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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut

As our hearts and prayers go out to the community of Newtown, Connecticut and the victims and families affected by today's senseless tragedy, we find a grave sadness in our hearts. I am including resources to use as we work with our own school family. Please refer to the following information from the National Association of Elementary School Principals contained below:

  • "Helping Children Cope With Tragedy" Report to Parents: http://www.naesp.org/resources/2/Report_to_Parents/2005/rtp11-05.pdf

  • "Coping With Loss" Principal magazine article: https://www.naesp.org/sites/default/files/Schonfeld_Quakenbush_ND12.pdf

  • "A Death in the Family" Principal magazine article: https://www.naesp.org/sites/default/files/Boris-Schacter_MA11.pdf

  • National Association of School Psychologists: www.nasponline.org



  • Students' Talents Shine Brightly!

    Driving around town the other evening I noticed the brightly colored Christmas lights were twinkling through the misty evening sky.  As I continued making my way down street after street I could see the thoughtful care that contributed to each well lit display.  All of the lights in the creatively designed displays made me think of how our many students are similar to the displays.  The various colored lights, each with their contribution to the overall display represented our students and their growing talents and academic strengths.

    Some of our students are great in mathematics and see things in a mechanical way.  For those students who exhibit a high level of interest in hands-on math, they have an opportunity at Columbia Central High School to participate in Mrs. Sampson’s engineering class.  As I walked through her classroom earlier this week, her students were involved in project based learning tasked with solving a multi-step problem simulating the sorting of refuse at a landfill.  They used mathematical and scientific properties to design and build a system to solve the problem.  The students were knowledgeable and motivated to succeed. Others of our students have a high level of interest and proficiency in technology.  Entering into Mr. Smith’s classroom, students were involved in learning how to use animation to connect to others.  Working at their individual computer stations they had the opportunity to design and animate their own graphic creation.  Not only did this assignment help to enhance their technological skills, it may have opened the door to a possible future vocation.

    For those students who love to express themselves physically, Columbia School District offers physical education classes at every level.  Visiting with Mr. Iott’s physical education class at Columbia Elementary School you might find them outside doing laps on the track, learning a new game, or testing themselves against a challenge that he set up to build their skill while giving them a work out.  As the students race to complete a physical task, you can see their faces light up, much like the brightly colored lights in the Christmas displays.

    Other students reveal their talents as their brightly colored lights shine while doing an art project.  If you haven’t ventured past Columbia Elementary in the past couple of days you may not have seen the adorable winter mural painted by students in the front windows which is a tradition at this time of year.  The parents had the paint all ready for the students as they excitedly approached the mural.  The students worked cooperatively as they painted various areas of the mural resulted in an experience many of them will remember forever.

    Each student has positive qualities, talents, and strengths they will build on over their lifetime.  As a community, our job is to support our children as they grow and develop their interests and talents.  Over the past several months, the Columbia School District has worked to redevelop our budget to maximize those areas which especially support and enhance the maturing of our students’ talents and academic strengths.  As we join together to support our teachers and students there are ways you may partner with the Columbia School District.  Sign up to volunteer in our Buddy’s Reading program at Columbia Elementary.  Check out and join the Columbia Community Fitness Center through which community members work on their personal fitness goals while supporting the center which benefits our high school students by providing after school fitness activities, along with great fitness equipment they benefit from during their physical education classes.  Donate to help support bringing upgrades in technology to our students.  Your willingness to actively partner with the Columbia School District may change a child’s life forever and make their light brightly sparkle!  If you are interested in partnering with the Columbia School District, please contact me by email at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 517-592-6641.

    Creating Art Projects With Your Child


    Providing sensory experiences for your child is positive for his development.  Creating and experimenting with art allows your child to use his senses and build his brain.  Playing with play dough, painting, drawing, and making collages all spark connections in the brain.  Having these experiences will help your child be more successful in school.  Christmas time gives us many opportunities to invent creative art project ideas which tie brain development together with the season.

    You can help your child get the largest benefit from creating and experimenting with art by:

    ·        Encouraging him to enjoy the process of creating art.  The most important part of the creative process is that the child should interpret what the project should look like.  Your child will be more apt to explore his creative desires if we accept his finished project without any criticism.

    ·        Providing materials.  It’s great if your child has access to crayons, paints and paper.  Household items such as fabric scraps and catalogs are also fun to use when creating art projects.

    ·        Say something specific about your child’s artwork.  “You used a lot of yellow and blue in your picture.”  Your comment could also sound like, “It’s great how you incorporated Santa’s reindeer into your picture,” or “The sculpture of the penguin has a nice long beak and big feet.”

