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Monday, December 23, 2013

New Year's Resolution!

New Year’s Day spurs many of us to make resolutions promising ourselves that we will make a change in our daily lives and habits. After making the resolution, we must strategize how we will facilitate the change in our habits and how we will develop new patterns of behavior. Samuel Johnson, an 18th century moralist and writer, often commented in his journals about his resolutions and philosophies on education. His personal philosophy indicated that everyone should receive a foundational education (Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791).

As I thought about the differences in our educational system and the type of education that existed when Samuel Johnson grew up, it became apparent that while we educate everyone, some children come to school without the very foundation they need to be successful. While Samuel Johnson’s mother gave him a book at age three and he began his learning, not all of our students have that educational advantage.

Columbia School District offers learning opportunities for preschoolers beginning at age three. Our preschool and daycare focuses on giving children an educational foundation through active learning using hands-on materials and play. We offer both tuition based preschool and our free Great Start Readiness Program for four-year-olds who qualify. These early opportunities at building a foundation for literacy and independence in an educational setting, give our children an advantage when they attend kindergarten.

As the children of our district move into kindergarten and first grade, some of them struggle learning to read. Columbia Elementary has important programs that focus on early literacy, two of them are: Reading Recovery and Columbia Buddies. Reading Recovery utilizes a certified teacher to work with individual students and groups of students to increase their reading levels. Columbia Buddies develops volunteer community members to mentor individual students in reading techniques under the direction of a program director. Both of the programs show positive gains in students’ reading levels.

As you contemplate and refine your New Year’s resolutions, please consider making a resolution to volunteer in Brooklyn Buddies or one of our other opportunities, such as Grandparents for Greatness. If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Buddies send an email to, if you are interested in participating in Grandparents for Greatness, email

While our resolutions have the potential to serve as a stimulus for change and personal growth, sometimes we forget all of our positive self-talk and transformational strategies. Make a New Year's resolution that will last through out the year by resolving to volunteer in a capacity that will enhance the lives of our children! Are you interested in hearing more about Columbia Schools? Call me at 592-6641 or email me at

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Key to Success!

Keys, keys, keys! I pick up my key ring and wow, what are all the keys for? Some of the keys are shiny, some are old and worn, some are silver, and some are multi-colored, but they all have some significance in my life. Sometimes our children have an assignment or take a class and they are not quite sure how it will benefit them in later life, but it may be the key to a successful career.

Often I have heard people say, “What am I going to use Algebra or Biology for when I am older?” In this day of instant gratification we want everything to have a reason right-now. Our children are growing up in a world that puts a greater emphasis on basic algebra facts in business, industry and the informational technology field. Those hiring people in the health and human services career fields often comment on the need for qualified employees.

Just like each of my keys has significance, each of the courses our child takes has meaning. The State of Michigan now requires students to complete two years of foreign language while in high school. Columbia School District offers Spanish to students in seventh through twelfth grade and French to our Columbia Central High School students. The significance is that in our increasingly globalized economy it may be necessary for our children to know a second language.

In much the same way as I need the silver key to get into my office, the key to a good job may be having taken Algebra, Geometry or Chemistry. At Columbia Schools we have opportunities for our students to succeed through the classroom setting and after school tutoring and assistance programs. If your child is finding a subject difficult, make sure you contact the teacher because the key to your child’s future may be hidden in that subject. If you have questions regarding Columbia School District or are interested in serving on our new Curriculum Committee, please give me a call at 517.592.6641 or email me at

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Flavor of Columbia Education

Snap, Crackle, Pop! Those familiar words are trademarked by Kellogg’s Cereal to represent their Rice Krispies Cereal. Since the iconic elfin characters were developed 1933 to help publicize the cereal, they have undergone many updates, but have remained the same loveable characters.
The ten or so changes over the past eighty years in the appearance of the small elfin characters, reminded me of the fact that the Columbia School District will be undergoing changes in the appearance of the buildings, while the dependable “flavor” of the Columbia education will remain tried and true, just like the taste of the crispy rice cereal.
The Columbia School Board, administration and steering committee are involved in a conversation designed to initialize the changes to the buildings and grounds based upon the goals that were set early on in the Facility Improvement planning process: To make our buildings warm, dry, safe and smart. To accommodate the expansive nature of the project, it has been split in to two phases.
While the entire time line has not been defined, it appears as though the first phase will include installing new roofs, increasing student and staff safety by designing and constructing the new bus and parent drives and parking areas between the elementary and middle schools, designing and installating of wiring for an increased level of technology at all schools, and using focus groups to initiate the design process for interior building remodeling. The second half of the first phase will include the transformation of the area south of the Media Center at Columbia Central High School to accommodate the seventh and eighth grade students, starting construction on the elementary secure entry vestibule and the junior high locker room addition for CCHS.
The second phase will include replacement of the boilers, remodeling of restrooms, classrooms and office areas, replacement of windows and doors, improvements to the technology, parking lots, tennis courts and CCHS track. We will continue to solidify the timelines as we move through the early weeks of the process. Over the next several months there will be opportunities for parents, community members and staff members to have input as we embark on the improvement process. If you are interested in participating in a focus group, please contact me by email at or call me at 5926641.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Sugar Cookies!

The other day I made my second batch of Christmas sugar cookies. For those of you who do not make Christmas cookies from scratch, it is really quite a production. First you have to make sure you purchase everything you need for the cookies. You may need flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and don’t forget to bring home containers or decorative plates for gifting some of the cookies.

When I made the first batch a couple of weeks ago, I studied the recipe and thought I was being so careful as I added each ingredient. At one point the recipe says to add four eggs, then add three cups of butter milk with two teaspoons of baking soda stirred until frothy. I missed the part about adding the baking soda to the butter milk. I thought rather than adding the eggs and butter milk separately, I could stir the eggs and the butter milk together, then add the baking soda last. Obviously, this wasn’t what the recipe called for and I was horrified, but the cookies tasted great!

For the second batch I followed the recipe to the letter and even tried a new icing recipe. When the new recipe turned out too thick, I settled on a second recipe which turned out to be easier to spread. The cookies were good and the icing was excellent.

