It was packed at the WLES Open House two weeks ago. Wednesday I could not find a parking spot at the Early Childhood Center for their orientation. Then later in the day, I talked to moms and dads late into the evening at the Middle School and High School Parent Night. School is officially back in session.
I love it when the students come back. It really is an exciting part of the year. Getting ready for their arrival is lively and chaotic. Luckily, we have great staff making it all happen, many in a role who aren’t often thought of as we all prepare for the new school year.
I want to give a special #ThankATrojan “shout out” to all our employees behind the scenes who make the start of school a special, safe, and seamless experience.
- Our transportation crew is awesome. They do the most problem solving of any department early in the year. They keep their cool and get hundreds of children back and forth to schools amidst separation anxiety, construction, and reckless drivers.
- Secretaries put in long hours in August. Fifteen hour days can be the norm because securing accurate information is critical to the safety and well being of our students.
- Maintenance and custodians are moving, cleaning and polishing nonstop. They take pride in what they do and our facilities show it. To this day, visitors walk into our buildings, which mind you are over a decade old, and ask if they are new.
- Paraprofessionals did an incredible job starting the year. They meet students at the buses, help them to classes, keep them organized during the onslaught of information coming at them, help with lunch choices and cleanup, and get them safely back on the buses at the end of the day. We are not WLPS without them.
Finally, please read the end of this blog as I highlight Maria Carter-Ewald. Maria, who attended WLPS K-12, is the district’s communications specialist – meaning she has to listen to my crazy ideas each week and try to put together a logical plan for sharing them. The WLPS Board of Education has been impressed with Maria from day one, and I am proud that she has earned some regional accolades for her ability to use the latest and greatest communication tools we have.
A big thank you to all for a safe start to our year. Enjoy your first News and Notes of the 2017-2018 school year.
Want to give a special shout-out to a fellow Trojan, staff member, student, etc.? Use #ThankATrojan on social media and make sure to tag us so we can share it too.
Today is a great day to be a Trojan.
Making Things Happen
You know that question we all get hit with when meeting someone new? “So what do you do?” Across the board, anyone working for WLPS could provide this simple answer: “I make things happen for kids.” That is exactly what our staff does. They make things happen. And this summer, even though their classrooms were empty, some stellar members of the Trojan family kept at it, tapping into resources to make more and more happen for our kids this school year.
Collectively they earned over $28k in grants.
At the top of the “PAC” is our WLHS Post-Secondary Advisory Council (PAC) geniuses Kathy DeKeyser, Jill Henry and Maria Carter-Ewald. They were awarded a whopping $25k from the Michigan College Access Network to propel forward our efforts in building a college-going culture K-12 (and they celebrated accordingly as you can see if the Boomerang video at the bottom). Ms. DeKeyser will be joining me in next month’s Between Two Ferns, my monthly Facebook Live! segment. We will be discussing the grant and what the PAC has in store for College Month in early October, so I won’t give a ton away. But to provide some highlights, the grant has allowed us to purchase cutting-edge blended-learning college and career planning curriculum, new technology needed to support that curriculum and put new programs in place to provide additional support not only to students who are the first in their families to attend college but also to their parents.
The mastermind behind the super successful June event, Book Bingo, Heidi Roy-Borland, our Early Literacy and MTSS Data Coach, had her first Donor Choose project fully funded to the tune of $986 this summer. She used the funds to purchase 45 Caldecott Award-winning books, durable canvas book bags and clear pocket plastic folders to create a traveling book review project. The books will be divided between the kindergarten and first grade classes.
Students in those grades will take the books home, one at a time, and read them with their family. After reading, families will talk about the book and allow the student to write or draw what they thought about the book in the journal made out of the clear plastic folders. These book reviews will be shared in class so students can practice their speaking and listening skills too!
On top of that, Ms. Roy-Borland was one of three staff members, along with Eric Kobeck and Jennifer Petzke (pictured left) to receive a $100 Meemic Foundation Back to School Grant! Shortly after the Gordon Group stopped by to give her the award, Ms. Petzke wasted no time in putting that $100 to good use! She bought much-needed notebooks for writing workshops, composition books, post its and pencils. Ms. Roy-Borland also received an additional $100 from the Meemic Foundation through Scholastic.
Patti Kobeck and Ms. Roy-Borland (pictured left) also were chosen out of over 82k applicants to receive $500 and 500 bonus points as 2017 Patterson Partnership winners to help build their classroom libraries! This was all part of the James Patterson’s $1.75 Million Giveaway to support classroom libraries.
Adding to our overall total is our social worker at the Elementary School, Amber Masterson, who received a Unified Champion Schools Funding grant for $950 from Special Olympics Michigan. The goal of the grant is to create a positive school climate leading to student achievement and success by using inclusive sports, community service or school beautification projects and art displays in schools that focus on accomplishment, confidence, and pride for students to increase understanding, acceptance and sensitivity. They will use the funds to purchase art supplies, a bocce ball set, planting materials for a beautification project and snacks. This is in addition to $1,200 they received last May for the same project that was used to purchase bocce ball sets, soccer balls, a visual motor integration program called Bal-a-vis-x, scooter boards, resistance bands, and snacks.
And last but not least, our 1st-grade teachers teamed together and applied for a Delta Dental Foundation scholarship to take the entire grade to the Hands On Museum to explore not only the whole museum but also the Dental Health Exhibit on loan from the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing. Congrats to Kim Bakker, Lori Milliman and Amy Anderson on receiving the $480 to cover all costs of the trip.
Join me in congratulating all these staff members on a job well done along with thanking the partners who make these grants possible. I look forward to seeing the impact they have on our students.
Now is also a good time to mention that our district foundation, Whitmore Lake Foundation for Educational Excellence, is currently accepting grant applications from WLPS staff members until October 15. If you want to learn more about WLFEE and how you can support grant opportunities in our district, head to www.wlfee.org.
Representing WLPS in Detroit
This News and Notes is a little staff-centric, but it is exciting to highlight the cool stuff our team members are doing to put us on the map. Our Director of Community Relations and Recreation attended the Digital Summit in Detroit conference this week at Cobo Center where she had the opportunity to learn from the best of the best in the digital marketing industry. We are talking Pinterest, Google and even the CEO/Co-Founder of Buzzfeed and Co-Founder of Huffington Post. (I’m told this is a big deal).
If that wasn’t enough, Digital Summit provided all 1200 attendees with an opportunity to receive a bunch of prizes for spreading the word about the conference. Putting her social media know-how to work, our very own Ms. Carter-Ewald was one of their top sharers! She was able to attend a full day class on social media taught by the Senior Director of Digital Engagement & Social Media at Georgetown University, Laura Wilson, where she sat next to a CEO who flew all the way from Singapore to attend the training. The next day, along with receiving fun swag, she shot the t-shirt cannon from the stage and was able to sit down one-on-one with Ms. Wilson from Georgetown to get her insight on ideas specific to WLPS. The next day she was able to meet popular American documentary filmmaker (most would know him from Super Size Me) Morgan Spurlock who was the keynote speaker. And the list goes on.
Fittingly, she shared a lot of her experiences on her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I’ve included some of those pictures below. #TrojanPride #SheTaughtMeHowToUseHashtags
Next week is Homecoming aka the Trojan Family reunion. Whether it is helping your kid get ready for spirit days, attending the parade, checking out our student Twitter takeover, enjoying a free hot dog at tailgating before the game, cheering on our fall Trojans sports or chaperoning the dance, we look forward to seeing all our students, parents, staff, community members and alumni come out to enjoy food, football and community.