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The Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop is located at 2280 S. Industrial Highway. The shop sells furniture, clothing, books, home goods, electronics, craft supplies and more.
By Tara Cavanaugh
The Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop’s mission is to support the schools. And three times each year, its support comes in the form of a small but valuable slip of paper: a check.
On Jan. 29 the shop distributed $50,020 total between all 33 of the Ann Arbor Public Schools (see comprehensive list below). The money supports enrichment opportunities for students in the form of field trips, sports clubs, academic supplies, camps and plenty more.
“It’s exciting to celebrate a great year in 2012 and immediately start another with this kind of vigorous funding,” said Ann Farnham, the shop’s executive director. ”What a couple of high notes for our shop and for our AAPS community.” Continue reading →
You can learn about starting seeds, pulling weeds, the life cycle and the compost pile. Now that spring is in full swing, Tappan Middle School students are learning all that and more at the Tappan Garden. Continue reading →
Survey data from the Mitchell-Scarlett Partnership Survey is now available on the school district’s website. Visit this link to see raw data, including comments from those taking the survey, as well as past information regarding the partnership.
The district is creating the K-8 campus between Mitchell Elementary School and Scarlett Middle School in Ann Arbor through a partnership between the Ann Arbor Public Schools and the University of Michigan School of Education.
After reviewing survey data, Ann Arbor Public Schools officials determined that the district would move forward with the partnership for the 2011-12 school year, but would not reconsider a balanced calendar until the 2013-14 school year.
The decision was made in order to put a system in place for measuring and evaluating teacher performance in the program and to introduce enrichment intersessions for students during school breaks. A number of enrichment activities are planned for the inaugural 2011 school year for interested families.
King Elementary Silent Auction and Science Night is April 29
King School hosts its annual Silent Auction and Science Night on Friday, April 29 from 5:30-8 p.m. with the theme of “Our State – Our School.”
This kid-friendly,family event is a fundraiser for PTO sponsored programs such as academic workshops, Math Olympiad, Academic Games and field trips.
The free admission silent auction features more than 300 items including travel packages throughout the county and Carribean, jewelry, several cases of select and collectible wines, U-M sports tickets (men’s hockey, basketball and football), 15 local “date night” packages with dinner/theater offerings and new this year: 14 Northern Michigan destination packages with opportunities to parasail the Mackinac Straits, tour the Soo Locks, kayak the Indian River and visit wineries near Traverse City,all packaged with free hotel and restaurant offerings.
Dinner will be an International Buffet from local restaurants for $8 in advance; $10 at the door. Entertainment includes 2 Magic Shows and face painting.
Science Night hosts the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Included are more than 12 interactive science tables ready for exploring minds.
For more information and to reserve a dinner spot, contact: King.email@example.com or call (734) 417-7129.
Logan hosting silent auction to benefit Harold Logan Fund
Logan Elementary School is offering its first “Annual Silent Auction” to benefit the Harold Logan Fund, the community fund that provides assistance to families in need.
“During these difficult times it’s important, as a school community, that we support each other,” organizers say on their auction site. “This auction is a great way to ensure that all of our students have the opportunity to have warm coats, eye glasses, school supplies, and field trips and continue to excel in a positive learning environment.”
The auction is now open and will close at 8 p.m., Friday, April 29. Anyone can support the effort by bidding on an item at www.loganelementaryauction.weebly.com Find instructions for bidding under the “Rules” tab and find the auction items under the tab “Auction Items” in the roll down menu.” Included are categories of food/dining, salon/spa, fitness, jewelry/art, entertainment, books/DVDs, educational professional development an home goods.
WISD Board selects the district’s next superintendent
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District Board of Education has named Scott Menzel to be the district’s next superintendent.
Menzel is the superintendent of the Livingston Educational Service Agency, the intermediate school district serving Livingston County. He received his bachelor’s degree in religion from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif., his master’s degree in philosophy and social policy from the American University in Washington, D.C. and is completing work on his doctorate from Eastern Michigan University.
He will begin his superintendent duties by July 1, 2011, conditioned upon completion of the employment requirements for WISD and the State of Michigan.
In addition to unanimously naming Menzel as its new superintendent, the board on April 25 appointed a subcommittee of two to develop an employment contract to bring back to the full Board for approval at a subsequent meeting.
