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Sunday, November 18, 2018

STEM at Columbia School District!

It is time for us to celebrate a wonderful first four months of the 2018-19 school year!  Working closely together with our community has helped to offer our students improved learning opportunities at Columbia Schools.  Many of our positive improvements reside under the umbrella of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  Teachers have increased their hands-on science teaching by using activities and strategies gained from work with the Battle Creek Math and Science Center curriculum. 

Our students from third through sixth grade have benefited by these STEM strategies and techniques.  One of the opportunities to engage students through innovative strategies is the Michigan League of Academic Games program (MLAG).  Columbia students have been working with Ms. Weidenbach and Miss Wing learning math games that focus on computation, problem solving and set theory.  During March some of the participants will represent Columbia in the annual MLAG State Tournament where they will gain positive experience competing against students from across the state!

Aligning with the STEM focus at Columbia School District, Columbia Elementary and Columbia Upper Elementary has Robotics Teams and our Junior and Senior High School has teams that provide our students with an opportunity to use the engineering and math concepts they learn in the classroom and apply it to building a functioning robot.  The students in robotics are given a challenge, so they build, program and operate their robot to complete the challenge.  In their technology class, students in Kindergarten through sixth grade have the opportunity to learn coding with Mr. Moore.  Students across the district have also enjoyed the STEM applications through our partnership with the Shop Rat Foundation and Consumers Energy. 

To support our students in this very important area of STEM, our teachers have participated in after school programs: Columbia Junior High School teachers tutor students across the curriculum in their after school program and Columbia Central High School teachers support  their students by providing expert assistance after school.  This past spring Ms. Samson received a grant from Lowes for two 3-D printers to assist in STEM.

This is an exciting time at Columbia School District!  Our terrific teachers and staff members have partnered with our parents and community to provide all of these and many more excellent educational opportunities for our students.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District and our positive STEM programs, email me at or call 5175926641.

Creative Writing at Columbia School District!

Imagine you were a world famous mountain climber and you were getting ready to climb Mt. Everest.  What would you take with you?  How would you prepare for this adventure?  How would you feel and what would you say and do when you reached the top?  These questions are an example of writing prompts a child may use for their personal or school journal.

Successfully raising a creative writer may be encouraged at home by using various activities to support your child’s writing.  One way you may support their writing is to make it a family activity, with prizes for the most inventive story about using a specific writing prompt.  Many children enjoy writing in a journal.  Help your child get started by letting them choose an attractive journal or making one out of a notebook and create an artistic cover.  Your support of their writing can be advantageous for your child even if they do not want to become a professional writer.  Many careers require that you know how to write well and effectively to be successful.

At Columbia School District teachers work with students to improve their academic success and ability to write creatively.  One of the ways that teachers facilitate learning is through creative writing.  Creative writing helps challenge the young children to become better problem solvers, and in turn helps to increase self-confidence.  As our teachers use their creative writing prompts to assist their young students increase their cognitive abilities, and improve their abilities in mathematics and science by learning to write descriptively.

For students who are working to improve their expertise in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), they enhance their abilities by using creative writing to support their learning.  No matter what their interest is, it is important for our children to become proficient in learning how to write well and write effectively.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District, email me at or call 5175926641.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Cash Bash is Coming!

The race to the Columbia School District Fifth Annual Golden Cash Bash on Saturday, February 23, 2019, is underway!  The Cash Bash began in 2015, as a fun-filled celebration of the fabulous programs and activities offered at Columbia!  The Cash Bash has raised almost $70,000 over the past four years.  Last year the Columbia Community came together to raise more than $18,000! 

The funds raised are focused on two main areas: Scholarships for Columbia Central High School Seniors and 3A’s Mini Grants.  Many area individuals and businesses donated items, services, and vacation spots to the Cash Bash Silent Auction.  In 2018 the Silent Auction raised $6,000 for Senior Scholarships.  The funds raised for the 3A’s Mini Grants, which stands for Academics, Arts, and Athletics, flow directly from the Cash Bash ticket sales and raffles held during the event.  Last spring, more than $12,000 was raised for the 3A’s Mini Grants.

Last year 18 seniors received scholarship funds from the funds raised from the Silent Auction.  With scholarship awards ranging from $100 to $500.  The students used their scholarships for books, tuition payments, and fees.  The generosity of the Columbia community has made a positive impact on more than 75 seniors over the past four years. 

