School Bells: Eberwhite teacher in summer production of ‘Phantom’

Jeffrey Willets, an Eberwhite Elementary School teacher, will play the lead role of the Phantom in August in the 8th Wonder Theatre production of “Phantom” at Canton Township’s Village Theater at Cherry Hill Village. He is cast opposite Broadway performer and singer Maria Couch, who plays Christine Daae in the musical by Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit, writers of recent Broadway and movie musical hit “Nine.” The show will run from Aug. 6-15.

Willets is an accomplished singer and 18-year Ann Arbor Public Schools teaching veteran who has been singing even longer. A tenor who has studied and trained at Eastern Michigan University and the New England Conservatory of Music, he has tackled a variety of roles ranging from opera and operetta to musical theater, cabaret and everything between.

Performance times and dates are 8 p.m., Aug. 6 and 7 and Aug. 13 and 14; 2 p.m. Aug. 8 and Aug. 15; and 10 a.m. performances on Aug. 12 and 13. Tickets may be purchased at Summit in the Park community center, by phone at 734-394-5460, online at or at the door. The Village Theater at Cherry Hill is at 50400 Cherry Hill Road at the corner of Cherry Hill and Ridge roads. The box office opens one hour before show time. Tickets cost $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and youth; and group rates are available. For the 10 a.m. performances only, a $5 minimum donation is being accepted at the door for first-come, first-served seating (no advance ticket sales.)

Details about the theater company can be found here:

Foundation changes accounting, campaign continues

Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation Executive Director Wendy Correll said the nonprofit is moving to an accrual method of accounting that should better reflect its donations to the school district, accounting for them in the appropriate fiscal year.

In a statement to donors this month, Correll explained that the foundation’s accounting has been done in the past on a cash basis, which “was easiest and less expensive when we were raising and granting less money.” Correll said, with the change, grants awarded will be reflected as a liability on future tax returns even if they have not yet been paid out.

The foundation has grown steadily since 2007, she said. “As AAPSEF matures as an organization and grows in contributions, administrative costs should become a smaller percentage of the overall budget.” The AAPSEF board has resolved that in 2012, program expenses including grants, scholarships and fund distributions should be 65 or higher; functional administrative expenses should be lower than 15 percent; and fundraising expenses should be lower than 10 percent.

Staffing levels at the nonprofit have changed from a part-time director in 2007 adding a part-time bookkeeper and a part-time administrative aide one year ago. She said bringing bookkeeping in-house saved money and that the foundation has changed CPA firms and is working to better align expenses and grant allocation with the proper fiscal year.

Meanwhile, the foundation’s One Million Reasons fundraising campaign supporting the Ann Arbor Schools had reached $290,000 as of mid-July, Correll reports  The foundation is trying to raise $1 million for district programs. Deadline for gifts and pledges is July 31 for 2010-11 academic year programs. Donate online at or call 734-994-1969.

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