Thinking about my Christmas cookie baking experiences I thought about how we approach a process with a plan and then work step by step to carry it out to the best of our ability. Following the completion of a process, we reflect on our performance and we work to improve for the next time. Just like the correction in my second batch of cookies, adding the baking soda to the butter milk, our teachers spend a tremendous amount of time focusing on improving our classroom learning environments for our students.

Each of the Columbia District schools have improvement plans. Our teachers work together examining test data and reflecting on educational practices, focusing on best practices. As we continue to join together to improve Columbia Schools, we invite our parents and community members to add their input. Parents may submit their input via our website at The parent survey may be found by clicking on the appropriate school, then clicking on the Parent Survey link located below the school’s picture. Community members may submit input by emailing me at If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District please call me at 517-592-6641 or email me at

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Earning Three Stars!

Recently I saw a young boy playing Angry Birds Star Wars edition on his iPad. Intently focused, he continued until he had three stars. He was not satisfied with earning one or two stars, but wanted to achieve the highest ranking of three stars. This young man seemed concerned about his scoring legacy and wanted to do his best. He said that sometimes it takes more than a day for him to get the top score, but he doggedly continues, taking as much time as necessary to achieve his goal.

Watching him play his game made me think about our desired outcome for updating our buildings. All of us want to do our best: we want three stars! Just like the young boy intently focusing on his game, we will intently focus on the process we will use to gather information. Proper information gathering is essential to having a result which will synthesize all sources and details. We will use a thorough planning process which will include input from community members, parents, school staff and board members.

Just like the game, where birds bump into each other and interact so they may achieve their goal, some of our information gathering will come from intentional targeted interactions with community members. Our Facility Improvement Team will meet to review the results of the facility audit we conducted last spring. Columbia School District staff members will have an opportunity to participate in focus group meetings designed to gather input on details for their buildings.

At our Construction Core Team meeting last week, we looked at a visual representation of a proposed timeline. As we move along the timeline, we will proceed from the information gathering process to the design phase. During the initial design phase our input groups will have an opportunity to react and evaluate possible results. Our desire is to have a positive legacy which will benefit our children. At each juncture, I will communicate our progress to the Columbia School District Community.

The proposed timeline depicts us selling the Bonds in February, gathering input on design details during the winter, evaluating designs during the spring, soliciting bids for the first phase in March for completion in late August, finalizing designs for the second phase in late fall 2014, followed by bidding for completion of the second phase in August of 2015. Throughout this process we will continue to strive for three stars!

Over the past two weeks since we passed the Bond Issue Proposals, I have spoken to many staff and community members. If you have questions or suggestions, please drop me an email at or a note in the mail to 11775 Hewitt Road, Brooklyn 49230.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Living Green!

If someone had mentioned “Living Green” when my children were small I would have thought they were talking about Ninja Turtles or Kermit the Frog. I might have imagined that they were talking about horticulture or that they had a “green thumb.” Now, we all have an understanding that “Living Green” refers to recycling, reusing and reducing our carbon footprint.

Our Columbia students are involved in many efforts designed to “Live Green.” Each week the Columbia Central High School Leadership students gather recyclables from classrooms, then sort and fill the recycling bins with plastic, paper and cardboard materials. In addition to their recycling efforts, CCHS students have spent many hours working on the Memorial Garden and the landscaping surrounding the high school.

For their efforts in “Living Green” the Columbia Central High School students were awarded the Green Award from the Dahlem Conservancy, Consumers Energy and the Jackson County Intermediate School District. The Green Award recognized Columbia Central High School for completing ten or more environmental projects during 2012-13 that helped save taxpayer dollars and natural resources. The students and staff members received a “Green School” flag, a laminated plaque, and a white pine seedling to plant.

Columbia Middle School students and staff members have a three pronged approach to “Living Green.” First, they have made recycling a priority. At Columbia Middle school they recycle paper, plastic and cans. Even their recyclable boxes are recycled cardboard boxes decorated and used to collect items which are collected on a weekly basis by students. They are also reusing plastic grocery bags for various uses including general office use, Science Trash Pick Up Day, Locker Clean Out Day, and Cobb’s Closet.

In addition to recycling items, the students and staff members also work to minimize the use of paper copies for fliers and announcements, purchase recycled, biodegradable school supplies. Rather than using mounds of paper for many of their assignments, the students are able to use their computer account to store and submit papers to their teachers.

Last spring our middle school students embarked upon an adventure into composting as part of their recycling priority. Students brought in scraps from home which were then fed to composting worms to become worm castings, which were then used in their “Global Bucket” project as fertilizer.

Columbia Middle School students also have focused on conserving energy through learning about alternative energy through science lessons. They also have reviewed energy reduction through the Honeywell energy audit results for the Columbia School District. For their efforts, Columbia Middle School earned the “Emerald Award” from the Dahlem Conservancy, Consumers Energy and the Jackson County Intermediate School District. Columbia Middle School also received a “Green School” flag, a laminated plaque, and a white pine seedling to plant.

For their efforts to “Live Green” Columbia Elementary School students were recently rewarded with a $5,000 second prize in the American Girl contest. The students, along with their art advisor, Mrs. Backus, used large plastic bottle cap art to design and interpret a scene from an American Girl story.

Congratulations to all of our Columbia School District students and staff members for their efforts to “Live Green!” If you are interested in learning more about the Columbia School District or would like to assist with our efforts to “Live Green” please contact me at or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Updated Technology Makes a School Smart!

New, new, new! The media is full of advertisements about new gadgets and upgrades to help improve our lives. Recently I upgraded my computer to a newer software package. As I looked through the program, I saw that I could use all sorts of options to design a new document. There were templates for a Blog post, a calendar, a flyer and even a list: Really, a list? I could use a pencil and paper and make a list the old fashioned way. While I didn’t need to use a computer to make a list, there are other more important activities and projects that require appropriate updated technology.

Over the past year as our Facilities Assessment Team, a group made up of parents, school staff and community members, worked to audit our needs and plan for improvements, we took a close look at what items were necessary and what prospective elements were unnecessary “fluff.” The Facilities Assessment Team reviewed the age, the stability and the appropriateness of our technology and the supporting infrastructure.

