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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Bright Future for Columbia in 2018!

The year 2018 brings amazing opportunities for children in the Columbia School District.  Our teachers, staff and administrators appreciate the opportunity to assist in developing learning activities to benefit your child’s education. Our goal is to partner with you to provide your child an outstanding educational experience in a safe, positive and dynamic environment. 

Top quality education happens when students, parents, staff and the community collaborate to create and develop learning environments where everyone flourishes. It is very exciting to be a part of the Columbia School District’s journey toward increased student achievement and educational excellence. Collaboration between our staff and community has resulted in the Columbia School District Strategic Plan that will help shape and guide our district over the next five years.

We work on being intentional regarding our students’ learning opportunities.  Teachers develop plans which include activities designed to enhance student achievement.  Our terrific teachers use “teachable moments” to allow events to become learning filled occasions.  

Increasingly, teachers are integrating technology into their learning environments. Our teachers engage their learners by intentionally using technology to boost student interest and understanding.  The teachers use creative ideas to improve student achievement and to increase the capability of students to be successful problem solvers. 

 As we work together side-by-side leading the children of the community to become lifelong learners, our support of education will have an enduring effect on our children! I am deeply proud of the critical and immeasurable community support for the Columbia School District. Thanks to your help, Columbia School District has become one of Michigan’s premier school districts.

If you have questions about the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at .

Monday, December 11, 2017

Making A Difference!

Home for the holidays!  Each year many people travel home for the holidays to celebrate with family and friends.  We bring Christmas presents to our loved ones and spend time laughing and celebrating together.  Gathering around a table filled with turkey, ham or roast beef, most of us eat to our hearts content.  However, there are many families in our area who struggle to make ends meet. 

During this season of giving Columbia students and staff members sponsored families for Christmas with toys and canned goods.  Our students banded together to collect over a thousand nonperishable food items.  The students at Columbia Central High School teamed up with the Country Market and the community of Brooklyn to collect donations of food and paper products.  Many people 
recognized the need and donated funds that were turned into additional nonperishable food items. 

Even our youngest students at Columbia Elementary School brought cans of green beans, ravioli and even chicken noodle soup!  The donations of Ramen Noodles, spaghetti sauce and toilet paper were given to the Brooklyn Food Pantry to be distributed to those families who are struggling. 
At Columbia Upper Elementary students and staff members not only donated food items, they teamed up with high school students to collect toys and funds to purchase toys and clothing for families in our area.  These donations will help to give many area children a better Christmas.

If you missed the opportunity to donate to the Columbia School District food and toy drive, you still have time to donate funds to a nonprofit before the end of the year.  The Brooklyn Food Pantry accepts donations of food and funds all year around to address the needs of struggling families in our area.  The Salvation Army will have their Red Kettles and bell ringers at various locations in the Jackson area or you may send funds by mail to support their various community efforts.  You may also make a tax-deductible donation of funds to an area nonprofit such as the Columbia Educational Foundation for student scholarships, Columbia School District for technology, a YMCA camp for camperships for needy children or a local church for their efforts to help area families. 

If you are interested in finding out more about Columbia School District and our programs, email me at or call 5175926641.D

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Planning Strategically for the Future!

As a school family, we are proud to be a part of this community. Our outstanding teachers and staff members strive for excellence as we diligently work with your student to increase his or her educational abilities. The Columbia School District, in partnership with the community, provides a safe and positive learning environment, which prepares all students to contribute and compete in a global society.

Our points of pride include strong academics which have produced high test scores, an award winning band program, high school pre-engineering courses which use project based learning to enhance each student’s skills, Advanced Placement courses that challenge our students and provide an opportunity for them to earn college credit, free GSRP preschool for four year olds that provides a firm and enjoyable educational base for our youngest learners, child care and tuition preschool for three and four year olds, and our excellent athletic programs which give our student athletes an opportunity to succeed. Columbia Central High School was awarded the Silver and Bronze Medallion by U.S. News & World Reports, was chosen as a Reward School by the Michigan Department of Education and was honored as top school in Jackson County by Bridge Magazine.