The 3A’s Mini Grants have benefited our students by providing STEM activities, robotics parts, software programs to enhance learning opportunities, athletic items, field trips, and extra educational strategies.  The funds raised for the mini grants helped to extend the ability of our teachers and coaches to make a difference in the lives of Columbia children.  If you are interested in purchasing a ticket to this fun event or wish to donate to the Columbia School District Cash Bash, contact us at: 11775 Hewitt Rd, Brooklyn, MI 49230 or call 5175926641.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, call 5175926641 or email me at

Monday, October 15, 2018

Technology at Columbia School District!

Recently I was involved in a discussion about how children learn in 2018, versus how they learned twenty years ago.   My sons have friends who are parents and several of them have iPads for their children.  My younger son, Jon, was using his iPad at one of his friend’s home and their nine-month-old daughter crawled over to see what he was doing and to “help” him.  She had her own iPad and used an application aimed at pre-toddlers.  Columbia preschool students seem to +have an innate ability to pick up one of the iPads and navigate to their area of academic application without direction from their teacher. 

The Columbia School District Technology Integration Vision Statement reads:  Columbia School District will provide reliable access to 21st Century technology in order to meet the diverse needs of all students, empowering them to be productive and responsible contributors in an ever changing global digital society.   As part of our goal to integrate technology into the curriculum, our Columbia kindergarten students through high school seniors are using Chromebooks.  This fall Columbia School District purchased another 140 Chromebooks to ensure our students have access to the technology that will lead to a successful future.  Our Vision Statement: Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow - focuses on our students learning in the most successful way, including using up to date technology.

Many of our elementary students are building online portfolios.  They are designing their portfolios and creating links to learning.   One of our elementary students showed me how she was building a website as part of an assignment for her social studies class.  She had to design a website to compare and contrast the New England states back in the Colonial days with today.   This task involved research, a lot of learning and integration of her technological skills with her recent acquisition of

Our students learn how to use Google docs to collaborate with their peers and work on the same document at the same time.  Learning is truly taking place anywhere, anyplace and anytime!   Our students have become proficient using technology because they of the access they have at school.

Not only do our students use Chromebooks, but many of our elementary students use iPads, and our high school students use Kindles.  Even the four-year-olds in our Great Start Readiness Program have the opportunity to take advantage of educational applications on the iPads to broaden and support the learning they do in class. 

Our teachers are excited to help students embark on new ways of learning through technology.  In addition to providing professional development to teachers to help them have the tools to empower their students to use technology effectively, our Bond issue provided updated wiring, additional wireless access points, new technology switches, and new computers and tablets.  As we work to keep Columbia School District students and teachers up to date with effective, reliable access to technology, we will continue to relate examples of how our students are benefiting from the integration of digital tools into the curriculum.  If you have questions regarding Columbia Schools, please email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Jumping into Education!

Hanging on to the screen for dear life, the praying mantis slowly made its way up towards the top.  Rather than walking through the foliage, this praying mantis was in the sun seemingly asking to come into the house.  I wondered what the mantis was thinking, if a mantis indeed thinks about anything, and just then it just hopped away!  Thinking about the mantis reminded me of how our elementary students sometimes start slowly and then when they get excited about learning, jump into an educational experience! 

At this time of the year our elementary students have just finished reviewing mathematics from last year and now are beginning to learn new information from their teachers.  If your budding mathematician is in second grade, he or she is learning to convert word problems into mathematical sentences.  Your child will learn to take information that describes everyday life and use it to form addition and subtraction problems.  Similarly to the way the praying mantis suddenly jumped from the screen, our second graders will leap into learning about fractions. 

While mathematics may be your child’s favorite subject, your second grader will also learn that reading takes first place in their classroom.  Reading is fundamental for learning.  It is the basis for science, social studies and much of mathematics.  Your second grader should be reading a minimum of 30 minutes each evening.  Second graders will enjoy reading more if they understand all the words in their books so helping them with their vocabulary is essential.  The more your child reads, and works on his or her vocabulary, the stronger their foundation will be as they gain more skills as a writer.

Writing is an important part of second grade.  Your second grader will work on proper sentence structure, capitalization and punctuation.  Your child’s teacher will be able to recommend some good techniques if you are interested in helping your child excel in writing.

Just as the praying mantis initially walked slowly up the screen, some second graders will seemingly start out slowly.  At home they may be easily distracted by television, video games, or their sister.  To help your second grader become successful, you will want to minimize the distractions and help your child focus.  While it may not be the most fun aspect of having a second grader, there will be times when you will want to sit next to him or her and patiently listen to questions and help to redirect his or her attention to his or her school work.  

Your child will watch and emulate you when it comes to learning activities.  Your enthusiasm for school and learning opportunities will help to energize his or her passion and willingness to spend time doing his or her school work.  Columbia Elementary School often has extended learning opportunities in science, mathematics and reading.  You will want to pay close attention to the school’s website and to newsletters and notes your child brings home in his or her backpack for opportunities to participate in learning activities.

