Friday, March 29, 2013

Jane Goodall Brings Seeds of Hope to Notre Dame Prep students

     When Jane Goodall did an unexpected press conference at Oakland University before her lecture before 3,000 interested people, Notre Dame Prep students doing a research project were the unexpected benefactors. Doing a research project and getting quotes from books or the internet is one thing, but when you get them from directly from Dr. Jane Goodall is one where their teachers and members of the press were there to watch. The video story on Goodall's appearance and their good fortune is in the link below. Jane Goodall sows seeds of hope to Oakland Univ. and local students

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Big investment in troubled metro Detroit high schools pays off in a big way

Big investment in troubled metro Detroit high schools pays off in a big way

 March 22, 2013   |  

Juwan Todd, 18, of Detroit jokes with principal Mark Mayberry between classes at Henry Ford High School. The school, once termed a "dropout factory," is reversing its fortunes thanks to support by United Way for Southeastern Michigan and the GM Foundation. / Kathleen Galligan/Detroit Free Press
Alston Hunter, 15, of Detroit works with English language arts teacher Maggie Ramos at Henry Ford High. The goal for the 15 schools in the networks is an 80% graduation rate. / Kathleen Galligan/Detroit Free Press
A'Sia Brown, 16, of Detroit works on polynomials with math instructor Joe Maugeri at Henry Ford High. Besides classroom learning, students get mentors, internships and other real-world experiences. / Kathleen Galligan/Detroit Free Press
Two years ago, Henry Ford High in Detroit had a graduation rate of 56% and was considered a "dropout factory."
Today, it has new academic and mentoring programs, has a robotics team and is expecting a huge increase in its graduation rate because of support from United Way for Southeastern Michigan and the GM Foundation.
United Way projects that this spring 73-84% of seniors will graduate from eight schools it supports, in some cases doubling the prior graduation rates. The class of 2013 in the United Way Network of Excellence is the first group of students in the turnaround program for all four years of high school.
The United Way conceived the program four years ago, and started with eight schools in the region with support from other organizations such as the AT&T Foundation and the Skillman Foundation. In 2011, the GM Foundation donated its largest grant ever to the effort, $27.1 million. That led to the addition of seven more schools, now referred to as the GM Foundation's Network of Excellence.
The GM Foundation is a lead sponsor of NBC News' Education Nation summit, which will be held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit today and Saturday. United Way and GM Foundation officials expect to tout the progress of the Networks of Excellence at the summit.
"We think of these as our schools," said GM Foundation President Vivian Pickard. "Education is the primary area of focus for the GM Foundation and NBC News' Education Nation On-the-Road provides a forum for us to join key stakeholders to share best practices and inspire real, systemic change."
The Education Nation summit -- an invitation-only event that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is sponsoring, too -- will be live-streamed online. The event seeks to create a national conversation about how to improve schools while highlighting innovations that work. It will be hosted by Chelsea Clinton, an NBC News special correspondent. Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder are expected to take part in today's sessions. Student and teacher town hall meetings will take place Saturday.
In June 2008, United Way set out to turn around or lobby to shut down 30 high schools in the region where the graduation rate was less than 60% for at least three consecutive years. The goal for the 15 schools in the networks is an 80% graduation rate. The grant money helps the schools pay for a turnaround expert to help change the culture, curriculum and instruction and create nurturing, personalized learning.
The high school turnaround effort also seeks to increase ACT scores on average by 1 point per year. The ACT scores proved to be a tougher needle to move. So far, the average ACT scores in schools in the program increased by 0.5 point, according to United Way.
Meanwhile, United Way hopes to get more people to believe low-performing schools can achieve transformational change.
"Graduation is a community issue," said Michael Brennan, United Way for Southeastern Michigan president. "One of our biggest challenges is belief. Confidence is building that this is possible because we have begun to see traction."
At Melvindale High, one of the first schools in the program four years ago, the grant money funded a new after-school tutoring program, ACT preparation classes through Kaplan Test Prep and opportunities for some students to take classes at Baker College.
Shannon Luppino, principal at Melvindale High, said she expects to see a graduation rate near 90% this spring.
"We have so many nationalities and they truly want to have a better life and want to be successful, and all that United Way has offered or afforded us has helped them to get to this point," Luppino said.
Mark Mayberry, the principal at Ford, said new programs at the school are not only academic, but focus on character building and giving students mentors, internships, field trips and other real-world experiences.
"These are life-changing opportunities that lead the students to say, 'There's life after high school,' " he said.
Jaylen Moore, 18, the senior class president at Ford, landed an internship with GM and expects his class -- and future ones -- will have enough graduates to retire Ford's "dropout factory" moniker.
"It's more of a learning environment than it was two or three years ago," Moore said. "It's a big change."
Contact Chastity Pratt Dawsey: 313-223-4537 or