Columbia School District has remodeled all of our classrooms with new flooring, new ceilings, new windows and doors, all buildings have a secure entry vestibule to keep our students safe, new heating and air conditioning systems at all buildings, updated technology infrastructure and hardware, and updated playgrounds.

The Columbia School District has finalized our Strategic Plan, which is the result of over a year of discussion, research, surveying, and planning.  Board members, school improvement team and administration have worked diligently and collaboratively to produce this plan focusing on the future academic success of our students. This strategic planning process started with the vision of the Board of Education to examine the Columbia School District and begin shaping our school district to meet the needs of our students today and into the future.  Vision and leadership was evident by all of the team members who took part in this process since September 2016.

The mission, vision and beliefs of Columbia School District will focus our work following the strategic planning process. The mission provides a brief overview of how we will accomplish our vision, what the district does and our overall purpose.  The mission statement supports the vision and serves to communicate purpose and direction to employees, community members, vendors and other stakeholders.  The new mission for the Columbia School District is: Nurture Dreams. Empower All. Create a Better World.

As the team focused on school improvement through strategic planning, their vision for the future is Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow.  When compared to the mission statement, the vision statement is a narrower, future-oriented declaration of the Columbia’s purpose and aspirations.  

The District Strategic Planning team used the mission and vision as a guideline and springboard to set the statements that describe the beliefs that are the basis for the plan.  The beliefs statements describe what the district has confidence in about both teaching and learning, which can have a major impact on the school environment. Columbia School District Beliefs: (1) Columbia School District provides innovative learning opportunities encouraging students to pursue their dreams! (2) Columbia will offer unique experiences for students to become lifelong learners. (3) Partnerships with Columbia stakeholders will empower students to become problem-solving leaders in our society. (4) Columbia School District will provide a diverse and nurturing environment to engage students and meet the needs of all learners.

As we implement the strategies, assessment of our work may require modifications and alterations to this plan. This is a normal and necessary part of any implementation process. Regular reports shared with the Board of Education and our stakeholders will enlighten the community as to the progress and adjustments that may be necessary.  If you are interested in learning more about the Columbia School District Strategic Plan, please email me at or call 5175926641.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Golden Ticket Cash Bash Coming on February 24th

Get ready for fun and fellowship at the Golden Ticket Cash Bash on February 24th at the Gene Davis Banquet Center!  Last February our Columbia School District family came together to raise over $17,000 for Senior Scholarships and Mini Grants for Academics, Arts, and Athletics.   This year we are eager to raise even more for our great Columbia students. Tickets for the Cash Bash are available for $80 for two people.  You may obtain a ticket from any of the Columbia School District offices or administrators. 

Funds from the ticket sales and raffle games at the Cash Bash are dedicated to provide some terrific new exciting innovative items for academics, arts, and athletics through teacher mini grants.  This fall
some fabulous activities for the arts were funded: Mrs. Carlson received a grant to support the fall performing arts play, Peter Pan. Mrs. Guernsey received a grant to support junior high school balloon art for the fall homecoming. Mrs. Samson received a grant to help fund an afterschool program for high school students to learn about floral art in an afterschool program. Mrs. Eccles received a grant to take students on a field trip to the Toledo Museum of Art. The Museum is opening a new exhibit on several artists such as Andrew Wyeth and Georgia O’Keaffe. The junior and senior high school students will be learning about these artists. The grant will benefit students by allowing them to see these works in person, as well as view art in a museum.