If you are interested in learning more about your child’s grade level and the requirements, you may contact your child’s teacher or principal.  You may learn about registering your child for Columbia School District by calling me at 517-592-6641 or email me at

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Working Together to Prevent Bullying!

Bullying!  At some point most of us have been bullied, or have bullied others.  Even when we are grown and in a career, we may be the victim of harassment or bullying.  Columbia School District teachers and staff members work diligently to prevent and negate the effects of bullying. 

Unfortunately, nationwide we hear more and more about the effects of bullying, it is not just harmless teasing.  Researchers from the National Education Association believe that over 150,000 students miss school each day because they are fearful of bullying.  The types of bulling may include gossip, physical attacks, intimidation, verbal abuse, cyber bullying or violence.   

Helping your children to build strategies for situations when they see friends or classmates being bullied is important and will benefit them as they grow and mature.  Your child may be able to intervene when their friend is experiencing difficulty.  You will want to help your child know that when their friend or classmate is being bullied, they should tell a parent, teacher or trusted adult.  Let them know that when we alert an adult about a bullying situation, it isn’t tattling, they are simply assisting their friend.  If your child sees someone being bullied, they should make an effort to talk to the victim.  The child who is bullied will feel alienated and alone.  Your child may make a difference by talking to their classmate. 

Sometimes bullying is done through the internet.  This is termed cyber-bullying.  This type of bullying is on the rise and it may seem to come out of nowhere.  When we were in school, it was easy to spot the bully, but now, through cyber-bullying, the bullying can happen 24-7 and be disguised.  This type of bullying happens more often to sixth through eighth graders.  Researchers say that 15% to 35% of teens say they have been bullied through technology.  It is important that your child let you know and inform their teacher and principal regarding cyber-bullying, or any other case of bullying.

You may notice the following signs if your child is being bullied.  They may be experiencing injuries that they are hesitant to discuss with you.  They may have difficulty sleeping, or seem less hungry.  They suddenly do not want to go to school or their grades are slipping.  They seem to be losing things, such as technology, their jewelry, clothes or other personal items.  They experience personality changes and aren’t comfortable with their friends or certain social events.  Encourage your children to discuss cyber-bullying with you or other trusted adult, such as a favorite teacher, principal, or police liaison.

What if your child is the bully?  Your child may feel that some of their cyber posts, Instagram, Snap Chat, or Facebook posts are funny, but they may be considered bullying by their victims.  Parents who keep an eye on their child’s online accounts will be able to pick up on concerns about harassment or bullying.  If you are concerned with your child or his or her friends, bullying others or being bullied, please contact your child’s teacher or principal.  They will assist you with your concerns.  For more information visit: .

Monday, September 17, 2018

Inspire Your Child to Read!

Straight up in the evening sky was a bright shining crescent moon!  It was so awe inspiring that as I stood in my back yard looking up, my neighbors stopped to appreciate the beauty of the evening sky.  As parents, or grandparents, how can we take an observation of the great outdoors and use it to encourage our children or grandchildren to read? 

By using experiences in nature as an encouraging event, we can take our youngsters to the library and follow up by searching for books on the topic.  For the youngest readers, you will want to choose books that you can share in the reading, or chapter books that you may read to them.  It is important to be in the habit of sharing with your children what you read.  Following an outdoor adventure, you could also choose a book on the topic of the moon, stars, or other naturalist type topic.  By modeling for your children, you will encourage them to view reading as something moms and dads or grandparents do regularly.
One secret to raising a positive avid reader is to aim for a specific number of minutes, pages, or books in a certain length of time.  Follow up your nature reading, with reading on a topic that they are interested in, such as horses, dogs, or science fiction.  You can make reading a family affair by taking everyone on a reading-picnic!  Pack a picnic lunch, take your family outside, spread out a blanket, and bring along a book for everyone! 

Raising a reader also may involve incentives.  You may encourage your child or grandchild by having a chart for stickers marking the number of pages, minutes or books read.  Your child may enjoy a trip to the dollar store for trinkets when they pass a milestone reading goal measured in books, minutes or pages read.  You can also enjoy healthy snacks during your reading time.

In the end, your child can become a voracious reader even if they don’t seem to enjoy it now.  Allowing them to pursue their interests while reading can motivate them to find the joy in reading.  You will feel the utmost happiness and success when your child begs for reading another chapter before they go to sleep.  If you are interested in learning about the reading programs available at Columbia School District, email me at or call 5175926641.