    ·        Hanging his creation on your refrigerator, setting a sculpture out on a shelf or giving the results of an art project to a favorite relative will make your child feel appreciated.  By displaying the artistic creation your child will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.

    By encouraging your child to be creative he will benefit by increased brain activity and a higher level of self-esteem.  Your attention to a project which he is proud of will help to spark his sense of ownership and will encourage him to experiment with his creative side to a greater degree.  Have fun creating with your child!  If you have questions about this article or about Columbia School District, please call me at 517-592-6641 or email me at Pamela.campbell@myeagles.org.

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    The Potato

    Talk to anyone about their years in school and they will have many stories about teachers, classmates, tests, and athletic events. This year my grandfather, who was born in 1900, would have been 112.  As a small child I listened to him describe his experiences in school.  One story that stands out described a daily ritual through the cold winter months.  The scenario begins with how my grandfather and his friends would cook a potato at home in their old wood stoves.  The boys would then carry their potato to school and use it as a hand warmer in the cold winter weather as the snow blew across their paths.  Once at school they would put it in the wood fueled stove to keep it warm and later, they would eat it for a hot lunch. 

    When my grandfather was young the schools were small and all the children were educated together in one room.  His school did not have a bus or any type of transportation.  Earlier this year, the Columbia School Board began examining the cost of maintaining our aging fleet. The cost of parts and tires were mounting and could be minimized if only our fleet was newer.  The newest bus in our old fleet was built in 2003 and one of the older busses was built in 1991.  Due to the age of the fleet, it was time to upgrade the safety aspects for our students and their drivers.  In the end, the cost of the old fleet, the parts, tires, and maintenance of our old busses was comparable to leasing a fleet of new busses.

    After studying the bus situation the Columbia School District Board of Education arranged to lease new busses for two years.  This week the students who attend Columbia School District are riding on new busses!  One of the positive aspects of the new busses is that the seatbacks are taller and provide increased safety for our children.  Because the engines and transmissions are new and more reliable there is less chance of breakdowns.  In addition, the busses have digital cameras and new radios. 

    As you are driving around town, keep a lookout for our new busses.  They are clean, shiny and most of all safe for their precious cargo.  If you are interested in taking a tour of one of our new busses or learning more about Columbia Schools, email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641.

     

     



     

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Renewing Our Committment to Our Students

    The Columbia School District has a long and successful tradition of serving the students of this community in southern Jackson County.  Our supportive community has benefited our students by assisting us in providing a wide variety of academic choices and athletic opportunities.  Test scores in Columbia are among the highest in the county.  Our participation in the Jackson County Career Center gives our students an opportunity to leave high school with a career field and in some cases college credit.  Many of our students graduate and move on to higher education, trade schools or enter military service. 
    We are proud of our students and their accomplishments both during school and as they become contributing members of our community.  The renewal of the Columbia School District operating millage is on the November 6th ballot.  While it is a small item on a very long ballot, it is important to our students and their educational opportunities.  The operating is a non-homestead millage.  It is paid by people who own vacation property or business property.  This is not a new tax, but a renewal of an item which has been passed by our community in the past.  The operating millage provides the Columbia School District with funds necessary to ensure the operation of our school district and to provide an appropriate learning environment for our children. 
    The Columbia School community has always been extremely supportive of our schools and our students, staff, board and administration appreciates all of the time and effort given to benefit our children.  We are proud of the communities we serve and strive to bring excellence in education to our students.  For more about the school funding at Columbia, check out the additional info blog at http://pamcampbellssoup.blogspot.com/2012/10/changine-seasons-in-school-funding.html

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    How is Education Like a Old Fashioned Flour Sack?

    The other day I read a poem that was historical in nature.  The author, Marilyn Cox is a writer and historian who lives out west.  Marilyn’s poem was entitled; “In That Long Ago Time When Things Were Saved.”  In her poem she described many uses for a cotton flour sack: book bags, curtains, pillow covers, bibs, diapers and kerchiefs.  The lady who sent me the poem commented on how she and her sister would go to the store and carefully pick out the flour sack that was the prettiest.   She mentioned that the gentleman who ran the store would move the flour sacks around so the girls could get the perfect pattern, then they would anxiously await the time when their mother would use the empty sack to make a beautiful dress for them.    