Academic grants were given to Mrs. Daniels for her Guatemalan friendship bracelet project to assist students as they learn about the people who live in many of the Spanish speaking countries.  Mrs. Adams received a grant to purchase desk top maps for geography.  Mrs. Laverty received a grant to take her fifth grade to learn about fundamentals of electrical energy by attending the Kabooms Live Wire event.  Mrs. Weaver, the Upper Elementary librarian, received a grant to purchase additional books.  Mrs. Harris, the Upper Elementary School reading interventionist, received a grant to purchase books for struggling readers to take home with them.  Mr. Riedel received a grant to purchase calculators and manipulatives for his math students.  Mrs. Weidenbach wrote and received a grant for the fourth grade teachers. The fourth grade students will benefit from using the computer program, Spelling City.  Mrs. Sexton received a grant for classroom items. 

The athletic grants were awarded to the following individuals: Mr. Daniels received a grant for the Columbia Central Clay Team.  This team was new last year and the students were very successful during the season.  Mr. Miller received a grant to improve the softball field by adding another layer of special dirt.  Mr. Vitale received a grant for starting blocks for the track team.  If you are interested in learning more about the Columbia Golden Cash Bash, call 5175926641 or email me at .

Monday, October 23, 2017

Teachable Moments Enhance the Learning Environment

Recently one of my friends acknowledged that she was very afraid of spiders.  She said that it did not matter what the arachnid looked like, she was terrified.  Spiders are the largest group of arachnids and they have 8 legs.  You may think they look creepy and even scary, but on the positive side, their webs help to trap annoying insects in their intricate webs.  Similarly to the way spiders trap insects in their sticky webs, children catch bits and pieces of learning.  Our teachers work diligently to create learning activities that will stick in a child’s memory. 

At the schools in the Columbia District, we work on being intentional regarding our students’ learning opportunities.  Teachers develop plans which include activities designed to enhance student achievement.  Our terrific teachers use detours and “teachable moments” to allow random events to become learning filled occasions that stick in their memory, just like bug sticks in the spider’s web.  

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

Columbia teachers focus on what is best for their students and work to enhance their educational activities, so they may learn today, so they can become leaders in the community tomorrow.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia, email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Columbia School District: Strategically Planning for the Future!

A couple of days ago I bought some mixed beans to make soup.  As I looked at the bag of beans, there were various colors and sizes: a very diverse combination.  I followed the directions and the
soup was fabulous!  It was really amazing that those little, colorful beans could blend together and have such a wonderful flavor and texture. 

At Columbia School District our teachers take children of various sizes, ability levels and backgrounds and nurture them into a cohesive group of learners, much like the fabulous bean soup.  The students participate in hands-on activities to build their skills as learners.  The positive instructional capabilities of our teachers gives our Columbia students an opportunity to fulfill the new Columbia Vision: Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow

As you review our group of Columbia staff members, you will find that they are role models for the next generation of teachers and staff members.  Their ability to provide excellence in education gives our students a foundation for a bright future full of success.  In order to continue to provide the best in educational opportunities for our students, the Columbia School District, led by superintendent Pam Campbell, has developed a strategic plan.

The Columbia School District Strategic Plan is the result of over a year of discussion, research, surveying, and planning.  Board members, school improvement team and the administration have worked diligently and collaboratively to produce this plan focusing on the future academic success of our students. This strategic planning process started with the vision of the Board of Education to examine the Columbia School District and begin shaping our school district to meet the needs of our students today and into the future.  This visionary process required leadership and participation from many individuals during  the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years.

The Columbia School District has established the Strategic Plan on the following four educational beliefs:
  • Columbia School District provides innovative learning opportunities encouraging students to pursue their dreams!
  • Columbia will offer unique experiences for students to become lifelong learners.
  • Partnerships with Columbia stakeholders will empower students to become problem-solving leaders in our society.
  • Columbia School District will provide a diverse and nurturing environment to engage students and meet the needs of all learners.
Much like the way my bag beans and recipe brought spices, flavors and various sizes and colors of beans together to create a fabulous soup,  your Columbia School District teachers, administrators and board members continue to work together to provide a high level of excellence in education for your children.  Our mission through our new strategic plan says it all: Nurture Dreams. Empower All. Create a Better World.

If you have questions regarding the excellent educational programs and activities at Columbia School District, please email me at or call 5175926641.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Reading for 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. 