Menzel will replace William Miller who retired. Interim Superintendent Rick Leyshock will continue in his position until Menzel can join the district.
Leslie Science and Nature Center is sponsor, partner
Related story below: Wolf Family Foundation and the LSNC teams with 3 Ann Arbor schools each year on student-driven projects
By Casey Hans
Take one measure of science and mix well with writing. Add a hands-on activity and you have a class full of after-school fun.
It’s all part of the Leslie Science and Nature Center After-School Writing Club at Carpenter Elementary School, where students are excited about learning, thanks to a partnership with the center. Up to 20 students participate in the club, which brings students in grades three to five together once each week.
Students write about their science experience in the Carpenter After-School Writing Club, sponsored by the Leslie Science and Nature Center.
“I enjoy this so much – I just love my kids,” said Lauren LaRocca who coordinates the club with Jessie Maxwell. Both are program coordinators for the Leslie Center.
Maxwell said the program has been well received. “It increases their aptitude for science, which is one of their long-term goals,” she said.
This is the club’s fourth year at Carpenter and Principal Ron Collins said students are invited to participate in the fall through recommendations from teachers who think students will benefit from the writing exercises and science units. Many of the projects blend with the school’s curriculum units.
“This enables us to attack science and writing at the same time,” Collins said. “It gives them an area of interest that they want to write about. A lot of it carries on afterward.”
Collins said his school first got involved with the Leslie Science and Nature Center after experiencing programs at the school funded through the Wolf Family Foundation. These included planting a wildflower garden in front of the building and doing water sampling.
At one recent after-school club session, students were pretending to be human versions of water droplets as they moved from one form of water to another through stations set up in the classroom: rain, clouds, river, glaciers, oceans or lakes, soil, groundwater and plants. Students then had an assignment to write about their experience and shared their findings with classmates.
Part of the lesson included water evaporating into the clouds and how it comes back to Earth. “ … And then the clouds picked me up again and I went into the ocean,” explained one student in his narrative.
Other Ann Arbor schools also partner with the LSNC in a variety of ways. At Northside Elementary, the center helps with a weekly writing program and there is a weekly science program at Pittsfield Elementary. At Wines Elementary, there is an after-school geo-caching club and Burns Park Elementary partners with the center for a Discover Nature Night each April, where students enjoy hands-on activities and live animal presentations.
Family foundation and LSNC teams with 3 elementaries on student-driven projects
Carpenter Elementary is one of three schools in the district that is touched each year by the Wolf Family Foundation through the Leslie Science and Nature Center’s in-school program for students in grades 3-5. Northside and King also benefit from the program thanks to a substantial grant that the family funds each year.
Ann Arbor students conduct river sampling as part of the Wolf Family Foundation-funded projects in 2008 through a partnership with the Leslie Science and Nature Center.
The foundation is based in Ohio, but family members are encouraged to do community service wherever they live – and grants are awarded based on that service. They fund projects all over the world.
In Ann Arbor, parent and retired physical education teacher Jody Linn first became involved with the Leslie Center as a liaison for the Ann Arbor Public Schools Community Education and Recreation Department. Her interest carried over to service on the Leslie Center board, where she subsequently saw the benefit of having the center partner with the school district.
“I thought about my passion – and that’s kids,” said Linn, about why she got involved and proposed the programs for the Leslie Center. “I wanted to find a way to create an ‘aha’ moment. I like the Leslie Science and Nature Center because it’s a hands-on learning experience. You involve the teachers, build it into the curriculum and make it interdisciplinary.”
Linn said she is pleased to see the center creating a bond with students and teachers and believes the program has raised environmental awareness and built an interest in science.
The programs started with a $5,000 grant, which has expanded to about $10,000 each year. Money is funneled through the Leslie Center and benefits Ann Arbor students directly.
Each year, participating students do a culminating activity that they design as part of the Wolf Family Foundation-funded program. The program has funded such activities as river testing, analyzing the health of rivers and creating rain gardens, among others.
Carpenter Elementary School students work on a native plant garden as part of the Wolf Family Foundation-funded 2009 projects through a partnership with the Leslie Science and Nature Center. (Photos courtesy, The Leslie Science and Nature Center)
Some of the most recent projects include: designing reusable water bottles and pins to promote water conservation at Carpenter, an annual Earth Day celebration at King Elementary and a river cleanup day at Northside Elementary. In previous years, Northside made videos for the Millers Creek Film Festival and created books for their reading buddies and Carpenter created “Save our River” T-shirts and planted a native plant garden outside of the school.
