Bach Elementary School’s Family Reading Night on March 22 drew hundreds of students and their families for some good old-fashioned story time. The kids (and many of their teachers and parents) cuddled up in their pajamas and listened to a variety of stories in a variety of languages. Continue reading
Will you have a kindergartener in the Ann Arbor Public Schools in the 2013-2014 school year? Then make sure to get to the information sessions, called Kindergarten Round-Ups, that start in just a few weeks. The sessions are listed alphabetically below by school. All kindergarten classes are full-day.
If you have questions about which school your child should attend, please call 994-2200 or go to the district’s web site and click on the “Especially for Parents” link to log in your street name to find out your child’s elementary school.
Some schools have planned activities for students and/or optional child care for Kindergarten Round-Ups. Please contact the individual schools for more details. Continue reading
By Liz Margolis, Director of Communications for the Ann Arbor Public Schools
School has started and the Ann Arbor Public Schools, like all districts across Michigan, continues to face financial pressure from the state. This pressure has a direct impact on our classrooms. For years, AAPS was able to make budget reductions while protecting the classroom. With over $60 million in reductions in the past five years and no relief in sight, AAPS classrooms are now feeling the impact. But AAPS will not see increases in class sizes over last year’s numbers. Continue reading
This year’s kindergarten round-ups are more kid-centered, teaching parents and future students about the kindergarten experience.
7 elementary schools benefit from Trailblazers partnership
View a slide show of Pioneer students at Bach and Pattengill elementary schools:
By Carlina Duan
For high school seniors involved in the Pioneer Trailblazers program, it’s a bittersweet moment of reflection: Finding themselves upon the steps of the elementary schools that ignited their 12-year journey through the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
These seniors have mentored students at elementary schools throughout the year and will leave behind a legacy not only within the hallways of Pioneer, but also at Bach, Dicken, Eberwhite, Haisley, Lawton, Lakewood, and Pattengill elementary schools.
The Trailblazers program is a unique opportunity for these students to tutor their “mentees” in academic subjects and engage them in social and scholarly livelihood. The program’s mission is to spark a rich passion for education among the younger students and and to create role models and friends for elementary schoolers, so that they can achieve academic success.
Trailblazers originally started in 1996 as a pilot program between Pioneer High School and Lawton Elementary School by faculty member Jenni Zimmer, then a school psychologist.
Zimmer said she recognized the power behind allowing youth to work directly with youth, and took advantage of Pioneer’s proximity to Lawton. “I realized that there’s something special about an older student as opposed to an adult working with a younger student and serving as a mentor,” she said. “There’s a closeness there that can’t be replicated between a full adult and a child. I thought it had the potential to be quite powerful.”
The program has evolved into something much larger. Trailblazers 2011 now incorporates seven participating elementary schools and involves approximately 150 high school seniors. The program receives funding from the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation.
During second semester of their junior year, students interested in Trailblazers undergo an application process, which consists of an essay, recommendation letters, and a one-on-one interview with Trailblazers coordinators Don Packard and Jon Stern. An important requisite is that students show a consistent attendance record, indicating dedication and responsibility to their classes.
Senior Samuelina Wright, a Trailblazer at Lakewood, said she enjoys educating others. “I’ve always loved helping people, teaching people,” she said. “For a while in middle school I actually wanted to become a teacher.” Although her career aspirations have now changed, Wright says her passion for teaching is still a constant, and when presented with the opportunity to make use of it, “I figured, why not?”
Packard said the program broadens school students’ experiences. “Trailblazers is an opportunity for seniors to give back to their community, to extend responsibility, to give them some closure in their public school experience, to give them insight to the public school system,” he said, “It really opens their eyes and illuminates how hard elementary (students) have to work.”
Selected Trailblazers receive a two-week intensive training period at the start of the school year, where they are taught the necessary skills of “consistency, creativity, patience…” and other problem-solving tools, according to Packard.
The mentors are then assigned to mentees by the adult coordinators, who match based on such factors as gender and ethnicity. Oftentimes, mentors are assigned to an elementary school they attended – working in classrooms with their own elementary school teachers. Packard describes the situation as “a full circle. Those are the moments when it’s great for the teacher and for the (high school) student.”
Mentor and mentee work together throughout the entire school year, meeting during the school week for half-hour sessions to tutor and provide additional academic and social support. Each elementary school has a designated adult site supervisor who oversees progress and handles any problems.
Despite the organized system, mentors still face challenges. “I think some days, it’s a real test of patience,” said Wright, “It’s hard finding the line between being a friend to (my mentee) and being sort of almost a second teacher.”
‘Trailblazers is an opportunity for seniors to give back to their community … It really opens their eyes and illuminates how hard elementary (students) have to work. – Don Packard, Trailblazers program coordinator
Packard cites another obstacle mentors generally face. “The hardest part of being a Trailblazer is that the (mentors) don’t see immediate results. They are oftentimes working for something intangible. They have to be able to explain things over again many different times and in many different ways. They have to be firm and resilient,” he said.
“The most common challenge for the mentors is keeping their kids on track, and sustaining work. It’s not about a power struggle. It’s about inspiring and instilling the desire to work.”