    When I read the poem I thought of all of the disposable items we have in our lives and compared them to the almost infinite uses of the flour sack… I missed some, dish rag, dish cloth, grease rag, juice strainer, a sling and I am sure many more!  One of the things in our lives that is not disposal is our education.  No matter how many years we live, we will always have our education.  Imbedded in our country’s very essence is the tradition of teaching our children and working collaboratively to provide them the best in a lasting, non-disposable education.  Education has been important in the growth of America. Puritan settlers established America’s first public school in 1635 in Massachusetts.  By the beginning of the 1900’s most children in America were attending school and many were preparing for college.  Schools have continued to evolve, expand services and grow stronger academically.

    At Columbia Schools we begin with our preschool program which is available for both three and four year olds. The preschool curriculum is designed to provide essential learning activities during an important developmental time in our children’s lives.  For our elementary and middle school students, in addition to the core curriculum, we offer music, physical education and by working with our PTO are able to offer our students art education.  Our students benefit from services which help students by supporting them in our Reading Recovery program or through speech classes, Links or the resource room program.  Many Columbia friends and neighbors are treasured volunteers in our Buddy’s reading program and spend time each week reading with one of our great young students. 

    At Columbia Central High School we support students who struggle, while also providing enrichment courses for students who want to be challenged.  Our students in Advanced Placement courses study all year long before taking a test in the spring.  Depending on their score the students could earn college credit.  In addition, our offerings in engineering, chemistry, music and art (to name a few) provide the extra challenge for those who are interested in excelling in a particular area.  The Clarklake campus houses our Options alternative education program along with online courses and our Adult Education program.

    The education our students receive is of highest quality and will last them a life-time.  Just like the numerous uses of the historical flour sack, education will serve our students in many ways over their lives.  Please continue to support Columbia Schools by volunteering, attending events or voting for the upcoming non-homestead millage proposal.  If you have questions about how you or your child could participate in our life-long education program or would like to partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at Pamela.Campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641. 

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Changing Seasons in School Funding


    As I rounded the corner, there it was a beautiful mix of colors and sizes of plants.  At the edge of the road grew bright yellow goldenrods, immediately behind them was a cluster of wheat grass just beginning to turn brown and standing tall behind them was a group of reeds and cattails.  That scene was only three weeks ago.  Last week, the goldenrods were gone and the wheat grass had withered.  The bright spot in the landscape was the vibrantly decorated trees! 

     This time as I rounded the corner and cruised up the hill the brightly colored leaves were peaking over the edge of the road, lightly waving in the fall breeze.  Each day as I have driven up that incline I have noticed the trees becoming more vibrant with their leaves almost leaping off of their branches, bursting with color!
     
    Just as the colors of the leaves have gone from green to a rainbow of reds, oranges and yellows and the season has changed, so has the way schools are funded and the amount of funding received from the state. It all began in November 1978, when Michigan voters approved the Headlee Amendment which was considered earth-shaking tax reform in those days. 

    Following the passage of the Headlee Amendment, the next step in school funding reform was in March of 1994, when state voters approved school-finance reform legislation (Proposal A), which replaced local property taxes with state level taxes, principally the sales tax. Proposal A revamped how schools would be funded and also provided educational reforms. Proposal A promised a minimum per pupil foundation allowance, more equity among local school districts, lower property taxes and more school accountability.  Proposal A dramatically decreased the amount of property taxes paid by Michigan residents and limited future increases.

    Property is now determined by the state to be homestead or non-homestead. Homestead property is considered to be a Michigan resident’s home. Business property, rental housing, and vacation homes are considered to be non-homestead property. Property that is not a homestead and not qualified agricultural property can be assessed up to an additional 18 mills for local school operating purposes.

    The result of the school funding reform has achieved less than stellar results as of late.  In 2003, the minimum school foundation allowance was $6700 per pupil and was designed to narrow the spending gap between low and high spending school districts.  Now, nine years later the foundation allowance received by the Columbia School District is only $6966 per pupil.  While Proposal A was ground breaking legislation and allowed the major share of the tax burden to be lifted from homeowners, the funding allowance for our district has not continued to increase much over the past several years.  In fact, funding for our district was rolled back from $7316 in 2011.  This year we remain a whopping $350 below the 2011 level.  Meanwhile we have tightened our budget, costs have risen and the loss of funding per pupil is crippling. 

    Currently those who have property which is classified as non-homestead are levied 18 mills for local school operating purposes.  On November 6th, Columbia School District will have the renewal of the 18 mill non-homestead property tax on the ballot.  Please remember that this renewal does not apply to a Michigan resident’s home or qualified agricultural property and the renewal is essential to fund learning opportunities for our children. 

