We are so proud of Slauson’s 30 determined, ingenious Science Olympians who took first place in the Region 9 Olympiad in Hillsdale on Saturday, March 16. This means they’re going to the State Olympiad in Lansing on April 27! Continue reading
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
By Tara Cavanaugh
The Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop and the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation have been nominated for annarbor.com’s 2012 Deal of the Year Award, which highlights business decisions that had the most impact over the past year in Washtenaw County.
The nonprofits are among two dozen businesses and organizations who have been nominated. Gov. Rick Snyder will present the awards at a black-tie gala at Eastern Michigan University Nov. 2. Continue reading
By Tara Cavanaugh
A parade of bike riders rolled in to Wines Elementary Wednesday morning. Tikes on tiny bikes with training wheels. Kids in bike buggies, enjoying the ride. Tandem bikes. Junior-sized mountain bikes. Grown-up sized bikes ridden by moms and dads.
The unusually high bike traffic was due to Bike to School Day, celebrated nationally for the first time this year on May 9. The event is sponsored by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which also organizes Walk to School Day in October. Continue reading
The Board of Education voted to open 170 seats for Schools of Choice at its March 7 meeting. This means that more students have the option to request to attend a new district school. In the previous two years of Schools of Choice, the district opened up 150 seats. Continue reading
By Tara Cavanaugh
Daniel Varner, a member of the State School Board and executive director of Excellent Schools Detroit, visited Slauson Middle School for National African American Parent Involvement Day Feb. 13.
It’s that time of the year again: time for Orchestra Night, which showcases the talent of more than 800 students in the middle school and high school orchestras at the University of Michigan Hill Auditorium.
By Tara Cavanaugh, AAPS News Service
The Spanish Language Internship Program at the University of Michigan provides student translators in many local organizations, such as health clinics, Head Start, and now the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
In a new partnership between AAPS Partners for Excellence and SLIP, U-M students provide in-class translation for some elementary and middle school students who are learning English.
View a video of one morning of InnoWorks summer camp that included Slauson Middle School students:
From AAPSNews Service
Selected Slauson Middle School students got to design and play with Lego robots, create water-powered bottle rockets and do other hands-on activities in August during a free, weeklong summer science camp on the University of Michigan campus.
“Making Sense of Senses” was the theme for this year’s U-M InnoWorks Summer Camp in which students from Slauson and Lincoln Middle School participated. The camp is its third year and everything in the camp is either donated or funded by grants, organizers said.
“We try to make science fun – that’s the idea. We do as little classroom as possible,” said Eric Zhao, a third-year pharmacy graduate student who heads the U-M InnoWorks chapter.
Slauson eighth-grader Ma’kayla said the experience was wonderful and something she said would help her as she continues in school. Even some of the science exercises and projects tied in with her future career hopes. “I want to be a lawyer,” she explained.
Seventh-grade classmate Savannah agreed, saying she wants to do something involving crime scenes – like she sees on the television show CSI. A fingerprinting exercise proved fascinating to her.
InnoWorks started at Duke University and now has chapters around the country, including the 3-year-old U-M chapter. The program encourages middle school students to enter science, technology, engineering, math and medicine careers by sponsoring the free summer camp run by undergraduate and graduate students and previous campers who serve as mentors. In Ann Arbor, InnoWorks members approach area middle schools and work with students from schools that show an interest, Zhao said.
This is the first year an Ann Arbor middle school participated. Ypsilanti and Lincoln students took part in previous camps.
Those running the camp study myriad subjects – everything from business and economics to movement science majors like Lindsay Valeri who served as a camp mentor her first year and stayed to become a counselor. “Kids get really exited about it – they’re learning things,” she said. “I think it works really well.”
The U-M chapter is working “to show the community that there are students looking to make a difference in these hard economic times,” said Fiona Spezia, a biopsychology student and pre-physician assistant who is a U-M InnoWorks chapter board member.
