Tuesday, April 29, 2014

PTO Today Expo gives parent leaders great ideas to help around their school

The Brain Show is one idea to meet standards
Oakland Press  photo album to follow on Wed.
Video PTO Today

This PTO showed their One Team One Dream Spirit
The PTO Today Expo held at the Novi Expo Center was a smorgasbord of great ideas. For parents looking to work with a tight school budget and plenty of ideas on how to both fund raise and add to the culture of the school, this Expo has gained steam across the country. With assembly, after school nights and great ideas to turn possibilities into nights that can change the culture of a school for the better.

To find out more about PTO ideas, check out www.ptotoday.com
Wildlife Safari brought the animals and the parents loved it
It's not a selfie but a group shooting a Kinkajoo.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Oakland Press celebrates top students, programs for 22nd year

In an article written by Diana Dillaber Murray, the Oakland Press celebrated with students in the county for academic excellence. Berkley School District Senior Jacob Behrmann, Berkley High School; Makaya Morgan, Novi High School; and Coryssa West, Waterford Mott High School took home the prizes. The article and photo story celebrate the Excellence in Education (EIE) awards. 

The photo gallery link is in a separate post and the Oakland Press put out an insert on Sunday, April 27th.  


Oakland Press celebrates top students, programs for 22nd year

A Berkley High School student was named top Oakland County senior and a Lake Orion school district’s kindergarten intervention strategy was selected as most outstanding classroom program at the Excellence in Education Recognitions ceremony that was kicked off by The Oakland Press 22 years ago.
The Press started Excellence in Education (EIE) to highlight high school seniors from public, private and parochial schools, who have achieved academically with a 3.0 GPA or above and contributed to their school and community, while at the same time overcoming obstacles that could be daunting for most people.
At the same time, the Press wanted to honor teachers and principals who have created or customized outstanding educational programs who have made a positive difference in children’s academic achievement or their school’s environment.
Six years ago Oakland Schools intermediate district, which provides services to all 28 of the county’s school districts, joined in partnership with the Press to carry on the goals of the EIE.
Overall, more than 1,200 students and creators of 400 classroom programs have been celebrated at the annual EIE recognition nights.
Many of the students selected have continued bravely through their school years on while dealing with such things as death of their parents, divorce, and/or life threatening or physically or emotionally limiting illnesses.
Honored as the top students for the 2014 Excellence in Education Recognition program Thursday at the awards event at Oakland Schools building in Waterford Township, were Jacob Behrmann, Berkley High School; Makaya Morgan, Novi High School; and Coryssa West, Waterford Mott High School.
The top three programs honored were Lake Orion Early Intervention Reading Initiative; South Lyon Dolsen Elementary Taking Care of Others Initiative, and Lake Orion Blanche Sims Kick Off Kindergarten.

Lego KidFest combines traditional Lego Building with Mindstorm and girls products

One thing is clear. Lego will not be ignored. They have far from rested on their laurels. Coming off of a popular movie aptly named "The Lego Movie," the company has launched several Lego KidFest expos across North America and I have covered roughly a dozen expos this year at the Novi Expo Center and Lego's KidFest has been the most popular.
With the Mindstorms Lego line for STEM programs, advanced playsets and the Friends line for girls, they are not just a play toy for boys anymore. The sold out sessions created parking sprawl all over the parking lot with nary a place to park your car. The photo album and Oakland Press video story are below.



Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Oakland Press Excellence In Education Awards

The Oakland Press Excellence In Education Awards

Posted Apr 25, 2014
The Oakland Press Excellence In Education Awards dinner was held Thursday, April 24, at the Oakland Schools building in Waterford Township. Tim Thompson-The Oakland Press.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Teacher's tirade caught on camera

     Cell phones have a lot of negative consequences in the classroom. They also have a lot of positive uses as well as some teachers have students download apps to calculate formulas and make flash cards. For an educator at the Sarasota Military Academy, his bully tactics wishing an unruly student to die cost him his job and was caught on tape. Jeffrey Daughery is a military veteran that has a reputation for losing his cool and his administrations investigation found that he has lost it more than once. The video and print story is below.

