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Friday, April 26, 2013


The other day I was listening to the radio and the host began speaking with a gentleman who had authored a song.  When asked about the origins of the song, the recording artist began by explaining that some words are wonderful and uplifting, other words bring us to new lows.  Words may give us a new found confidence or verbally take our legs out from under us.  Sometimes you may hear words which give you courage to climb a mountain and other words make you hesitant to get out of bed in the morning.
Although I paraphrased the artist’s exact explanation, we all must agree that words may be encouraging or devastatingly damaging.  Over the past several weeks I have watched some of our middle school students work together with their circus coaches.  They have been inspired to achieve new heights because of the words the coaches have used to encourage and motivate them. 
As we work collaboratively with other s or even with our children we must be intentional as we speak.  The children participating in the Circus of the Kids are literally achieving new heights, because of the intentional encouragement they have received from their circus coaches. After watching the students perform I sent made the following observation and emailed it to Bruce, the founder and CEO of Circus of the Kids, “Today’s performance was AWESOME!  The students were well disciplined and followed their routines.  It was evident that you and your staff members have worked diligently to instill a sense of pride and showmanship in our children.  After watching the students in several practices and in the performance today I can see that many of them are holding their heads up higher and walking with confidence.”
The transformation in our children has truly been amazing!  Think about how incredible our community could become if we all became intentional about being positive, cooperative and supporting and used words that encourage one another.  As we move into spring and begin to enjoy being outside during warm sunny days, let’s work on intentionally using words that are encouraging, inspiring and uplifting.  Let’s keep expanding the positive inspiring feeling that the Circus of the Kids has brought to the Columbia School District. 
Are you interested in learning more about Columbia School District?  Call me at 592-6641 or email me at .

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Daffodils

The other day when I returned home I was delighted to see two of my daffodils had bloomed! I was so excited that even during the torrential down pouring rain; these bright yellow tokens of spring had blossomed. Although sometimes we concentrate on the negative, like the rain and blowing wind, if we look hard enough we can find a bright spot. 

Columbia School District has many bright spots in our organization. Since this is Administrative Professional’s week, I would like to introduce you to five very wonderful people who make Columbia Schools special. Ann Dyjach is the administrative assistant to the superintendent and the Board of Education. Ann has worked in the district for 23 years. She began subbing for secretaries and aides throughout the district. Her favorite thing about her job is talking to people and helping them. She loves the versatility and doing so many different things each day. When talking to her about the district she always talks about how much she likes the students. Just ask any of the students and they will tell you that she has a secret stash of candy that she keeps just for them! 

At Columbia Elementary School the administrative assistant is Lori Hunter. She is the first person our parents and staff members see when they walk into the office. Her pleasant demeanor is reassuring to parents of ill children and teachers who need some support. Lori Hunter has worked for the Columbia School District for almost 15 years. She told me, “I enjoy working for Columbia School District because of the small community. Over the years I have developed sincere relationships with students and families across the district.” She continued by saying, “I have the best job!!! In what working environment can you receive so much love every single day? I adore all the hugs that I receive in a day. The students at CES are the best. They are kind and respectable. I am so blessed to work with a group of amazing teachers, staff and the best Principal ever!!” One thing is evident to anyone who sees Lori work with children; she exhibits a loving caring spirit to all!  

When you think of Columbia Middle School you think of Bonnie Bernstein. As I asked her about her passion for the learning environment at the middle school she said, “It will be very hard to leave my secretary job because I love the kids and staff! I started this job January 9, 1998 and Mr. Kanaan was principal. At that time I was working for Onsted Bank and was tired of working week-ends so my husband Ned said they need a secretary at the middle school.” She continued by saying that initially she “had mixed feelings, but once I got here I loved it! My favorite part of my job is the students if all I had to do is help them it would be great to stay a little longer, but Ned and myself feel it is time to retire we will both be 60 yrs old this summer, I will stay till August 23, 2013, I can stay and help the next secretary get started.” 