During our time of assessment we found that many of our children were working on computers that were over ten years old and no longer serviceable. The older computers are no longer able to support the educational software required to prepare our children for jobs and the skills they need in the future. The Facilities Assessment Team found that we must expand our wireless technology, obtain additional classroom computers for students and staff, integrate 21st Century job skill development with upgraded educational delivery tools and implement security and access control systems.

The Facilities Assessment Team worked together, meeting on a weekly basis to plan and integrate the needs for technology with the need to make the buildings Safe, Warm and Dry. The Smart portion of the Bond issue proposals will provide a strong educational technology infrastructure that will support current technology needs and will allow for future technology growth. The elements included in our Bond proposals will indeed make our school buildings Safe, Warm, Dry, and Smart for our current students and future children in the Columbia School District. If you have questions regarding your child attending the Columbia School District or about the Bond issue proposals, please email me at or call me at 517.592.6641.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Leaping Into School

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, October 6, 2013

Improvements for the Columbia School District

Armed with brochures and flyers dedicated groups of Columbia School District community members, teachers and administrators spread out through the community to answer questions and hand out information regarding the upcoming Bond Proposals.  While out in the community we met many passionate Columbia school supporters and answered many questions.  One of the questions we were asked was, "How will the additional millage compare to the communities around us?"  Columbia School District only levies 0.9 mills compared to Springport at 8.95 mills, East Jackson at 6 mills, Onsted at 3.77 mills and Napoleon at 3 mills.  By passing both Proposal 1 and 2, the total Columbia millage will still only be 3.5 mills, which amounts to $10.83 per month for a $100,000 home.  For additional information on millage comparison go to

Another question we heard was concerning the details of the proposals.  Many community members asked what will be included in the bond issue and how may we be sure that it will be accomplished?

The bond issue is separated into two Proposals; number one and number two.  Proposal 1 contains the largest share of the improvements amounting to 2.15 mills or $26.5 million to ensure our students have an educational learning environment that is Safe, Warm, Dry and Smart.  "Safe" refers to a safe and secure learning environment for students, staff and community with many updated areas to meet current code requirements.  Safety upgrades will include secure entries at each building, doors that will properly lock and do not need to be chained shut, drop off and pickup traffic patters that separate parent and bus traffic to ensure the safety of students and staff, security cameras that are installed to increase security and facilities upgrades to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

"Warm" refers to creating a more energy efficient learning environment for our children so more money may be spent on educational needs and the installation of items that will convert operational dollar savings into educational funds.  To create the energy efficient learning environment, the 1950's and 60's era boilers will be replaced with new energy-efficient heating systems, increase the R value of our buildings by installing additional insulation and new roofs, and install new windows and doors with energy-efficient glass and insulation.

"Dry" encompasses facilities that are easy to maintain, reflect a positive image and enhance community spirit and update facilities to attract students, parents, staff and community members so the Columbia School District may grow.  To create a dry environment for our students the 40 plus year old roofs will be replaced with highly insulated roofing systems, the 40 to 60 year old original leaking piping systems will be replaced, and install heating systems without water leaking into the duct work.

"Smart" includes a strong educational technology infrastructure that supports current technology needs and allows for future technology growth.  This element includes the expansion of wireless technology infrastructure, the addition of classroom computers for students and staff, and the provision of 21st Century job skill development tools.

Proposal 2 will improve teaching and learning for our children by focusing on grade-level restructuring.  The results of the restructuring will provide additional space for enhanced learning opportunities at Columbia Elementary for pre-kindergarten through second grade students, changing Columbia Middle School to become an upper elementary school for third through sixth grades, better utilization of the space at Columbia Central by initializing a teaching and learning environment in the southern portion of the building for seventh and eighth graders, and improving the learning environment for the ninth through twelfth grade students.  This restructuring will allow for spaces to be remodeled into 21st Century computer labs housing updated and additional technology.

The second portion of the question indicates a concern regarding the completion of the elements of the project.  In order to have the project approved by the State of Michigan Treasury Department, the Columbia School District, interested community members, Kingscott Architects and Granger Construction Managers all worked together to construct and solidify plans that will be monitored through out the process by the Treasury Departments oversight personnel.  We have already had our first visit from the Treasury Department to ensure that the elements included in Proposal 1 and 2 are necessary. The project will be completed in accordance with Treasury Department rules and regulations.

For more information regarding the Bond Proposals, visit upcoming events that may be found at or visit the website and click on the right column where it indicates "view flyer" and "Information on Proposals 1 and 2."  You may also email me at or call me at 5175926641. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Changing Seasons Of Childhood

Recently I was driving down a road in a rural area.  As I drove down the road, I noticed that while the leaves on the trees were still a vibrant green,  the sumac bushes had turned various colors.  Some were bright yellow, with a bit of green.  Other bushes were more a orange-red color than yellow.  Over the past several days I have see a dramatic change as the leaves on the bushes have turned to a deep red, almost burgundy color.

Thinking about the changes in the leaves and looking forward to the peak color change that will be revealed over the next month, I began to draw a corollary between the change we see in our children as they grow, mature, learn about the world around them and reach their peak.  

Early in the school year our new Columbia Elementary School girls' singing group "Magic" began gearing up to perform at various school events.  It was amazing to see the young ladies in this group who are all in their early years of schooling begin to grow and mature.  By listening to their director, Mrs. Wright, they have learned to project their voices, smile when they sing and to perform their choreographed moves with confidence.  It was as if they were sumac bushes and they were donning their bright fall colors.

This past summer I was able to watch our middle and high school cheerleaders as they worked on learning back handsprings, incredible jumps and intricate routines.  Much in the same way as the young ladies in the choir "Magic" have grown and matured, gaining confidence each day, I noticed that over the weeks of practice the cheerleaders grew stronger, performed more confidently and learned how to shine under the tutelage of their dedicated coaches.

Each day I have the amazing privilege of seeing young children growing up before my eyes as they are guided in learning situations by their dedicated teachers and coachers.  In the Columbia School District we have over 100 dedicated staff members who work diligently to encourage our students to take small steps towards a successful tomorrow.  Our many professionals give the children of our community the ability to move forward toward their peak color as they experience life's lessons and learning activities.  

