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Sunday, August 20, 2017

STEM at Columbia School District!

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 impacts every facet of 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 important and is directly connected with the other elements of STEM.  Our students have the opportunity to learn basic engineering principles through our hands-on science lessons.  Engineering principles are also taught through our elementary robotics teams and the high school principles of engineering course.  Columbia after school and summer programs in engineering and robotics are available 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 during their math class or through our accelerated summer program.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia’s many STEM opportunities, email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fill A Backpack!

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine regarding my concern for children who come from families who are struggling to provide back-to-school supplies.  As we talked about the opportunity for community members to donate notebooks, pens, pencils and backpacks, my friend launched into her own story.  She told me that her eldest daughter was ready to begin school when her situation changed at home.  Her husband left her with nothing, so she applied for a position back in Michigan to be closer to her parents.  However, it took all she had to get moved and she was worried that her daughter would not have everything she needed to start school.

She knew that her daughter had grown a lot during the summer and wouldn’t fit into her clothes from the last fall, and she certainly didn’t have funds to purchase a new backpack or other school supplies.  Being a woman of faith, she prayed that she would be able to provide for her daughter as she began school.  The next morning she opened the door and there was a big box filled with a mixture of gently used hand-me-down clothes and items that still had the price tags!  There was even a backpack filled with school supplies.  When she checked the return address, she noted it was from a friend.  When she phoned her friend to thank her, she learned that her friend had gone through her daughter’s closet pulled out items that no longer fit her.  When she mentioned the backpack, her friend told her that they had been at the store getting back-to-school items and her daughter had suggested they send the items along with the clothes.

At Columbia Schools, we too have families, who struggle just like my friend who was in need at that point of her life.  As you make trips to the store to purchase back-to-school items for your child or grandchild, you may want to pick up a couple extra notebooks, pencils, pens or even a backpack to donate to someone who is in need.  Donations of school supplies may be dropped off at any of the offices at Columbia School District; you never know…your generosity may just be the answer to a mother’s prayer.


If you are interested in registering your child for school or learning how you might volunteer at the Columbia School District, please email me at pam.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Positive Learning Options at Columbia!

Each summer my husband and I take a group of teens and preteens to Cedar Point.  The experience is enjoyable and educational.  One of the things I find fascinating is that depending on your vantage point, you see the park differently.  When you are on a fast ride you see the area as a blur, both right-side up and upside down.  If you are on the Sky Ride or the giant Ferris wheel you are able to see a lot of the park and a bit more of the detail.  However, if you tour the park on the ground by walking around, you see details you miss from a speedy or an elevated ride. 

Similarly, Columbia School District teachers, administrators and staff members focus on working closely with your child to ensure the important details are covered.  Whether your child is a preschooler enjoying learning about career choices, a sixth grade student learning about the parts of a cell or a Columbia Central High School senior learning the intricacies’ of solving a crime in the Forensic Science class, our teachers give their students the information they need to be successful. 

Our caring administrators work diligently to craft schedules, programs and educational learning opportunities to give students a firm foundation for a bright future.  The Columbia emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) includes engineering and robotics classes and after school programs, hands-on activities through the MLAG program (Michigan League of Academic Games) and opportunities to earn college credit through our STEM electives: AP Chemistry, AP Biology and AP Calculus.  New this year will be the Upper Elementary Project-Based Learning.  During this activity period students will use project based learning techniques to successfully complete research for science based activities.

One of the programs for our students in kindergarten through sixth grade is the technology exploratory.  This class will give students the opportunity to learn more about educational technology including Chromebooks, iPads and applications that focus on learning strategies.  At Columbia Central High School students will also have new technology options.  These classes will give our high school students the opportunity to build their skills and abilities to provide a pathway to higher education and the work-force. 


In each of the areas of our district our teachers are dedicated to providing our students both a birds-eye view of their subject area, similar to the outlook from Sky Ride at Cedar Point, and the ground-level detail that will give our students a foundation for a successful future.  Make sure you have your child registered for the first day of school: Wednesday, August 23, 2017!  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District, our programs and opportunities for success, email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 5175926641.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

On behalf of the Columbia School District Board of Education, staff, and teachers: Congratulations to the Columbia Central High School Class of 2017!  The graduates leave Columbia Central High School with many memories from their 13 years of schooling.  Many graduating seniors are headed off to college or certificate training program, the military or a position with an employer.  They have a whole community of people cheering them on to success!

The graduates received scholarships from universities located all over the country.  Collectively they earned many thousands of dollars in scholarships.  The 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.  The students have learned much from their teachers.