Friday, March 22, 2013

Waterford Expo connects residents to area small business

The annual Waterford Expo connected Waterford Township residents to local small businesses. This Oakland Press News story and archived on You Tube gives the flavor of the event.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Holly Academy teacher selected as panelist for ‘Teacher Town Hall”

Holly Academy teacher selected as panelist for ‘Teacher Town Hall”

Thursday, March 21 2013
Jeremiah Stieve
HOLLY, Michigan -  Mr. Jeremiah Stieve, a middle school Social Studies teacher at Holly Academy, has been selected to be a panelist at Education Nation’s Teacher Town Hall this Saturday, March 23, 2013.  NBC Education Nation was started in September, 2010 as a year-round initiative to engage the country in a solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in America.

“As a passionate educator, I look forward to engaging in productive conversations with other educators about what is best for our students and the future of education,” Stieve said.  “Having the opportunity to sit down with other professionals and discuss the best ways to do that is always powerful!”

Stieve is one of 10 teachers from around the state representing Michigan’s charter schools.  “Regardless of where teachers teach, I feel we all have a common mission,” says Stieve.  “We are charged with preparing our students for the future to the best of our ability.”  Stieve has been a teacher at Holly Academy for more than 6 years, and recently received his Master of Arts, Educational Leadership from Oakland University.

NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis, along with local WDIV anchors Carmen Harlan and Steve Garagiola will be covering the Teacher Town Hall.  The event will run from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the Detroit Museum of African American History.  WDIV Channel 4 will broadcast the first hour of the Town Hall.  The event can be viewed in its entirety via live stream on the Education Nation website.

More schools are arming themselves with security measures

Security buzzer systems to be installed at all Holly Area School buildings

Written by Amy Mayhew
Wednesday, March 13 2013
Holly resident David Cornelius...
HOLLY, Michigan – Holly area resident David Cornelius is a retired police officer and has been a firearm instructor and shooting range master for the past 15 years.

Cornelius used the public comment segment of the March 11 Holly Area Schools Board of Education meeting to tell board members that he favors having armed security guards and/or armed teachers in all of the Holly Area School buildings.

“If people are properly trained and placed in schools, we could certainly avoid a situation like the one that happened in Connecticut,” Cornelius said referencing the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CN. “It took the police 10 minutes to respond – nobody in the school was armed and unfortunately, there was more mayhem and misery that took place before police did arrive.”

In addition to suggesting that each school employ an armed security guard, Cornelius also advocates training teachers to carry weapons in the schools. “There again, I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “There are alarm systems that are available and can be placed in the rooms – if something happens, they’re set off and all the teachers know,” he said. “Those with weapons would be in a different position and if there is an armed security guard in there or a police officer, they would definitely be able to take action.”
Kent Barnes

During his report to the board, Barnes discussed a buzzer system that will soon be installed in the district’s buildings, and addressed Cornelius’ thoughts.

“There have been a lot of discussions regarding safety – obviously we’re concerned about safety,” Barnes said. “But what we want to have is a very well-thought out response, not a knee jerk, and what we will be having installed into our buildings will be the buzzer system, for lack of a better term.”

Barnes said he has taken the time to speak with local police and government officials on the matter or ensuring staff and student safety in the schools.

“The issue of teachers carrying weapons – there is a lot of pros and cons to that,” Barnes said.  “Most people in education didn’t go into education to shoot armed weapons – they went in because they cared about kids and wanted to teach,” he added. “I don’t disagree that we want to take all prudent steps, but we can’t make our schools prisons – they still have to be safe, secure and inviting.”

While Barnes didn’t dismiss Cornelius’ idea of allowing teachers and other staff members to carry concealed weapons in the schools, he said if that were to happen, adequate discussion followed by adequate training would be crucial.

“We have individuals who have never shot a weapon,” Barnes said. “I think they would almost be afraid to carry a water pistol – those are not the people that you want, it’s not for everyone.”

Barnes said he expects legislation on the topic to be presented and passed in the future. “What I believe the governor wants is to allow each individual school district to make that final decision,” he said. “No one is arguing that we don’t need to provide as much safety as we can for our students and staff and our community members in our buildings – the crucial issue is how we can accomplish this and that’s why discussions are still ongoing.”
Steve Lenar

Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Steve Lenar said buzzer security systems are scheduled to be installed in all of the district’s school buildings later this month. Lenar said it is the goal to have all installations completed and the system up and running by May 1.

Lenar said the buzzer system will cost the district between $16,000 and $18,000, and that all of the funds will come from the district’s maintenance budget.

