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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Enjoy Back-to-School with STEM!


Each summer my husband and I take a group of teens to Cedar Point.  The experience is enjoyable and educational.  One of the things I find fascinating is that depending on your vantage point, you see the park differently.  When you are on a fast ride you see the area as a blur, both right-side up and upside down.  If you are on the Sky Ride or the giant Ferris wheel you are able to see a lot of the park and a bit more of the detail.  However, if you tour the park on the ground by walking around, you see details you miss from a speedy or an elevated ride. 

Similarly, Columbia School District teachers, administrators and staff members focus on working closely with your child to ensure the important details are covered.  Whether your child is a preschooler enjoying learning about career choices, a sixth grade student learning about the parts of a cell or a Columbia Central High School senior learning the intricacies’ of solving a crime in the Forensic Science class, our teachers give their students the information they need to be successful. 

Our caring administrators work diligently to craft schedules, programs and educational learning opportunities to give students a firm foundation for a bright future.  The Columbia emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) includes engineering and robotics classes and after school programs, hands-on activities through the MLAG program (Michigan League of Academic Games) and opportunities to earn college credit through our STEM electives: AP Chemistry, AP Biology and AP Calculus.  New this year will be our robotics teams at each level, even at Columbia Elementary!  The STEM elements the students will learn will give them a greater understanding of how science, engineering, technology and mathematics are integrated and combined.

One of the programs for our students in kindergarten through sixth grade is the technology exploratory.  This class will give students the opportunity to learn more about educational technology including Chromebooks, iPads and applications that focus on learning strategies.  At Columbia Central High School students also have technology options.  These classes will give our high school students the opportunity to build their skills and abilities to provide a pathway to higher education and the work-force. 

In each of the areas of our district our teachers are dedicated to providing our students both a birds-eye view of their subject area, similar to the outlook from Sky Ride at Cedar Point, and the ground-level detail that will give our students a foundation for a successful future.  Make sure you have your child registered for the first day of school: Wednesday, August 22, 2018!  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District, our programs and opportunities for success, email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Columbia Students and Jackson County Early College!


The Columbia School District is participating in the Jackson County Early College (JCEC) program through a partnership with Jackson College.  This new early college program paves the way for Columbia students to move from a traditional k-12 approach to a more vigorous k-14 conduit that will be personalized for our students.

The Jackson County Early College program will assist students gain a post-secondary education while still in high school  They may take courses along a path to earn an Associate’s degree, certification, credential, or skillset.  The early college program is deliberately designed to guarantee transferability of credits to four year universities. Our program is designed so students may begin their college education as early as their freshman year and remain in the program through their 13th year to a maximum of 60 credits.

Our emphasis on positive learning and integrated technology helps to weave complex thinking skills into each area of the curriculum. The Jackson County Early College program will enhance the lives of our students and give them the best chance for a successful future!  If you are interested in learning more about the opportunities at Columbia School District email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

The Shopping List!


Many of us make shopping lists.  Whether digital or on paper, our shopping list may include items like eggs, milk, dish soap and tissues.  As we arrive at the end of July and look towards the beginning of school, our lists could include purchasing items designed to help prepare our children for school: pencils, pens, crayons, glue sticks, and notebooks.  One thing every parent of our students should put on their list is to have them participate in one of the Columbia Summer Programs!

Learning can happen anytime, anywhere, anyhow.  This philosophy gives today’s students the   Columbia School District is committed to giving students the optimal learning activities to gain the knowledge they need to be successful in the 21st Century. 
opportunity to experience a different type of learning environment to help them be ready to start the school year.

We not only have great teachers and learning opportunities at Columbia, but our summer programs are a lot of fun!  The following sessions will give you some options to put on your end of the summer list!

During the week of August 6th, we have Art Camp for students in grades 1st – 6th and 7th through 12th grade taught by our art teachers, and Leaders In Training for grades 4th through 6th, taught by Miss Wing.  The week of August 13th features Academic Games Camp for grades 3rd through 6th, taught by Miss Wing and Ms. Weidenbach, Explore! for grades 1st through 6th, taught by Mrs. Friday, Mrs. Knaup, Miss Wing and Ms. Weidenbach, and Underwater Robotics taught by Mrs. Coughlin.  In addition, the Electric Science Camp is August 13, taught by Mrs. Liebau and Mr. Snow, but it is full.  Register for one or more of the programs today!  You may register online by accessing the Summer Programs on our website at www.myeagles.org .   If you are interested in learning more about the opportunities at Columbia School District email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Windmill!


Outlined against the early morning sky, the windmill stood tall over the farm.  For centuries, windmills have been working to create electricity, pump water and grind corn or barley.  Although an old idea, this is a new windmill.  The technology used in developing windmills stands as a stark contrast to what we normally think of as technology.