This year a group of dedicated parents, community members and school staffers have worked to support our students as they grow and mature as learners.  This group has worked to determine, "What is the best learning environment for our children?"  Certainly it has been easy for these dedicated individuals to figure out that new roofs, temperature controlled classrooms, safe schools with insulated doors and windows and renovated restrooms would be advantageous  for our children as their teachers present them with learning strategies and activities, which will support them as they don their bright fall colors of success.

More difficult for the members of the Facilities Improvement Team was to determine what should be included in our upcoming Bond Issue and what would be left out.  As our videographers, Josh and Conner, from our Columbia Central High School video productions class would find, the issues that need to be updated or replaced, not only include boilers and roofs, they include computers and the infrastructure to support the computers.  The Facilities Improvement team has focused their efforts on pursuing enhanced educational avenues through renovations, replacements and remodels.  The group has been careful to consider all options and use a laser focus in order to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary items and elements of the possible project.  They have continued to strive to structure their efforts on providing our children with a learning environment that will support them as they grow and mature and put on their fall colors!

If you are interested in learning more about the Facilities Improvement Team, the planning process and elements of the Bond Issue, please email me at or call me at 5175926641. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Following The Flowers To Learning

Each fall as the leaves begin turning colors and children go back to school there are all types of animals and birds that attempt to accompany the children.  Many schools welcome animals for show and tell, but rarely do we welcome random animals and birds into our buildings.  

Yesterday I received an email from Columbia Elementary School first grade teacher, Linda Wills describing her adventure with a humming bird and she brings up an interesting collary.  Her story is as follows:

At the end of the school day a hummingbird was found trapped in the cafeteria. At least it couldn't find its way out even with the doors propped wide open. It was just flying around the ceiling and a few times did notice the red lighted "Exit" sign just inches away from freedom, but went back to the ceiling. We tried everything we could think of...butterfly net, pancake syrup on red construction paper... until we discovered that one of the teachers had received a bouquet of fresh cut flowers!  I climbed up on one of the tables and just held the bouquet as high in the air and as still as I could. It took about 5 minutes for him to find it, but he did. After a few minutes I started climbing down from the table very slowly and over about the next 10 minutes he would flit away from the bouquet for a few seconds and then return as I inched slowly toward the door. Finally I made it to the outside door and he flew to a limb of a tree right outside the door. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. Just remember that if you want to catch a hummingbird you have to find something hummingbirds like. I wonder if this is true for teaching children as well...Hmmmm.

Teachers in the Columbia School District system are constantly looking for a new way of connecting with their students, just as Mrs. Wills connected with the hummingbird.  Often children are "talked at" and "directed" in their classrooms as they struggle to learn.  Columbia School District teachers like Mrs. Wills work with their students to construct learning opportunities by attracting their students to educational activities.  

This fall Columbia Middle and Columbia Central High School both have added learning opportunities for students that are designed to attract students to follow and absorb activities that will accelerate their academic abilities.  Columbia Middle School students are enjoying additional electives including Spanish Culture, Creative Expressions, a language arts course that features hands on activities including experiencing culinary arts, a course that gives students an opportunity to learn about business and run the school store, and an enhancement of last year's outstanding class that focused sixth grade students on creating a video news program.  

Columbia Central High School has students excited about learning not only through all of the Advanced Placement offerings, but through new courses designed to increase students' understanding of earth and space science, poetry, history and video productions.  As we move through the year we will focus on the various learning activities of each of these new courses that are designed to have students experience the school educational environment through teaching that will entice a higher level of understanding, in a similar way to the way that Mrs. Wills worked to attract the hummingbird with flowers.  Learning is an interactive process between the students and the teacher, come and experience true educational activities at Columbia Schools.

Interested in learning more about learning activities at Columbia Schools?  Call us at 517-592-6641 or email me at

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Blasting Out Bullying!

Over the past year Columbia School District teachers and staff members have worked together to curtail bullying.  Much of the concern regarding bullying in educational settings comes from the statistics: according to the National Education Association, over  160,000 students across the country miss school  each day because they are worried about being intimidated, harassed, and bullied.  What is more startling is to learn that one in three school children across the country in the middle grades, grade six through ten, are bullied during the year.

By partnering with Columbia Schools parents can assist in our quest to be bully-free!  It is important for parents and schools to work together to help support our students and create a safe learning environment.  For years, many have thought that bullying is just harmless teasing, but it may have a lasting impact on our students' ability to learn.  In addition to the high levels of absenteeism for victims of bullying, researchers have found a connection between suicide and bullying and being a victim of bullying for children.

When parents work with their children's teachers to end bullying, the emotional portion of school safety improves.  Parents should encourage their children to communicate with their teacher or a school staff member when they are bullied or see another student being bullied.  Contrary to a child's fear, letting one's teacher know they are being bullied is not tattling and it may make the difference between being comfortable in the social environment of school and feeling anxious and alienated.

Parents may encourage their child to be nice to other children.  Being friendly and making positive comments to other students, especially those affected by bullying, will help them feel accepted rather than alienated and lonely.  Everyone wants to feel accepted and valued.  By encouraging your child to consider other children's feelings and not to exclude them at recess, in class or at lunch, your child can make a difference in the lives of their classmates.

You may also make a difference if you learn about cyber bullying.  Cyber bullying is growing by leaps and bounds with the increasing emphasis on technology even for our youngest children.  This technological tormenting is impactful.  Comments made by children about others on Facebook, Twitter and texting could make you shudder with disapproval.  Parents who audit and check their child's Facebook statements, Tweets and texts can insure that their child is not the cause of another child's pain, because even good children can make inappropriate comments.

Join with the Columbia School District this year and help Blast Out Bullying!  If you have questions about Columbia Schools, our anti-bullying policy or would like to register your child for school, please call 517-592-6641 or email me at

Columbia School District Bond Proposal

On November 5th the Columbia School District has two Bond Proposals on the ballot. Both Proposal 1 and 2 include educational needs for Columbia students, rather than wants.  Our students and teachers are learning and working in buildings that range in age from 45 to 63 years in age.  When you take a look at the life-expectancy of building systems, you will see that many of the areas are in dire need of updating.  The average life span of doors, windows and roofs are considered architectural components and have a life-expectancy of 20 years.  Plumbing systems come in at a life-expectancy of 30 to 40 years.   HVAC systems are estimated to last 15 to 40 years, but the newest system in Columbia School District is 45 years old, while the oldest is 63 years old.  The district cannot afford to be without heat, so it makes replacement of updated equipment imperative.  Lighting, electrical and cabinet fixtures have life-expectancies ranging from 20 to 30 years, so it is easy to understand the intense needs that exist in our school buildings.