“Students get the interactive experience for three years in a row,” said Amanda Lodge, education director for the Leslie center who coordinates the programs with Linn. “It builds these connections with their schools.”
The program currently touches 40 classrooms and between 500-600 students each year, and most of those students are involved with the program over multiple years.
Linn said she is happy to continue recommending the program each year, and is always looking for ways to work with the LSNC staff to make them better. “We’re reviewing the program. How do we pay it forward?” she said. “How do we reach out beyond where we are now?”
Hundreds braved the bitter cold this month to attend King International Night – the seventh year the Ann Arbor elementary school has offered a multi-cultural extravaganza that featured performances by 350 students and served 1,000 a potluck dinner.
Some 350 students performance during the cultural extravanganza at King Elementary School.
Wang was emcee for the event, which featured a program of authentic dance and song in performances that stretched well into the evening.
The Ann Arbor Public Schools event offered 29 performances highlighting more than 25 countries. “Fabulous performances, smooth logistics, the cutest littlest dancers accenting each dance,” Wang said in a recent e-mail note to her readers. “Amazing calligraphy and Tai Chi from one grandpa. And great guest performers from both the middle school … and the high school … thanks to all my team members for making it all happen.”
International Night is an evening of pride and celebration for the King School community. It begins with an International Potluck of dishes from around the world followed by the Showcase of Student Performances including Arabic Debkeh Dance, Israeli folk dance, Korean fan dance, Bolivian Dance, Dutch song, Greek folkdance, American Hip-Hop, Indian Bollywood dance, Beijing opera, Chinese martial arts, Taiwanese ribbon dance, Japanese Okinawan dance, Gospel music and more. Due to the overflow crowd, the performances were simulcast in the school’s gymnasium.
The school is also decorated with displays from different countries and art projects.
More information about the annual event can be found at Wang’s event blog.
Dozens of parents went back to school last week at King Elementary to find out how their children learn to read and write.
Students at King Elementary help to demonstrate how they learn to read at a recent Literacy Night.
The Literacy Night event was sponsored by the King School Improvement Team and included demonstrations from teachers as well as students. Two sessions were offered: one on Tuesday and the other on Thursday. Some 200 adults signed up to be part of the evening programs, which also offered child care so that parents could attend.
“Tonight is about parent involvement,” said King Principal Kevin Karr, who called the night the “main event” of the school improvement team. He said it is an opportunity for parents to visit the school as well as for teachers to share some of their teaching techniques.
In the K-2 Reader’s Workshop, first grade teacher Stephanie Harris explained to parents how she encourages student involvement in the reading process.
“In my classroom, I have my kids sit in pairs on the floor,” she said. “They talk to their partners. Interacting this way, they’re all able to work together. Everyone’s engaged.”
King Elementary teacher Rebecca Gracey and students to a reading demonstration for parents.
In the 3-5 Reader’s Workshop, a group of students were involved with a demonstration with teachers Rebecca Gracey and Seth Petty.
“Sit down, have them read the book to you when you’re cooking dinner. Let them do the independent reading in the same room,” Gracey suggested to parents. “Ask them questions. You want to make it fun for them. Find ways to help them enjoy it.”
In Judy Knorr’s fourth-grade writing class, she explained to parents how she encourages student creativity. “When the kids actually get into writing, they think it has to be exact,” she said of students writing about their experiences. “I tell them you can embellish just a little bit.”
She told parents that her students do a lot of reading in order to be good writers. “We might be going through it the first time to read it for enjoyment,” she said. “And that’s what you should do. The second time, we might ask ‘what did you think, how did it make you feel?’”
Camille Ziolek, a parent who co-chairs the improvement team with Karr, said Literacy NIght was two years in the making. She said the team eased into Literacy Night by hosting other parent activities in recent years, such as a Hands-on Family Writing Night.
Ziolek estimated that about two-thirds of King families were represented at the Literacy Night programs.
She felt the program was a success. “I’ve heard so many comments of ‘oh, I understand it now. Now I see what my kids are doing’,” she said.
Karr said his hope is that “teachers and parents develop a common language about reading and writing” from attending.
Around the district, it’s known as World Language.