A fixture at Columbia Options High School is Jeanne Meinka. Her cheerful smile and nurturing demeanor is positive for students and staff. She has been with Columbia School District 28 Years, the last 25 working with Columbia Option High School students. When I asked her how she liked her position at Columbia Options High School, she said, “I like working with and watching the alternative students grow and change their attitude about learning. I love to inspire them so that can be whatever they desire to do if we build confidence in each one of them. She continued by saying that, “Encouragement is the key to most all things: Educations, sports and life.” 

At Columbia Central High School we have the dynamic duo: Gail Tolford and Debbie Russell! Gail has worked in the district for 17 years. She finds it very rewarding working with the students. If she can lend a listening ear and offer any encouragement to better their day that is her reward. Students appreciate her calm demeanor and helpful assistance when they are in need. 

When students think of Debbie Russell, they think of her quick smile and laugh. After working for the Columbia School District for 21 years, she still enjoys her job. She said, “I like a lot of things about Columbia Schools but my favorite is the students. My husband and I moved to this community in 1979, my children all graduated from Columbia Central High School, I have seen a lot of changes to this community and district and I’m very proud to be a part of the Columbia family.” 

As we go through this spring and see all the beautiful bright daffodils springing up, remember all of the wonderful administrative assistants who make Columbia School District a terrific place for students, staff and teachers! If you have a chance to stop by one of the schools on Wednesday, April 24th, be sure and thank our wonderful administrative assistants! Are you interested in learning more about the Columbia School District? Give me a call at 517-592-6641 or email me at .

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Rainbow of Learning Opportunties

During the soggy wet afternoon, the drizzling rain kept coming.  My drive around the country side was on a road bordered on one side with the ocean and the other side by a green lush valley which stretched upward towards the sky.  As the sun began to peak out from between the clouds, there was a small rainbow visible between the trees.  The further I drove the more brilliant the rainbow became until it stretched across the valley from side to side.  It was an amazing sight and I wondered just which end held the pot of gold? 
Seeing the beautiful rainbow shining through the gray drizzly sky made me think about how fortunate we are to have such great educational programs supporting our students’ learning environment.  The brilliant rainbow of programs includes many learning activities at the middle school level.  Recently our students and parents have had the chance to enjoy some of the extended learning opportunities at Columbia Middle School.  The CMS Science Fair was amazing!  Students used their knowledge of the scientific process to research a topic, perform an experiment, gather data, and present the results to their teachers, parents, community members and peers.  One especially interesting experiment had some of our students making what Mr. Hamilton referred to as “Elephant’s Toothpaste.”  It was an amazing mix of ingredients, topped off with hydrogen peroxide to make a foaming batch of red paste.  Another fascinating experiment spotlighted the “5 Second Rule.”  The students completing this experiment investigated various locations that one might drop a piece of candy or potato chip and grew various bacterial cultures from those areas.  It was interesting to discover the location of the most aggressive bacterial growth. 

Another ray of our Columbia Middle School shining rainbow of learning activities was Math Night.  Math teachers from CMS planned and recruited college students from Spring Arbor University, Adrian College and Jackson Community College to work with students and their parents on various math activities.  I especially enjoyed watching Mrs. Lape play the game, “Sets” with her students and their parents.  In another room two students from Spring Arbor University worked with CMS students and their parents as they built geodesic structures out of toothpicks and marshmallows.  It was fascinating to watch our students as they concentrated, carefully building their structures.  In another location the students had an opportunity to design and make a paper airplane with Mr. Williams, then measure the distance the plane flew.

At the same time the students were enjoying Math Night, another shining area of the Columbia Middle School rainbow offered students an opportunity to experience the Circus of the Kids!  When I visited the high school gymnasium I saw various activities including students learning how to fly by hanging on to a rope, students becoming acquainted with the intricacies of being a human jump rope and flipping around on long scarf-like pieces of material hanging from the ceiling.  The CMS PTO has been working to bring the Circus of the Kids to town for over a year.  Their hard work and dedication has resulted in an unparalleled opportunity for our students to not only learn academically during the school day, but stretch themselves and improve their self-esteem and self-worth.

Each and every day the teachers and members of the Columbia School District family come together to provide educational activities and learning opportunities for our students to brighten our children’s day, just like the rainbow in the valley brightened my day.  If you are interested in learning more about how your child could benefit from the awesome learning environment at the Columbia School District please contact me by email at or call me at 5175926641.