Because the cost of the system is less than $20,000, the issue has been handled administratively, and without a vote by the board.
#1 CC22 Wednesday, March 13 2013 11:44am
I think that teachers that are comfortable with weapons should be allowed to be armed. Tasers and pepper spray should also be allowed for those teachers, admin, and support staff with proper training and regulations in place.
It should be voluntary based on the comfort level of each person.
Report to administrator
#2 durrwood Wednesday, March 13 2013 9:55pm
What a wonderful idea! If more guns and weapons can protect our children in schools let's arm everyone in the schools. Let's give each of our kids a gun just to be sure that they can protect themselves.

Seriously, I do want my children in schools with armed civilians. The answer to gun violence is not more guns.
-Holly Parent
#3 circus011574 Thursday, March 14 2013 9:08am
I think it's a great idea to have two or three armed people in each school, as long as the people are properly qualified and trained. And it would need to be voluntary, I'd never ask anyone to carry a gun who wasn't comfortable with it.
Report to administrator
#4 Askwhy Thursday, March 14 2013 9:35am
Thank You Holly!!! for looking into protecting our kids. Ask this, if a classroom had $10k in cash would it be protected by a armed guard? If the Rolling Stones were there, would a armed guard be present? But not to protect our kids right?? If a whack job decides to do bad things, where do they go?? Gun Free Zone!! that's right, then they don't get hurt. After the damage is done, who do we call? Someone with a gun :). Qualified, confident people (a couple) with a weapon to protect our kids is a good thing. Please don't over react with "everyone" having guns. Most people don't want or need one.
Report to administrator
#5 Joe Thursday, March 14 2013 4:03pm
I think having guns in the schools has a lot more potential to cause harm than good.

I'd rather take the risk of the small percentage chance someone shows up to a school with a weapon with intent to do harm (i.e. Sandy Hook) versus the everyday chance that someone comes across one of the several weapons floating around the school.

How many times do you read a news article where someone who was armed successfully defended themselves? Yes, it happens occasionally. I read an article recently about a teacher in Detroit being robbed in the parking lot and it ended with the victim shooting and killing the robber, but it's rare.

Now how many times do you read an article about a kid that came across their parent's gun and something bad came of it? This seems to be the much more common story.

I realize it all goes to responsible gun ownership but even trained police officers occasionally have a lapse and leave their weapon in a bathroom stall, etc.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Do longer school days make for better grades?

     Data is supporting longer school days improve students grades, test scores and well being. Are you on board with this? This Channel One news report gives a thumbs up to schools using the model and added federal funds. Would you support the model in the  two-minute report below?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Religious absense school attendance bill

Religious absense school attendance bill
Posted: 03.16.2013 at 9:51 AM

LANSING -- A Democratic Michigan lawmaker wants to ensure that students are not penalized for missing school to observe a religious holiday.
Democratic Rep. Kate Segal of Battle Creek recently introduced a bill that would prohibit public school officials from counting days students take off to observe religious holidays against them when handing out perfect attendance or other awards.
Segal said in a statement that if children make up their missed work they should not have to choose "between observing their faith and boosting their academic resume."
Her office says that while students are often given an excused absence for missing school for a religious holiday, they may be disqualified from receiving a perfect attendance award as a result.

Local Church tutoring program helps improve school climate

    1. Most schools want to build partnerships with both businesses and community groups that want to help improve the lives of young people. When Kensington Community Church approached the Pontiac School District about helping the students at Will Rogers Elementary on Pontiac's north side, they wanted to help students by tutoring students. What the volunteers found out was they could help make connections with the students well beyond the classroom. 

Paleo Joe wows students with dinosaur artifacts at assembly

     Growing up, I think many students have a natural curiosity to learn about dinosaurs. This curiosity is enhanced when they can see a program that combines real artifacts, a connection to learning by using puppets and student participation and an interesting speaker. Paleo Joe is a former teacher turned paleontologist and has turned his love of dinosaurs into a fun second career helping students of all ages make a connection to science. His program at Mill Springs Elementary in Highland combines everything from fossils and illustrations to even fossilized dino poo. Joe has traveled the state for 19+ years and plays both elementary and middle schools and libraries. His dinosaur CSI program is geared toward adults. The kids loved it and hopefully you will love this Oakland Press video story.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Science superstars compete at Intel Fair

     Teachers who believe this generation of students can change the world can look toward the Intel Science Fair. Students are being taught by excellent teachers are synergizing their own research with others to provide projects that are advancing the field. The kicker is many are still in both middle and high school. In the Channel One story below, the projects are amazing and if you believe you have students that can compete in next years fair, an application is below.