Forty-one U-M students, generally working in teams of two, serve as apprentice teachers under the supervision of Ann Arbor elementary media specialists. Third-graders visit the media centers twice each week for half-hour classes.
Shelagh Fehrenbach, a U-M apprentice teacher and Media Specialist Ann O’Keefe (foreground) help King Elementary students with their Spanish lessons.
“I think it’s going really well. The kids are really excited,” said Shelagh Fehrenbach, a U-M student teaching Spanish at King Elementary School. “They’re using (Spanish) it in other places (around the school) too.”
Fehrenbach and Marly Van Huis are co-teaching the class and both also work at King as student teachers this year. This double effort “is nice because we really get to know the students,” said Van Huis.
The program is expected to expand to include fourth- and fifth-graders in 2010-11, dovetailing into language offerings at the middle school. If the partnership proceeds as planned, officials are hopeful that more languages can be added in the future.
King Principal Kevin Karr said parents touring his school often ask about foreign language offerings for elementary students. “I think it hits the need of what parents want,” he said, adding that the partnership sends a positive message that Ann Arbor is offering programs that are desirable to the community.
“I think it’s been great so far,” Karr added. “Clearly the teaching is going well – they’ve got a good style. The kids are very engaged. It’s not just sitting and learning. The kids are interacting.”
An Ann Arbor Public Schools online community survey in March 2008 asked parents’ opinion of a World Language program in the district. Eighty-five percent said they would strongly favor it and the top languages preferred among those responding were Spanish, Chinese and French. Some 12 percent responding said their children did not attend the district and 468 of those said they would be attracted to the district if elementary school language classes were offered.
Ann O’Keefe, media specialist at King, said the World Language program has added another dimension to the school. “It offers us a world of shared culture,” she said. “This is one more aspect of it. It gives us a lot to celebrate.”
At Haisley Elementary School, third-grade students learn to say their birthdays in Spanish.
At Haisley Elementary, media specialist Kristen Stoops said students in her center love it. “I see their enthusiasm when they’re here. They’re engaged and interested,” she said.
Tana Ebaugh is a University of Michigan research associate and lead trainer for the program. She visits classes and observes apprentice teaching styles. On this day, she is at Ann Arbor Open @ Mack, where a blended class of third- and fourth-graders are learning to discuss their birthdays. No English is spoken during the half-hour class – only Spanish. “It’s very different for them,” Ebaugh said, noting that students are learning by listening and participating.
Kit Flynn, media specialist at Ann Arbor Open said her school has a number of Spanish-speaking students for which the program serves another purpose. “It gives them a coaching role,” she said. “It gives them a time to shine.”
Since Ann Arbor Open encompasses grades kindergarten through eight and has blended-grade classes, she said the use of Spanish is spreading quickly around the building. “Lots of teachers have embraced it, putting Spanish signage in their classroom,” she said. “I hear a lot of mixed English and Spanish (being spoken) around the building.”
Throughout the district, elementary media specialists are adding more Spanish-language books to their collections. Flynn estimates she now has upwards of 200 such books at Ann Arbor Open.
Lee Ann Dickinson-Kelley, Ann Arbor schools administrator for elementary education, said she is pleased with how program has taken off around the district in just a few weeks. “It’s exceeding our expectations right now,” she said.
Dickinson-Kelley said although each school is unique and each instructional team can approach the material differently, there are standard lesson plans. The Schools “are all incredibly different,” she said. “We wanted to have the unique environment, but have a common high standard of learning.”
Brittany Schwikert, a Spanish major at the University of Michigan, works with students at Ann Arbor Open @ Mack. She is one of 41 apprentice teachers from U-M working with Ann Arbor elementary students this year in a World Language partnership.
Maria Coolican, project director for the partnership on behalf of U-M’s School of Education, said the university is committed to the project. “We are in full recruitment mode (for apprentice teachers) for next year,” she added. There will be 90 openings for people to instruct as the program moves into grades three through five.
Dickinson-Kelley called the World Language program a high priority and said it is a “bulls-eye to the district’s long-term Strategic Plan.” She said an elementary language option is key as the district moves toward stricter state high school graduation requirements that include language.
“We want all of our kids to be multilingual,” she added. “It’s an essential tool – a skill they will need to have.”
Casey Hans edits this e-newsletter for The Ann Arbor Public Schools. E-mail her or call 734-994-2090 X51228.