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News and Notes

News and Notes 6.2

Tom DeKeyser, Superintendent

The season is upon us

Deer season? Yes! However, I’ve been too busy to commit to that just yet.  What I am committed to is the season of giving. Having just spent a good chunk of my month in China (I’ll share more in another blog as to why I was there), I returned to see the gears of giving in our community spinning like a well-oiled machine.

One of my favorite opportunities to seek and hear about giving this week was listening to Dalton Bachman at last night’s National Honor Society Induction.  Dalton hit on the work he and his classmates do throughout the region. It made me instantly proud to be back in a community that has crafted such great partnerships, all in the name of giving.

This morning I attended a swimming lesson session for 1st-grade students.  Mrs. Milliman’s class was broken up into groups in our pool. The goal was to teach kids who don’t know how to swim this important skill.  If they already know, then we enhance it through guided practice. Cool, right? Not done before this year, though. It was all made possible through a grant from our local Kiwanis, coordinated by our Community Recreation department, and further funded by the Whitmore Lake Foundation of Educational Excellence and Whitmore Lake Public Schools PTO.

Below I give you deeper insight into a few more community partnerships. These partnerships are all rooted in giving school-aged children opportunities to grow in and outside the classroom.  There are so many examples, and they often inspire me to say, yet again, “It’s a great day to be a Trojan.”

Hands-On Science Experiments in 3rd Grade

Students in Mr. Wither’s class were delighted with the robots they made with a motor and power source.

When talking about community partnerships, when we say “community,” we don’t mean just mean Whitmore Lake. Due to our close proximity to Ann Arbor, we are lucky to include the University of Michigan as a member of our “community.” And for the past few years, the University of Michigan professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Program in the Environment, Jeremy Semrau, has collaborated with our district and staff to provide a unique opportunity to many of our students. I first shared information on this program in a News and Notes blog back in November of 2017 when he began working with Ms. Otterman’s class. The program has now been expanded to include Mr. Withers’ class.

Back in 2017, Dr. Semrau received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to do advanced work in environmental microbiology. While his main focus is to perform work that is at the “cutting edge” of science, the work has to also have broad impacts. As part of that requirement, Dr. Semrau chose to collaborate with us to develop and lead a series of hands-on experiments with our third graders at Whitmore Lake Elementary School. The focus was to teach students about the basic principles of the scientific method, experimental design, data collection, and data analysis.

While the original grant was slated to end this year, I was excited to receive word from Dr. Semrau this fall that another proposal he submitted to NSF last December was selected and will allow us to continue working with him for another four years! He shared that funding for programs like this is super competitive with only 5-15% of grants getting support but was confident that our strong partnership made his proposal stand out.

He also shared that he is grateful for the opportunity and to Ms. Otterman and Mr. Withers for being great partners. “Together I believe we can truly inspire WLES students by providing them with fun yet rigorous experiments in physics and the life sciences,” he said.

We are equally grateful and excited to see how it benefits our students over the next four years.

The Foundation

A community group with a large impact on our classrooms is the Whitmore Lake Foundation for Educational Excellence. They recently awarded over $11,000 in grants to our teachers, about three times the usual amounts thanks to their board’s dedication to doing a series of fundraisers throughout the year.

Take a look below at the exciting programs and projects funded by The Foundation grants and congratulate our staff on having their proposals funded.

You can join alongside The Foundation and WLPS PTO this holiday season in sending some education-themed holiday joy to a staff member or classroom by purchasing an item from the WLPS Staff Holiday wish list on Amazon. Check it out HERETo learn more about The Foundation, the mission and their work, head to their website http://wlfee.org/.

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