    If you have questions about this article or how you may partner with the Columbia School District or please email me at Pamela.Campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641.

     

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

    Coupons!

    I clip coupons, save them and sometimes I even organize the coupons by type.  Even with my attempts to organize my coupons, they only defray the expense of the item if I take them with me to the store.  Once I get to the store, I have to make sure I select and purchase the exact item specified on the coupon and it doesn’t help if the coupon is expired. If the coupons are for a specific store, I have to make sure that I bring the correct coupon to the particular store.  It definitely takes a lot of concentration and organization if you want to make it worthwhile.

    The other day I was speaking with a friend of mine and he began to talk about all of the money he was saving with coupons.  He said that he had a lot of items in his garage and basement and to let him know if I needed anything.  Seeing the quizzical look on my face he told me that he was an extreme coupon clipper.  As we talked about his hobby further I found it amazing to hear about all of the great deals he was able to obtain by using coupons, often in combination with store sales. 

    Almost immediately I began drawing correlations between couponing and students and their homework.  As parents we remind our children to do their homework, watch them work on it, see them put their completed assignment in their folder, and then wonder why they didn’t get credit for it.  Of course, our children are just like we are when we forget to take our coupons to the store, they forget to take their assignments to class and turn them in to their teacher. 

    As a parent, we may improve our children’s educational performance by working with their teachers.  In the same way I find it necessary to use concentration and organization to help me in my attempt at couponing, it is important to instill these same traits in to our children to help them become better students.

    In a recent conversation with a parent she told me that she had met with her child’s teacher.  During the meeting she was able to describe some concerns she had about how her child learns.  In exchange, just like my friend gave me some insight on how to improve my use of coupons, the teacher was able to give the parent some tips about how she could provide educational support at home. 

    Our teachers have worked long and hard to come up with good solutions to help our students gain proficiency in their school work.  They spend time in professional development sessions to help them build the strategies they use with students.  Similarly to the way I learned tips about how to improve my use of coupons, teachers who attend seminars gain new insight and learn alternate approaches regarding their work with students.

    If you have questions about how your child is progressing as a student or how you may support them at home, check with your child’s teacher.  You may see them in person or you find their email at www.myeagles.org click on the link to their specific school and then click on “Faculty” in the border on the right.   If you would like to partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at Pamela.Campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641.

     

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    The Neatly Folded Map

    The other day a friend of mine was speaking about her father.  As she told about all of the enjoyable times she spent with him, she mentioned that when they went on trips, he often explored interesting ways of getting to their destination.  She happily talked about a trip to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.  She laughed as she told about arriving in Beaver Falls and discovering that there were no actual falls.  She continued to explain that the trip was a huge success and her dad was ecstatic when they learned that one of the famous people who grew up in Beaver Falls was Joe Namath, legendary Hall of Fame quarterback for the New York Jets.  This revelation pleased her dad immensely because he was a big football fan.  My friend finished her discussion about their random trips by saying that there is more to discovering the world than a neatly folded map on the seat of the car. 

    As I listened to her speak I thought about the impact we make on our children even when we do not expect our actions to make a lasting impression.  At the schools in the Columbia District, we work on being intentional regarding our students’ learning opportunities.  Teachers develop plans which include activities designed to enhance student achievement.  Sometimes, just like my friend’s father, our terrific teachers use detours and “teachable moments” to allow random events to become learning filled occasions.   The other day I ventured into a first grade classroom where a visiting spider had given the teacher an opportunity to help the students learn a bit about the rather large arachnid. 

     Increasingly, teachers are integrating technology into their learning activities in their classroom.  Just like my friend’s father developed exciting opportunities for his children during his side trips, our teachers engage their learners by unfolding their lesson by intentionally using technology to boost student interest and understanding.  The teachers are coming up with creative ideas to improve student achievement and to increase the capability of students to be successful problem solvers.  We are empowering our teachers to work with students to harness technology to gather information and to communicate efficiently and effectively.  Our teachers, using best practices, are striving to increase literacy and integration of technology while incorporating digital and blended learning activities into the educational environment in their classrooms. 

    As a member of the Columbia School District community you may support the teachers’ intentional focus on enhancing the students’ achievement by encouraging your child or grandchild to fully complete their school projects or assignments.  You may encourage your child to take the next step and learn more about topics they are covering in school by conducting web-quests.  You may also support our wonderful teachers by engaging in positive verbal support as you speak with others in the community.  Your enthusiasm for learning at Columbia Schools may also include volunteering to serve on a committee or read a book to a child or cheer our sports teams on to victory.   As we work together side-by-side leading the children of the community to become lifelong learners, we must remember that similarly to my friend’s father and the long-lasting impression his trips made on his daughter, our support of education will have an enduring effect on our children!

