recognition as Teacher of the Year, the Suburban Collection awarded Zita Burton of Havel Elementary School with a free vehicle lease for two years. Burton, Nicole West of Jeannette Junior High School and Scott Spry of the Utica Center for Science and Industry were recognized for their hard work and dedication during the award ceremony at the Community Education Center at Walsh, 38901 Dodge Park Road. (Macomb Daily)

Related story:

> C&G News: UCS Teacher of the Year wins Mustang lease


Farmington honors Turn Around students

Overcoming adversity is a challenge for just about everyone. On Thursday, Farmington Public Schools district officials honored more than two dozen students who accomplished just that at the 16th annual Turn Around Achievement Awards ceremony. The keynote speech was delivered by Farmington Hills Mayor Pro Tem Samantha Steckloff, who has battled adversity of her own in the form of beating breast cancer. She told the gathering fear of re-occurrence is something "I fear every day."(Observer & Eccentric)


Teacher of the year wins award -- and a free car

One of her colleagues called her a "rock star." On Monday, the Novi Educational Foundation made sure that special ed teacher Jodie Sikaitis got treated like one, awarding her a free car as the district's Teacher of the Year. “I was in total shock. I don’t even know what to say," Sikaitis said after the surprise announcement at Novi High School Monday morning. "I’ve been working with the kids for a while and I love it. I just love working with kids. They are awesome. Novi is a great district and I really love it." Sikaitis will get to pick out a new leased vehicle from the Suburban Collection. (Detroit Free Press)


Center Line teachers go door-to-door to explain importance of bond initiative

Saturday’s rain might have deterred some outdoor events but not for Center Line teachers. They gathered early and armed with umbrellas and packets of information ventured out into Center Line and Warren neighborhoods, going door-to-door to underline the importance of Center Line Public School District’s May 2 bond election. “I’m super excited about it,” said Donna Giacona, who was among the high school teachers who volunteered for the door-to-door canvassing. “The amount that we can offer the students is going to be awesome.” (Macomb Daily)


Utica Academy for International Studies is state's top debate team

For the second straight year, the Utica Academy for International Studies debate team is the best in the state. The 33-member team was presented the George Ziegelmuller Award on March 10 in recognition of being judged the Michigan’s most successful program across all disciplines: legislative, policy and public forum. “The hard work and dedication of the team carries on a decades-long tradition of success in debate and forensics in Utica Community Schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns. “Students participating in these programs develop skills that employers tell us are essential for graduates: critical thinking, communication and collaboration.” (Macomb Daily)


Leaders talk schools, roads, housing

Delivering a uniformly upbeat message, local leaders Tuesday touted measures during the past year they say have made the larger Plymouth community a better place to live and work. Schools, local governments and Wayne County have all made strides to improve, local officials said during this year's State of the Community luncheon, hosted at Plymouth Manor by the Plymouth Community Chamber of Commerce. Plymouth-Canton Community Schools Superintendent Monica Merritt, saying "we are thriving," rolled out a lengthy list of achievements local schools and students have made and said the district is on the upswing, with enrollment starting to climb after a five-year drop. (Observer & Eccentric)


Utica district, USPBL team up to promote reading

Utica Community Schools and the United Shore Professional Baseball League have teamed up again to make sure the students are hitting a “home run” when it comes to their reading. “The reading partnership reflects the commitment of the entire UCS community to develop a lifelong love of reading in our students,” Supt. Christine Johns said in a media release. As part of the program, Director of USPBL Baseball Operations Brian Berryman, accompanied by Lancelot the Utica Unicorns Mascot, visited Wiley Elementary School on March 16 to read “Casey at the Bat” to the students in celebration of March is Reading Month, which is an incentive-based program that encourages students to meet school reading goals. (Source)

Related story:

> C&G News: Student readers back in the ballgame this month


Warren Consolidated Schools announces Outstanding Teacher of the Year recipients for 2017

Warren Consolidated Schools honored Jeff Olind, Jamie Steinman, and Jessica Syswerda as the district’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year recipients for 2017. Olind, Steinman, and Syswerda were among 67 Warren Consolidated teachers nominated for this award by fellow teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, and students. Nominated teachers are evaluated in 10 categories such as, teaching style, motivational expertise, life-long learner, mission-driven and passion, and community focus. (Macomb Daily)


East Detroit schools CEO leaving after only 10 months

In a move welcomed by local school officials, a state-appointed CEO at East Detroit Public Schools is leaving the district before he completes the first year of a three-year contract. Gary Jensen, appointed to the post last June, decided to resign the post early next month saying he is “confident” that all of East Detroit’s schools will be removed from the state Priority School List, the School Reform Office says Monday in a news release. He signed a three-year, $160,000-per-year contract. “Dr. McLeod (Superintendent Ryan McLeod) is working with his team to improve all aspects of the school district and I am confident that over the next two state assessment periods, that they will improve on the accountability standards needed to earn their way off the Priority Schools list,” Jensen said in the news release. (Macomb Daily)


Notre Dame Prep plans $7.5 million expansion in Pontiac

Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy in Pontiac has announced plans for a $7.5 million expansion to its campus including a new greenhouse and robotics lab. The private Catholic school serves 1,127 students through its lower, upper and middle divisions of students kindergarten through 12th grade. The expansion would be at the upper and middle division campus, 1300 Giddings Road in Pontiac, which has about 718 students, connecting two existing academic wings on the property while increasing the size of the building by 26,000 square-feet. The plan calls for the addition of a one-story science, technology and arts wing that will house science labs, collaborative learning classrooms, a fine arts studio, a greenhouse and a robotics lab. (Oakland Press)