ABC7 Extra: Teacher's tirade caught on camera

Posted: Apr 17, 2014 11:15 PM EDT Updated: Apr 17, 2014 11:51 PM EDT
He pushed a students, yelled and told him, 'Open your mouth again and you will die.' Captain Jeffrey Daughtry's rant on one of his students at Sarasota Military Academy cost him his job.
On March 31st, Daughtry says the student was being rude and disruptive. He unleashed a verbal tirade. Another student in the clasroom recorded it and posted it.
When administrators at Sarasota Military Academy learned about the video they confronted him.
The 15-year veteran math teacher claims he doesn't remember being so abusive. He also blamed PTSD he says he suffers from prior military service.
The school investigated and students told administrators this wasn't the first time Daughtry lost his temper. He once threw a student into a wall. The school fired him.
Daughtry wants his job back and says he loves the school and the students. He says firing a disabled military veteran is despicable.
Administrators say he can appeal to try and get his job. He has yet to do that, but is threatening legal action.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why Waterford Schools sports are not being televised and what you can do to change that

    When I was the lead Play-by-Play man for Comcast Sports starting in 1986 going to 1997, we broadcast small college and high school sports weekly with multiple broadcasts. Many people will remember we did 1-2 football games weekly (between Waterford and Pontiac) with very high production values, roughly 15 basketball (both boys and girls) in the winter, (volleyball, wrestling and a full slate of spring sports weather permitting. Our goal is to cover high school sports in the capacity that we used to and even better with today’s technology.

Here are a few solutions as I see it.

1. Involve High School students-
High school students have the opportunity to expand their video production education by contacting our local Media Network station. (248-682-0401). Media Network has multiple resources from computer programs, Tricaster (multiple camera productions) and software programs that are in demand by employers in the broadcasting digital media arts industries. The local coordinator for Media Network Josh Bowren has over 30 years of experience including currently working at Channel 7. He is based out of the Covert Center across from Mott.  Students would be wise to learn from him, Denise, myself and a few others from all aspects of video production, commercials and PSA's and build their resume for college. Internships at Media Network with hands on experience with real learning brought back to the classroom.

2. Involve- The Community at Large 
If you have ever had the idea of starting a show for your civic organization or want to learn how to make PSA’s for the organization, we are glad to assist. The equipment is free to check out after training by Media Network personnel. The bottom line is are looking for more people to get involved in community & school productions including sports.  If you know an uncle or aunt, brother or sister that would love to learn and participate in Television Production, please send them our way.

 Training is available at Media Network on everything from camera work, green screen, video editing in multiple formats to Photoshop and Adobe After Effects. For an exact schedule of the workshops, call Media Network. As for the sports schedule (look below).
Call Media Network (Josh or Denise) 248-682-0401 or myself Roy Akers 248-238-4449. The schedule is below.

      Media Network with be broadcasting several events involving both OCC and Waterford Schools this spring. Tennis, softball, baseball, soccer and golf will be on tap. The highlight of the coverage will be Mott vs. Kettering softball (April 23rd) and the Oakland County Golf tournament from the 17th hole at Pontiac Country Club where coaches from teams will join me.
All games are aired in Waterford on TV-10 or ATT U-Verse on Channel 99 and go to the Waterford Channel next to the Waterford Schools news channel. 
Wed. April 23 Mott at Kettering High School Softball Crew call 4pm 
Sat. April 26 OCC Highland Lakes Softball Crew call
Tue.  May 6th Pierce Jr High School Tennis Courts Crew Tennis 4pm +
Wed. May 14 Kettering vs Mott Lacrosse

Editorial from the Freep- Why is Michigan so far behind other states in Education?

I know no one that says "we're number 47." If you are a teacher in Michigan you have to have a collective state ranking and Michigan trails all but South Dakota, Alaska and West Virginia.  How did this happen? When I was teaching in Florida and Georgia several years ago, these states were just coming off of being in the bottom ten states when it comes to educational achievement. During my time there, MAP testing, state standards and rigor were the rage and teacher evaluations were tied to the data. (Whether it was entirely fair is another matter) but my students were above the norm but in many classrooms around the state that is not the case. How did Michigan get there? Why is Michigan using the standards from other states including math? In Waterford for instance, some schools use Georgia standards in math. The Detroit Free Press takes a look at this dilemma facing our schools. The link to the Detroit Free Press editorial is below the graph.
Michigan ranks near the bottom in a number of categories when grading public education.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Waterford Marshmallow Drop has hundreds of families and is great for school recruiting

     Community events with current and future students with their parents is a great way to watch the family unit play in the community. The Marshmallow Drop held at the Waterford Civic Center across from the Police Station combined a great marketing opportunity for school districts and charter schools/tutoring services to reach parents they would not have ordinarily seen. While the Easter Bunny, dancing, crafts at the library and more were on display, a great way to showcase school initiatives from recruiting to programs known. I did not see any but without a doubt, the Waterford Parks and Rec. needs and deserves the dough. Parents would also benefit from knowing about the various services out there. Beyond that, the event saw Waterford at its finest. The video with kid interviews and the drop is below. https://vimeo.com/91810529

Teaching overseas is really a hit or miss proposition as one school owners rant suggests

     With so many school districts and counties having budget problems and the threats of constant layoffs have some teachers looking to teach overseas. I checked this option out for myself but with sole custody of a child, there are too many complications to going overseas for me but for you, it may make total sense. The issues both pro and con will be saved for another article but teachers looking to becoming 'expats' this may be something for you to look into. 