    If you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at Pamela.Campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641.

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    Studying for Success


    Janie has a spelling test every Friday.  Steven has a math test after completing a study unit.  How can your youngsters improve their ability to learn and prepare for tests without “cramming” the night before?

    You may help your child by working with them to develop good study habits and skills.  Your children will understand more information in less time – and improve their test scores.  To start them on the right track, try the following study tips.

    Help your children improve their memory.  Students may improve their memory by reviewing classroom materials often and in a variety of ways.  For example, for a weekly spelling test, suggest a different activity each day like writing the words three times, making flash cards, using them in a sentence or having a friend come over to practice their spelling words together.  Children will often remember facts better when they read the information aloud when practicing for their next test.

    Study school work regularly.  Together, decide on a time that studying will be done each night – and stick to it.  Help your children keep supplies handy, such as pencils and paper for taking notes.  You may even work together to create a pencil holder by covering a small, clean soup or coffee can with paper.  Your youngsters will enjoy decorating the can using markers or crayons.

    Space your child’s study time out by deciding appropriate increments at the beginning.  Help your children divide their study time.  For instance, maybe they need 15 minutes for spelling and 30 minutes for reading a social studies chapter.  Your children will benefit if they study their most difficult subjects first, when their minds are fresher.

    While it is best if you help your children learn good study habits when they are small, it is never too late to begin working with your children on their study habits.  The difference between a failing or a poor grade and an above average grade is having studied efficiently and effectively. 

     If you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at Pamela.Campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Looking in the Rearview Mirror

    The other day I was driving my car to school looking through the front windshield and glancing at the rearview mirror.  As I drove towards school, it occurred to me that when we look in the rearview mirror it presents very limited view of the scenery behind us.  The landscape in the rearview mirror is constrained by the size of the mirror, whereas when we look forward, the front windshield gives you a greater prospective.  Thinking about the differing views made me think about how we approach issues regarding our child’s educational opportunities. 

    When we look at our child’s education and think about the things that influence our perspective, it is like the way the rearview mirror limits our visual range.  If we were constantly concentrating on that small area behind us, just think of all the great opportunities in front of us that we would miss.  It is the same with our children, there are many opportunities in life that we may miss if we are fixated on the irritations and disappointments of the past.

    Sometimes we hear individuals recount incidents regarding negative experiences that happened last year or at sometime in the past, both in and out of school. While we don’t want to ignore our past experiences, I am sure none of us would drive a car and only concentrate on the rearview mirror.  We must look forward at all of the wonderful possibilities in front of us.  Just think as we look ahead all of those past irritants will, like things in our rearview mirror, begin to grow smaller and fade away. 

    By working together and focusing on the future of our children’s education we will build a stronger school district, provide optimal learning experiences and create greater opportunities for our children to achieve!    

    If you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at Pamela.Campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641.

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

    Back-to-School Buzz

    This has been a week full of children meeting new friends, making memories and getting to know their teachers.  As I visited classrooms early this week, the children were already engaged in learning.  In one classroom the students were using their technology to begin a lesson on reading.  The teacher was using solid teaching techniques combined with an interesting Smart Board presentation to introduce the students to the reading program. 

    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. 

    Encourage your child to bring home books from the school library!  Whether your child is a beginning reader or an experienced reader, the school librarian will be able to suggest great books and exciting book series for your child. 

    To help direct your child as you capitalize on their reading time, you may want to check with your child’s teacher or simply search for “what books should children read?”  One website that has a nice list of books categorized by age group is http://www.teachersfirst.com/100books.cfm .  One of my favorite books for young readers is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.  It just happens to be first book on the Teachers First list.  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.  

    Young 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 your vacation or even for short day-trips.  This way the reading will have a reward at the end 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 @ http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/articles/teenagers-and-reading.htm . 

    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!  Do you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District to benefit your child?  Email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641.

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    The School Mission Statement


    As parents seek an excellent learning environment for their children, one of the most important aspects they must evaluate is ensuring that their children are able to learn in an environment filled with quality.  The school mission statement gives parents insight in to the district’s philosophy and values.  The Columbia School District Mission Statement provides a clear vision into the goals and aspirations we strive for as a learning community combining the efforts of teachers, parents, administrators and staff members working together to reach for excellence in education. 