ROHS principal in one of 4 candidates for district’s superintendent job

Royal Oak school officials are closing in on selecting a new superintendent for the district. Four candidates for the job have been selected from among 31 applications for the position and are scheduled to have interviews before the Board of Education at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. One of the final candidates is Royal Oak High School Principal Michael Giromini, who was hired by the district in the fall of 2015. The other three are Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, an assistant superintendent with Berkley Schools; Christopher Delgado, deputy superintendent of Walled Lake Schools; and Aaron Johnson, who is an assistant superintendent for Farmington Public Schools. (Oakland Press)


Macomb County schools show small drop from start of year

Student Count Day for Macomb County public schools indicate pupil numbers are down 879 students for traditional and charter public schools from September 2016 to February 2017. “Those numbers are normal -- usually very little movement of students between the Count Days,” said Judy Pritchett, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction/Chief Academic Officer for the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD). According to statistics provided by the MISD, traditional school districts lost a total of 527 students, while charter schools dropped 352. Romeo Community Schools lost 207 students from September to February, while Warren Consolidated Schools and Lake Shore Public Schools lost 103 and 102, respectively. (Macomb Daily)


Hundreds of Oakland County kindergarteners celebrate reading

A celebration of reading for Oakland County kindergartners included lots of high fives with Wilbur the Wombat, a reading mascot created by Waterford Mott High School students. The aim of the celebration on Friday, March 10, at the Oakland Schools headquarters in Waterford Township, was to encourage young children to associate reading with fun, said Keith Wunderlich, superintendent of the Waterford School District. March is Reading Month; hundreds of kindergartners from a dozen school districts attended the celebration sponsored by Oakland Schools, an intermediate district that represents all public schools in the county. Community leaders and elected officials read them stories. But the character in a giant wombat suit was the star. (Oakland Press)


Clintondale refinances debt to save $1.2 million

The Clintondale Community Schools Board of Education recently approved a debt refinancing plan that will save taxpayers an estimated $1.2 million, money that can be used to reinvest in the district to promote student learning, classroom instruction and achievement. The district is refinancing $45 million in debt, which will help it pay off bonds faster and see significant savings in interest over time. The bonds were issued as part of a voter-approved plan to fund school repairs and upgrades and purchase technology and buses. “This refinancing plan helps us reinvest in our community, which continues to support our academic, athletic, arts and other programs that prepare Clintondale students for jobs and success,” said Greg Green, Clintondale Community Schools superintendent. (Macomb Daily)


L'Anse Creuse School Board to decide future of Chinese program

The future of L’Anse Creuse’s international and Chinese immersion programs has yet to be determined, but the board of education approved the closure of an adult education building on March 6. Interim Superintendent Dr. John Armstrong brought the recommendation before the board to close the Center for Lifelong Learning in Mount Clemens and consolidate all adult and alternative education programs at the DiAnne M. Pellerin Center. (Macomb Daily)


Clarkston middle schoolers prepare learning aids for fellow students

Students at Sashabaw Middle School recently took part in “Empathy to Action,” an Academic Service Learning initiative where students created sensory learning and calming tools for special education students throughout the district. The entire student body created raised sight words, sandpaper alphabet letters, calming jars, match games and puzzles. These items were donated to special education classrooms in all 12 schools in Clarkston. “The fact that people learn in different ways and use a variety of tools to be successful in their learning was something that really resonated with my students,” said Monica Phillips, a seventh grade language arts teacher at Sashabaw Middle School. (Oakland Press)


School chief gets job extended through next school year

Huron Valley School officials recently took the interim tag off Nancy Coratti’s superintendent title and extended her stay through June 2018, giving them more time to find a permanent replacement. The title change is all about confidence and perception, an administrator said. “I know the board is pleased with the job Nancy is doing,” said Kim Root, school communications and community relations director. She said the title change — which doesn’t increase Coratti’s pay — serves as a vote of confidence for the former longtime deputy superintendent who retired in 2015. Coratti returned to the district as interim superintendent last August when the previous superintendent Jim Baker resigned to take a position with the new Detroit Public Schools Community District. (Observer & Eccentric)


Farmington sets school of choice process

Farmington Public Schools will offer Intra-District School of Choice for the kindergarten through ninth-grade levels only for the 2017-2018 school year.Intra-District School of Choice is available for those families who live within the attendance area of Farmington Public Schools. Intra-District School of Choice will not be available for grades 10-12 for the 2017-2018 school year, including sibling priority. In order to support the district’s goal of excellence and equity for all students, the granting of choice is balanced with the need to provide an equitable and appropriate enrollment in all of the district's schools, the district says. (Observer & Eccentric)


Farmington robotics squad unveils 'Skobot'

Until the beginning of the school year, Kaelan Isble wouldn't have been able to explain the term "CAD" if you spotted him the "computer" and the "aided." Unlike most seniors in the Farmington Public Schools robotics program, the Hackbots, Isble is in his first year with the team. He's on the CAD (the D is for "design") and his only regret is that he waited so long to join. A football and baseball player, Isble had always let his sports interfere with joining the Hackbots. "I wish I had done it last year," said Isble, who acknowledged a limited experience with the CAD concept. "I've really enjoyed it. I've learned a lot of skills I'll need when I go to college." (Observer & Eccentric)


Hamtramck schools become ‘safe havens’ from Trump orders

Hamtramck — Jody Gordon’s fifth-grade class buzzes with math terms like imperfect fractions and numerators. An American flag hangs above the chalkboard, and students read books like “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.” The Dickinson East Elementary School class could be almost any public school classroom in America. Except for the 10 girls in this classroom of 28 students who wear a hijab, the head covering worn in public by some Muslim girls and women. Three countries besides the United States are represented among the nationalities of Gordon’s students — Yemen, Bosnia and Bangladesh. Such ethnic diversity is common in Hamtramck, where immigrant children comprise 45 percent of the student population. (Detroit Free Press)

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