Proposal 1 encompasses necessary essential modifications and replacement of areas of our infrastructure which are failing.  This Proposal provides an opportunity to give Columbia students a safe, warm, dry and smart learning environment.  Building improvements include restricted entryways and increased safety features including the rerouting of traffic at the elementary and middle schools.  The traffic modifications will separate the bus traffic from the car and pedestrian traffic to increase safety.

Proposal 1 also includes upgrades to the fire safety system, door and window upgrades to increase safety and to improve energy efficiency.  Security cameras, electronic door technology and the elimination and replacement of worn out carpeting, will give our students a safer educational environment.  Many of our area community members, along with our students will appreciate improvements to our track and tennis courts, which at this time are not up to school safety standards due to the impact of aging.

Students will learn in a warmer and dryer environment with the replacement of roofs and ceilings that have at this point, outlived their useful life-expectancy.  Boilers and classroom heating systems will be replaced with updated equipment.  The building envelop will be improved by the replacement of leaky windows and doors, most of which are between 45 and 63 years old.

"Smart" in Proposal 1 refers to updating our technology infrastructure.  Currently our infrastructure ranges in age from ten to twenty years and is inadequate for the usage level of our students and teachers.  Since today's students use technology on an ongoing basis throughout the school day and into the evening hours, it is important to provide updated technology to teach student in the way in which they learn best.  In addition to upgrading the infrastructure Proposal 1 includes the replacement of student and teaching computers.

Proposal 1 will be possible for only an additional 2.15 mills which is the equivalent for less than the cost of two meals at a fast food establishment for only $8.96 per month for a home owner of a $100,000 home.

Proposal 2 focuses on restructuring Columbia Central High School to include 7th and 8th grades and reorganizing the elementary and middle school buildings to create an upper and lower elementary campus.  The 0.45 mills will enable the district to provide a cutting edge learning environment for 7th and 8th graders at Columbia Central, enhance technology and add a locker room.

The number of mills for Proposal 1 and 2 is an additional 2.60, which combined with the current 0.9 mills would levy only 3.5 mills.  The 3.5 mill levy would put us only slightly above Napoleon but less than Hanover-Horton, Onsted, Western, Northwest and East Jackson.

If you have questions, email me at or go to to read more about the proposals.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Parent Involvement

Parent involvement still makes a difference during middle school and high school years.  Columbia Middle School and Columbia Central High School needs parent volunteers just as much as the elementary does.  What do you do when the school needs parent volunteers for an event, but your schedule is already busy and your teen is begging for you to say away?  “Don’t come to my school,” she says, “let the other parents do it.”  It’s tempting to be persuaded.  Does your teen really need your involvement anymore?

Research is clear: Parent involvement in education makes a huge difference for kids of all ages.  The results can include improved attendance, better behavior and higher grades.

This doesn’t mean you have to be at every school activity.  You might help with a dance, for example, but skip a play.  You may join the Athletic Boosters, but not help with the Science Fair.  In fact, lots of “involvement” happens at home.  The National Education Association strongly suggests talking about school, helping with homework and monitoring your teen’s time.  These are things you can do every day.

Meanwhile, steps such as visiting the school occasionally and staying in touch with the staff are small but essential.  They teach your teen that “School is important,”  “I care about your success,” and “Teens, parents and schools are an unbeatable team.”  Deep down, teens get these messages, so even when they say, “Don’t come to school,” they’re actually glad you are involved.

Columbia School District offers many areas for parents to get involved.  Our upcoming Back-to-School Days are a kick off to the school year.  Monday, August 26th from 5 to 6:30 pm is the Columbia Middle School Back to School Open House.  Columbia Central High School Freshman and New Student Orientation begin at 6 pm on Tuesday August 27th and the CCHS Open House for all students kicks-off at 7:00 pm.  The Columbia Elementary Back-to-School Bash is Tuesday August 27th from 5 to 6:30 pm.

During the Open Houses you will have an opportunity to join the Band Boosters, the Athletic Boosters and the PTO, meet your child or teen’s teachers, and get reacquainted with old friends.  After school begins if you have time during the school day, you may want to become a mentor in the Brooklyn Buddies Reading Program or volunteer on the playground.  If you are interested in registering your child to attend Columbia School District, please call 517-592-6641 or email me at .

Friday, August 9, 2013

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Kindergarten is an exciting time for children and their parents.  As your child moves from preschool or daycare to Kindergarten they may need you to help prepare him or her for this big step.  You may be able to build their confidence by doing family activities to help your child learn what school will be like.  Over the next several weeks before school  begins on Tuesday, September 3rd you may want to try some of the following activities:
·     Doing art projects with your child and incorporating the use of crayons, markers, glue, scissors, paint, and other supplies will help him or her to be familiar with activities he or she will do in school.
·     Math activities such as counting pennies, grouping items into similar categories, matching numerals with numbers of items, talking about time, and discussing differences in sizes of items such as big, little, small and large.
·     Reading books together.  The Public Library is a great source for choosing books at random or about a particular topic your child is interested in, such as dinosaurs, dogs, animals, or space travel.
Columbia School District is offering all day Kindergarten, Young 5’s, and Preschool for your children.  We believe that all day Kindergarten and all day Young 5’s program are successful in providing additional learning opportunities for our students.  The additional time allows teachers to expand and advance our curriculum providing increased academic experiences for our Kindergarteners and Young 5’s.  Our teachers are excited about the growth and achievements they see in our children who participate in all day Kindergarten.
Since beginning all day Kindergarten we have seen many benefits.  Our students learn to read in Kindergarten and they are excited when they get an opportunity to read to each other.  They are able to work on additional math facts and learn about how to count coins.  The students count pennies, nickels, and dimes.  They also have an opportunity to work with guided writing strategies.  Many of the current standards and benchmarks are very similar to what used to be taught in first grade.
Transitioning from preschool or daycare to Kindergarten or Young 5’s is a big step for children.  If you haven’t had an opportunity to register your child for one of these terrific programs, please stop by Columbia Elementary or call 592-6632 or email Mrs. Powell @ or   Together we are Building a Brighter Future for our Students!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Red Barn

Each morning I pass by a big red barn on my way to school.  This spring I have noticed subtle changes in the barn.  Although some of the window casings are still fairly white, the red paint has become worn and thin.  Some of the doors which keep the wind and rain out of the barn are a bit crooked and do not quite close as nicely as they did when the red barn was new.  The white trim on the corner of the barn is warn and dirty.  It looks as though some of the windows are becoming crooked and worn.