As they approached graduation, students commented on their opportunity to excel and take on leadership at Columbia Central High School.  They reminisced about their experiences in Forensic science, Sports Medicine, and Anatomy.  Others talked about their experiences on the New York trip or last summer’s trip to Europe.  Still others expressed appreciation to their teachers for special opportunities going to the Holland Tulip Festival , Cedar Point, Washington D.C., and Mackinac Island.  One student made a positive comment on the opportunity to participate in the AP Calculus and AP Biology courses.  A future writer said that he felt well prepared for college because of his AP English courses.  Another student complemented the school for offering so many opportunities to excel.

A future scientist mentioned his opportunity to take two years of Chemistry and how prepared he was for college.  One student exclaimed that she made amazing friendships because of her time at Communication Camp.  Still others mentioned that they gained more than music education through their participation in band, choir and the musicals.  Several students talked about the fun they had collaborating with others in art class.  One thing many students mentioned was how proud they are of earning their high school diploma from Columbia Central High School and how much they appreciated the teachers and staff members.


The graduating seniors have been a terrific group of students who have provided leadership for their peers.  They have laughed together and cried together.  Best wishes for our graduating seniors for a successful future!  Congratulations Columbia Central High School Class of 2017!

Thinking About Independence Day!

Fireworks, family gatherings, and parades; is that all July 4th is about?  As we think about the meaning of Independence Day, we can focus on appreciating the opportunities in our great country and the community around us.   Citizens of our country have the freedom to choose their own destiny.  Some choose to be farmers on large agricultural plots of ground; some farmers even hold a secondary job.  Still other neighbors are entrepreneurs and have enjoyed the freedom to initiate and build a company of their own.  Some of us in America love to serve and work in occupations such as education, retail, or service industries.

 As our students begin their learning adventures in pre-kindergarten and work their way through 12th grade, they have the opportunity to dream big become anything they want to be! Columbia School District gives our students the opportunity to succeed in today's global society. This begins in prekindergarten with cooperative play, learning strategies, and introduction to technology. Throughout the rest of their path to success our students experience music, art, physical expression in the form of various physical education classes, challenging learning activities, and amazing array of technology  opportunities, including summer enhanced learning activities like robotics, math camp, literacy camp, and leadership opportunities!


Our newly renovated facilities give our students an incredible advantage!  Our children's educational foundation lights a path to their future and prepares them for a successful career!  Our students have the opportunity to make a choice whether to continue on the road to college, attend a trade school or serve our country through the military. As we remember the awesome Independence Day celebrations let us also rejoice in these opportunities were given to us by those who sacrificed for our freedom. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Succeeding at the Speed of Sound!

This weekend as I was driving along US 12 enjoying the beautiful sunshine and noticed a jet zooming straight up into the sky.  It was quite impressive to see the jet trails streaming behind as it continued to climb into the sky.  It appeared as though the jet would blast right out of the atmosphere.  Success is much the same, with successful students progressing upward and onward towards their future. 


Columbia School District partners with parents and their children to produce top students with an excellent academic background, which results in impressive standardized test scores.  The students who are the most successful in school have several things in common.  One of the most important is that they go to school each and every day.  The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) comments that students who go to school every day achieve better and are more likely to successfully graduate.  Studies show that seventy-five percent of students who are classified as truant fail to graduate.  Students who are often absent fail to learn problem solving and higher order thinking skills.

The USDOE says that the main reason students achieve at a sub-par level is because of chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing 18 or more days of school out of the 180 days we have in Columbia.  Eighteen days represents almost a month of school, and missing that many days may lead to poor academic performance and lack of success after high school.  Poor attendance may result in a failure to get accepted to college or trade school, which may lead to a deficiency when that student wants to begin a career.

Just like fuel is essential for the jet I saw, attendance is crucial for our children.  Good attendance in school fuels our children’s education, giving them the right push to break through to success.  Most of us understand that attendance in high school is important, but the pattern for a child begins in kindergarten.  By having children get up each day and go to school, even if they seem tired, or achy, a youngster will learn more, and benefit in a myriad of ways by attending school.


Give your child the best chance for a successful future, set perfect attendance in school as a goal!  If you have any questions regarding Columbia School District, please email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Columbia School District Strategic Planning Process

Columbia School District is developing a strategic plan that will establish priorities and focus the district efforts from 2017 through 2022.  Earlier this school year, the Columbia School District Board of Education and administration worked together to develop an updated Vision and set of Beliefs.  The Vision is as follows: “Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow.”  The Vision statement underscores our commitment to students today, while emphasizing the importance of educating and graduating industrious, considerate and successful citizens.