At Columbia School District we focus STEM with positive up-to-date technology to prepare our students for the future.  Our teachers work with their students using Smart Boards, iPads, Chromebooks, robotics, and 3D printers.  These technology based items enhance the learning environment for our students and provide excellence in education. 

Our focus on STEM helped form the basis for the Project Based Learning for our sixth grade students this year. The students worked closely with their teachers, Mr. Williams, Mr. Meschke, Mr. Learned, and Mrs. Friday.  The students used research to learn more about their particular scientific issue and then formulated a solution for this scientific concern.  One group of sixth grade students, Lorado, Savannah, and Izzy, used a video to present their project focused on garlic mustard, which is an invasive plant species in Michigan.  Izzy said they learned that garlic mustard spreads very quickly and soaks up the nutrients essential to other plant life.  She went on to mention that it prefers small clearings with sun and it pushes other plant life out of the area. This particular group of students completed a project based learning research last year as fifth grade students.  They learned about mute swans, which are the big swans with the orange beaks.  Their concern regarding the mute swans was that they are mean and attack other swans and even humans. Learning about science in the world around us helps support our students in preparing for life in the years ahead.  

As our students move into junior and senior high school they have opportunities to increase their scientific knowledge.  This year some of our junior high school students will have science electives along with robotics electives.  The opportunity to learn fun science, do experiments and the basic elements of robotics enhances the academic environment for our students.  As our students move into high school, they have the opportunity to continue their understanding of engineering through a STEM offering.  This year, Mrs. Samson wrote a grant to Lowe’s and received two laser printers.  It is amazing to see the students learn the principles of engineering and act upon their new understanding.

Columbia students have the opportunity to excel in mathematics through the combination of technology and math.  Our youngest students work on math principles through their classroom assignments and investigations, then follow up with targeted lessons on iReady through their computer portal.  Our older students may take Advanced Placement mathematics classes or math classes at Jackson College through our new Early College program.  If you are interested in learning more about our STEM opportunities, email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

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.  Columbia Central High School offers the opportunity for our students to earn take college level science courses through our Early College and Advanced Placement programs. 

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.  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 of increasing importance and is directly connected with the other elements of STEM.  Our students have the opportunity to learn basic engineering principles through our science lessons.  Engineering principles are also taught in our robotics course, through our robotics teams and the high school principles of engineering course.  This week our elementary students are enjoying Robotics Camp.  Even the first and second grade students have the opportunity to experience hands-on robotics learning activities.  In August, fourth through sixth graders will enjoying learning about underwater robotics through our summer programs.  Columbia Central offers robotics teams to our students in junior and senior high school.  As a bonus to our elementary students we will offer robotics teams for fifth and 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 Early College or Advanced Placement Calculus course.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia’s many STEM opportunities, email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.  You may sign up your child for underwater robotics through the Torch Bearer link on our myeagles.org website.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Making Tracks to Success!


There they were in the dried mud, practically side by side, tracks: Hoof prints from a horse, the track left by a bicycle, automobile tire tracks, and tennis shoe imprints.  As we move through life each one of us makes unique imprints on the world around us.  In the Columbia School District each one of our teachers, administrators and staff members make an imprint on the lives of students, help to shape the future of our children and improve the community through their positive spirit, caring, nurturing, diligence and hard work.

This spring six of our positive, fabulous, amazing staff members are retiring and they will be remembered by their footprints on the hearts those of us in of Columbia!  Initially hired by Options High School as a coordinator, Mrs. Schmidt has made a difference in the lives of many Columbia students. Certified to teach science, social studies and English language arts, Mrs. Schmidt has given our junior high students a firm foundation.  Since 1993 she has prepared her students by teaching them writing and reading.  As her students move on to high school, many of them come back to tell Mrs. Schmidt how successful they are completing writing projects at the high school level.  In addition, Mrs. Schmidt has been active planning and scheduling the junior high trips to Detroit and Washington D.C. each year, capping off the students learning activities.

Also retiring after 33 years at Columbia is Mr. Ron Guernsey.  Mr. Guernsey has taught English and history at CCHS and at the middle school level.  In addition, he has been a terrific, tenacious wrestling coach, with many of his wrestlers earning their way to the State competition.  Mr. Guernsey is currently preparing students for college English and writing courses through the Advanced Placement program.   Often, students comment on social media and in person, how Mr. Guernsey’s techniques and insight has prepared them for college.