In much the same way as the old red barn, our school buildings have began to become worn and tired.  Over the past several weeks between thirty and forty community members,  have been working on creating a Facilities Master Plan focused on the needs of our current and future students.  Below you will find the summation of the meetings to date:
May 21, 2013 Meeting
The team held discussion and worked on creating guiding principles to lead us through the task of making the best decisions regarding what improvements that should be included in or facilities master plan and recommended to the board. 
May 28, 2013 Meeting
The team toured the high school, middle school, elementary school and the options & adult education buildings; to see firsthand the needed updates and replacements.  The building principals lead the tours along with the director of building operations.
June 4, 2013 Meeting
Discussion was held regarding the committee’s observations of the building tours.   Questionnaires were completed on the subject of the current infra structure conditions and the needs for improvement. A considerable amount of time was spent holding discussion on the topic of accessibility, technology and security needs and issues.  The committee also worked on prioritizing the infra structure’s needs. The main focus is to assure a safe, comfortable and secure environment along with assuring meeting ability to meet the District’s technological needs.
The Facility Improvement Team will continue to meet in the high school library on Tuesday evenings, at 6:00 p.m., to continue to create a Facilities Master Plan.  If you have any questions regarding the process, please email me or check out the Columbia Facility Planning Facebook page.

Friday, May 31, 2013


On behalf of the Columbia School District Board of Education, staff members and teachers congratulations to the Class of 2013.  Our graduates leave high school and our adult education program with many memories from their years of schooling.  Many graduating seniors are headed off to college armed with an excellent education.  They have a whole community of people cheering them on to success.

Many of our graduates have received scholarships from universities located all over the country.  Our students’ academic abilities that have precipitated the awards are the result of excellent learning opportunities provided by their teachers and staff of Columbia School District. 

As the Class of 2013 approached graduation many students commented on their opportunity to participate in leadership activities like the student blood drives, service learning activities and Communication Camp. They reminisced about their experience in AP English and the fun they had discovering DNA during their Biology class.  Others talked about their opportunity to participate in vocationally focused classes through the Jackson Area Career Center.  Still other students fondly discussed their trip to France and the accidental bonus day in Germany.  A future writer said that he was well prepared for college and another student said she appreciated being able to take mathematics up through Calculus.

A future scientist mentioned his opportunity to take AP Chemistry and about how he feels well prepared for college.  One student commented on how pleased she was to have had an opportunity to participate in the Band and the musicals.  Another student described his satisfaction at being able to enhance his creativity through his experience in art class.  One thing many students mentioned was how proud they are of earning their high school diploma from Columbia and how much they have appreciated their teachers and staff members.

Over the years the families and the teachers of our hard working graduates have labored in partnership to sculpt our students into the fine young men and women they are today.  Our graduating seniors have been a terrific group of students.  They have laughed together and cried together.  Best wishes to our graduating seniors for a successful future!  Congratulations to the Columbia Central High School, Columbia Options High School and Columbia Adult Education Class of 2013!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Building Blocks Towards Success!

When my boys were young they were excited to play with blocks.  As they matured and gained greater dexterity, they began playing with Lego’s and other types of toys to build structures, vehicles and machines.  Sometimes they would begin with a single block and then build wider and wider structures until they toppled over.    However, when they built a structure with a wide base of support, they were successful in building amazing buildings, towering over the little Lego figures.
In much the same way our children must gain a wide base of learning to build on as they grow.  Children who begin with a basic understanding of their multiplication facts and work to broaden their understanding through practice will be successful when they have to recall those basic facts.  The same idea holds true in all of their subjects.  It is important for our young children to begin reading each day so that when they are in middle school and high school they have the necessary skills to successfully complete their assignments.
Last evening I had the chance to see the results of a good learning foundation and how it affects our students as they grow and mature towards graduation by attending our Honors and Awards ceremony.  Many students in the Class of 2013 have worked diligently over the years to earn high grades and a solid educational base.  Our Top Ten seniors are: Joshua Angles (Valedictorian), Hannah Butler (Salutatorian),  Sara Blumhardt, Joshua Callison, Katharyn Hogle, Matthew Lane, Christian Reed, Kamil Lawrence, Tyler Smith and Rebecca McComas.  In addition to our Top Ten seniors, there were 28 additional seniors awarded with a designation of Highest Honors and Honors.
One by one the students received honors, awards and thousands of dollars in scholarships for their outstanding achievement in academics, service and athletics.  Many of the students exhibited a breadth of ability in their achievements.  Five students were awarded with the designation of earning the Lenawee County Athletic Association’s Academic All Conference Award.  They were Andrew Cherry, Daryn Davenport, Kamil Lawrence, Christian Reed and Alexander Snow.  Two students, Dwight Blucher and Brianna Ahrens, received awards for their membership in the Jackson Area Career Center National Technical Honor Society.  Congratulations to all of our students who received honors, awards and scholarships last evening.
Many of our seniors started their academic journey in the Columbia Elementary preschool or in our kindergarten.   These wonderful students began as young children intentionally building a solid foundation of learning and understanding.  Their focused learning has resulted in a successful tenure at Columbia Schools.   If you would like to have your child begin their education by attending our preschool, Early 5’s program, or kindergarten, please call us at 5175926641 or email me at .

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Puzzle

As I rounded the corner and began walking down the hallway of Columbia Central High School my eyes glanced up at the wall to my right.  I found it interesting that there was a purple colored square on the wall.  It was puzzling, I wasn’t sure what the square meant.  Later during the day there were two, then three, then four squares arranged on the wall.  The puzzle was becoming clear: it was a picture.  As additional painted squares appeared over the following few days more of the picture appeared and I realized that the picture would be of a familiar character from a cartoon movie.

