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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Columbia School District: Strategically Planning for the Future!

A couple of days ago I bought some mixed beans to make soup.  As I looked at the bag of beans, there were various colors and sizes: a very diverse combination.  I followed the directions and the
soup was fabulous!  It was really amazing that those little, colorful beans could blend together and have such a wonderful flavor and texture. 

At Columbia School District our teachers take children of various sizes, ability levels and backgrounds and nurture them into a cohesive group of learners, much like the fabulous bean soup.  The students participate in hands-on activities to build their skills as learners.  The positive instructional capabilities of our teachers gives our Columbia students an opportunity to fulfill the new Columbia Vision: Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow

As you review our group of Columbia staff members, you will find that they are role models for the next generation of teachers and staff members.  Their ability to provide excellence in education gives our students a foundation for a bright future full of success.  In order to continue to provide the best in educational opportunities for our students, the Columbia School District, led by superintendent Pam Campbell, has developed a strategic plan.

The Columbia School District Strategic Plan is the result of over a year of discussion, research, surveying, and planning.  Board members, school improvement team and the administration have worked diligently and collaboratively to produce this plan focusing on the future academic success of our students. This strategic planning process started with the vision of the Board of Education to examine the Columbia School District and begin shaping our school district to meet the needs of our students today and into the future.  This visionary process required leadership and participation from many individuals during  the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years.

The Columbia School District has established the Strategic Plan on the following four educational beliefs:
  • Columbia School District provides innovative learning opportunities encouraging students to pursue their dreams!
  • Columbia will offer unique experiences for students to become lifelong learners.
  • Partnerships with Columbia stakeholders will empower students to become problem-solving leaders in our society.
  • Columbia School District will provide a diverse and nurturing environment to engage students and meet the needs of all learners.
Much like the way my bag beans and recipe brought spices, flavors and various sizes and colors of beans together to create a fabulous soup,  your Columbia School District teachers, administrators and board members continue to work together to provide a high level of excellence in education for your children.  Our mission through our new strategic plan says it all: Nurture Dreams. Empower All. Create a Better World.

If you have questions regarding the excellent educational programs and activities at Columbia School District, please email me at or call 5175926641.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Reading for Fun!

Reading is the foundation for success in school and in life.  The ability to read and write is necessary to master other subjects and to communicate what is learned.  Even more important, children who enjoy reading will continue to learn and grow throughout their lives.  Reading is one of the most inexpensive and readily available forms of education and entertainment. The experts note that literacy is crucial and that children should read more.  They also comment that children should be encouraged to try reading different types of books. 

Your child will enjoy stopping by the local library.  You can make the visit seem like a treasure hunt!  Before you get to the library, decide what type of books they want to read.  For example, your child may choose dinosaurs or a type of science fiction.  Whether your child is a beginning reader or an experienced reader, your local librarian will be able to help them find the type of books they are looking for.  Or the librarian may suggest great books and exciting book series for your child.  Many local libraries have activities for your child.  The activities may include reading “fairs” and reading clubs through which your child may earn recognition and prizes.
To help direct you and your child as you capitalize on the after school or weekend reading time, you may want to search for “what books should children read?”  One website that has a nice list of books categorized by age group is .  One of my favorite books for young readers is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.  This book may be accompanied by various activities to help wake up your child’s understanding and creativity.  Those activities may include talking and writing about food, drawing caterpillars, hunting for caterpillars and butterflies, and phonetic activities tied to the foods in the story.  

Little children love reading, but what how should you tie your teenager’s interests to a deeper understanding of what they are reading?  You may choose to read a book along with them or simply talk to them about the books they are reading, yes, some teens read several books at once.  To encourage your teenager to read you should model reading, so that when they read, you read.  Another way to encourage your teen to read is to have them use informational reading sources to help plan activities for short weekend day-trips.  This way the reading will have a reward and your teen will be the expert on the area or attraction you are visiting.  For other ideas about how to encourage your teen to read, check out a website like RIF @ .

By encouraging your child to read, he or she will increase their level of self-esteem and broaden their world.  Your positive feedback and interest in the books they are reading will encourage them to read more.  Have fun reading with your child!  If you are interested in learning about our great reading programs at Columbia School District email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

CCHS Soccer Field Named After Alumnus Chad P. Dermyer

Columbia School District’s focus on excellence gives our students a positive environment for learning today, leading tomorrow.  Alumnus Chad P. Dermyer was a leader and excelled at Columbia Central. Chad participated in many events and activities while at Columbia Central High School, including the Golden Eagle Marching Band and varsity soccer.

After graduating from Columbia Central, Chad Dermyer served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, before joining the Police Department in Jackson, Michigan.  Chad then served with the City of Newport News Police Department, prior to attending and graduating from the Virginia State Police Academy in November 2014.  As a Virginia State Trooper, Chad first served in the areas around Newport News and Hampton, and then received a transfer to the state police Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Interdiction Unit.