Your child will enjoy stopping by the local library.  You can make the visit seem like a treasure hunt!  Before you get to the library, decide what type of books they want to read.  For example, your child may choose dinosaurs or a type of science fiction.  Whether your child is a beginning reader or an experienced reader, your local librarian will be able to help them find the type of books they are looking for.  Or the librarian may suggest great books and exciting book series for your child.  Many local libraries have 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 after school or weekend reading time, you may want to 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.  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 short weekend day-trips.  This way the reading will have a reward 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, October 1, 2017

CCHS Soccer Field Named After Alumnus Chad P. Dermyer

Columbia School District’s focus on excellence gives our students a positive environment for learning today, leading tomorrow.  Alumnus Chad P. Dermyer was a leader and excelled at Columbia Central. Chad participated in many events and activities while at Columbia Central High School, including the Golden Eagle Marching Band and varsity soccer.

After graduating from Columbia Central, Chad Dermyer served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, before joining the Police Department in Jackson, Michigan.  Chad then served with the City of Newport News Police Department, prior to attending and graduating from the Virginia State Police Academy in November 2014.  As a Virginia State Trooper, Chad first served in the areas around Newport News and Hampton, and then received a transfer to the state police Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Interdiction Unit.

On March 31st, 2016, Chad put on his Virginia State Police uniform, and with a smile on his face and a positive spring in his step, he headed out to take part in a training exercise at the bus station in Richmond, Virginia.  Chad’s life ended there, tragically while on duty on March 31, 2016.   He is survived by his wife and two young children.

When talking to his former teachers and soccer coach, they said that Chad was a delight to have in class and that he always had a big smile.  They characterized Chad Dermyer as the ideal student, always positive, cheerful, and a diligent worker.  He took time to speak with others, was very talented, and was humble about his abilities.  Similarly, after the tragic incident, Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty talked about Chad’s positive character and high level of integrity.

Earlier this year, the Columbia School District Board of Education responded to a request by the Dermyer family and named the Columbia Central High School soccer field after Chad because of his history of leadership, exemplary character, and positive work ethic.  The CCHS Athletic Boosters funded a new scoreboard bearing the name of the field.  Many of the Columbia community members and friends of Chad’s have donated to erect a sign near the entrance of the field.

Please join the Columbia School District as we dedicate the Chad P. Dermyer Memorial Soccer Field on Saturday, October 7th at 1 pm.  Please come to honor Chad and celebrate his life! In memory of Chad, the Golden Eagle Marching Band will play the National Anthem and the CCHS Fight Song.  Jackson Radio Works will do a remote broadcast before and during the event.  There will be testimonials, and a short program, followed by the alumni soccer game.  Refreshments will be provided and there will be commemorative t-shirts for sale.  For more information call 5175926641.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Changing Colors of Education!

The other day one of my friends told me about an experience with his son.  They were out in the woods hiking.  As the sun rose and lit the trees with its rays, his son mentioned how the leaves were beginning to change, “This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in nature.”  This ten-year-old was focused on the incredible beautiful ever changing colors of the leaves. 

 As I rush out the door every morning, I take a minute to focus on the changing colors of the leaves and the rays of the warming sun.  Recently as I gazed up at the bright oranges, yellows, reds and greens of the trees, it made me think about how education has changed over the past several years. 

Technology is one of the most brightest and colorful ever changing areas of education, much like the changing colors of the leaves on the trees.  These days we hear a lot of changing ideas about educating our children.  One phrase we have heard a lot about is “Blended Learning.”  What exactly is blended learning and does it have positive results for our students? 

Blended learning uses both digital learning strategies through online media and traditional classroom instruction.  Students are able to complete the online portion of the learning, decide on the place they access the online content and set an appropriate pace.  Columbia Central High School students use blended learning strategies in quite a few of their classrooms.  Some of our teachers use blended learning techniques to enhance the time the students have in their classroom.  They use a strategy called “Flipped Classroom.”  In this strategy students choose the time and place that they review the material in the lesson before coming to class.  This material may include research, specific online sites or a Podcast.  Once the students arrive in class they begin with activities based upon the material they covered online and may follow up with an assessment covering their assignment and activities.