The updated Beliefs are as follows: (1) Columbia School District believes in providing high-quality learning opportunities so that each student has tools to pursue their Dreams! (2) Columbia students will become life-long learners through experiences and relevant skills to become outstanding citizens. (3) Columbia School District will empower students to become problem-solvers and leaders within the Community. (4) Columbia School District will provide a diverse and nurturing environment to engage students and meet the needs of All learners.

A Strategic Planning process will provide the Columbia School District Board of Education with integrated, significant participation from community and staff, aligns Board priorities with school improvement processes, and presents a concise and vivid picture of the district's current standing.  In addition, it sets intensive strategic goals that identify target areas to improve student achievement, it uses data to set goals and make important decisions, and it helps identify areas to apportion increasingly limited resources.


If you are interested in participating in the planning process, please respond to the online survey found at:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BVKZJZZ .  If you have questions, please email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cash Mini Grants Total More Than $7500!

The Third Annual Columbia School District Golden Ticket Cash Bash was a huge success!  The community came together to benefit the students of Columbia by raising more than $18,000!  Each fall and spring Columbia School District teachers and staff members come together to apply for the 3A’s Mini Grants funded through the ticket sales and raffles at the Golden Ticket Cash Bash.  The Cash Bash 3A’s stand for Academics, Arts, and Athletics.  This spring Mini Grants worth more than $7500 have been awarded to seventeen teachers and staff members to benefit more than 1400 students at Columbia!

Mrs. Eastman who teaches math and STEM courses at Columbia Central Junior High School is receiving a grant to give students a hands-on approach to learning topics that integrate math and science standards, critical thinking skills and problem-solving activities that benefit students by increasing their academic success.  Her students will have the opportunity to use 10 Cell KaZoon Kites, test Parachutes, build Toothpick Bridges, and investigate Packaging Engineering Design.  She will also receive two books that will underscore activities to acquaint students to Chemical, Mechanical and Civil Engineering.  In addition to the STEM grant for the Junior High students, Mrs. Kielhorn’s mini grant application for headphones was also funded.  Students at Columbia Central Junior High use headphones when they use the blended learning activities in the iReady and Newsela programs, along with taking the M-STEP exam.

Columbia Upper Elementary fifth Grade teacher Mrs. Elliott is receiving a Cash Bash Mini Grant to purchase materials for a Makers Fair.  The students will benefit by learning about STEM through hands-on activities that use problem-solving, higher-order thinking skills, and project-based learning strategies.  Also at Columbia Upper Elementary, teachers Mr. Howland, Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Wright, Librarian Mrs. Weaver, and Principal Mrs. O’Neil received Cash Bash Mini Grants for software, whiteboards, headphones, library books, and field trips to natural sanctuaries. 

Columbia Options High School science teacher Mr. Timmerman’s Cash Bash Mini Grant will benefit students by giving them the opportunity to learn more about botany by setting up a vertical garden or “Green Wall.”  This water based plant growing system is soilless.  It takes up minimal floor space and improves the air quality in the room, produces food and serves as a working art piece.  The vertical garden will sustain 32 plants and may be replanted as often as every six to seven weeks.  The hydroponic garden covers seven science standards and will help students learn through this hands-on activity.

Mr. Folts also wrote a mini grant application that will benefit students from both Columbia Central Junior and Senior High School.  His goal is to have his students learn and sing musical selections that appeal to young listeners.  He is excited to have the additional popular music to motivate students in the Voices of Columbia choir, the junior high choir and future members of those choirs.

The athletic grants that were funded include funds for the new Columbia grade 6th through 12th grade Clay Target Shooting Team.  The funds will help purchase ammunition bags, shooting vests, ear protection and safety glasses.  Columbia Options High School will receive a mini grant to help start a co-ed softball team.  The instructors at Options High School have found that organized sports help students to improve academically and behaviorally.  Mr. Iott and Mr. Moore wrote a grant to initiate a positive program called Bigger Faster Stronger.  The program gives students an opportunity to improve their physical fitness, flexibility, and mobility.  The Bigger Faster Stronger program will benefit all Columbia students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade by providing new activities and strategies in physical education and athletics.  The new Golden Eagles Baseball and Softball organization will be able to purchase new equipment with their Cash Bash Mini Grant.  Mr. Vitale wrote a mini grant to benefit students in grades sixth through 12th to help improve shot put and discus by purchasing new implements for this popular activity. 