“It’s a very rewarding experience being able to help students out,” said recent U-M graduate and counselor Shailesh Reddy. “This is a chance for them to experience a lot. It’s just about you motivating and wanting to help the kids.”
Visit online for more information about the InnoWorks Michigan chapter.
By Casey Hans
Orchestra students of Dan Long might recall the infamous Pink Panther story: How, some 20 years ago, Long climbed onto the Slauson Middle School roof to cover the skylight so that students could play a pre-rehearsed piece in the dark for their pink-themed concert, intending to surprise the audience with pink attire when the lights came up.
What few knew was that Long – who taught band and orchestra at Slauson for 35 years – had his own “pink” surprise. Wearing a rented Pink Panther costume, he made it to the conductor’s podium, but not before tripping and falling in the darkened auditorium. When the lights came up, the crowd, including the students, roared.
It’s one of the many memories – and a bit of his humor – that Long shared when talking recently about his time working in The Ann Arbor Public Schools. Long retired 8 years ago several years after his wife, Kay, also an Ann Arbor music teacher, retired.
The two have lived in the same house in the neighborhood around Dicken Elementary School where they raised two children and now enjoy visiting grandchildren.
“The memories I have are absolutely priceless,” Long said.
But Long is remembered for more than the “pink” episode: The E. Daniel Long Fund for Excellence in Music Education – administered through the Ann Arbor Community Foundation and named for the beloved music educator – received enough in donations this year to award its first grant. Friends, colleagues and many music parents from around the county have donated to the fund over the past eight years. Organizers hope to build the fund to $100,000 so it will become self-sustaining. For now, the fund continues to accept donations.
“It’s going right to the students,” he said of the fund’s donations. “It’s terrific. For me to see the students continuing to benefit from the efforts of lots of people. Fifty years from now, I hope it’s still going.”
Deborah Katz, band director at Scarlett Middle School, has received the $1,000 award, which can be given to any music teacher in Washtenaw County. He’s particularly pleased, he said, that an Ann Arbor teacher, and friend, received it.
“It could not have happened to a better program, he said. “Deb’s a colleague, a friend. I could not have been more pleased.”
After Long retired, several teachers and/or parents started the fund. Lynda Berg, Inger Shultz, Amy Goodman, Margaret Guire got it off of the ground and have continued to help raise money in Long’s name over the years.
Many others have taken the baton for continued fundraising. Dean Baxtresser, a former student and now an attorney, penned a fund-raising letter saying of Long: “His commitment to education has helped countless students like me develop discipline, discover beauty and enjoy camaraderie – skills and experiences that last a lifetime.”
Dan Long called Slauson his home base for his many years in the district. His philosophy has been to influence the many students whose lives he touched. “Students may not remember anything you taught them, but they will always remember how you treated them.”he said.
He was inspired to teach because of his own teacher in Nebraska, where Long was raised. “Mr. Thompson was my high school teacher. He taught me the joy of music,” he said. “I came home one day and said ‘I want to be just like Mr. Thompson.’”
And so, he did. In addition to all of the students he influenced at Slauson, he also founded the Ann Arbor Youth Symphony, which is part of the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts. He has been an adjunct and guest lecturer at the university level and has served on the faculty at the Interlochen National Music Camp, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and VanderCook College of Music in Chicago. Over the years, he has made fast friends of many professional musicians and professors, always bringing their experiences to the classroom to benefit students.
Long has received numerous awards, including the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association’s 1980 Teacher of the Year, the 1989 Michigan ASTA Teacher of the Year and the 1997 Elizabeth A. H. Green School Educator Award given to the nation’s most outstanding school music teacher from the American String Teachers’ Association and National School Orchestra Association.
Kay Long said they are both thankful for their many years working and living here. “Ann Arbor was a wonderful place for young teachers,” she said. “Our colleagues were our friends, our mentors. We both wouldn’t be the people we are if we didn’t live here and have this experience.”