Zimmer noted that mentors also gain keener insight on how to appreciate their own public education experiences. “The mentors learn and appreciate that learning is not so easy for some children,” she said. “They also learn that many of their lives are quite privileged and that not everyone has a parent at home who takes a keen interest in their homework … who works into the wee hours with them on a science fair project and the like.
“I think the experience enlightens them on many fronts. And of course the impact on the mentees is immense – academically and psychologically. I think it promotes self-confidence and motivation to learn in a big way.”
Yet throughout the challenges, Trailblazers are frequently rewarded with the experiences and skills that pave future roads for exploration. Packard says, “We get Pioneer students that come back after graduating, and they’re now involved in social work. And they’re really enjoying it. They got that start at Trailblazers.”
Packard describes Trailblazers as a mutually beneficial relationship. “The true value of the program really comes from the fact that both the high school and the elementary school students learn a lot about themselves,” he said. “High schoolers learn about the education process, and elementary schoolers learn through that process.”
Packard explained that some of the mentors went on fifth-grade Winter Survival trips and enjoyed other things they did as young students. “They get a different perspective, and it’s a powerful perspective,” he said. “Oftentimes, it’s easy for a (high school) student to be selfish. You’re worried about your grades, your learning. But when you’re doing things for someone else, it takes true commitment and responsibility.”
This responsibility resonates beyond the classroom. “I get feedback from the parents of the mentees,” continued Packard. “Trailblazers really adds to the culture of the elementary school. For their kids, school matters now. They’re getting the support that they need. They look forward to seeing their Trailblazers every single day of the week.”
Packard views Trailblazers as a powerful model for student interaction. “I’ve really learned the value of relationships over the last few years,” he said. “When I see 18-year-olds working with 6-year-olds, it really melts my heart. I’ve learned the power of encouraging my students to work with their mentees, and I’ve been able to see that when I get out of the way and let them work, they do some really amazing things.”
Zimmer agrees. “I think the program brings out the giving, generous, kind, compassionate side of young adults that may not have been cultivated as much before. I hear later that these same students become volunteers in their communities and at college, seeking to replicate the goodness they felt in their hearts from the Trailblazer experience.”
For Wright, the calm atmosphere of the program contributes to her day. “Sometimes, Trailblazers can be the highlight of my day because the kids will just say the funniest things,” she said, “Instead of a bunch of teenagers all budding around trying to do a physics lab or take a test, it’s so nice to be in a classroom that’s much more mellow and slower-paced. It’s a really nice contrast to the stress of high school.”
After 12 years of public high school – a journey that, for some, began as a step into the elementary school they now serve – Pioneer Trailblazers will graduate this June with diplomas in hand, memories in hearts and their mentees moving into the future with optimism.
Carlina Duan is a senior at Pioneer High School and editor of The Optimist, Pioneer’s student newspaper. She is a frequent contributor to the AAPSNews.
Schools celebrate the life, birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
From AAPSNews Service
Buildings around the Ann Arbor Public Schools celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. Day national holiday of Jan. 17 with activities in classrooms and assemblies for students. Some have already taken place and others are scheduled for the coming week.
Schools and public buildings throughout the country are closed today, Jan 17, in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
Following are some of the events around the district shared with the AAPSNews:
Clague students take multi-week journey
Students and staff at Clague Middle School have celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a multi-week celebration. Starting with a contest in December, it culminates with a display wall the week after their MLK Program. Some of the activities at Clague include:
• Contest: Students depict a theme in an essay, poem, poster, mixed media, or original creation. The school had 53 entries this year. The theme: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?”
• Mini-lesson on character: During Jan. 14 advisory, students received a character trait button to wear and brainstormed ideas of service in “an action plan.” They will have a week to perform the service – details of each student’s plan will be put on a common wall near the school office.
• MLK program: The school’s annual program on Jan. 14 was a collaborative effort of the staff and students. Music students performed, did choral readings and Powerpoints, and awarded the winners of the contest that began in December. Top winners receive a pizza lunch and a trip to the Sphinx concert in Ann Arbor.
Carpenter hosted all-school event honoring Dr. King
The Carpenter Elementary School community honored Martin Luther King Jr. during a Community Meeting on Jan. 10. Students sang “What Can One Little Person Do?” and “He had a Dream” and “He Wanted to Have the Same Freedom” under the direction of Laura Machida. Rebecca Archer’s third-graders read about Dr. King and performed “We Thank You Dr. Martin Luther King, Today and Everyday” and fourth-graders from Kelsey Cook’s, Marilyn Freeman’s and Ramona Sankovich’s classes performed “We Shall Overcome” on their recorders. Principal Ron Collins, reflected on Dr. King’s message and encouraged students to practice the messages of peace and getting along.
Expanding the MLK experience at Lawton and Northside
Julia Gold’s third-grade class at Lawton Elementary School did an all-class project passing on gifts of kindness during the week leading up to MLK Day. The class kept track of these acts by passing a “kindness card” to the student who received the act of kindness. The card was passed along to another student with each new kindness act. At week’s end the class counted how many acts were accumulated and hearts were hung for each.
Also at Lawton Fourth-graders at Lawton Elementary did an MLK musical performance for their school on Friday and first-grade teacher Kerry Krause planned to read “Martin’s Big Words” to her students, have students read a book about MLK from Enchanted Learning together and write about a dream that they have for the world.