    The Columbia School District is working to emphasize our Mission Statement in everything we do to educate the children of our community. The Mission Statement gives us a lens through which to view the learning opportunities we offer to our students.  The Columbia School District Mission indicates that the school will partner with the community.  There are many ways that parents and businesses may partner with their child’s school.  By participating in school activities, attending school musicals, band concerts and sporting events we may begin to support our students though a basic partnership.  In addition, community members may partner with the school district by volunteering to assist in our reading Buddies program, help with school clean-up projects, join our Boosters organizations or PTO, support our coaches and teachers and donate to fundraising efforts.

    The Mission Statement also ensures students that they will have the opportunity to learn in a safe and positive environment.  Parents and community members may support teachers and staff members as we strive to keep our school learning environment positive and safe.  Making sure that your children get enough sleep at night, benefit from proper nutrition and complete their school assignments will help them to be successful in school.  Your encouraging words and hugs will help to build your child’s self-esteem and prepare them be successful in our safe, positive classroom learning environment. 

    Children who grow up in a learning environment where excellence in education is emphasized, and students have positive reinforcement will be ready to become contributing members in our global society.  The Columbia School District teachers and staff members strive to prepare their students to compete in our increasingly technological society.  As parents and supportive community members you can help our students reach their maximum potential by supporting our educators and encouraging students to reach new heights.

    Join us as we work together toward success in educating the youth of our community by assisting us as we view our students potential through the lens of our Mission statement:

    The Columbia School District, in partnership with the community, will provide a safe and positive learning environment, which will prepare all students to contribute and compete in a global society.

    If you have questions about how you may partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at Pamela.Campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 517.592.6641.

    Saturday, August 25, 2012

    Educational Armor


    Recently I heard a speaker talking about ancient armor.  He had designed and made a suit of armor similar to what would have been worn by knights in the Middle Ages.  As he spoke, he put on each piece of armor and talked about its significance. 

    His talk about armor reminded me of education.  As our teachers work with our students they begin with the foundation of education which is learning to read.  We could think of reading as the garment that the knights wore under their suit of armor.  Without reading, we would be unprepared to move further in education.  The knights wore special shoe, leg, arm and hand protective gear.  We might imagine that the core subjects English, math, science and social studies would be akin to these pieces of armor.  The four core subjects give our students an opportunity to reach out and expand their education as they grow and mature as citizens and conquer their life goals.

    The breast plate was very important to the knights, just as character education is very important to our students.  Columbia School District teachers work with our students on a daily basis through teachable moments as well as through intentional lessons to instill the virtues of respect, responsibility, honesty, caring and many more!  Setting atop of our student knight is their helmet of self-esteem.  Our teachers work with our students to build their self-esteem and give them confidence to conquer concerns in their lives as well as the important subjects they will learn in school.

    Our knight is in need of a shield made up of problem-solving strategies.  These strategies will give our students the ability to use higher order thinking skills and decision-making strategies to solve real world problems. 

    Finally, our student knight needs a sword!  Imagine that the sword is our students’ ability to speak articulately in front of others and the sheath for the sword is self control to know when to speak.  Our teachers partner with our students and give them the opportunity to report on projects and present in front of their peers. 

    Columbia School District teachers and staff members work tirelessly to prepare our students to succeed in life.  It takes all of us partnering together, building our students up in a safe positive learning environment, which will prepare them to contribute in a global society.  If you have questions about Columbia Schools, please give us a call at 592.6641, email me at pam.campbell@myeagles.org  or check us out on the web at www.myeagles.org

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Labels!


    If I happened to wear a baseball shirt emblazoned with the word “Cleveland” I might be labeled an Indian’s fan.  If I was wearing a sweatshirt that said, “Michigan State University,” I might be labeled a Spartan fan. 

    Walk with me for a moment to see some other labels.  Walking across the parking lot and up the sidewalk there’s new mulch around the plants, wow; the landscaping looks great!  As we step through the doorway we see the newly polished floor; it looks so shiny!  Walking down the hallway you can smell the fresh paint and the walls look brand new.  We go to the first room; yes, this room on the right.  As we enter we take a look around the room and it is beautiful!  Nice paint, new bulletin board and even name tags on the desk tops.  This teacher must be the best teacher!  My child is so fortunate to have this terrific teacher in this nice school!

