Guest Contributor: Melissa Heuker, Director of Students Services
Much like Whitmore Lake Public Schools, Michigan’s Department of Education (MDE) has also completed a strategic planning cycle with the goal of becoming one of the top 10 education states in the country within the next 10 years. Currently, Michigan is ranked 36th based on student achievement data and high school graduation rates. Michigan’s strategic plan includes seven goals to accomplish by 2027. In addition to increasing family and community involvement in all aspects of education, other goals include competency-based education, educator professional development, and financial equity (see below for a complete list).
The State Board of Education together with Interim State Superintendent, Sheila Alles, have decided to focus on three areas of improvement for the next 2-3 years. First, MDE is prioritizing the need for a strong start to education for children from birth to age 8. Michigan hopes to expand access to free, quality preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds by 2025. Secondly, Michigan schools will focus on developing the whole child, connecting efforts from the entire school and the community with academic and non-academic needs in an integrated approach (www.mi.gov/wholechild). The last priority is to increase student literacy with a Read by Grade 3 initiative (www.mi.gov/earlyliteracy).
WLPS is working right alongside MDE, embracing MDE’s areas of focus within our district. First, Whitmore Lake is proud to offer free and reduced rates for preschool programming for 3- and 4-year olds through the Head Start and Great Start Readiness Program. We host half-day and full-day programming in an accredited program for our tiny Trojans. You can learn more here: https://www.wlps.net/early-childhood-center/. Secondly, to develop the whole child, Whitmore Lake Public Schools is working to adopt and implement a K-12 social emotional learning program. Both buildings are taking an active role by creating new programs and supports for our students. You can learn more about social emotional learning in WLPS in September’s Diving Deeper blog by our Director of Instruction, Jill Henry HERE. Finally, WLPS has also charged its staff to improve academic programming, specifically in the area of elementary English Language Arts. Whitmore Lake Elementary School recently adopted common teaching strategies called Units of Study for Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins to carry out this goal. The early elementary teachers are also working diligently with parents to create Individualized Reading Intervention Plans to ensure every student can read at grade-level by the end of third grade.
With hard work and dedication from our educators, students, their families, and the community, WLPS continues to provide exceptional, personalized education to the children in our region. Without a doubt, whatever successes are achieved at the state level will be infused with a little #TrojanPride.