Blended learning activities also are taking place at Columbia Upper Elementary School.  Many teachers are using strategies that integrate technology both at home and during school.  Recently I spoke to several students who were working on a blended learning technique that included doing online research, creating a graphic organizer and translating that into a multi-page website.  This strategy gave the students an opportunity to work in their own time, at their own pace, using a learning-path they chose and a place that worked for them. 

In some of our Columbia Elementary School classrooms teachers are having students write in their blogs online and then classmates, parents, and other relatives, in addition to the teacher, read and write reviews.  This partnership between parents, students and the teacher is made possible through the online techniques of blended learning.

At Columbia Options High School students use online applications during their traditional classes as well as during their virtual classes.  We support students as they complete their virtual classes with a drop-in center and a resource teacher.  Many students find the virtual portion to be better suited to their learning needs, but they also find the resource teacher very important to assist them with questions.

By integrating technology and blended learning into the curriculum teachers must reinvent their teaching techniques.  To adapt the learning activities into this innovative way of teaching and learning, teachers collaborate together and experience a sustainable, transformation that results in meaningful student growth.

At Columbia as we have worked to integrate technology into the curriculum and use blended learning strategies to enhance students’ ability to acquire new knowledge, we have seen a progressive improvement of student retention by using these techniques.  Students enjoy completing online research activities and seem to experience a greater level of retention.  As we continue to use blended learning activities, strategies and techniques with our students we anticipate that they will increase their performance on post activity assessments.  When you look up at the beautiful changing fall leaves, remember to think about the changing look of technology in education. If you would like to learn more about Columbia School District or our programs, call me at 5175926641 or email me at .

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Learning Today at Columbia!

Education at Columbia School District is better than in the Movies!  Over the years we have seen television shows or movies that focus on school life.  While story lines about schools take risks and exploit academic opportunities, at Columbia Schools the teachers, parents and students have partnered to give students the best opportunity for academic success

When you watch a movie you only see just what is on the screen, at Columbia there is a well-rounded philosophy that keeps all of our students in view of the teachers and administrators.  Columbia School District teachers work together to help our student learn today so they may become leaders tomorrow.  At Columbia Upper Elementary students are experiencing STEM in two unique ways; The Lego Robotics Program and The Michigan League of Academic Games.  The students participating in these programs only need to have enthusiasm to learn more by experiencing hands-on strategies.  These programs use collaboration, camaraderie and problem solving to extend learning opportunities in a practical futuristic way.

On the big screen the focus is on exceptions rather than reality.  For example, the Hogwarts School in Harry Potter housed children who had magical abilities.  At Columbia the magic is not in our students, but in the way our teachers inspire students in their academic endeavors.  Our teachers are positive, creative and hardworking individuals who work to be inclusive of all students.  Unlike Hogwarts School our students do not have to fly, become invisible or use their telepathic powers to get good grades.

One television program that focused on school life was “Welcome Back Kotter.”  This comedy was popular, but regularly featured students who were poorly behaved and often ridiculed each other.  At Columbia, our students not only care about each other, but maintain a focus on positive classroom behavior.  Later this fall forty of our high school students will attend a three day-two night event called “Communication Camp.”  This event gives students the ability to make connections on a deeper level and learn about others.  Activities like Communication Camp, Leadership Forum and other leadership opportunities, give our students an opportunity to excel while moving past the cliché school experience.

Columbia School District’s positive programs and activities both during the day and afterschool help to make our students’ experience better in the movies!  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District, email me at or call 5175926641.

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 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 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 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 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: .  If you have questions, please email me at 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 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 .  If you have questions, or are interested in learning more about the educational programs at Columbia School District, email me at 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 or call me at 5175926641.