Teachers at Northside Elementary School did a variety of classroom activities including A schoolwide assembly on Jan. 12 which included Janice Smith’s kindergarteners singing “Different Means Special,” fourth-graders singing “Something for You” and Susan Ulrey’s and Rebecca Coleman’s first-graders performing at the assembly, among others. Here are some other Northside activities:
• Rose Ann McGarty’s kindergarteners heard “A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr. and followed up with worksheets and writing assignments about respect. Fifth-grade reading buddies interviewed the young children and were comparing their lives to MLK’s.
• Evengeline Burgers’ kindergarteners also read aloud to her class and did an interdisciplinary activity reading “The Shape Story,” with the theme “that they can make beautiful things if they all work together.”
• In Sandra Chang’s kindergarten class, students read “Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King”, saw a video clip and did a time line paper looking at the events in his life.
• Second-graders in Jennifer Wade’s class had daily discussions of civil rights, equal rights and watched a video about King and created books about his life.
• Fourth-graders in Dianne Baker’s class read and wrote about King’s life, heard the “I Have a Dream” speech, posted bullet points of King accomplishments in the classroom entry and did other activities.
• Media Specialst Jeri Schneider has read King biographies and historical fiction relating to his work and civil rights. Fifth-graders created slides of King quotes that she edited together to use in the all-school assembly.
• ESL teacher Ana Taylor had special stations for students to rotate through including books on tape, writing activities, vocabulary to reinforce what they have learned about King and how his ideas shape and connect with life today.
Friday programs lead up to today’s MLK national holiday
Vincent York & Jazzistry performed at Dicken Elementary to help the school celebrate MLK Day. The school’s Recess Singers (group of first- through fifth-graders who practice at lunch) performed a song about equality to open the event. York also spent time with small groups of students by grade level on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, offering a closer look into the instruments and their history that he uses during the all-school assembly.
Allen Elementary students hosted an all-school assembly with narration by Principal Joan Fitzgibbon and fifth-graders doing a presentation of “I have a Dream” with narration and songs.
Ann Arbor Open @ Mack hosted a MLK Day assembly celebrating the life of Martin Luther King and tying in the theme of bullying. The program pointed out how King was treated as he tried to bring a peaceful change in civil rights and stressed that every student should feel safe, welcome and valued. A theme: “We celebrate Dr. King today and we think about how all of us can become peacemakers. Everyone at Ann Arbor Open is a member of our community.”
All grades at Bryant Elementary School participated in an assembly with poems, songs, skits, choral readings and student artwork highlighting the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
At Eberwhite Elementary, the school celebrated MLK Day with an all-school assembly. The school sand three songs grouped by grade level (K-1, 2-3 and 4-5) and a few classes read poems, did a MLK life timeline and shared facts about King and the Civil Rights Movement.
Special invitation from EMU
Several students from Dawn Richberg’s class at Skyline High School were among area students performing at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 16. The afternoon program featured the EMU Gospel Choir, Harambe Youth Drummers, PURe Dance Ensemble, Tiana Marquez, Primal 1 Ensemble and Inspirational readings by area teens. The event was one of several scheduled by EMU from Jan. 13-18 as part of this year’s “Their Footprints … Our Legacy.”
Thursday, Jan. 20
10:30 a.m. – Abbot Elementary School will host the Bright Star Touring Theatre production of “Struggle for Freedom,” a 45-minute production that honors the Civil Rights movement by celebrating moments of the struggle. The life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. provides the backdrop to recreated scenes of events such as the Montgomery bus boycott, the March on Washington and the Woolworth sit-ins. Visit www.brightstartheatre.com
Friday, Jan. 21
Stone High School’s Intergroup, led by Shaenu Micou, plans an all-school assembly today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr..
1:30 p.m. – “Sadie’s Spectacular Saturday,” Burns Park Elementary Auditorium. A character-ed production with imaginative costumes that make this play a favorite among young audiences while teaching good judgment, kindness, friendship and respect. Visit www.brightstartheatre.com
2:30 p.m. – “Struggle for Freedom,” Burns Park Elementary Auditorium. Bright Star Touring Theatre, a professional touring theatre company performed this production that celebrates the life and work and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the context of the American Civil Rights movement. The theme: One person can change the world. Visit www.brightstartheatre.com
Friday, Jan. 28
2:30 p.m. – Each Bach Elementary School student will have a chance to recite a poem and sing songs that honor Dr. King’s memory in this culminating assembly. The focus will be on peace, getting along with one another, positive conflict resolution and building friendships.
NAAPID (National African American Parent Involvement Day)
This Washtenaw County NAAPID program is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 14 at Saline High School Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Campus Parkway, Saline. Students from throughout Washtenaw County, including Ann Arbor, participate in this event, which is scheduled each year for the second Monday in February. A poster contest is under way with the deadline scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21. Information about the contest can be found by downloading a PDF here. This year’s event theme: “Parent Involvement 365 = Student Success.”
Below: Ann Arbor students to learn about climate change at April summit
• Visit ANDRILL’s Web site for video, photos and more information
• For current outreach projects, including links for educators, click here
• An archived 2007 story by Jo Collins Mathis of The Ann Arbor News about Frisch-Gleason’s travels can be found online via Michigan Live
By Casey Hans
You can bring her out of the field and into the classroom, but you can’t take the science out of Robin Frisch-Gleason.
