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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut

As our hearts and prayers go out to the community of Newtown, Connecticut and the victims and families affected by today's senseless tragedy, we find a grave sadness in our hearts. I am including resources to use as we work with our own school family. Please refer to the following information from the National Association of Elementary School Principals contained below:

  • "Helping Children Cope With Tragedy" Report to Parents:

  • "Coping With Loss" Principal magazine article:

  • "A Death in the Family" Principal magazine article:

  • National Association of School Psychologists:

  • Students' Talents Shine Brightly!

    Driving around town the other evening I noticed the brightly colored Christmas lights were twinkling through the misty evening sky.  As I continued making my way down street after street I could see the thoughtful care that contributed to each well lit display.  All of the lights in the creatively designed displays made me think of how our many students are similar to the displays.  The various colored lights, each with their contribution to the overall display represented our students and their growing talents and academic strengths.

    Some of our students are great in mathematics and see things in a mechanical way.  For those students who exhibit a high level of interest in hands-on math, they have an opportunity at Columbia Central High School to participate in Mrs. Sampson’s engineering class.  As I walked through her classroom earlier this week, her students were involved in project based learning tasked with solving a multi-step problem simulating the sorting of refuse at a landfill.  They used mathematical and scientific properties to design and build a system to solve the problem.  The students were knowledgeable and motivated to succeed. Others of our students have a high level of interest and proficiency in technology.  Entering into Mr. Smith’s classroom, students were involved in learning how to use animation to connect to others.  Working at their individual computer stations they had the opportunity to design and animate their own graphic creation.  Not only did this assignment help to enhance their technological skills, it may have opened the door to a possible future vocation.

    For those students who love to express themselves physically, Columbia School District offers physical education classes at every level.  Visiting with Mr. Iott’s physical education class at Columbia Elementary School you might find them outside doing laps on the track, learning a new game, or testing themselves against a challenge that he set up to build their skill while giving them a work out.  As the students race to complete a physical task, you can see their faces light up, much like the brightly colored lights in the Christmas displays.

    Other students reveal their talents as their brightly colored lights shine while doing an art project.  If you haven’t ventured past Columbia Elementary in the past couple of days you may not have seen the adorable winter mural painted by students in the front windows which is a tradition at this time of year.  The parents had the paint all ready for the students as they excitedly approached the mural.  The students worked cooperatively as they painted various areas of the mural resulted in an experience many of them will remember forever.

    Each student has positive qualities, talents, and strengths they will build on over their lifetime.  As a community, our job is to support our children as they grow and develop their interests and talents.  Over the past several months, the Columbia School District has worked to redevelop our budget to maximize those areas which especially support and enhance the maturing of our students’ talents and academic strengths.  As we join together to support our teachers and students there are ways you may partner with the Columbia School District.  Sign up to volunteer in our Buddy’s Reading program at Columbia Elementary.  Check out and join the Columbia Community Fitness Center through which community members work on their personal fitness goals while supporting the center which benefits our high school students by providing after school fitness activities, along with great fitness equipment they benefit from during their physical education classes.  Donate to help support bringing upgrades in technology to our students.  Your willingness to actively partner with the Columbia School District may change a child’s life forever and make their light brightly sparkle!  If you are interested in partnering with the Columbia School District, please contact me by email at or call 517-592-6641.

    Creating Art Projects With Your Child

    Providing sensory experiences for your child is positive for his development.  Creating and experimenting with art allows your child to use his senses and build his brain.  Playing with play dough, painting, drawing, and making collages all spark connections in the brain.  Having these experiences will help your child be more successful in school.  Christmas time gives us many opportunities to invent creative art project ideas which tie brain development together with the season.

    You can help your child get the largest benefit from creating and experimenting with art by:

    ·        Encouraging him to enjoy the process of creating art.  The most important part of the creative process is that the child should interpret what the project should look like.  Your child will be more apt to explore his creative desires if we accept his finished project without any criticism.

    ·        Providing materials.  It’s great if your child has access to crayons, paints and paper.  Household items such as fabric scraps and catalogs are also fun to use when creating art projects.

    ·        Say something specific about your child’s artwork.  “You used a lot of yellow and blue in your picture.”  Your comment could also sound like, “It’s great how you incorporated Santa’s reindeer into your picture,” or “The sculpture of the penguin has a nice long beak and big feet.”

    ·        Hanging his creation on your refrigerator, setting a sculpture out on a shelf or giving the results of an art project to a favorite relative will make your child feel appreciated.  By displaying the artistic creation your child will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.

    By encouraging your child to be creative he will benefit by increased brain activity and a higher level of self-esteem.  Your attention to a project which he is proud of will help to spark his sense of ownership and will encourage him to experiment with his creative side to a greater degree.  Have fun creating with your child!  If you have questions about this article or about Columbia School District, please call me at 517-592-6641 or email me at