Casey Hans edits this newsletter for The Ann Arbor Public Schools. E-mail her or call 734-994-2090 (internal ext. 51228.)
The Ann Arbor Public Schools has scheduled a gathering for Tuesday evening at Slauson Middle School following the deaths of two members of the Supica family – and the injury of two others – in a Virginia traffic crash this week.
Slauson Principal Christopher Curtis put out the following statement: “To bring the communities of Lawton, Slauson and Pioneer together during this time of grief, a gathering is scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, June 22 at Slauson on the front deck from 7 – 8:30 p.m. We will have district crisis team members available for support as well as cards and paper to send support to the Supica family.”
Slauson Middle School is at 1019 W Washington St.
Theresa Supica and her daughter, Samantha, 12, died in the June 21 crash and two other teenage daughters were injured. According to news reports, the family was traveling to Virginia Beach for field hockey tryouts when the crash occurred.
SLIDE SHOWS: Below, view finished student murals; at the bottom of the story, see a slide show of the murals in progress.
From AAPSNews Service
Wander the hallways of Slauson Middle School and, around every corner, there is a colorful surprise.
A total of 94 student-created murals of every shape and size can be found on every floor, from the 2003 mural of ocean, treetops and creatures that fills one stairwell from top to bottom, to the diminutive dinosaur that one eighth-grader is working on in the waning weeks of the school year.
Thirty-two eighth-graders in Tim Eiseman’s “Art and the Environment” class and some of his independent study art students design their murals and Eiseman picks a wall area for them to transfer their creativity onto. In these final weeks of school, student murals are well on their way to completion.
The murals are a project that has taken place each year for eighth-grade art students, Eiseman said. He said he lets them decide whether to work in a team or individually. This year, students are creating 17 new school murals at Slauson.
The murals are even taken into account when the school walls are painted for routine school maintenance, and the best ones are kept. “They get to leave a little bit of something behind,” Eiseman said. “This is their reward for doing a good job here.”
On an upper floor, Thad is creating the Master Chief from the Xbox game “Halo.” “I’ve always been known to doodle in math class,” said the eighth-grader, adding that he got his artistic talent from his grandma. “I’ve done my own comic books.
“It’s cool to see what other artists do. It’s a fun thing too – for us to leave our mark on the school. It’s a real opportunity.”
Down a hallway near the gymnasium, Jennifer is working on her unique design entitled “Who Let the Bears Out?’ a take-off on the school’s mascot and colors. She said she wanted to be in or near the gym, so that a lot of people passing by would see it. “I just wanted to do something totally different,” she said.
“Art is my love,” she added. “Every moment of every day I’m doing something. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved working with paints.”
A team of four students – Sofia, Samantha, Katie and Maddie – is creating a mural of five hands representing “peace among the five races of the Earth.” Samantha came up with the idea and Sofia sketched it. All four took part in the painting.
Eiseman said he allows the students flexibility and trust, since they are working at various points around the building and the class is spread out.
And, he encourages creativity.
“I try to take the kids, even if they see something they like, to change it and make it their own,” he said.
Slauson Middle School students have been sewing after school during the third quarter. Teacher Carol Mohrlock and paraprofessional Lisa Field, along with volunteer and retired Ann Arbor teacher Suette King, have offered an after-school club called “Little Dresses for Africa.”
Each Thursday, for one hour after school, students met to learn how to sew dresses and discuss social and economic issues of the world’s least developed nations.
“The students were energetic and eager to learn,” said Mohrlock. “They have shared how good it feels to help others while learning a new skill.”
Several club members have offered to “run the club” during the next school year and have been talking with their friends about joining this club.
“Little Dresses for Africa” is a nonprofit organization created to help send relief to the children of Central Africa. Simple dresses are made from pillowcases and distributed through orphanages, churches and kids camps throughout Africa.
One of the goals is to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy.
To date, “The Little Dresses for Africa project has received 40,000 dresses including donations from 49 states and three foreign countries.