The Bach Elementary School teacher left a career as a geologist to teach 11 years ago, but she hasn’t lost her love of science and climate issues, which she continues to share both in school and in the community. She presently teaches the fourth grade at Bach, where she brings her science into the classroom wherever possible.
Twenty-five years ago, Frisch-Gleason visited Antarctica to do her master’s thesis, and then returned there in October 2007 for 10 weeks with ANDRILL, the Antarctic Geological Drilling project. She was part of ANDRILL’s educator program – ANDRILL Research Immersion for Science Educators – where she not only shared updates on the field expedition with students throughout southeastern Michigan, but also had a hands-on opportunity to participate in core sampling and testing.
‘It has been quite a ride. I am constantly reminded of how very small and insignificant I am in the greater scheme of things. People will come and go, but Antarctica’s natural processes will carry on with little regard for our presence. Nature rules on this continent – and we are merely passing visitors.’
– Robin Frisch-Gleason, in a final blog entry posted before leaving Antarctica in December 2007. To see her full entry and blog, click here
“I had always been fascinated with the polar regions. It’s something I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of,” she said. “I was fortunate to be able to go and I have an obligation to share that experience.”
ANDRILL is a research collaboration of more than 200 scientists, students, and educators from the United States as well as Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Scientists on site drill back in time to discover glacial and interglacial changes in the Antarctic region. They take samples offshore of the continent, removing and analyzing sediment core from below the ocean floor. “Different layers tell us different things,” she explained.
Her classroom and the Ann Arbor school community followed Frisch-Gleason’s progress in 2007. Before leaving on the trip, she visited classrooms and about 2,000 students around the district and called in with regular reports from the ice.
“They felt, through me, that the polar areas were accessible,” she said. “They realized that they can do anything, that our Earth is fragile and that … they will be our future policy-makers and they can make changes.”
Fellow fourth-grade teacher Carol Tarchinski works closely with Frisch-Gleason, who she said is always willing to share and has kept students interested since returning from her Antarctic trip.
“It seems like she’s done something every year to extend the kids’ learning here,” Tarchinski said, adding that Frisch-Gleason organized a pen-pal exchange with a teacher in New Zealand and has continued her outreach into the community.
“I think the students definitely understand her heart and soul is in it,” Tarchinski said. “They begin to embrace it too. She knows these little ones will be the ones to make a difference in the future.”
Frisch-Gleason has continued to do outreach talks about Antarctica, the drilling projects (ANDRILL just received funding for another one in 2013) and how the science discovered there can assist the world in approaching climate change. This winter, she trained teachers in preparation for a spring summit for students. Eight Ann Arbor schools will be represented at the April 24 event at The University of Michigan.
Although climate change was not discussed much during her 1985 trip, recent discoveries have made her ongoing study of Antarctica even more important. “This is a wake-up call and I feel compelled to share that,” she said. “Children can make a difference and even educate their parents.”
Only a handful of teachers, including Frisch-Gleason, have been embedded with the scientists in Antarctica since 2005 and only 14 were part of the 2006 and 2007 drilling expeditions to the planet’s southernmost continent.
Louise Huffman, ANDRILL coordinator of education and outreach, traveled with Frisch-Gleason on the 2007 trip and supervised the group.
“Robin is a great teacher,” she said. “She knows what children need to get motivated. She knows how to teach complicated concepts to young children. She can explain science in a way that breaks it down even more.”
Huffman said one of Frisch-Gleason’s strengths was being able to take science and interpret it for the non-scientist – something she also does in the classroom. “She’s one of those teachers always looking to get the kids involved with activities,” she added. “She’s one of those teachers willing to take on a project because they know it’s good for the kids.”
Huffman noted that even Frisch-Gleason’s non-ANDRILL projects, such as helping start a school compost pile and Bach’s Green School conservation activities, tie in with conservation themes and global warming.
Frisch-Gleason’s classroom does not suffer due to her community work, far from it. She is just starting an after-school Future Scientists Club at Bach. Fourteen students from both fourth-grade classes are taking part. “ I love working with the younger kids, “she said. “I feel really passionate about it. They’re going to become our future scientists, professors, policy makers, consumers, and voters – whatever they’re excited about, I will support them.”
As part of Frisch-Gleason’s travels, she wrote a children’s book featuring a time-traveling worm that travels through the Antarctic substrate back in time then moves into the future as it focuses on current climate events. Her daughter, Maia Gleason, illustrated it.
Huffman said ANDRILL is considering publishing a Web-based version of the book.
Casey Hans edits this newsletter for The Ann Arbor Public Schools. E-mail her or call 734-994-2090 ext. 51228.
Occupation: A geologist and fourth-grade teacher at Bach Elementary School.
Residence: In the Dicken neighborhood of Ann Arbor.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Oberlin College and Master’s of Science degree in Geology from Vanderbilt University.
Family: Married to James Gleason, a science professor at The University of Michigan. They have two daughters, Maia, 17, who attends Pioneer High School, and Ivy, 13, who attends Slauson Middle School.
Pets: A cat, Buddha.
Hobbies: Plays the guitar, sings and also loves to write. She is currently trying to get published her children’s book “Leroy’s Antarctic Adventure,” based on her travels to Antarctica.
