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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Columbia School District STEM Programs!

As we approach Spring Break it is time for us to celebrate a wonderful first six months of the 2015-16 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 will also receive a boost during our Cranbrook family science night and through the Science Fair this spring.  Students will have the opportunity to learn through participating in fun and interesting 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 advanced 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 and learning math games that focus on computation, problem solving and set theory.  Some of the participants attended 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, Columbia Upper Elementary has a Robotics Team through which students has 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 Central Junior High School have enjoyed participating in an engineering class that integrates technology, math, and physics into the curriculum.  Students have also enjoyed 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 Central Junior High 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 fifth through eighth grade students, accelerated math for students in seventh and eighth grade, and math games for third through eighth grade students.  New this coming summer, Columbia Elementary students in grades K through 6 will have the option to participate in the Book Club or Robotics program!

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.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Join Columbia for an Evening of Fun!

Get ready for fun at the Golden Ticket Cash Bash on February 27th at the Gene Davis Banquet Center!  Last spring the Columbia School District Family came together to raise over $17,000 for Senior Scholarships and Mini Grants for Academics, Arts and Athletics.  Tickets for the Cash Bash are available for $80 for two people.  You may obtain a ticket from any of the Columbia School District principals. 

At the end of this month Columbia School District supporters will again experience fun and fellowship while raising even more funds for the students of our district.  To learn more about how the funds from the Silent Auction portion of the Cash Bash were dedicate to our students and provided some terrific new innovative educational additions read the following paragraphs.  

Columbia Elementary School first grade teachers Mrs. Hawkins and Mrs. Jenness received funds for their classrooms.  Mrs. Hawkins’ $1,000 mini grant was for a new educational game system called Osmo.  This system uses an iPad with an interactive interface and provides the users with fine motor activities using manipulatives.  This truly innovative device and app gives the children problem solving activities with visual feedback for the students.   Mrs. Hawkins’ students are very thankful for the generosity of those who donated to the silent auction at the cash bash and to those who purchased the items.

Mrs. Jenness received $309 for a classroom learning center for her classroom.  In her grant application, she cited the many benefits to having a listening center in a classroom.  She wrote that it helps to “build sight word vocabulary, exposes students to a variety of story structures (genres), provides access to higher level texts, fosters independence, models phrasing and fluency, compliments and supplements curriculum, and students don’t always have someone at home to read them books.”  Her students were very excited to hear about their new listening center.

At Columbia Upper Elementary School, Principal Mrs. O’Neil and third grade teacher Mrs. Wright, worked with teachers to reorganize the Media Center and evaluated all of the books.  Their mini grant application was titled, “Loving the Library at Columbia Upper Elementary.”  They received $1,000 for books and posters for the new literature.  In addition, I was able to set up a donation from School Specialty Company for some great brightly colored “marsh mellow” chairs and triangle tables.  The students love their new books and furniture!

Columbia Central Junior – Senior High School had four successful grant applications.  Mrs. Eastman
teaches math, coding and robotics at Columbia Central Junior High School.  She applied for a mini grant for her coding and robotics class.  In her grant application she wrote that, “the critical need the program will address is the need for students to problem solve, communicate and prepare for future careers.  Students will have the opportunity to construct knowledge and build theories through robotics, thus strengthening their understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in collaborative settings.  Problem solving and communication are life-long skills that can be applied to every aspect of a student’s life.  Robotics also helps to prepare and introduce students for many high demand careers in the STEM fields.”     Her students are very pleased to have $1,000 worth of new robotics parts and pieces to use in their classroom due to the generosity of community members.

Spanish teacher Mrs. Daniels wrote a grant for $150 for a cross curricular program that features a little bit of art and a lot of Spanish culture.  The goal of the cultural learning experience was to have students learn about the significance and history of the piñata, along with creating amazing piñatas.  After they are completed, the students will take them home to share with their families

At Columbia Central High School Mrs. VanWagnen and Ms. Samson were granted funds for their classrooms.  Mrs. VanWagnen’s Sports Medicine class was initially created in the fall 2014 and the students wanted to have a greater effect on their peers and teachers.  The goal of the grant was to serve additional students at Columbia Central High School through a student-led health and wellness program.  The new wellness program received funding in the amount of $1000 to provide an initial amount of funds for the students to initiate the program.  Ms. Samson teaches science and received a mini grant for science equipment that teaches her students about flight.  Her innovative STEM program using hands-on activities teaches the scientific properties of flight.  If you are interested in learning how your child could attend Columbia School District, call 5175926641 or email me at .