In much the same way, many things in our lives appear slowly, like random pieces of a puzzle, until we finally see the picture clearly.  Currently we are working with Kingscott architects and Granger Construction to complete an assessment of our school buildings and facilities.  As part of the process looking at each piece of the facility assessment puzzle, we are working with a group of community members who are part of a Facility Improvement Team.  

The Facility Improvement Team will work together, gathering input from community members, business owners, school personnel, and Columbia School District students.  Throughout the process the FIT team will use a process to continue to assess, evaluate and gather additional input regarding the concerns with our facilities.  

Currently we are aware of only a few of the puzzle pieces: Our heating systems are over 44 years old and while some areas have updated controls, the core of the system is unreliable and outdates.   The existing roof structures at the buildings have outlasted their expected life-span.  Our technology infrastructure needs are many and improvement of the system would tremendously benefit our students.  In addition to the puzzle pieces of heating, roofs and technology, our students’ safety is paramount.  As we have worked to assess our school facilities, we have specifically noted ways of increase the safety of our children and school staff members.

The entirety of the Columbia School District community is invited to assist the Facilities Improvement Team.  If you are interested in helping to complete the facility assessment puzzle and would be interested in serving on the team, please let me know by sending me an email to

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Educational Rainbow

When our children are small we take every opportunity to teach them.  We begin by encouraging our toddler to “throw a ball” or “see the big red truck.”  With each exchange our children learn more about the world around them and gain an insight into the adult they will become.  As our toddlers grow into preschoolers and then into primary school students they build on their initial vocabulary made up of “mama” and “no” into full sentences which often begin with the word “why.”
As our precious little children begin to grow and develop into preteens they learn math facts, scientific principles, and how to write a five paragraph essay.  As they hunger for more learning opportunities, our children’s teachers forge a partnership with us as parents.  As we work closely with the teachers in our child’s school, we find ourselves in an educational rainbow of opportunities for our children.  This new rainbow of learning opportunities will lead our children to develop their talents in art, music, math, science, reading, social studies and physical education.  By providing the full spectrum of learning to our children, teachers lead them to develop into the leaders of tomorrow.
The rainbow of learning opportunities available to our children through our strong public schools and highly qualified teachers will give our children the tenacity to become a jet pilot, the ingenuity to become a automobile designer, or the enthusiasm to become a kindergarten teacher.  Each day I have the opportunity to see children learning at all different levels.  I see the high school student working collaboratively with his peers in Anatomy class to identify DNA.  Then there are the middle school students who work with their science teacher to gain a deeper understanding of various aspects of the environment.
This year take a moment to visit a public school in your area and discover the rainbow of learning opportunities available to your child.  If you have any questions regarding educational opportunities for your child, email me at

Friday, May 3, 2013

Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week!

Next week is Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week in the Columbia School District and in schools across the country.  The Columbia School District teachers and staff work hard to instill a love for learning in our students.  They work to provide learning activities for our smallest children in preschool to our high school seniors who are actively engaged in determining whether to take a step towards college or careers.  They are concerned with the well being of our students.  Our teachers teach with courage and vision challenging students to do their best and become life-long learners.  The teachers are patient and support students as they work together through cooperative learning and problem solving activities.

Teaching is an important profession.  Columbia School District has a host of great teachers who dedicate their lives to raising the knowledge level of their students.  Our teachers arrive each morning with an enthusiasm for learning and a readiness to be attentive to the needs of their students.

Our staff members are adept at providing educational assistance for our students.  The learning environment of our students includes tutoring, administrative assistance, helpful custodians, and food service support.  The commitment of our teachers and staff members comes with a diligence to strive for excellence in the education of our students.

Columbia School District teachers and staff members are committed to securing a bright future for our students.  Over the years our teachers and staff members caring attitude and nurturing spirit has increased the success rate of our students.  Earlier this week I learned that Columbia Central High School was ranked Number One in Jackson County by US News.  The Number One ranking is a tribute to our staff members for all their hard work and dedication to our students.    

If you have a chance to stop by a classroom please show your appreciation to your child’s teacher.  Take an opportunity to say “Thank you!” in gratitude to the teachers and staff of their genuine support of student learning.   Columbia Schools are a Great Place to Learn!

Friday, April 26, 2013


The other day I was listening to the radio and the host began speaking with a gentleman who had authored a song.  When asked about the origins of the song, the recording artist began by explaining that some words are wonderful and uplifting, other words bring us to new lows.  Words may give us a new found confidence or verbally take our legs out from under us.  Sometimes you may hear words which give you courage to climb a mountain and other words make you hesitant to get out of bed in the morning.
Although I paraphrased the artist’s exact explanation, we all must agree that words may be encouraging or devastatingly damaging.  Over the past several weeks I have watched some of our middle school students work together with their circus coaches.  They have been inspired to achieve new heights because of the words the coaches have used to encourage and motivate them. 
As we work collaboratively with other s or even with our children we must be intentional as we speak.  The children participating in the Circus of the Kids are literally achieving new heights, because of the intentional encouragement they have received from their circus coaches. After watching the students perform I sent made the following observation and emailed it to Bruce, the founder and CEO of Circus of the Kids, “Today’s performance was AWESOME!  The students were well disciplined and followed their routines.  It was evident that you and your staff members have worked diligently to instill a sense of pride and showmanship in our children.  After watching the students in several practices and in the performance today I can see that many of them are holding their heads up higher and walking with confidence.”
The transformation in our children has truly been amazing!  Think about how incredible our community could become if we all became intentional about being positive, cooperative and supporting and used words that encourage one another.  As we move into spring and begin to enjoy being outside during warm sunny days, let’s work on intentionally using words that are encouraging, inspiring and uplifting.  Let’s keep expanding the positive inspiring feeling that the Circus of the Kids has brought to the Columbia School District. 
Are you interested in learning more about Columbia School District?  Call me at 592-6641 or email me at .

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Daffodils

The other day when I returned home I was delighted to see two of my daffodils had bloomed! I was so excited that even during the torrential down pouring rain; these bright yellow tokens of spring had blossomed. Although sometimes we concentrate on the negative, like the rain and blowing wind, if we look hard enough we can find a bright spot. 