Community service: She is active with the Antarctic Geological Drilling Project, known as ANDRILL, as well as ANDRILL’s classroom project for teachers. In addition, she also is active with the Bach Elementary Service Squad, which recently raised money for Haiti relief and UNICEF and co-chairs the school’s Green School Initiative with Tina Ezekiel, which deals with composting, recycling and issues of the waste stream. “It all has to do with climate,” she said.
Favorite meal: “I like all ethnic food, but Indian food is a favorite of mine.”
Last book read: “A World Without Ice” by Henry Pollack.
Life philosophy: “Live each day like it’s your last. We never know what tomorrow brings.”
Students to learn about climate change
This year, eight Ann Arbor Public Schools teachers have been invited to bring students for the first full ANDRILL “C2S2 Student Climate Change Summit” which is taking place April 24 at three locations around the United States: in Ann Arbor at the Exhibit Museum of Natural History at the University of Michigan, at the Chicago Museum of Science and History and at the Campbell Creek Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. The summit is funded through a grant from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The teachers all attended training workshops put on by Frisch-Gleason in January which allows them to participate and bring their students. They include:
• Courtney Kiley – Community High School
• Johanna Nader – Slauson Middle School
• Neha Shah – King Elementary School
• Shaugn Kalnaraups – Lakewood Elementary School
• Carla Tchalo – Carpenter Elementary School.
• Aina Bernier – AA Open @ Mack
• Valerie Jill Wesley – Lawton Elementary School
• Robin Frisch-Gleason – Bach Elementary School
Also represented at the summit will be teachers and students from the Lincoln Consolidated Schools, the West Bloomfield School District, Flint Community Schools and St. Thomas The Apostle School in Ann Arbor.
Skyline High School hosts the countywide NAAPID at NIGHT Showcase of Student Talent from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8 at the school auditorium, 2552 N. Maple Road. It is part of the annual National African American Parent Involvement Day.
The seventh annual event will feature student art and other projects and well as displays of student talent. Winners of the NAAPID Poster Contest also will be on display.
Students, teachers and parents are invited to display exemplary student work and accomplishments, including: artwork, technology, academic work, school involvement, leadership, community service projects and sports accomplishments.
Displays may be tabletop or floor, and should be creative, attractively arranged, and free standing and should include the student and/or class name, grade level, teacher, school name and district. Transporting displays is the responsibility of the parent or school coordinator.
To reserve a space, or for assistance contact Sylvia Nesmith at firstname.lastname@example.org, 734-358-6354 (cell) or 734-747-8543 (days,) by Wednesday, Feb. 03. Works should be delivered to the event location between 3:30-5 p.m. on the day of the event.
In addition to the Ann Arbor Public Schools, other Washtenaw County districts supporting the event include: Lincoln Consolidated Schools, Milan Area Schools, Saline Area Schools, Willow Run Community Schools and Ypsilanti Public Schools. Refreshments will be served at 5:30 p.m. with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m. General event details: 734-434-1144.
Angell hosts International Night
International Night is a longstanding tradition at Angell Elementary School. The multi-faceted, homegrown event is different year-to-year because up to 30 percent of the school’s families may change from one year to the next.
Angell PTO Council representative and PTO Council Chairwoman E. Martine Perreault calls the event is one of the “highlights of the academic year at Angell” and said many neighborhood families visit long after their children have grown and left the school.
This year’s International Night will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4. The school is at 1608 S. University.
Slauson counselor honored by peers
Jan Mackenzie was recently lauded by her peers for her outstanding service to The Ann Arbor Public Schools. The Slauson Middle School counselor was nominated and received the school district’s first Celebration of Excellence award for the 2009-10 school year for her outstanding customer service.
She was nominated by teachers Toni Burton and JanaÈ Townsend, who stated in their nomination: “For Jan Mackenzie, offering the support and love that her students and colleagues need always comes first. Her work touches both students and adults in her building. She is never too busy to listen, smile, or cry with anyone who comes to her door.”
The nomination said that in handling tough situations in the district, Mackenzie demonstrates “care in a time of crisis.” She was honored by the Ann Arbor Board of Education.
Nominees for both innovation and customer service are considered for these awards, which are selected by a Celebration of Excellence committee. The award for innovation recognizes staff members who have demonstrated creative and innovative approaches to their jobs. The award for customer service celebrates those staffers who provide outstanding service to their customers.
For detailed nominating information, an online nomination form and a list of past recipients, click here.
Free the Children features motivational speaker
Motivational speaker Elaine Rosenberg of the Free the Children program (www.freethechildren.com) will be the motivational speaker Tuesday, Feb. 2 from 7-8 p.m. at Clague Middle School’s media center.
Clague is located at 2616 Nixon Road, north of Plymouth Road and west of US-23 in Ann Arbor.
Rosenberg will speak about ” Free the Children: Inspiring Youth to Become Agents of Change!” She will discuss the Free the Children program and how it has helped students at Clague, Tappan and Scarlett middle schools make a difference, both in their local community and abroad. The program is part of Project Healthy Schools.
Free The Children is a network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth involved in innovative education and development programs in 45 countries.
This event is free and open to the public. Details: (734) 975-7440.
Eberwhite ‘shoe’ wall designed to encourage
Eberwhite Elementary School Principal Debi Wagner shows off a wall in the school that has the title “One Small Step. The wall was designed and added this year using photos of student feet and shoes.