    As we approach the school year many parents could label their feelings happy or excited to have their child returning to school.  They may be labeled hopeful, because there are hopeful that this will be their child’s best school year yet.  This year as a school staff we will work under the label of “United for Kids!” which is built on four educational pillars:

    ·         Technology integration and innovation which highlights best practices, collaboration and problem solving.

    ·         Continuous learning which focuses on high standards, commitment, reflection and engagement along with 21st Century teaching and learning.

    ·         Continuity of care which is built on a positive school climate and safe learning environment and provides a positive caring environment in which to concentrate on our student’s academic and developmental needs.

    ·         Excellence which focuses on opportunities for students to achieve high standards by incorporating rigorous content, application of knowledge and higher order thinking skills in each and every area of the curriculum. 

    These four integral pillars will form a support system as we continue to label ourselves “United for Kids!” as we move throughout the year.

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Summer Reading!

    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. 

    Stop by your local library!  Whether your child is a beginning reader or an experienced reader, your local librarian will be able to suggest great books and exciting book series for your child.  Many local libraries have summer 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 summer reading time, you may want to check your school’s website or simply search for “what books should children read?”  One website that has a nice list of books categorized by age group is http://www.teachersfirst.com/100books.cfm .  One of my favorite books for young readers is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.  It just happens to be first book on the Teachers First list.  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 your vacation or even for short day-trips.  This way the reading will have a reward at the end 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 @ http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/articles/teenagers-and-reading.htm . 

    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!

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    The Wedding


    This weekend my husband and I went to a wedding which was held on the shores of Lake Erie.  As the wedding began there was a storm moving across the horizon.  While the young couple repeated their vows, the hazy slate blue and steel gray clouds moved closer and appeared to be slipping down into the water.  In the background bolts of lightning seemed to punctuate the couple’s love for each other.  In stark contrast to the hazy clouds, the bride in a beautiful white gown and the groom in a traditional black tux stood face-to-face proclaiming their love for each other.  The poignant scene made me think of the verse in 2 Thessalonians 3:5, May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.  As we move through lives with our loved ones we must remember that while the love from our spouse and children is comforting, God’s love is all powerful.  Have a blessed week!

    Sunday, June 24, 2012

    Have Fun Creating Art with Your Child!


    Providing sensory experiences for your child is positive for his or her development.  Creating art allows your child to use his senses and build his brain.  Playing with play dough, painting, drawing and making collages all spark connections in the brain.  Having these experiences will help your child be more successful in school.  Summer time gives us many creative project ideas which may be tied to the season.

    You may help your child get the most benefit from creating art by:

    ·         Encouraging him or her to enjoy the process of making art.  The most important part of the creative process is that the child should interpret what the project should look like.  Your child will be more apt to explore his creative desires if we accept his finished project without any criticism.

    ·         Providing materials.  It’s great if your child has access to crayons, paints and paper.  Household items such as fabric scraps and catalogs or magazines are also fun to use when making art.

    ·         Say something specific about your child’s artwork.  “You used a lot of yellow and blue in your picture.”  Your comment could also sound like, “It’s great how you incorporated Santa’s reindeer into your picture,” or “The sculpture of the penguin has a nice long beak and big feet.”

    ·         Hanging his or her creation on your refrigerator, setting a sculpture out on a counter or giving the results of an art project to a favorite relative will make your child feel appreciated.  By displaying the artistic creation your child will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.

    By encouraging your child to be creative he or she will benefit by increased brain activity and a higher level of self-esteem.  Your attention to a project which he or she is proud of will help to spark his or her sense of ownership and will encourage him or her to experiment with his or her creative side to a greater degree.  Don’t forget the most important thing: Have fun creating art with your child!

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    Mid-Summer Math

    Speaking of Education

    Mid-Summer Math

    During the summer many of us load our children into the car and go on vacation.  The trip in the car gives you a great chance to work on your child’s math skills and keep them occupied all at the same time! 
    • Work on their math computation skills.  Fill a plastic bag with pennies and give them out as your children answer math questions correctly.  If they answer incorrectly, you may want to take a penny back from your child.  If you have children on different levels, you may alternate the difficulty of the questions with the children.  Beyond asking questions such as ‘6+4= what,” you can make longer math sentences filled with addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.
    • Work on clock math.  Ask your children questions based upon the question, “when are we going to get there?”  The question would be phrased similar to, “It is 5:49, what time will it be in 27 minutes?” You may want to give out pennies for correct answers during the clock math “game.”
    • Work on graphing.  While playing the license plate game, graph the results.  A favorite type for the license plate game would be a bar graph.  You may choose to graph the results by player – you can play too, or by state.
    • Build their basic algebraic skills.  Talk about the ratio of miles per hour, miles per minute and how to compute gas mileage.  On some maps the exits are indicated by “mile markers” so you can teach your children how to figure out the answer to “how long will it take,” based upon the rate of speed you are traveling.

