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Sunday, November 18, 2018

STEM at Columbia School District!

It is time for us to celebrate a wonderful first four months of the 2018-19 school year!  Working closely together with our community has helped to offer our students improved learning opportunities at Columbia Schools.  Many of our positive improvements reside under the umbrella of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  Teachers have increased their hands-on science teaching by using activities and strategies gained from work with the Battle Creek Math and Science Center curriculum. 

Our students from third through sixth grade have benefited by these STEM 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 Ms. Weidenbach and Miss Wing learning math games that focus on computation, problem solving and set theory.  During March some of the participants will represent Columbia in the annual MLAG State Tournament where they will gain positive experience competing against students from across the state!

Aligning with the STEM focus at Columbia School District, Columbia Elementary and Columbia Upper Elementary has Robotics Teams and our Junior and Senior High School has teams that provide our students with 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.  In their technology class, students in Kindergarten through sixth grade have the opportunity to learn coding with Mr. Moore.  Students across the district 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 after school programs: Columbia 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 after school.  This past spring Ms. Samson received a grant from Lowes for two 3-D printers to assist in STEM.

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.

Creative Writing at Columbia School District!

Imagine you were a world famous mountain climber and you were getting ready to climb Mt. Everest.  What would you take with you?  How would you prepare for this adventure?  How would you feel and what would you say and do when you reached the top?  These questions are an example of writing prompts a child may use for their personal or school journal.

Successfully raising a creative writer may be encouraged at home by using various activities to support your child’s writing.  One way you may support their writing is to make it a family activity, with prizes for the most inventive story about using a specific writing prompt.  Many children enjoy writing in a journal.  Help your child get started by letting them choose an attractive journal or making one out of a notebook and create an artistic cover.  Your support of their writing can be advantageous for your child even if they do not want to become a professional writer.  Many careers require that you know how to write well and effectively to be successful.

At Columbia School District teachers work with students to improve their academic success and ability to write creatively.  One of the ways that teachers facilitate learning is through creative writing.  Creative writing helps challenge the young children to become better problem solvers, and in turn helps to increase self-confidence.  As our teachers use their creative writing prompts to assist their young students increase their cognitive abilities, and improve their abilities in mathematics and science by learning to write descriptively.

For students who are working to improve their expertise in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), they enhance their abilities by using creative writing to support their learning.  No matter what their interest is, it is important for our children to become proficient in learning how to write well and write effectively.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District, email me at or call 5175926641.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Cash Bash is Coming!

The race to the Columbia School District Fifth Annual Golden Cash Bash on Saturday, February 23, 2019, is underway!  The Cash Bash began in 2015, as a fun-filled celebration of the fabulous programs and activities offered at Columbia!  The Cash Bash has raised almost $70,000 over the past four years.  Last year the Columbia Community came together to raise more than $18,000! 

The funds raised are focused on two main areas: Scholarships for Columbia Central High School Seniors and 3A’s Mini Grants.  Many area individuals and businesses donated items, services, and vacation spots to the Cash Bash Silent Auction.  In 2018 the Silent Auction raised $6,000 for Senior Scholarships.  The funds raised for the 3A’s Mini Grants, which stands for Academics, Arts, and Athletics, flow directly from the Cash Bash ticket sales and raffles held during the event.  Last spring, more than $12,000 was raised for the 3A’s Mini Grants.

Last year 18 seniors received scholarship funds from the funds raised from the Silent Auction.  With scholarship awards ranging from $100 to $500.  The students used their scholarships for books, tuition payments, and fees.  The generosity of the Columbia community has made a positive impact on more than 75 seniors over the past four years. 

The 3A’s Mini Grants have benefited our students by providing STEM activities, robotics parts, software programs to enhance learning opportunities, athletic items, field trips, and extra educational strategies.  The funds raised for the mini grants helped to extend the ability of our teachers and coaches to make a difference in the lives of Columbia children.  If you are interested in purchasing a ticket to this fun event or wish to donate to the Columbia School District Cash Bash, contact us at: 11775 Hewitt Rd, Brooklyn, MI 49230 or call 5175926641.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, call 5175926641 or email me at

Monday, October 15, 2018

Technology at Columbia School District!

Recently I was involved in a discussion about how children learn in 2018, versus how they learned twenty years ago.   My sons have friends who are parents and several of them have iPads for their children.  My younger son, Jon, was using his iPad at one of his friend’s home and their nine-month-old daughter crawled over to see what he was doing and to “help” him.  She had her own iPad and used an application aimed at pre-toddlers.  Columbia preschool students seem to +have an innate ability to pick up one of the iPads and navigate to their area of academic application without direction from their teacher. 