Slauson Middle School has contributed to the cause while teaching many students how to sew.
– Information for this story was submitted by Carol Mohrlock, a geography teacher at Slauson Middle School.
2 teachers receive Celebration of Excellence awards
Two Ann Arbor Public Schools employees have received Celebration of Excellence Awards from the Ann Arbor Board of Education and the PTO Council. They were recognized on April 14. Burns Park Elementary third-grade teacher Molly Crankshaw and Huron High School teacher Robert Kokoszka earned awards.
Crankshaw was nominated for Outstanding Customer Service by Elizabeth DeRose: “I have had the pleasure of having two children go through her class; my daughter is now in fifth-grade, and my son is currently in her class. Both children have shown tremendous growth, both academically and emotionally, and just really blossomed as individuals under her guidance. She exemplifies excellent customer service by continually exceeding expectations, and her passion and dedication shine through in all that she does.”
Her classroom is a “structured, yet still fun, environment,” DeRose said in her nomination. “I volunteer frequently in her classroom, and am always pleasantly surprised to find the students working or listening respectfully.”
She identifies individual needs of each student and strives to make the students’ experiences at school positive, all with a sense of humor and caring.
Kokoszka, a teacher consultant at Huron for 29 years and chairman of the special education department since 1990. was nominated for Outstanding Customer Service by colleagues Linda Jeffries and Diane Rosenblum.
“He is an outstanding educator and a remarkable man, a teacher whose students come back to see him year after year, long after they have graduated,” they said in their nomination. “Bob is the person his colleagues seek out when they need a wise perspective, professional advice, compassion and support. He is always ready to listen, no matter what he is doing. He is a mentor to teachers, administrators, counselors, secretaries, and assistants.”
He serves as mentor, teacher, confidant and friend and is warm and compassionate, they said.
Volunteers in the schools appreciated
April is the month that volunteers throughout the United States are appreciated. This year, April 18-24 was designated as National Volunteer Appreciation Week. That includes the many Ann Arbor community members who volunteer in The Ann Arbor Public Schools.
The district has more than 100 community volunteers and 250 business and organizational partners through the Partners for Excellence Program as well as many more parents who spend time each day helping students and teachers in the classroom, according to Norma McCuiston, coordinator for Community Partnerships and Projects for the district.
She encourages members of the community to thank the volunteers for their many hours of service. “Please take a moment during the remainder of this month to show how much their time and talent are appreciated,” she said.
School officials to discuss achievement gap on Thursday
A national shift on “college and career ready” focus has Ann Arbor Public Schools officials looking at ways to refine pathways to educational excellence for all students.
Members of the community, school board members, the superintendent and district staff will meet this week to review and interpret the latest standardized test scores. Discussed will the the achievement gap that exists among diverse student population, the need for regular review and ideas around immediate and long-term solutions.
A meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 29 from 7-9 p.m. at Peace Neighborhood Center, 1111 N. Maple Road, Ann Arbor. Refreshments will be served at 7 p.m., with the program starting at 7:10 p.m. and running to 8 p.m. A question-and-answer session will be conducted from 8-9 p.m. Details: 734-994-2200.
Click here for more student and staff achievements in Superintendent Todd Roberts’ “This Week in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.”
By Casey Hans
The roles are set: Two Slauson Middle School students are peer mediators; two others play a boyfriend and girlfriend in a dispute from an off-site party that has carried over to school.
The “boyfriend” has apparently flirted with another girl.
Tempers flare and accusations fly, but eighth-grade conflict managers Lalita Ramirez-Lopez and Evan Shambaugh hold to their rules. They follow a script and procedure they’ve been taught through Peers Making Peace – a new program at the Ann Arbor middle school this year.
“No interrupting,” says Evan firmly, putting an arm out toward Alina Frye, who is beginning to speak directly to her “boyfriend,” played by Mason Kupina. “Don’t talk to him.”