Most of the 3A’s Cash Bash Mini Grants only partially fund these fabulous activities and programs for our students.  If you are interested in helping support any of these activities or programs, please email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Supporting Our Columbia School District Children

The Columbia School District special needs children have benefited from the Jackson County Intermediate School District’s partnership in financing educational resources.  In 2012, county voters approved and supported the special education millage for 1.55 mills.  In May, our community, along with the rest of Jackson County, will be asked to support a renewal of the 1.55 mills that funds special education services for some of our most vulnerable children.  This renewal would not add any new taxes and would sustain the 1.55 mills through 2023.

The special education millage renewal will not add to our tax burden.  The millage results in 85% of the funds going directly to the local school districts in Jackson County to reimburse mandated special education costs.  The remaining 15% of the millage supports a portion of the Jackson County Intermediate services.  Without these funds, precious children would lose opportunities to learn and progress. 

Over 170 special education teachers, consultants and staff members provide essential educational services to more than 3,000 children in our county public and parochial schools.  The Intermediate School District of Jackson County leverages economy of scale and saves millions of dollars county-wide while it coordinates educational services that are mandated by both state and federal legislation.  Included in the services are: Occupational therapy providers, physical therapy services, psychology services, speech pathology and audiology services, social workers, specialized classrooms and programming, early childhood intervention, regulatory oversight and records management, transportation, teachers and classroom aides, and teacher consultant services.

By partnering together with the Jackson County Intermediate School District and fellow county districts, Columbia’s children benefit from the special education services available due to the millage.  The current millage rate of 1.55 mills will enable all local districts to maintain mandated special education services.  In 2016-17, Columbia School District received reimbursement of $438,300 to support special education students.  Without this reimbursement, Columbia would have had to reallocate general fund dollars to provide the mandated special education services.  This would have adversely affected all Columbia students.


Please take time to learn more about how the 2017 countywide special education renewal millage proposal will affect you, your family, and educational opportunities for the children of our community.  The Jackson County special education millage impacts all students because it reimburses mandated expenses.  More information is available at www.jcisd.org .  If you have questions, or are interested in learning more about the educational programs at Columbia School District, email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thank You Columbia School Board of Education!

Each January we celebrate School Board Appreciation Month, which is a wonderful time to recognize our school board members for the critical role they play in Columbia School District.  We want to thank these local leaders for their devotion and enthusiasm serving as advocates for our students.  As elected officials, they are the representatives from their community, serving in the best interest of Michigan school children.  Our school board members listen to the community, make policy and set the budget. 

Even though we are making a special effort in January to show appreciation to our board members, we realize their many contributions reflect a year-round commitment. They generously give of themselves to ensure that decisions directly affecting our local schools are made by representatives of this community, people who are close to our schools and know our teachers, parents, and students.  You will see them at musicals, band concerts, and football and basketball games.  They will also be at community meetings, parent teacher conferences, the Cash Bash, and the Hope Run. 

Board members shoulder critical responsibilities and often make difficult choices. Their ultimate goal is always focused on the future success of the children in our district. It’s more important than ever before that the public supports our schools so that today’s students are prepared to be productive citizens and the leaders of tomorrow. Our board members provide vision and leadership in their roles as advocates, and they will continue to stand up for public education and guard against anything that takes away from our children.

The Columbia School District benefits from the countless hours contributed by these local citizens who work tirelessly.  The Columbia School Board is responsible for an annual budget of $ 13 million, 1415 students, 190 employees, and four schools. Plan now to show your school board members you appreciate their dedication and hard work. They are extraordinary people who tackle this enormous job. Their actions and decisions affect the present and future lives of our children. Please help us thank these dedicated individuals for their efforts to make a difference and their unfailing commitment to the continued success of our students now and in the future. 

The board members serving Columbia School District are (back row ) Mr. Garry Applegate, Vice President, Mr. Dave Slusher, Trustee, Mr. Robert Wahr, President, and Mr. Michael Moore, Trustee. Pictured in the front row: Mrs. Bev Fish, Trustee, Mrs. Jodi Collins, Secretary, and Mr. Mark Fish, Treasurer. These seven fine individuals make up an efficient and effective board that has taken on the huge responsibility and challenge of working together to lead the way in the Columbia School District.  Their ability to work as a team will help increase the effectiveness of the district and give our students the optimum opportunity to succeed now and into the future.

As we go through the cold and snowy month of January, please join me as we celebrate the continued commitment of the Columbia School Board members by telling them “Thank You!” for all of their hard work and determination.  You too may become involved in Columbia School District and make a difference in the lives of our students through our PTO, booster clubs, Buddies Reading program, and athletic programs.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District and our programs, please email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 5175926641.