The Columbia School District Technology Integration Vision Statement reads:  Columbia School District will provide reliable access to 21st Century technology in order to meet the diverse needs of all students, empowering them to be productive and responsible contributors in an ever changing global digital society.   As part of our goal to integrate technology into the curriculum, our Columbia kindergarten students through high school seniors are using Chromebooks.  This fall Columbia School District purchased another 140 Chromebooks to ensure our students have access to the technology that will lead to a successful future.  Our Vision Statement: Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow - focuses on our students learning in the most successful way, including using up to date technology.

Many of our elementary students are building online portfolios.  They are designing their portfolios and creating links to learning.   One of our elementary students showed me how she was building a website as part of an assignment for her social studies class.  She had to design a website to compare and contrast the New England states back in the Colonial days with today.   This task involved research, a lot of learning and integration of her technological skills with her recent acquisition of

Our students learn how to use Google docs to collaborate with their peers and work on the same document at the same time.  Learning is truly taking place anywhere, anyplace and anytime!   Our students have become proficient using technology because they of the access they have at school.

Not only do our students use Chromebooks, but many of our elementary students use iPads, and our high school students use Kindles.  Even the four-year-olds in our Great Start Readiness Program have the opportunity to take advantage of educational applications on the iPads to broaden and support the learning they do in class. 

Our teachers are excited to help students embark on new ways of learning through technology.  In addition to providing professional development to teachers to help them have the tools to empower their students to use technology effectively, our Bond issue provided updated wiring, additional wireless access points, new technology switches, and new computers and tablets.  As we work to keep Columbia School District students and teachers up to date with effective, reliable access to technology, we will continue to relate examples of how our students are benefiting from the integration of digital tools into the curriculum.  If you have questions regarding Columbia Schools, please email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Jumping into Education!

Hanging on to the screen for dear life, the praying mantis slowly made its way up towards the top.  Rather than walking through the foliage, this praying mantis was in the sun seemingly asking to come into the house.  I wondered what the mantis was thinking, if a mantis indeed thinks about anything, and just then it just hopped away!  Thinking about the mantis reminded me of how our elementary students sometimes start slowly and then when they get excited about learning, jump into an educational experience! 

At this time of the year our elementary students have just finished reviewing mathematics from last year and now are beginning to learn new information from their teachers.  If your budding mathematician is in second grade, he or she is learning to convert word problems into mathematical sentences.  Your child will learn to take information that describes everyday life and use it to form addition and subtraction problems.  Similarly to the way the praying mantis suddenly jumped from the screen, our second graders will leap into learning about fractions. 

While mathematics may be your child’s favorite subject, your second grader will also learn that reading takes first place in their classroom.  Reading is fundamental for learning.  It is the basis for science, social studies and much of mathematics.  Your second grader should be reading a minimum of 30 minutes each evening.  Second graders will enjoy reading more if they understand all the words in their books so helping them with their vocabulary is essential.  The more your child reads, and works on his or her vocabulary, the stronger their foundation will be as they gain more skills as a writer.

Writing is an important part of second grade.  Your second grader will work on proper sentence structure, capitalization and punctuation.  Your child’s teacher will be able to recommend some good techniques if you are interested in helping your child excel in writing.

Just as the praying mantis initially walked slowly up the screen, some second graders will seemingly start out slowly.  At home they may be easily distracted by television, video games, or their sister.  To help your second grader become successful, you will want to minimize the distractions and help your child focus.  While it may not be the most fun aspect of having a second grader, there will be times when you will want to sit next to him or her and patiently listen to questions and help to redirect his or her attention to his or her school work.  

Your child will watch and emulate you when it comes to learning activities.  Your enthusiasm for school and learning opportunities will help to energize his or her passion and willingness to spend time doing his or her school work.  Columbia Elementary School often has extended learning opportunities in science, mathematics and reading.  You will want to pay close attention to the school’s website and to newsletters and notes your child brings home in his or her backpack for opportunities to participate in learning activities.

If you are interested in learning more about your child’s grade level and the requirements, you may contact your child’s teacher or principal.  You may learn about registering your child for Columbia School District by calling me at 517-592-6641 or email me at

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Working Together to Prevent Bullying!

