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Friday, January 25, 2013

Green Grass, Blue Skies and White Snow!

When the school and parents work together, a strong partnership is formed which enhances our child’s level of education.  Our child’s education begins at birth through positive child parent interactions.  Parents and grandparents begin by talking and reading to their new infant.  As their child grows, education becomes more defined.  Parents tell their child about “green grass”, “blue skies” and “white snow.”  Their child responds by learning their colors and gains precious information about the world around them.

The partnership between parents and the child’s teacher is of utmost importance for our students.  Working with the child during the day, the teacher helps him or her to learn to read and do math, while the parent continues to assist the child in learning about their surroundings.  The role of the parent in education is important as he or she works with their child on the “three R’s”: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  The time put into completing learning activities at home results in greater achievement in the school classroom.

This relationship between teachers and parents is embodied by the following poem by Cleo Swarat.

I dreamed I stood in a studio and watched two sculptors there,
The clay they used was a young child’s mind and they fashioned it with care.

One was a teacher: the tools she used were books and music and art;
One was a parent with guiding hand and gentle loving heart.

And when at last their work was done, they were proud of what they had wrought.
For the things they had worked into the child could never be sold or bought!

And each agreed she would have failed if she had worked alone.
For behind the parent stood the school, and behind the teacher stood the home!

In the Columbia School District, as teachers continue to work side by side with the parents of the children in their care, we are building the future for our community and our students.  The partnership we build to enhance learning opportunities for your children is of utmost importance.  If you have a question about your child’s educational progress, please call or email your child’s teacher.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, please email me at or call at 517-592-6641.  We all want what is best for our children!

Friday, January 11, 2013

January is School Board Appreciation Month

As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. School Board members are alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the toughest challenge in elected American government. Yet school board members are just ordinary citizens with extraordinary dedication to our nation’s public schools. All of us need to appreciate and recognize the vital and crucial contributions made by these generous men and women in the education of our children.
Public education is the backbone of American society, and local school boards are deeply rooted in U.S. tradition. It’s the foundation on which our democracy was built. Today local school boards continue to do the most important work of their communities—that of educating our youth.
The Columbia School Board members' job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate for continuous improvement in student learning. The job of a school board member is tough, the hours long and the thanks few and far between. Too often we’re quick to criticize school board members without really understanding the complex nature of their decisions.  With January being School Board Appreciation Month, now is the time to thank our board members for their untiring efforts.
School board members come from a variety of backgrounds, yet they share a common goal—helping students achieve in school and life. As a state, Michigan has faced many challenges, but the key to a brighter future is a strong public education system.
We often forget about the personal sacrifices school board members make. Board members contribute hundreds and hundreds of hours each year leading their districts. The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend leading their districts. Collectively, they spend almost 7,000 hours on professional development to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many hours at extracurricular events. They continually advocate for the children of our state, and in the past year school board members made countless passionate pleas to legislators, speaking out against budget cuts and pushing for important reforms.
The month of January marks the annual observance of School Board Recognition Month. Collectively, let's show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. In January, join with others from throughout our district and state to salute the men and women who provide grassroots governance of public schools.  If you are interested in learning more about the Columbia School District, please contact me at or call 517-592-6641.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Speed of Technology

Years ago as I helped my dad work in his backyard vegetable garden, I noticed the presence a snail sliding across leaves and gliding over rocks and small twigs.  It was amazing to see this little creature, with his slimy foot move his body, carefully encased in his shell across the ground.  Wow, how funny he looked with his eyes on the end of what looked like alien antennas, waving around in the air looking from side to side.  One of the interesting things was how slowly he seemed to move.  I checked and one reference quoted that a snail was clocked at 0.00758 miles per hour!  That is only 40 feet per hour.  It seemed to me that snail was incredibly slow. 
Thinking about watching the snail’s pace all those many years ago and how agonizingly slow he went made me think about technology and how fast it has changed and how slow many of us are when we are adapting to new technology and the power it gives us to increase our ability to communicate with each other.  One of my passions is communicating with parents and community members regarding all of the great things that are happening in the Columbia School District.  Last week I sent an email communication out to parents that included a link to our new weekly E-Letter.  The E-Letter features information regarding each one of the schools in our district.  The electronic newsletter has clickable links which help to facilitate navigation around our website. 
The E-Letter contained a link to our school calendar, the elementary newsletter, and my blog and twitter site.  It also featured items regarding events that have taken place over the past week along with upcoming events.  This initial E-Letter went directly to staff members and parents who have submitted their email addresses to the school.  Parents and guardians may edit their email addresses directly through their student’s PowerSchool web portal or sending it to me by email.  Community members may access the E-Letter by submitting their emails to me at or may read the E-Letter by going to our home page at and clicking on the link at the right for the District Newsletter. 
Some of the pictures featured in the E-Letter were taken by a parent during the second grade musical, “A Martian Christmas.”  Do you have great pictures that could be used in the E-Letter or on our website?  You may submit the pictures in an email to me or drop of a flash drive or DVD containing the pictures.  In order to achieve my goal of keeping everyone up to date and informed, I will need your assistance with information and pictures.  The next E-Letter will go out on January 11, 2013.   If you have questions please email me or call me at 517-592-6641.