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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Making Tracks to Success!


There they were in the dried mud, practically side by side, tracks: Hoof prints from a horse, the track left by a bicycle, automobile tire tracks, and tennis shoe imprints.  As we move through life each one of us makes unique imprints on the world around us.  In the Columbia School District each one of our teachers, administrators and staff members make an imprint on the lives of students, help to shape the future of our children and improve the community through their positive spirit, caring, nurturing, diligence and hard work.

This spring six of our positive, fabulous, amazing staff members are retiring and they will be remembered by their footprints on the hearts those of us in of Columbia!  Initially hired by Options High School as a coordinator, Mrs. Schmidt has made a difference in the lives of many Columbia students. Certified to teach science, social studies and English language arts, Mrs. Schmidt has given our junior high students a firm foundation.  Since 1993 she has prepared her students by teaching them writing and reading.  As her students move on to high school, many of them come back to tell Mrs. Schmidt how successful they are completing writing projects at the high school level.  In addition, Mrs. Schmidt has been active planning and scheduling the junior high trips to Detroit and Washington D.C. each year, capping off the students learning activities.

Also retiring after 33 years at Columbia is Mr. Ron Guernsey.  Mr. Guernsey has taught English and history at CCHS and at the middle school level.  In addition, he has been a terrific, tenacious wrestling coach, with many of his wrestlers earning their way to the State competition.  Mr. Guernsey is currently preparing students for college English and writing courses through the Advanced Placement program.   Often, students comment on social media and in person, how Mr. Guernsey’s techniques and insight has prepared them for college.

Mrs. Bernstein is an amazing kindergarten teacher at Columbia Elementary School.  When I visit her classroom she is always involving her students in creative learning activities.  When working on graphing in math, Mrs. Bernstein had her students taste testing various types of M&M’s.  Rather than quickly completing the task, Mrs. Bernstein led her students through evaluating, graphing, reflecting and reevaluating the task, to vary the results from day to day.  Another example of her top teaching and learning activities was when she led her students through an integrated science and math activity.  The students had collected snow and made miniature snowmen.  Throughout the day, the children measured their snowmen with plastic blocks and discussed the melting process and the various forms water can be found in at different temperatures.  Throughout Mrs. Bernstein’s 23 year tenure as a teacher at Columbia, she has been a leader and mentor for new teachers.  She has shared her excellent teaching and learning techniques and helped to create a new generation of fabulous Columbia teachers.

For the past seven years Ms. Sachar has made her imprint on the lives and hearts of Columbia Central High School students through her excellent teaching techniques.  She joined the high school staff after retiring from another district.  She has taught French at CCHS and enriched the lives of students and adults from the Columbia community through her fun and educational trips to Europe.  Ms. Sachar has the unique ability to enlighten students academically, while motivating them to achieve success.

Also retiring is Columbia Elementary School principal, Mrs. Powell.  She has not only been a leader in Columbia, but she has been serving on the board for the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals’ Association.   Her volunteer leadership has extended in to the community through the Columbia Education Foundation and the Brooklyn Kiwanis Club.  She began at Columbia Middle School as a counselor in 1995.  In both her work as a counselor at the middle school and as the elementary principal, she has made a difference in the lives of many of her students.  She has been instrumental in providing professional development for elementary teachers in the areas of mathematics, English and emotional support. 

Brenda Schedeler has also given her a notice of retirement from her position as a Reading Recovery Specialist at Columbia Elementary School.  Mrs. Schedeler has made a positive difference in the lives of struggling readers for the past nine years.  As a former elementary teacher, she had a unique insight into academic supports for her students.  Her work with the Reading Recovery program has successfully transformed struggling readers into excellent and proficient students.

We are so thankful for our retirees.  They have given so much to the community and have left their imprints on the hearts and minds of our children.  They have been a blessing to the students at Columbia School District.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, please email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call 5175926641.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Critical Thinking at Columbia Schools!