Mrs. Bernstein is an amazing kindergarten teacher at Columbia Elementary School.  When I visit her classroom she is always involving her students in creative learning activities.  When working on graphing in math, Mrs. Bernstein had her students taste testing various types of M&M’s.  Rather than quickly completing the task, Mrs. Bernstein led her students through evaluating, graphing, reflecting and reevaluating the task, to vary the results from day to day.  Another example of her top teaching and learning activities was when she led her students through an integrated science and math activity.  The students had collected snow and made miniature snowmen.  Throughout the day, the children measured their snowmen with plastic blocks and discussed the melting process and the various forms water can be found in at different temperatures.  Throughout Mrs. Bernstein’s 23 year tenure as a teacher at Columbia, she has been a leader and mentor for new teachers.  She has shared her excellent teaching and learning techniques and helped to create a new generation of fabulous Columbia teachers.

For the past seven years Ms. Sachar has made her imprint on the lives and hearts of Columbia Central High School students through her excellent teaching techniques.  She joined the high school staff after retiring from another district.  She has taught French at CCHS and enriched the lives of students and adults from the Columbia community through her fun and educational trips to Europe.  Ms. Sachar has the unique ability to enlighten students academically, while motivating them to achieve success.

Also retiring is Columbia Elementary School principal, Mrs. Powell.  She has not only been a leader in Columbia, but she has been serving on the board for the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals’ Association.   Her volunteer leadership has extended in to the community through the Columbia Education Foundation and the Brooklyn Kiwanis Club.  She began at Columbia Middle School as a counselor in 1995.  In both her work as a counselor at the middle school and as the elementary principal, she has made a difference in the lives of many of her students.  She has been instrumental in providing professional development for elementary teachers in the areas of mathematics, English and emotional support. 

Brenda Schedeler has also given her a notice of retirement from her position as a Reading Recovery Specialist at Columbia Elementary School.  Mrs. Schedeler has made a positive difference in the lives of struggling readers for the past nine years.  As a former elementary teacher, she had a unique insight into academic supports for her students.  Her work with the Reading Recovery program has successfully transformed struggling readers into excellent and proficient students.

We are so thankful for our retirees.  They have given so much to the community and have left their imprints on the hearts and minds of our children.  They have been a blessing to the students at Columbia School District.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, please email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Critical Thinking at Columbia Schools!


Each week when I receive the newspaper there are advertisements for appliances from Sears, Lowes, Home Depot, Penny’s and other stores.  They advertise many models of refrigerators; there are side-by-side with or without ice in the door, French Door refrigerators with one or two drawers and regular basic no-frills one door refrigerators.  This week I looked at a low cost refrigerator that was advertised for $367, while another more expensive model was on sale at $2898.  Although all of the refrigerators keep our food cold, some have more options than others.  As you shop for a refrigerator, you would actively collect data and choices for your comparison.   As you compare and contrast the prices and options for the refrigerators, you would use the skill of critical thinking. 

In each classroom in the Columbia School District, students use critical thinking in their daily assignments.  Critical thinking is an important skill that will help our students be successful in all of their school subjects.  Let me offer some examples for you to work with your child on his or her critical thinking skills.

The first example is: Finding similarities in our daily lives.  Take a look around a room and find two things that do not seem to have anything in common.  You may say a lamp and couch.  Challenge your child to use his critical thinking skills to find a minimum of one thing that is similar in the lamp and the couch.  She may tell you that they both sit on the floor or that the lamp shade has a pattern with material and so does the couch.  You may repeat this in other rooms in your house or in outdoor settings.

A second try at increasing your child’s proficiency of their critical thinking skills is to play games.  You may choose word games to play in the car.  You may mix and match comparing and contrasting words like; river is to ocean like plant is to what?  You might choose games that your child can look ahead to predict the outcome like checkers or chess.  You may ask them, if you move there, then I might move here and where would you move next?

Finally, you may help your child and his or her friends make up a story or rewrite one they already know.  To write a new story together, have one of them begin something like, “I was walking in the woods one day and”, then the next person takes over, and each person puts in a sentence as they write their new story.  You may tell them what the last sentence should be, or let them write in a freestyle way.  Not only will they end up with an intriguing story, they will have fun!  When using their critical thinking skills to rewrite a story, you could choose a traditional children’s story like “Little Red Riding Hood” or one of my favorite, “Horton Hears A Who.” You could have them think about writing their story from the wolf’s point of view in “Little Red Riding Hood” or describe what happens to Horton or the Who in the next chapter.

Just like we use critical thinking in our daily lives to make large purchases like a refrigerator, our children use critical thinking skills to make decisions and complete their school work.  Your encouragement of their ability to think critically and assist them as they practice these skills will help to make them more successful students. 

If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District or our programs, please email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 5175926641.