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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Columbia School District Supports Our Students!

A couple weeks ago there were a myriad of reports in the news regarding NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it approached Pluto.  This spacecraft, about the size of a piano, was launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 19, 2006.  As it flew by, one of the photos that were sent back to earth showed Pluto directly in front of the sun (CNN, 7/26/15).  The photo surprised the NASA
scientists by showing that there were more layers of haze than they expected.  It was reported that the New Horizons spacecraft was 1.25 million miles away from Pluto when the photo was taken.

Another photo that was widely publicized in the media showed an area on the surface that appeared to be in the shape of a heart.  These photos represent the hopes and dreams of many scientists, who worked for years to make New Horizons a reality, then waited for nine more years to see the results.

At Columbia School District we focus our skills as learning specialists, our educational efforts, hopes and dreams into making the success of our students a reality.  Just like NASA’s New Horizons taking time to produce pictures, sometimes children take a little extra time and focus to become successful.  Columbia Elementary has several programs that help support our students as they learn and grow into successful adults. 

Our Reading Recovery program gives elementary students the opportunity to work one-on-one with a trained reading teacher.  These teachers not only work with the children, they also communicate with the parents to provide the greatest opportunity for success.  Our Reading Recovery teachers also spend a portion of the day working with groups of students on literacy.  This strategy teaches children skills to help them be successful in reading, which is the basis for all of our core curricular areas.

Another one of our support programs for our students is Buddies Reading, which uses volunteer community members to help provide one-on-one reading support to our youngest students.  Volunteers in this program not only include many retired community members, but working people on breaks and some of our leadership students from Columbia Central High School.
In addition, at all of our schools, Columbia provides extra support for our students who have individual education plans.  The teachers, who are specially trained to give students optimal assistance, work with the students, their regular teachers and their parents to increase their achievement.

Columbia School District also provides positive support for students in the elementary school through our summer math program for students in grades four through six, the summer Leaders In Training program for students in grades five through eight, Academic Games program open to students from September through March in grades three through eight, new afterschool robotics programs for children in grades three through six, a special “eighth hour” study program at Columbia Central, online programs for area homeschoolers and our summer school program at Columbia Central High School.  If you are interested in learning more about these or other programs at Columbia School District email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Importance of STEM!

One of the important areas of emphasis at Columbia School District is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  Science is very important in society today.   Science is in our lives from the pavement we drive on; to the medicines we take; to the alarm clocks that wake us up each day.  Science has provided us with new plastics that make up our water bottles, bullet proof vests for our law enforcement professionals and parts for our automobiles.  Our students have the opportunity to take chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, physics, sports medicine and forensics.  In addition Columbia Central offers the opportunity for our students to earn take college level science courses through our Advanced Placement program. 

Globally, one of the things that science has provided is the basis for technological advancements, which paved the way for cell phones, computers and an impressive array of electronics.  Technology has given students new avenue for learning.  At the schools in Columbia we focus on integrating technology into every area: Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.  Our students use iPads, Chromebooks, desk top computers and graphing calculators.  Technology allows our students to increasing their learning potential by performing research anywhere and anytime.  In addition, some of the lessons our students perform are flipped lessons.  In a flipped lesson technology allows teachers to provide basic learning opportunities through technology, and then the students work together with their peers and teacher to put their learning into practice the next day. 

Engineering is of increasing importance and is directly connected with the other elements of STEM.  Our students have the opportunity to learn basic engineering principles through our science lessons.  Engineering principles are also taught in our robotics course, through our robotics teams and the high school principles of engineering course.  We have the opportunity to offer three engineering and robotics teams to our students in junior and senior high school.  In addition, this fall we will begin offering afterschool programs in engineering and robotics to our third through sixth grade students.

As the final letter in STEM, M stands for mathematics, which offers a platform for technology and engineering, and is directly tied to science.  Math is in our everyday lives, from shopping for bargains, to driving our cars, to figuring out how much tax we owe on a purchase.  Math is not only used in the science, technology and engineering, it is used by artists and musician in their daily work.  At Columbia, we offer our students an opportunity to play in our Academic Games afterschool where mathematics, language arts, social studies are combined to provide an extensive learning program for participants. Our Columbia Central High School students are able to take Advanced Placement Calculus course and our junior high school students may choose to take advanced math through our accelerated summer program.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia’s many STEM opportunities, email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Reading Summer Fun!

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 .  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 @

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!  If you are interested in learning about our great reading programs at Columbia School District email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Important Numbers for Columbia Schools!

The other day as I stood in line at the grocery store there were several magazines lining the shelves.  Each magazine had numbers on the front.  For instance they said things like: “52 Ways to Lose Weight”, “12 New Looks for Summer”, and “17 Exercises for your Abs.”  Numbers are broadcast everywhere.   Advertisers are always noting various prices to encourage us to purchase their products or read their magazines.   Numbers make everything seem more important!  Some of the important numbers at Columbia School District are 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 17, 20 and 24!

Columbia School District had a very important number this year: A Fantastic 4!  We had four distinguished staff members who were honored in Jackson  County.  Kimberly Samson, physics and engineering teacher at Columbia Central High School, was chosen as the Jackson Area Manufacturing Association Teacher of the Year!  Jennifer VanWagnen, forensics, sports medicine, and anatomy teacher at Columbia Central High School, was named Top 10 for Jackson Magazine’s Teacher of the Year distinction.  Karen Liebau, science teacher at Columbia Central Junior High School, was named Top 10 for Jackson Magazine’s Teacher of the Year award.  This spring Mr. Hyliard, Columbia Central High School principal, was named Jackson County Educator of the Year by Jackson County Junior Achievement.

At Columbia School District there are other numbers to talk about!  At Columbia Central we are renovating an additional 24 classrooms, at Columbia Elementary (grades PK – 2) we are renovating 20 classrooms, at Columbia Upper Elementary (grades 3 – 6) we are renovating 17 classrooms and at Columbia Options and Virtual Academy we are renovating 6 classrooms!   We are doing a lot of renovations!

Eight and nine are very important numbers for Columbia Schools.  In eight weeks our construction workers will be finished with most of the renovations and in nine weeks our students and staff members will be headed off to school!  While there are many other numbers that make an impact at Columbia School District the most important is 1, because all of our teachers work together to make each individual student feel like they are #1!  At Columbia we focus on creating a solid foundation for a bright future for our students.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District and our programs, email me at or call 5175926641.