    The math games will help to teach your children that math is fun and it is all around us.  As you travel the games will help keep your children occupied as they earn “spending money” for the next rest stop.

    Cruising the Lake!

    Last week my husband and I went on a pontoon boat ride around the lake. When we drove around the end of a cove, there was a pair of beautiful swans. As we moved closer, I noticed that there was a lot of seaweed just below the surface of the lake. It was such an inviting scene with the swans swimming along the edge of the lake, back and forth through the lily pads, but because of the seaweed, it was not where we should be; the motor would eventually become clogged and possibly damaged. This scene is similar in our walk with Christ. Sometimes we are distracted by a pretty thing or engaging activity and deviate from our course, only to find that we are in danger of getting "our motor clogged with seaweed."


    Please join me in prayer this week asking for God’s guidance so as we navigate our walk with Christ that we will not become distracted.
    Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    God's Reach!


    It is amazing how far God can reach to bring His children to Him.  In the book The Faith of Condoleezza Rice she relates an incident where she had moved to California to teach at Stamford and hadn’t yet found a church to attend.  She was in Lucky’s grocery store on a Sunday morning when a gentleman walked up to her and told her he was purchasing food for his church picnic.  When he noticed she had long slender fingers, and no wedding band, he asked if she played the piano, because his church needed a pianist.  She agreed to help out and was amazed that God would reach out and touch her life when she was in Lucky’s Supermarket!
    Please join me in praying that as God reaches out to us, we will recognize his call.  Romans 11:29, "For God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."
    Have a blessed day!

    Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Memorial Day

    When I began thinking about the meaning of Memorial Day, I realized that the meaning has become all too real for many families across the country who have lost loved ones in service to our country. Please join me in praying for our service men and women and their families. Please pray that they might follow Christ as we read in Matthew 4:19a, “Come, follow me” and that they will take a stand for Christ as we read in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

    Thinking about and praying for our service men and women has become very real to me this past year. My son Jonathan (above) received a ROTC scholarship for college and graduated last May. He is currently serving in the Army as a Second Lieutenant in South Korea. I think about him and all of the other members of the armed forces on a daily basis. As I continued to think about our service men and women and Memorial Day, I came across a letter written by Georgette Frank whose son Lance Cpl. Philip Frank, 20, was killed in Fallujah by sniper fire on April 8, 2004. I thought I should share this essay she wrote on the real meaning of Memorial Day.

    Dear Friends,

    In the past I would look forward to Memorial Day. It represented the beginning of the summer season at the Jersey Shore and a three-day weekend.

    Then we lost our Phil in Iraq.

    Memorial Day has now become a day of reflection and remembrance. It is a day to remember all of our Fallen Heroes from all of the wars. It is a day to think about the families that will forever grieve for their lost loved one. It is a day to be thankful to those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice. They fought and died to win the freedom and democracy that we Americans cherish so dearly. They also fought and died to bring that same freedom and democracy to the people of other countries as well.

    As the family of a Fallen Hero, we are so proud of our loved ones who knowingly put themselves in harm's way so that they could make a difference in the lives of others.

    I would like to share an excerpt from a sermon by John Hagee:

    "I want you to close your eyes and picture in your mind the soldier at Valley Forge, as he holds his musket in his bloody hand.

    "He stands barefoot in the snow, starved from lack of food, wounded from months of battle and emotionally scarred for the eternity away from his family surrounded by nothing but death and carnage of war. He stands though, with fire in his eyes and victory on his breath. He looks at us now in anger and disgust and tells us this. ...

    "I gave you a birthright of freedom born in the Constitution and now your children graduate too illiterate to read it. I fought in the snow barefoot to give you the freedom to vote and you stay at home because it rains. I left my family destitute to give you the freedom of speech, and you remain silent on critical issues, because it might be bad for business. I orphaned my children to give you a government to serve you and it has stolen democracy from the people.

    "It's the soldier, not the poet, who gives you the freedom of speech.

    "It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who allows you to demonstrate.

    "It's the soldier, who salutes the flag, serves the flag, whose coffin is draped with the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag!

    "Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen."

    Take a moment this Memorial Day to share the pride that we, the families of the Fallen Heroes, feel.

    Georgette