Columbia School District has many bright spots in our organization. Since this is Administrative Professional’s week, I would like to introduce you to five very wonderful people who make Columbia Schools special. Ann Dyjach is the administrative assistant to the superintendent and the Board of Education. Ann has worked in the district for 23 years. She began subbing for secretaries and aides throughout the district. Her favorite thing about her job is talking to people and helping them. She loves the versatility and doing so many different things each day. When talking to her about the district she always talks about how much she likes the students. Just ask any of the students and they will tell you that she has a secret stash of candy that she keeps just for them! 

At Columbia Elementary School the administrative assistant is Lori Hunter. She is the first person our parents and staff members see when they walk into the office. Her pleasant demeanor is reassuring to parents of ill children and teachers who need some support. Lori Hunter has worked for the Columbia School District for almost 15 years. She told me, “I enjoy working for Columbia School District because of the small community. Over the years I have developed sincere relationships with students and families across the district.” She continued by saying, “I have the best job!!! In what working environment can you receive so much love every single day? I adore all the hugs that I receive in a day. The students at CES are the best. They are kind and respectable. I am so blessed to work with a group of amazing teachers, staff and the best Principal ever!!” One thing is evident to anyone who sees Lori work with children; she exhibits a loving caring spirit to all!  

When you think of Columbia Middle School you think of Bonnie Bernstein. As I asked her about her passion for the learning environment at the middle school she said, “It will be very hard to leave my secretary job because I love the kids and staff! I started this job January 9, 1998 and Mr. Kanaan was principal. At that time I was working for Onsted Bank and was tired of working week-ends so my husband Ned said they need a secretary at the middle school.” She continued by saying that initially she “had mixed feelings, but once I got here I loved it! My favorite part of my job is the students if all I had to do is help them it would be great to stay a little longer, but Ned and myself feel it is time to retire we will both be 60 yrs old this summer, I will stay till August 23, 2013, I can stay and help the next secretary get started.” 

A fixture at Columbia Options High School is Jeanne Meinka. Her cheerful smile and nurturing demeanor is positive for students and staff. She has been with Columbia School District 28 Years, the last 25 working with Columbia Option High School students. When I asked her how she liked her position at Columbia Options High School, she said, “I like working with and watching the alternative students grow and change their attitude about learning. I love to inspire them so that can be whatever they desire to do if we build confidence in each one of them. She continued by saying that, “Encouragement is the key to most all things: Educations, sports and life.” 

At Columbia Central High School we have the dynamic duo: Gail Tolford and Debbie Russell! Gail has worked in the district for 17 years. She finds it very rewarding working with the students. If she can lend a listening ear and offer any encouragement to better their day that is her reward. Students appreciate her calm demeanor and helpful assistance when they are in need. 

When students think of Debbie Russell, they think of her quick smile and laugh. After working for the Columbia School District for 21 years, she still enjoys her job. She said, “I like a lot of things about Columbia Schools but my favorite is the students. My husband and I moved to this community in 1979, my children all graduated from Columbia Central High School, I have seen a lot of changes to this community and district and I’m very proud to be a part of the Columbia family.” 

As we go through this spring and see all the beautiful bright daffodils springing up, remember all of the wonderful administrative assistants who make Columbia School District a terrific place for students, staff and teachers! If you have a chance to stop by one of the schools on Wednesday, April 24th, be sure and thank our wonderful administrative assistants! Are you interested in learning more about the Columbia School District? Give me a call at 517-592-6641 or email me at .

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Rainbow of Learning Opportunties

During the soggy wet afternoon, the drizzling rain kept coming.  My drive around the country side was on a road bordered on one side with the ocean and the other side by a green lush valley which stretched upward towards the sky.  As the sun began to peak out from between the clouds, there was a small rainbow visible between the trees.  The further I drove the more brilliant the rainbow became until it stretched across the valley from side to side.  It was an amazing sight and I wondered just which end held the pot of gold? 
Seeing the beautiful rainbow shining through the gray drizzly sky made me think about how fortunate we are to have such great educational programs supporting our students’ learning environment.  The brilliant rainbow of programs includes many learning activities at the middle school level.  Recently our students and parents have had the chance to enjoy some of the extended learning opportunities at Columbia Middle School.  The CMS Science Fair was amazing!  Students used their knowledge of the scientific process to research a topic, perform an experiment, gather data, and present the results to their teachers, parents, community members and peers.  One especially interesting experiment had some of our students making what Mr. Hamilton referred to as “Elephant’s Toothpaste.”  It was an amazing mix of ingredients, topped off with hydrogen peroxide to make a foaming batch of red paste.  Another fascinating experiment spotlighted the “5 Second Rule.”  The students completing this experiment investigated various locations that one might drop a piece of candy or potato chip and grew various bacterial cultures from those areas.  It was interesting to discover the location of the most aggressive bacterial growth. 

Another ray of our Columbia Middle School shining rainbow of learning activities was Math Night.  Math teachers from CMS planned and recruited college students from Spring Arbor University, Adrian College and Jackson Community College to work with students and their parents on various math activities.  I especially enjoyed watching Mrs. Lape play the game, “Sets” with her students and their parents.  In another room two students from Spring Arbor University worked with CMS students and their parents as they built geodesic structures out of toothpicks and marshmallows.  It was fascinating to watch our students as they concentrated, carefully building their structures.  In another location the students had an opportunity to design and make a paper airplane with Mr. Williams, then measure the distance the plane flew.

At the same time the students were enjoying Math Night, another shining area of the Columbia Middle School rainbow offered students an opportunity to experience the Circus of the Kids!  When I visited the high school gymnasium I saw various activities including students learning how to fly by hanging on to a rope, students becoming acquainted with the intricacies of being a human jump rope and flipping around on long scarf-like pieces of material hanging from the ceiling.  The CMS PTO has been working to bring the Circus of the Kids to town for over a year.  Their hard work and dedication has resulted in an unparalleled opportunity for our students to not only learn academically during the school day, but stretch themselves and improve their self-esteem and self-worth.

Each and every day the teachers and members of the Columbia School District family come together to provide educational activities and learning opportunities for our students to brighten our children’s day, just like the rainbow in the valley brightened my day.  If you are interested in learning more about how your child could benefit from the awesome learning environment at the Columbia School District please contact me by email at or call me at 5175926641.