Bullying!  At some point most of us have been bullied, or have bullied others.  Even when we are grown and in a career, we may be the victim of harassment or bullying.  Columbia School District teachers and staff members work diligently to prevent and negate the effects of bullying. 

Unfortunately, nationwide we hear more and more about the effects of bullying, it is not just harmless teasing.  Researchers from the National Education Association believe that over 150,000 students miss school each day because they are fearful of bullying.  The types of bulling may include gossip, physical attacks, intimidation, verbal abuse, cyber bullying or violence.   

Helping your children to build strategies for situations when they see friends or classmates being bullied is important and will benefit them as they grow and mature.  Your child may be able to intervene when their friend is experiencing difficulty.  You will want to help your child know that when their friend or classmate is being bullied, they should tell a parent, teacher or trusted adult.  Let them know that when we alert an adult about a bullying situation, it isn’t tattling, they are simply assisting their friend.  If your child sees someone being bullied, they should make an effort to talk to the victim.  The child who is bullied will feel alienated and alone.  Your child may make a difference by talking to their classmate. 

Sometimes bullying is done through the internet.  This is termed cyber-bullying.  This type of bullying is on the rise and it may seem to come out of nowhere.  When we were in school, it was easy to spot the bully, but now, through cyber-bullying, the bullying can happen 24-7 and be disguised.  This type of bullying happens more often to sixth through eighth graders.  Researchers say that 15% to 35% of teens say they have been bullied through technology.  It is important that your child let you know and inform their teacher and principal regarding cyber-bullying, or any other case of bullying.

You may notice the following signs if your child is being bullied.  They may be experiencing injuries that they are hesitant to discuss with you.  They may have difficulty sleeping, or seem less hungry.  They suddenly do not want to go to school or their grades are slipping.  They seem to be losing things, such as technology, their jewelry, clothes or other personal items.  They experience personality changes and aren’t comfortable with their friends or certain social events.  Encourage your children to discuss cyber-bullying with you or other trusted adult, such as a favorite teacher, principal, or police liaison.

What if your child is the bully?  Your child may feel that some of their cyber posts, Instagram, Snap Chat, or Facebook posts are funny, but they may be considered bullying by their victims.  Parents who keep an eye on their child’s online accounts will be able to pick up on concerns about harassment or bullying.  If you are concerned with your child or his or her friends, bullying others or being bullied, please contact your child’s teacher or principal.  They will assist you with your concerns.  For more information visit: .

Monday, September 17, 2018

Inspire Your Child to Read!

Straight up in the evening sky was a bright shining crescent moon!  It was so awe inspiring that as I stood in my back yard looking up, my neighbors stopped to appreciate the beauty of the evening sky.  As parents, or grandparents, how can we take an observation of the great outdoors and use it to encourage our children or grandchildren to read? 

By using experiences in nature as an encouraging event, we can take our youngsters to the library and follow up by searching for books on the topic.  For the youngest readers, you will want to choose books that you can share in the reading, or chapter books that you may read to them.  It is important to be in the habit of sharing with your children what you read.  Following an outdoor adventure, you could also choose a book on the topic of the moon, stars, or other naturalist type topic.  By modeling for your children, you will encourage them to view reading as something moms and dads or grandparents do regularly.
One secret to raising a positive avid reader is to aim for a specific number of minutes, pages, or books in a certain length of time.  Follow up your nature reading, with reading on a topic that they are interested in, such as horses, dogs, or science fiction.  You can make reading a family affair by taking everyone on a reading-picnic!  Pack a picnic lunch, take your family outside, spread out a blanket, and bring along a book for everyone! 

Raising a reader also may involve incentives.  You may encourage your child or grandchild by having a chart for stickers marking the number of pages, minutes or books read.  Your child may enjoy a trip to the dollar store for trinkets when they pass a milestone reading goal measured in books, minutes or pages read.  You can also enjoy healthy snacks during your reading time.

In the end, your child can become a voracious reader even if they don’t seem to enjoy it now.  Allowing them to pursue their interests while reading can motivate them to find the joy in reading.  You will feel the utmost happiness and success when your child begs for reading another chapter before they go to sleep.  If you are interested in learning about the reading programs available at Columbia School District, email me at or call 5175926641.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Better Than The Movies!