The students must communicate via the peer mediators. They use questions such as “would you like to add anything?” and “what do you need to feel OK about this situation?” and “what can you do to solve this problem?”
“It’s good to get everybody in an opportunity to solve a conflict,” said Evan after the exercise. “It makes sure they listen to the other person.”
The program is gaining ground in Ann Arbor secondary schools, empowering students to help peers resolve their own disputes and keep potential problems from escalating into larger issues.
Pioneer High School adopted it in 2007 and four other Ann Arbor schools trained in the program this year including Slauson, Skyline High School and alternative programs at Stone High School and the Roberto Clemente Student Development Center, said Kenzi Bisbing, youth services manager for the Oakland Mediation Center who oversees the program that serves more than a dozen schools in southeast Michigan.
Bisbing said the program is “for students, by students. Our ultimate vision is that will be at every, single grade level.”
The program is funded through a Title IV Safe and Drug Free Schools federal grant, so districts pay no money for training.
The program not only equips students with skills to resolve disputes, but also reduces staff time spent on discipline and improves school climate, according to program information. Research shared by the OMC shows that schools using the national program have generated a 75 percent drop in expulsions, a 90 percent drop in assaults and a 57.7 percent drop in discipline referrals.
Stone, Clemente and Slauson have trained students and Skyline is scheduled to train students in April, Bisbing said. A three-day trainer workshop was conducted in Ann Arbor last fall for staff who, in turn, train students and put the team in place. Training includes the principles behind mediation and communication and problem-solving skills, as well as team-building exercises.
Slauson teacher Donna McVey and counselors Jan Mackenzie and Grace Harbison are program advisers. They say it should make the established program at Pioneer and the new one at Skyline stronger as students move into high school.
“Conflicts are like an onion. Layers and layers of things may have taken place at earlier times,” explained McVey. “You see them (students) in a bad mood, you check in. If you do see them going at it again, you can pull them right in.”
McVey said students are generally comfortable being part of it. “We talk about the school as a community,” she said. “They love that they can talk to someone and it’s private. Whatever happens in the room stays in the room.”
Slauson Principal Chris Curtis is pleased with it. “I think it’s a terrific program,” he said. “I’m very supportive of it. It empowers the students. The district has done similar things, but this has been a more organized and thorough approach.”
At Stone High School, counselor Madeline Davis works both with the Positive Peer Influence class – designed to help students with challenges that may interfere with their academics – and the new Peers Making Peace.
Fourteen Stone students were trained in PMP in conjunction with several students from Roberto Clemente, where community liaison Barbara Malcom coordinates the program.
“All of my leaders are good students and keep up their grades; that’s a requirement of the program,” Davis said. “We’ve had some referrals already.” She said her PMP leaders are ” in the know, so they come to me. That’s what I’m so proud of. They’re able to maintain relationships (within school) but stand out as leaders.”
Davis said Pioneer counselors Evelyn Tolson and Sara Vance approached Davis about implementing it at Stone. “I went (to training) and the rest is history,” she said. “I love that students are empowered. I think the students are relieved that there’s a place to come to resolve issues. They don’t want to fight.”
Stone senior Nate Graulich is a trained conflict manager and has handled two situations so far. “It gives the kids a chance to talk about things instead of fighting and leaving school,” he said. Graulich said often the student leaders check in informally with fellow students following a PMP session, after which students have signed an agreement about how to proceed. “They know they’re accountable,” he added.
“I see (the program) growing and getting bigger,” said Davis, noting that she is hearing students use some of their skills in everyday conversation around school. “It’s something we’re committed to. It will all contribute to the positive culture we’re trying to create an maintain.”
The Oakland Mediation Center is the only entity credentialed in Michigan to train school staff in the Peers Making Peace program. Visit www.mediation-omc.org for information.
Casey Hans edits this newsletter for The Ann Arbor Public Schools. E-mail her at or call 734-994-5090 ext. 51228.