Wagner said the project was designed to encourage students and let them know that small efforts can lead to even bigger things.
Huron High School BPA group earns honors
On Friday Jan. 8, the Huron Business Professionals of America Chapter from Huron High School traveled to Henry Ford Community College to compete in the annual BPA Regional Leadership Conference 2010.
According to BPA adviser Diane Stocker-Bendersky, of the 57 Students that attended, 45 students won a total of 94 awards including 36 first-place wins and 25 second-place wins. They also earned 13 third-place awards, 10 fourth-place awards and four fifth-place awards. In team competitions, Huron entered seven with four teams placing first and three teams placing second.
Of the 40 competitions in which Michigan students can enter, the Huron Chapter placed first in 20 of those events that include both individual and team competitions. A list to recognize those students who won at BPA Regionals can be found on the Web.
Haisley 5th-graders attend MLK Day tribute
On Jan. 19, two fifth-grade classes from Haisley Elementary attended Wayne State University’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. The keynote speaker was Dr. Benjamin Carson, a world-renowned neurosurgeon. Students were enthused to hear Dr. Carson’s story of growing up in a single parent home in Detroit, being challenged by poverty, poor grades, and other challenges.
A signed copy of Carson’s book “Gifted Hands” is now displayed in Haisley School’s Media Center. The trip was arranged by Cee-Jay Davisthrough his contacts at Wayne State University. Haisley students were the youngest to attend the event.
Logan students collect pennies for Haiti
To kick off Logan Elementary School’s MLK Day assembly, “Pennies For People” was introduced to the Logan community to participate in a relief effort for Haiti. Special area teachers organized the event. By the end of the assembly, parents had donated more than $300. Students brought in pennies through the rest of the month with proceeds to be delivered to the American Red Cross.
News of note from around the district:
• Thirteen Bach Elementary School fifth-graders and four fourth-graders placed first in Michigan in the Knowledge Master Open on Jan. 20. The K.M.O. is a team academic contest that tests students’ ability to answer questions about all the school subjects. The Bach KMO Team scored 466 of a possible 1000 points. The average score in Michigan was 420 and the mean nationwide was 466. Nationally, Bach placed in the top half of all teams. Learn more about the KMO at www.greatauk.com.
• A team of 10 Forsythe sixth-graders scored in the top 20 percent in the Knowledge Master Open, placing fourth in Michigan among 17 teams. The Forsythe team scored 636 points of a possible 1,000. That was well above the state average score of 544. Coach Dan Ezekiel says that this is a good finish, and the team hopes to do even better next time. Ann Arbor’s Tappan team scored 587 and came in sixth in the state.
• On Saturday Jan. 16 Skyline Orchestra Students traveled to Livonia Franklin High School to participate in the MSBOA District 12 Solo and Ensemble Festival. They took 21 events with 6 events earning a II (Excellent) rating and 15 events earning a Superior (I) rating. The following students received a II rating on their ensemble performances Katie Loreman, Rheilly Cole, Alex Wilks, and Jack Hu. The following students earned a II rating on their solo Priya Menon, Erika Sasaki, Preetom Chakraborty, and Grace Taylor Loring. The following students received a I rating on their solos and have qualified for MSBOA State Solo and Ensemble Festival at Chelsea High School in March: Jack Hu, Senait Dafa, Emily Espinosa, Sherry Zhao, Shruthi Narayanan, Karen Duan, Brian Chang, Claire Gruber, Rose Brown, Ahliyah Kim, Rheilly Cole, Leah Awkward-Rich, Priya Menon. and Max Xu.
• Jane Nixon was named National High School Field Hockey Coach of the Year for 2010. She has been the head coach at Pioneer High School since 1990 and has won 16 state championships.
• Skyline High School teacher Jason Smith received a technology grant from the Technology Institute for Music Educators for a project to integrate technology into the music classroom. The mission of the group is to assist music educators in applying technology to improve teaching and learning in music.
• Karen Metzger, Logan Elemenary School art teacher, was selected as an “2010 Educators To Japan” participant. Karen will be in Japan from June 27 through July 8. She said she is excited about the impact this culturally rich opportunity will have on her K-5 art classes.
• Pioneer Band students received 111 first division and 23 second division ratings in SOLO competition, as well as 119 first division and 18 second division ratings in ENSEMBLE competition on January 16 at Livonia Franklin High School. Students throughout the state performed in this state qualifying event. The following Pioneer High School Band students participated in the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association District Solo and Ensemble Festival on January 16. Students prepared a solo and/or an ensemble and performed for an MSBOA Certified Adjudicator. Their performance was evaluated and a rating between “I” (Excellent) and “V” was assigned. The symbol (2) after a students name indicates that they had two events receiving that rating in the same category.