On March 31st, 2016, Chad put on his Virginia State Police uniform, and with a smile on his face and a positive spring in his step, he headed out to take part in a training exercise at the bus station in Richmond, Virginia.  Chad’s life ended there, tragically while on duty on March 31, 2016.   He is survived by his wife and two young children.

When talking to his former teachers and soccer coach, they said that Chad was a delight to have in class and that he always had a big smile.  They characterized Chad Dermyer as the ideal student, always positive, cheerful, and a diligent worker.  He took time to speak with others, was very talented, and was humble about his abilities.  Similarly, after the tragic incident, Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty talked about Chad’s positive character and high level of integrity.

Earlier this year, the Columbia School District Board of Education responded to a request by the Dermyer family and named the Columbia Central High School soccer field after Chad because of his history of leadership, exemplary character, and positive work ethic.  The CCHS Athletic Boosters funded a new scoreboard bearing the name of the field.  Many of the Columbia community members and friends of Chad’s have donated to erect a sign near the entrance of the field.

Please join the Columbia School District as we dedicate the Chad P. Dermyer Memorial Soccer Field on Saturday, October 7th at 1 pm.  Please come to honor Chad and celebrate his life! In memory of Chad, the Golden Eagle Marching Band will play the National Anthem and the CCHS Fight Song.  Jackson Radio Works will do a remote broadcast before and during the event.  There will be testimonials, and a short program, followed by the alumni soccer game.  Refreshments will be provided and there will be commemorative t-shirts for sale.  For more information call 5175926641.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Changing Colors of Education!

The other day one of my friends told me about an experience with his son.  They were out in the woods hiking.  As the sun rose and lit the trees with its rays, his son mentioned how the leaves were beginning to change, “This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in nature.”  This ten-year-old was focused on the incredible beautiful ever changing colors of the leaves. 

 As I rush out the door every morning, I take a minute to focus on the changing colors of the leaves and the rays of the warming sun.  Recently as I gazed up at the bright oranges, yellows, reds and greens of the trees, it made me think about how education has changed over the past several years. 

Technology is one of the most brightest and colorful ever changing areas of education, much like the changing colors of the leaves on the trees.  These days we hear a lot of changing ideas about educating our children.  One phrase we have heard a lot about is “Blended Learning.”  What exactly is blended learning and does it have positive results for our students? 

Blended learning uses both digital learning strategies through online media and traditional classroom instruction.  Students are able to complete the online portion of the learning, decide on the place they access the online content and set an appropriate pace.  Columbia Central High School students use blended learning strategies in quite a few of their classrooms.  Some of our teachers use blended learning techniques to enhance the time the students have in their classroom.  They use a strategy called “Flipped Classroom.”  In this strategy students choose the time and place that they review the material in the lesson before coming to class.  This material may include research, specific online sites or a Podcast.  Once the students arrive in class they begin with activities based upon the material they covered online and may follow up with an assessment covering their assignment and activities.

Blended learning activities also are taking place at Columbia Upper Elementary School.  Many teachers are using strategies that integrate technology both at home and during school.  Recently I spoke to several students who were working on a blended learning technique that included doing online research, creating a graphic organizer and translating that into a multi-page website.  This strategy gave the students an opportunity to work in their own time, at their own pace, using a learning-path they chose and a place that worked for them. 

In some of our Columbia Elementary School classrooms teachers are having students write in their blogs online and then classmates, parents, and other relatives, in addition to the teacher, read and write reviews.  This partnership between parents, students and the teacher is made possible through the online techniques of blended learning.

At Columbia Options High School students use online applications during their traditional classes as well as during their virtual classes.  We support students as they complete their virtual classes with a drop-in center and a resource teacher.  Many students find the virtual portion to be better suited to their learning needs, but they also find the resource teacher very important to assist them with questions.

By integrating technology and blended learning into the curriculum teachers must reinvent their teaching techniques.  To adapt the learning activities into this innovative way of teaching and learning, teachers collaborate together and experience a sustainable, transformation that results in meaningful student growth.

At Columbia as we have worked to integrate technology into the curriculum and use blended learning strategies to enhance students’ ability to acquire new knowledge, we have seen a progressive improvement of student retention by using these techniques.  Students enjoy completing online research activities and seem to experience a greater level of retention.  As we continue to use blended learning activities, strategies and techniques with our students we anticipate that they will increase their performance on post activity assessments.  When you look up at the beautiful changing fall leaves, remember to think about the changing look of technology in education. If you would like to learn more about Columbia School District or our programs, call me at 5175926641 or email me at .

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Learning Today at Columbia!

Education at Columbia School District is better than in the Movies!  Over the years we have seen television shows or movies that focus on school life.  While story lines about schools take risks and exploit academic opportunities, at Columbia Schools the teachers, parents and students have partnered to give students the best opportunity for academic success

When you watch a movie you only see just what is on the screen, at Columbia there is a well-rounded philosophy that keeps all of our students in view of the teachers and administrators.  Columbia School District teachers work together to help our student learn today so they may become leaders tomorrow.  At Columbia Upper Elementary students are experiencing STEM in two unique ways; The Lego Robotics Program and The Michigan League of Academic Games.  The students participating in these programs only need to have enthusiasm to learn more by experiencing hands-on strategies.  These programs use collaboration, camaraderie and problem solving to extend learning opportunities in a practical futuristic way.