While you will not make as much as a veteran teacher overseas as you will in Michigan or elsewhere, the money isn't the thing, its the money you can save living on a lower cost-of-living, adventure and so on. For good schools, they pay for decent housing, give you a ride to work, airfare and bonuses. Those are for the good schools. Many will entice you but in many countries, a contract is just a suggestion and the law in many courts is not on your side.  One unidentified owner below has a charter school type model and is out to make a profit with teachers and students not being number one. Here is his side of the story.

  A School Owner Talks About Teachers’ Complaints

“The next time your members think to complain about not being happy with this and that, I ask them to consider how they are displaying the same sense of entitlement they don’t like to see in their students.”
Dear ISR, I have been a member of your web site for years. I am the owner of a moderate sized school in a developing nation. I employ 25 expat teachers and I am always very interested to know what teachers are saying about my school on ISR. (International School Review). Regarding things they complain about, I would like to discuss three points and hopefully you will share what I have to say with your members to give them a chance to respond.
1) Professional Development: A common complaint among my staff is a lack of school sponsored professional development. When I interview teachers I make it abundantly clear I cannot/will not send teachers to an in-service in another country. Airfare, hotel and conference fees would add up to substantial expense for the school. As professionals, I feel it should be a teacher’s responsibility to keep up with developing practices in their field. What’s wrong with webinars? I don’t see teachers going to these conferences at their own expense. I have flown in “experts” to deliver PD and the teachers complained, perhaps justifiably, that many of these self-proclaimed experts are far from competent.
2) Housing: Housing can be a big issue. I rent 20 places and pay huge sums each month in rents alone. We have a maintenance staff that maintains the apartments for the teachers, and while the houses aren’t villas and don’t have pools or gyms, they are nice little homes in a safe part of town with facilities, including A/C. It’s what I can afford. I supply a bus that picks up/drops off teachers each school day. Some teachers are satisfied with their housing and others not so much. I don’t see it is my responsibility to support teachers at the level to which they would like to aspire. If they want to live in a better place, they can take the equivalent of the school-provided house and add some money of their own. But they don’t want to do this. They want me to pay as if I were mom and dad.
3) Air Fare, Shipping Allowance and Dependents: Our contract includes round trip airfare. I pay to bring teachers into the country from their home of record and pay to fly them home two years later. I do not pay for non-teaching spouses. I obtain Visas for teachers but dependent spouses must pay for their own Visa plus fees incurred. When there is a dependent spouse and child, I pay the airfare for the child and offer free school tuition for that child. The teacher must pay the expense for a second child including 50% of the normal enrollment fees. For teaching couples I pay all airfares, Visas (up to two children) and school tuition. For shipping I pay two suitcases overage for each teacher and one per child. Trying to ship anything through customs here is impossible. I do not pay toward teachers’ accompanying pets.
I think the Airfare and Visa allowance is very fair. I purchase over twenty-five tickets and pay more than 60 extra bag charges. Some teachers complain about the route we sent them on or the length of stop overs. Some complain I should pay for them to return home every year. Some think I should supply more shipping allowance. Some love their pets as children and expect me to honor that attitude with a plane ticket. My position is I can only afford so much. If a teacher wants to upgrade they are welcome to do so, yet I have seen very few do it.
In Conclusion: My school is what has been termed a “for-profit” school. Of course it is! I started this school with my own money and a big loan. I’ve risked a lot. I chose to open a school because I love education and think it is the path to many things in this world.
But let me be clear. I am not a philanthropist and I do not have endless amounts of money to finance this institution out-of-pocket. I need to meet my expenses and put a few dollars in my pocket. Yes, I live better than the teachers and I drive my own car. I have lived in this country my entire life and worked hard to get where I am. If I were to “support” the teaching staff on a level similar to what they are used to at home, I would be forced to short-change the school. In addition to teacher-related expenses and their salaries (that most local people would give their right hand for), I have the school buildings to maintain, heat/cooling, water, gardeners, maintenance and office staff, cafeteria staff, taxes, bank loans, government officials, text books, computers, science labs, classroom supplies, and by far the biggest expense, teachers’ salaries.
So the next time ISR members complain about not being happy about every little this and that, I would ask them to consider this: They are displaying the same unattractive sense of entitlement they don’t like to see in their students. If I gave any more to the expat staff I would have to start taking away from the students. The students are the reason for the school. Teachers looking for someone to treat them like their parents did should consider the bigger, richer schools. Some teachers who demand a more comprehensive package are better suited for these schools.
A ‘proud of my for-profit school’ owner