Pioneer High School Band students receiving a “I” (Excellent) rating for their performance of a SOLO were: Shreya Bahl, Aaron Baum, Alex Baum, Joella Bennett, Jeff Bertram, Rachel Bielajew, Jonathan Bower, James Boyd, James Campbell, Kate Centurione, William Chen, Jae Hyun Choe (2), DíArcy Cook, Katie Copp, Rennie Cotner, Alayna Coverly, Elizabeth Cvercko, Ruby Emberling, Jonathan Evans, Jesse Fernandez, Kerryann Fingerle, Kevin Flannagan, Prasanth Ganesan, Corey Garff, Charlie Geronimus, Sachi Gianchandani, Nya Greenstone, Christopher Haddlesey, Christopher Hass, Saunders Hayes, Andrew Hess, Clare Higgins, Leila Hofer, Skye Huerta, Max Hully, Vijay Ilankamban, Andy Johnson, Kiley Judge, Jae Jung, Kayoon Jung, Jared Kaufman, Ryan King, Sara King, Caroline Laman, Christopher Landau, Amin Lanseur, Dylan Larkins (2), Leah Latterner (2), Tyler Leach, Edward Lee, Meekyoung Lee, Moritz Lehner, Levy Li, Siyan (Daniel) Li, Samuel Lichtman-Mikol, Hyeon Su Lim, Yuming Liu, Sara Long, Natalie Martin, Karen Matsuo, Megumi Matsushita, Kyle Mattimore, Hannah Maxbauer, Anna Mayne, Jack McKarns, Jordan McKay, Miriam Michaels, Luke Mykolenko, Sowdeepya Nadimpalli, Emily Northrop, Junghyun Kayla Oh, Henry Pakela, Julia Pakela, Konstantinos Papaefthymiou, Neil Parikh, George Perrett, Duncan Polot, Linda Relson, Carly Renner, Tim Rittinger, Molly Rogow, Natalie Roll, Nicholas Rombes, Sarah Rontal, Michael Saunders, Laura Schickling, Rebecca Shipan, Daniel Siler, Ken Simon, Antonia Smith, Gina Son, Mario Sulaksana, Michael Sullivant, Jacob Swanson, Nick Terrell, Victoria Tillman, Peter Wang, Xiao Wang, Devin Webster, Hope Wilson, Thea Yagerlener, Eric Yamakado, Jay Yamakado, Tina Yu (2), Ryan Yunck, Kevin Zhang and Alan Zhou.
Pioneer High School Band students receiving a “II” (Good) rating for their performance of a SOLO were: Alexa Arvidson, Alex Bartko, Riley Bean, Caitlin Berrigan, Samuel Blackburn, James Boyd, Joel Burgener, Iris Chen, Amelia Diehl, Christine Etter, Skye Huerta, Grace Iverson, Kyle Kantebet, Olivia Lee, Sowdeepya Nadimpalli, Jennifer Nao, Patricia Nease, Veronika Olszewski, David Shao (2), Andrew Siddall, Hunter St. Pierre and Emily Topham.
Pioneer High School Band students receiving a “I” (Excellent) rating for their performance of an ENSEMBLE were: Shreya Bahl, Riley Bean, Joella Bennett, Rachel Bielajew, Jonathan Bower (2), James Boyd, Joel Burgener, Elizabeth Bush, James Campbell (2), Takeo Cauley (2), Iris Chen, Heewon Choi, Hyewon Choi, D’Arcy Cook, Rennie Cotner, Rosie Curtis, Liz Cvercko (2), Nick DeMarsh, Meera Desai (2), Jonathan Evans, Jack Fan, Kerryann Fingerle, Monica Fink, Corey Garff, Charlie Geronimus, Sachi Gianchandani, Meaghan Glanville, Celisa Gutierrez, Christopher Hass, Andrew Hess, Leila Hofer, Conor Howe, Max Hully, Esther Hur, Vijay Ilankamban, Andy Johnson, Kiley Judge, Jae Jung, Nathan Karr, Jared Kaufman, Ryan King (2), Sara King, Tanay Kulkarni, Megan Kymal, Caroline Laman, Christopher Landau, Amin Lanseur, Reina Larkin, Dylan Larkins, Leah Latterner, Tasha Le, Edward Lee, Harry Lee, Meekyoung Lee, Aidan Mase-Kemnitz, Karen Matsuo, Megumi Matsushita (2), Abbey Maxbauer, Anna Mayne, Jack McKarns, Isabel McKay, Jordan McKay, Miriam Michaels (2), Alex Mitropoulos-Rundus, Sowdeepya Nadimpalli, Jeni Nao, Emily Northrop, Alyssa Natoci, Jeongah Oh, Junghyun Kayla Oh, Veronika Olszewski, EunSoo Park, Bo Peng, Stefan Petrmichl, Timothy Rittinger, Natalie Roll, Niko Rombes (2), Sarah Rontal, Michael Saunders, Kaylee Schonsheck, David Shapiro, Michael Shin, Jeff Shipan, Rebecca Shipan, Ken Simon, Antonia Smith, Gina Son, Jacob Swanson (2), Nick Terrell, Victoria Tillman (2), Emily Topham (2), Peter Wang, Xiao Wang (2), Devin Webster (2), Hope Wilson, Eric Yamakado, Jay Yamakado (3), Angela Yang, Ted Xiao, Tina Yu, Annie Zhang (2) and Megan Zheng.
Pioneer High School Band students receiving a “II” (Good) rating for their performance of an ENSEMBLE were: Ben Bielajew, Andrew Choe, Katie Copp, Sam Deschamps, Ruby Emberling, Jonathan Evans, Grace Iverson, Younkyoung Lee, Rebecca Lennington, MacKenzie Miller, Amanda Osinski, Duncan Polot, Laura Schickling, Josh Sherick, Jeff Shipan, Thea Yagerlener, Ryan Yunck and Eric Zimmer.