On the big screen the focus is on exceptions rather than reality.  For example, the Hogwarts School in Harry Potter housed children who had magical abilities.  At Columbia the magic is not in our students, but in the way our teachers inspire students in their academic endeavors.  Our teachers are positive, creative and hardworking individuals who work to be inclusive of all students.  Unlike Hogwarts School our students do not have to fly, become invisible or use their telepathic powers to get good grades.

One television program that focused on school life was “Welcome Back Kotter.”  This comedy was popular, but regularly featured students who were poorly behaved and often ridiculed each other.  At Columbia, our students not only care about each other, but maintain a focus on positive classroom behavior.  Later this fall forty of our high school students will attend a three day-two night event called “Communication Camp.”  This event gives students the ability to make connections on a deeper level and learn about others.  Activities like Communication Camp, Leadership Forum and other leadership opportunities, give our students an opportunity to excel while moving past the cliché school experience.

Columbia School District’s positive programs and activities both during the day and afterschool help to make our students’ experience better in the movies!  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District, email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

STEM at Columbia School District!

One of the important areas of emphasis at Columbia School District is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  Science is very important in society today.   Science impacts every facet of our lives, from the pavement we drive on; to the medicines we take; to the alarm clocks that wake us up each day.  Science has provided us with new plastics that make up our water bottles, bullet proof vests for our law enforcement professionals and parts for our automobiles.  Our students have the opportunity to take chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, physics, sports medicine and forensics.  In addition Columbia Central offers the opportunity for our students to earn take college level science courses through our Advanced Placement program. 

Globally, one of the things that science has provided is the basis for technological advancements, which paved the way for cell phones, computers and an impressive array of electronics.  Technology has given students new avenue for learning.  At the schools in Columbia we focus on integrating technology into every area: Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.  Our students use iPads, Chromebooks, desk top computers and graphing calculators.  Technology allows our students to increasing their learning potential by performing research anywhere and anytime.  In addition, some of the lessons our students perform are flipped lessons.  In a flipped lesson technology allows teachers to provide basic learning opportunities through technology, and then the students work together with their peers and teacher to put their learning into practice the next day. 

Engineering is important and is directly connected with the other elements of STEM.  Our students have the opportunity to learn basic engineering principles through our hands-on science lessons.  Engineering principles are also taught through our elementary robotics teams and the high school principles of engineering course.  Columbia after school and summer programs in engineering and robotics are available to our third through sixth grade students.

As the final letter in STEM, M stands for mathematics, which offers a platform for technology and engineering, and is directly tied to science.  Math is in our everyday lives, from shopping for bargains, to driving our cars, to figuring out how much tax we owe on a purchase.  Math is not only used in the science, technology and engineering, it is used by artists and musician in their daily work.  At Columbia, we offer our students an opportunity to play in our Academic Games afterschool where mathematics, language arts, social studies are combined to provide an extensive learning program for participants. Our Columbia Central High School students are able to take Advanced Placement Calculus course and our junior high school students may choose to take advanced math during their math class or through our accelerated summer program.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia’s many STEM opportunities, email me at or call 5175926641.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fill A Backpack!

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine regarding my concern for children who come from families who are struggling to provide back-to-school supplies.  As we talked about the opportunity for community members to donate notebooks, pens, pencils and backpacks, my friend launched into her own story.  She told me that her eldest daughter was ready to begin school when her situation changed at home.  Her husband left her with nothing, so she applied for a position back in Michigan to be closer to her parents.  However, it took all she had to get moved and she was worried that her daughter would not have everything she needed to start school.

She knew that her daughter had grown a lot during the summer and wouldn’t fit into her clothes from the last fall, and she certainly didn’t have funds to purchase a new backpack or other school supplies.  Being a woman of faith, she prayed that she would be able to provide for her daughter as she began school.  The next morning she opened the door and there was a big box filled with a mixture of gently used hand-me-down clothes and items that still had the price tags!  There was even a backpack filled with school supplies.  When she checked the return address, she noted it was from a friend.  When she phoned her friend to thank her, she learned that her friend had gone through her daughter’s closet pulled out items that no longer fit her.  When she mentioned the backpack, her friend told her that they had been at the store getting back-to-school items and her daughter had suggested they send the items along with the clothes.

At Columbia Schools, we too have families, who struggle just like my friend who was in need at that point of her life.  As you make trips to the store to purchase back-to-school items for your child or grandchild, you may want to pick up a couple extra notebooks, pencils, pens or even a backpack to donate to someone who is in need.  Donations of school supplies may be dropped off at any of the offices at Columbia School District; you never know…your generosity may just be the answer to a mother’s prayer.

If you are interested in registering your child for school or learning how you might volunteer at the Columbia School District, please email me at or call 5175926641.