Each week when I receive the newspaper there are advertisements for appliances from Sears, Lowes, Home Depot, Penny’s and other stores.  They advertise many models of refrigerators; there are side-by-side with or without ice in the door, French Door refrigerators with one or two drawers and regular basic no-frills one door refrigerators.  This week I looked at a low cost refrigerator that was advertised for $367, while another more expensive model was on sale at $2898.  Although all of the refrigerators keep our food cold, some have more options than others.  As you shop for a refrigerator, you would actively collect data and choices for your comparison.   As you compare and contrast the prices and options for the refrigerators, you would use the skill of critical thinking. 

In each classroom in the Columbia School District, students use critical thinking in their daily assignments.  Critical thinking is an important skill that will help our students be successful in all of their school subjects.  Let me offer some examples for you to work with your child on his or her critical thinking skills.

The first example is: Finding similarities in our daily lives.  Take a look around a room and find two things that do not seem to have anything in common.  You may say a lamp and couch.  Challenge your child to use his critical thinking skills to find a minimum of one thing that is similar in the lamp and the couch.  She may tell you that they both sit on the floor or that the lamp shade has a pattern with material and so does the couch.  You may repeat this in other rooms in your house or in outdoor settings.

A second try at increasing your child’s proficiency of their critical thinking skills is to play games.  You may choose word games to play in the car.  You may mix and match comparing and contrasting words like; river is to ocean like plant is to what?  You might choose games that your child can look ahead to predict the outcome like checkers or chess.  You may ask them, if you move there, then I might move here and where would you move next?

Finally, you may help your child and his or her friends make up a story or rewrite one they already know.  To write a new story together, have one of them begin something like, “I was walking in the woods one day and”, then the next person takes over, and each person puts in a sentence as they write their new story.  You may tell them what the last sentence should be, or let them write in a freestyle way.  Not only will they end up with an intriguing story, they will have fun!  When using their critical thinking skills to rewrite a story, you could choose a traditional children’s story like “Little Red Riding Hood” or one of my favorite, “Horton Hears A Who.” You could have them think about writing their story from the wolf’s point of view in “Little Red Riding Hood” or describe what happens to Horton or the Who in the next chapter.

Just like we use critical thinking in our daily lives to make large purchases like a refrigerator, our children use critical thinking skills to make decisions and complete their school work.  Your encouragement of their ability to think critically and assist them as they practice these skills will help to make them more successful students. 

If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District or our programs, please email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org or call me at 5175926641.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Successful Seniors!


Over the past several weeks, the Columbia Central High School senior class has begun to imagine their graduation.  They have pictured themselves crossing the stage and celebrating their success in high school.  As the day draws closer, our seniors not only think of graduation, but of their future opportunities and challenges.  The seniors are beginning to realize that having a strong academic background will get them off to a good start, and that they will also have to use wisdom as they apply all of their academic knowledge. 


This week our senior class will have the opportunity to participate in an interview process.   They have been practicing and thinking about this process.  During the interviews they will talk about their background, their plans and their hopes and dreams.  The community based interview panel will hear from our positive, intelligent students talking about scholarships they have earned, their volunteer experiences and where they will be next fall. 

Columbia School District students have distinct advantages not only because of the high academic standards at Columbia Central, but because of the caring, nurturing nature of their teachers and our exceptional programs.   The students in our Leadership program have learned to work together, organize positive community events and spend time volunteering with our elementary children. 
Recently the students in the Leadership program organized, planned and carried out the Hope Run.  After the daylong event was over, one of the young ladies on the planning committee mentioned that her experiences at Columbia Central have given her the confidence to get in front of the whole district student body and lead.  She and her team inspired the Columbia School District students and staff members to raise over $11,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Our graduating seniors have filled their high school experience by taking Advanced Placement courses so they are prepared to go to college.  Quite a few of our seniors have challenged themselves by completing AP Calculus and AP English.  Some of our seniors have mentioned their interest in science and how their experiences taking advanced anatomy, Advanced Placement biology, Sports Medicine and Forensic Science have given them a great base for their next step in college.  The Class of 2018 is a great group of young people full of promise and energy.  It will be exciting to watch them take on their future with tenacity!

If you are interested in cheering on our seniors as they walk across the graduation stage, join us at the Jackson College Potter Center on June 1st at 7:00 pm.  To have your child join the positive programs at Columbia School District, call me at 5175926641 or email me at pamela.campbell@myeagles.org.