By Casey Hans
When Kristi Bishop visited mainland China last month, she encountered a number of surprises. Such as how little energy the average household uses. That many public buildings have no central heat. How her group was offered only Coke, Sprite or beer to drink.
Or, as she says, “how much progress has happened so quickly” in the Communist country that has only recently opened itself to world commerce, Western influence and visits from people all over the world.
The Bach Elementary School music teacher was a member of a People to People Ambassador Program (www.peopletopeople.com) delegation with 50 other music educators from the United States, including K-12 teachers as well as university level educators.
She said their Chinese hosts were cordial and curious, the architecture fabulous, the food delicious and the experience once-in-a-lifetime. And, she is reeling from the experience that will give her plenty of food for thought.
“I will continue to put my thoughts together,” Bishop said. “There’s enough here for me to think about for years to come.”
Bishop, a 15-year teacher in Ann Arbor, had no plans to travel to China. In fact, she did not have a passport and had not traveled out of the country except for visits to Canada and Mexico. Then, she was invited to be a delegate with People to People, because she is a teacher who likes to share her expertise with others.
“Everyone was so excited to show us the traditional instruments,” she said. “About 80 percent of their music is instrumental. That seems to be the highlight of their musical culture.”
But, perhaps most valuable for Bishop, was something definitive she got from the experience: A rededication to her craft. She said she plans to not only work hard ensuring that all students in her care have an opportunity to learn music, but also raise her expectations of what students can achieve.
“There’s so much more I can expect from the students,” she said. “I’m excited about it.”
Bishop said she is thankful that all students here in the United States get an opportunity to practice music. “We want everyone to participate, regardless of their talent,” she said. “In our society, opportunities are limitless.”
In China, she said, “children are identified (as musically gifted) at a young age and encouraged to go to boarding school. They go away from home as young as the first grade.” She said other children learn about music, but only through music appreciation.
She noticed a difference in the overall school environment in China, as well. Classrooms are crowded (about 40 students per class, she said) and a huge emphasis is placed on appreciation of the arts, including calligraphy, dance, music and silk printing. “I noticed that the Chinese honor their teachers in the same way they honor their elders,” she added.
Bishop said the trip left her with more questions than answers, but opened her to many things to think about. And, she hopes continuing correspondence with some of those she met on the trip will help her to learn more. “The power of this (trip) is in the future connections,” she said.
The People to People music delegation visited mainland China from Dec. 11-21 with each member paying for their own travel and trip costs. They stayed in Beijing for four nights, then flew to Shanghai for another four nights and spent most of their time in the country’s urban areas. During her trip, she was part of round-table discussions, panels, seminars and site visits allowing her to gain an in-depth understanding of the common interests and challenges she shares with those overseas.
Bishop also experienced culture and history through visits to the China Conservatory, Beijing No. 35 High School and visit to The Great Wall, The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
The trip was organized by Lynn Brinckmeyer, director of Choral Music Education at Texas State University Brinckmeyer said she worked hard to get as many states represented on the trip as possible and said Bishop was selected as a delegate because of her involvement with her profession and the knowledge that Bishop and others would come back and share their experience with others.
“We have already had some dialogue via e-mail,” she said of the group. “And almost daily I’m getting something (from the group.) It’s been very rewarding.” She said the delegation will have a blog on the People to People site where they will be able to share photos, video and other thoughts.
Brinckmeyer said she expects many of the delegates will write about their experience for professional journals and, perhaps, present at state conferences before their peers. Bishop said she hopes to write a professional paper to share her experiences. She lost her voice early in the trip, so spent a lot of time writing observations in a journal, which she is now pleased to have to help her collect her thoughts.
Her favorite part of the trip was a visit to an elementary music classroom on the last day. “Even though the teacher didn’t speak English, we knew exactly what she was teaching,” she said. “It gave me a better understanding of our ESL (English as a Second Language) students and how they learn.”
“I feel we were given such an opportunity,” Bishop added.
Occupation: Elementary music teacher at Bach Elementary School. She also has worked at Pattengill, Angell, Burns Park, Pittsfield and Dicken elementary schools and is in her 15th year teaching for The Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Education: Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan, Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Wichita State University in Kansas.
Residence: Scio Township in the Dexter school district.
Family: Married to Andrew Bishop (Jazz Saxophone Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan,), Sons Oliver, 9, and Linden 6.
Pets: Chancey the Dog, and cats Bela and Domino
Hobbies: Music, dance, gardening, jewelry making, sewing, studying archaeology and origins of religious traditions.
Community service: Trustee and vice president of the Educational Foundation of Dexter, co-chairwoman of the of Bates Elementary School PTO (Dexter), vice president of Arts Advocates in Dexter Community Schools.
Favorite meal: “Whatever my husband cooks especially Chicken Marsala with smashed potatoes and steamed asparagus.”
Last books read: “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” by Daniel H. Pink.
Life philosophy: Victor Hugo: “The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than of the real. It is by the real that we exist; it is by the ideal that we live.”
Casey Hans edits this newsletter for The Ann Arbor Public Schools. E-mail email@example.com or call her at 734-994-9800 ext. 51228.