There are many great jobs teaching overseas and my recommendation is to really research schools that are attending job fairs (the recruitment season is winding down in June) and some schools are great and others are a view of a 'living hell.'  I will have a retired Waterford Schools teacher talk about what he has loved about South Korea in the future as he has been there for several years. Because many people kick the tires on this, the following characteristics will benefit you but by no means should they be your only measuring stick.

1. Being young is better than being experienced. (Salaries, visas)
2. Being a married teaching couple is really key to a plum job. (Two teachers with one living arrangement save the schools money).
3. Having 0-1 child. Usually the first child is free for education and often both children are   educated free. South American countries do not like kids and pay poorly. If you have 2+ kids, you will have a tough time getting a good job.
4. Teach multiple subjects. Believe it or not, teaching language arts is seen as a coveted placement for most schools.
5. Be flexible and open minded on countries. Kuwait is really great at most schools. China, Japan, South Korea are as well. I was offered several jobs. None made me want to go to court to get approval for my daughter to go with me.
6. Do your research. Consider a $25 investment for a one year access to International Schools Review and read to make an informed decision.
7. Single parents of children (especially men) are not the best candidates for the best jobs.
There will be many more observations from those that went another time.

Roy J. Akers

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Waterford Schools and Cultural Council exhibit student work at Waterford Library

Students in grades K-12 work is on exhibit at the Waterford Library through April 22nd. Show your support by visiting the work located throughout the library.

A video story in the Oakland Press is found here

Monday, April 7, 2014

Michigan Professor the victim of the ultimate April Fools cell phone prank

     I have seen most teachers at the high school level give up on students using cell phones being used in class. I know that some schools and some teachers have a better handle on it than others but I have been to some schools and rampant texting and internet usage is as common as a pencil. Many teachers allow students to use their phones as a Kindle or I-Pad so what are you going to do. In Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Professor Stephen Barrows has a policy for students picking up their ringing cell phones and taking a call in class. He has the student put the call on speaker phone. The transcript is below and so is the video link. They are both hilarious. 


College student pulls ultimate prank on strict professor

This past April Fools' Day, a professor's strict no-phone policy set one student up to pull the ultimate prank in class, which was caught on video and is now going viral.
(Note: Stop reading here and watch the video if you want the surprise.)
Professor Stephen Barrows, an economics professor at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich., has a pretty straightforward policy when it comes to phones in class — if it rings, you have to answer the call on speaker phone.
The clip begins with Barrow telling student Taylor Nefcy to answer her ringing phone, reminding her, "You have to answer it!"
So she does, only to be greeted by an unexpected message:
"Hi, this is Kevin from the Pregnancy Resource Center. Per your request, I am calling to inform you that the test results have come back positive. Congratulations."
Video: A teacher who has a rule that if your cellphone rings in class, you have to answer it and put it on speakerphone, got pranked by a female student when she got a call announcing she was pregnant. The teacher apologized and she revealed it was a joke.
Barrow's face begins to show his concern for Nefcy's embarrassment, and he quickly tells her to shut her phone off, but the message continues.
"There is no need to worry," says the caller. "I know you told us the father is no longer in the picture, but we will be in contact with you throughout this whole process, so don't worry about anything. We provide counseling and other maternity services at no charge."
As the call ends, Barrow states that he'd like to publicly apologize to his student.
"That's okay," Nefcy responds. "I've been expecting this and I already know what I'm going to name the baby. Her first name will be April and her middle name will be Fools," she says as the professor bursts into laughter (and relief).
"I will treasure that," Barrow said of the prank. "You can't understand the internal relief
ideo: A teacher who has a rule that if your cellphone rings in class, you have to answer it and put it on speakerphone, got pranked by a female student when she got a call announcing she was pregnant.

     As the call ends, Barrow states that he'd like to publicly apologize to his student.
"That's okay," Nefcy responds. "I've been expecting this and I already know what I'm going to name the baby. Her first name will be April and her middle name will be Fools," she says as the professor bursts into laughter (and relief).
"I will treasure that," Barrow said of the prank. "You can't understand the internal relief."

     When teachers build a mousetrap, pretty soon they will end up building a better mousetrap.