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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Building a Solid Foundation for a Bright Future at Columbia Schools!

Headlines for today: Remember it is still March – snow and hail is not surprising.  As I write this it is only March 29th and those of us who have lived in Michigan for a while we are not surprised. 
Thankfully this year, the snow and hail quickly melted.  Change is something we all expect in the Michigan weather. 

Just like the weather, we sometimes experience changes in our lives.  In November of 2013, Columbia voters approved both Proposal One and Two.  Proposal One approved $26 million to renovate Columbia schools to make them safe, warm, dry and smart.  Proposal Two approved $4 million to renovate and build areas to allow the creation of a positive learning environment for our seventh and eighth grade students at Columbia Central, in addition to increasing the technology in all of our buildings. 

Beginning in the summer of 2014, the bond projects have provided new roofing on all of the school buildings in Columbia, new safer drop-off and pick-up areas for parents and buses at the Columbia Elementary campus, improved parking areas, and a new safe playground area behind the third through sixth grade building. 

In Phase Two, the projects have focused on the renovation of the south wing of Columbia Central, along with the building of new locker rooms for the seventh and eighth grade students.  Classrooms have new windows, new doors, new flooring, new paint and new ceilings.  They have new
whiteboards which will combine with new interactive projectors and Smart software to become interactive “Smart” whiteboards.  The exterior doors are also new.  The new lockers are delayed, but we have “loaner” lockers for the next couple of weeks until the new lockers arrive.

On April 6th the Phase Two renovations of the south – wing of Columbia Central will be finished to the point so it may house the seventh and eighth grade students.  The students and teachers have packed up supplies and books over the past month.  Many high school students have helped to move the boxes to Columbia Central.  All of these boxes are staged in the Columbia Central Media Center awaiting the move to the classrooms.  On Saturday, April 4th community members, parents and students are welcome to come help move all of the boxes into the classrooms. 

It is an exciting time in our beloved Columbia School District.  Make time on Saturday, April 4th to stop over and help move boxes into the classrooms filled with new furniture, new ceilings, new floors, new doors and new windows.  This is the beginning of a new era filled with positive safe, warm, dry and smart learning environments for our children as they build a solid foundation for a bright future!  If you have questions regarding the programs at Columbia School District, email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Columbia Central Renovations On Schedule!

Looking out at the green grass, it is hard to believe that just one week ago it was covered with snow.  Just as the snow has been quickly melting over the past couple weeks, the construction workers have been rapidly honing in on the finishing touches in the south wing of Columbia Central.  The final painting has been finished, the ceiling grid is in place and the ceiling tiles and lights are going into the grid.  It is amazing to see how quickly the floor tile is going down getting the area ready for many eager feet!

It has been interesting to watch the masonry workers as they have placed the cement blocks to form walls, filled in around the new windows and doors with bricks, and carefully constructed the brick veneer on the entry ways.   Since the beginning of March, the glass company has been installing doors and windows.  It is amazing to see the daylight stream in through the new windows. 

The project is scheduled to be substantially complete on April 1st so that the new furniture will be delivered and installed so that the seventh and eighth grade students may move in on April 6th.  Our seventh and eighth grade students will be asked to arrive at Columbia Middle School on April 6th, meet with their teachers, and then board buses that will transport them and their teachers to Columbia Central.  Once there the students will move into their new classrooms in the south wing of Columbia Central, where ten regular classrooms and two resource rooms await.

In addition to the seventh and eighth grade students moving to Columbia Central, the third and fourth grade students will move across the street to Columbia Middle School into some of the rooms vacated by the seventh and eighth grade students.  The moves are happening this spring to make room for construction crews to begin working on the north wing of Columbia Elementary School (where the third and fourth grade classrooms currently are located) and in the south side of the northeast wing of Columbia Middle School. 

The work on the elementary and middle school will take place during second shift so it will not interrupt the teaching and learning environment.  The construction crews at Columbia Central will move over to the northwest hallway to begin the renovations on the band and choir rooms, along with the psychology classroom.  This spring’s work at the three buildings will help facilitate an on time finish of the projects at the end of August so we will be able to begin school on Tuesday, September 8th.

These times are exciting at Columbia School District, watching the improvements and renovations that will result in a positive impact on our teaching and learning environment.  We have dynamic teachers, nurturing staff members, wonderful administrators and terrific students and now we will have the best learning environments in the area with upgraded technology, new heating and air conditioning systems, fresh paint, energy efficient lighting, air tight windows and doors, updated flooring, and safety minded secure entry vestibules.  For a look at the updates as they happen, “Like” the Columbia School District Facebook page or sign up for my Twitter feed by going to the  page and clicking on the Twitter symbol.  If you have any questions about the programs and opportunities at Columbia School District, email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

STEM Opportunities Grow at Columbia Schools!

As we approach Spring Break it is time for us to celebrate a wonderful first seven months of the 2014-15 school year!  By working closely together our community has improved learning opportunities in Columbia Schools.  Many of our positive improvements reside under the umbrella of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  Teachers in grades four through eight have increased their hands-on science teaching by using new activities and strategies gained from work with the Battle Creek Math and Science Center curriculum.  These new activities give students an opportunity to investigate, learn and reflect on science concepts.  Our students understanding of science also received a boost recently at Columbia Elementary when we brought in specialists from Cranbrook for an exciting science night.  Students had the opportunity to learn through participating in neat hands-on science experiments.

Our Columbia teachers have diligently worked together to improve math education by spending time aligning our curriculum, developing innovative teaching strategies and integrating new math techniques and skills.  They also have participated in a unique opportunity to study math through a collegial professional learning community book study on “Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math.”

Our students from grades three through eight have benefited by these strategies and techniques.  One of the opportunities to engage students through innovative strategies is the Michigan League of Academic Games program (MLAG).  Columbia students have been working with Mrs. Libeau and Mr. Hamilton learning math games that focus on computation, problem solving and set theory.  This past week some of the participants represented Columbia in the annual MLAG State Tournament and gained positive experience working competing against students from across the state.

Aligning with the STEM focus at Columbia School District, both Columbia Middle School and Columbia Central High School have Robotics Teams which have  given students an opportunity to use the engineering and math concepts they learn in the classroom and apply it to building a functioning robot.  The students in robotics are given a challenge, so they build, program and operate their robot to complete the challenge.  Under the guidance of Mrs. Eastman, students at Columbia Middle School have enjoyed participating in an engineering class that integrates technology, math, and physics into the curriculum.  Students have also en
joyed the STEM applications through our partnership with the Shop Rat Foundation and Consumers Energy. 

To support our students in this very important area of STEM, our teachers have participated in afterschool programs K – 12.  Columbia Elementary teachers support their students after school through the Math Academy, Middle School teachers tutor students across the curriculum in their after school program and Columbia Central High School teachers support  their students by providing expert assistance afterschool.  Again this summer, we will offer programs focused on remediation at the high school level, team building for middle school students, accelerated math for students in seventh and eighth grade, and math games for third through eighth grade students.

This is an exciting time at Columbia School District!  Our terrific teachers and staff members have partnered with our parents and community to provide all of these and many more excellent educational opportunities for our students.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District and our positive STEM programs, email me at or call 5175926641.