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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Partnering With Our Community

Approximately 150 Columbia School District teachers, staff and administrators appreciate the opportunity to assist in developing and increasing 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.   

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.   The other day I ventured into a classroom where a visiting spider had given the teacher an opportunity to help the students learn a bit about the rather large arachnid.

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.

As a member of the Columbia School District community you may support the teachers’ intentional focus on enhancing the students’ achievement by encouraging your child or grandchild to fully complete their school projects or assignments.  You may encourage your child to take the next step and learn more about topics they are covering in school by conducting web-quests.  You may also support our wonderful teachers by engaging in positive verbal support as you speak with others in the community.  Your enthusiasm for learning at Columbia Schools may also include volunteering to serve on a committee or read a book to a child or cheer our sports teams on to victory.

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 how you may partner with the Columbia School District or to register your child for school, please email me at or call me at 517.592.6641.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Firmly Rooted in Education

Over the weekend I was pruning bushes and pulling weeds.  As I pulled the weeds with prickly spines, I noticed that while they had large leaves, their roots were small.  They were easily pulled out as I grabbed them with my gloved hand.  I compared the root system of the weeds to that of other small plants and bushes; I realized that the plants we value have intricate root systems that reach far into the soil to give them a strong base to grow from. 

In much the same way our children need extensive support systems to grow and mature.  Columbia School District focuses on supporting our students academically and nutritionally.  Our students have the opportunity to take advanced courses that will get them ready for their future.  Last week as I spoke to various students at Columbia Central High School I heard many positive comments.  One student exclaimed excitedly that she loves science and was taking Anatomy and Physiology, Forensic Science and Sports Medicine.  Another student told me on Friday that she loved her teachers and her classes, especially Chemistry and Algebra II.  Still another student mentioned that he is taking college courses through our dual enrollment program.  Several students told me that they are excited to be taking Advanced Placement classes so they may earn college credits.  Our teachers make an effort to give their students educational learning opportunities to help them grow and mature into life-long learners.

At the middle school level our students develop their educational root systems by learning and collaborating.  Over the past two years we have focused much energy on introducing our students to Chromebooks and integrating technology into all of our courses.  Students at the middle school have the opportunity to earn high school credits in mathematics, Spanish and history.  This past summer thirteen of our middle school students participated in advanced math courses that resulted in high school credit.  Other middle school students opted to participate in the Leaders In Training program that gave them an opportunity to work collaboratively building their teamwork skills.

This fall we are introducing a new program that will provide support for our third through eighth grade students and will increase their understanding of mathematics and language arts.  We are joining the Michigan League of Academic Games.  Students learn the games of Equations, On Words and On Sets.  In a fun and challenging game setting our students will learn aspects of Algebra II such as set theory, square roots, exponents, imaginary numbers and will use the basic operations of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

We all want our children to become successful, productive members of society who are rooted in a solid educational foundation.  Our students are continually building their root systems and our teachers and staff members work diligently to assist and support them as they grow and mature into wonderful adults.  If you are interested in learning more about the programs at Columbia School District, please email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Assessment In Our Lives

Most of us have to mow our lawn once a week, pull weeds and prune bushes at our homes.  We also have to keep our vehicles working properly so we can get from place to place.  Each time we begin to work on our landscaping or check over our vehicles, we must go through a process of assessment and evaluation.  The assessment and evaluation of our environment whether our landscaping, or the vehicles we drive, keeps us on track. Columbia School District also uses a system of assessment and evaluation for our students' learning environment.

This year the Columbia School District has adopted the iReady assessment program for our students in kindergarten through eighth grade and students who attend Options High School.  The program is designed to assess an individual student’s skills across multiple grade levels to pinpoint strengths and gaps in their learning in mathematics and English language arts.  The assessment may be given to students up to four times per year and will allow teachers to target areas where there students may need additional work.  

The iReady is a computerized adaptive assessment which uses a dynamic mode based on student response patterns to derive large amounts of information from the test items.  For example, a second grade student who has strong math skills may begin at the second grade level and end up in some strength areas at fifth or sixth grade.  The iReady will also give teachers information on the areas where that student may need additional assistance.  This is a different ideology compared to the old bubble in traditional fixed-form tests.  The adaptive tests give students an opportunity to push the limits of their knowledge base and efficiently pinpoints the student’s educational needs.

This type of assessment program is beneficial for providing differentiated instruction based upon strengths and for identifying gaps spanning back multiple years.  Columbia teachers will use this information to individualize next steps for instruction for each student.  One of the strengths of the iReady assessment program is that student results are tracked from year to year.  Based upon the results of the adaptive diagnostic, the program will provide individualized online and teacher-led instruction which is appropriate and targeted to each student’s unique needs.  Teachers are able to print out reports and action plans for groups of students or individual children.  The reports also include the tools to present the information in the most appropriate way for each student’s learning needs.

Next time you check your vehicle’s oil, fill up the gas tank, or strategize a plan for your landscaping, think about the iReady assessment program used by Columbia School District to help support our students as they learn and increase their knowledge base in mathematics and English language arts.  If you have any questions regarding the Columbia School District, email me at or call at 5175926641.​