Education at Columbia School District is better than in the Movies!  Over the years we have seen television shows or movies that focus on school life.  While story lines about schools take risks and exploit academic opportunities, at Columbia Schools the teachers, parents and students have partnered to give students the best opportunity for academic success

When you watch a movie you only see just what is on the screen, at Columbia there is a well-rounded philosophy that keeps all of our students in view of the teachers and administrators.  Columbia School District teachers work together to help our student learn today so they may become leaders tomorrow.  At Columbia Upper Elementary students are experiencing STEM in two unique ways; The Lego Robotics Program and The Michigan League of Academic Games.  The students participating in these programs only need to have enthusiasm to learn more by experiencing hands-on strategies.  Robotics begins in the elementary and continues through junior high and high school.  These programs use collaboration, camaraderie and problem solving to extend learning opportunities in a practical futuristic way.

On the big screen the focus is on the exceptions rather than reality.  For example, the Hogwarts School in Harry Potter housed children who had magical abilities.  At Columbia the magic is not in our students, but in the way our teachers inspire students in their academic endeavors.  Our teachers are positive, creative and hardworking individuals who work to be inclusive of all students not just those who fly, become invisible or use their telepathic powers to get good grades.

One television program that focused on school life was “Welcome Back Kotter.”  This comedy was popular, but regularly featured students who were not behaved and often ridiculed each other.  At Columbia, our students not only care about each other, but maintain a focus on positive classroom behavior.  This fall about forty of our high school students will attend a three day-two night event called “Communication Camp.”  This event gives students the ability to make connections on a deeper level and learn about others.  Activities like Communication Camp, Leadership Forum, Key Club, Leadership class and other Columbia leadership opportunities, give our students an opportunity to excel while moving past the cliche school experience.

Columbia School District’s positive programs and activities both during the day and afterschool help to make our students’ experience better in the movies!  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District, email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Columbia's Rainbow of Learning Opportunities!

During the soggy wet afternoon, the drizzling rain kept coming.  My drive around the country side was on a road surrounded by a green lush valley that seemed to stretch 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 all levels.  As we begin the 2018-2019 school year our students will have the chance to enjoy some of the extended learning opportunities. 

As we work closely with the teachers in our child’s school, we find ourselves in an educational rainbow of opportunities for our children that extend far beyond fun science experiments and activities.  This expanding rainbow of learning opportunities will lead our children to develop their talents in art, music, math, reading, social studies and physical education.  By providing the full spectrum of learning to our children, teachers lead them to develop into the leaders of tomorrow.

The rainbow of learning opportunities available to our children in the Columbia School District through our highly qualified teachers will give our children the tenacity to become a jet pilot, the ingenuity to become an automobile designer, or the enthusiasm to become a kindergarten teacher.  Each day I have the opportunity to see children learning at all different levels in our Columbia School District classrooms. 

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, would like a tour or to have your child shadow one of our terrific students please contact me by email at or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Enjoy Back-to-School with STEM!

Each summer my husband and I take a group of teens to Cedar Point.  The experience is enjoyable and educational.  One of the things I find fascinating is that depending on your vantage point, you see the park differently.  When you are on a fast ride you see the area as a blur, both right-side up and upside down.  If you are on the Sky Ride or the giant Ferris wheel you are able to see a lot of the park and a bit more of the detail.  However, if you tour the park on the ground by walking around, you see details you miss from a speedy or an elevated ride. 

Similarly, Columbia School District teachers, administrators and staff members focus on working closely with your child to ensure the important details are covered.  Whether your child is a preschooler enjoying learning about career choices, a sixth grade student learning about the parts of a cell or a Columbia Central High School senior learning the intricacies’ of solving a crime in the Forensic Science class, our teachers give their students the information they need to be successful. 

Our caring administrators work diligently to craft schedules, programs and educational learning opportunities to give students a firm foundation for a bright future.  The Columbia emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) includes engineering and robotics classes and after school programs, hands-on activities through the MLAG program (Michigan League of Academic Games) and opportunities to earn college credit through our STEM electives: AP Chemistry, AP Biology and AP Calculus.  New this year will be our robotics teams at each level, even at Columbia Elementary!  The STEM elements the students will learn will give them a greater understanding of how science, engineering, technology and mathematics are integrated and combined.

One of the programs for our students in kindergarten through sixth grade is the technology exploratory.  This class will give students the opportunity to learn more about educational technology including Chromebooks, iPads and applications that focus on learning strategies.  At Columbia Central High School students also have technology options.  These classes will give our high school students the opportunity to build their skills and abilities to provide a pathway to higher education and the work-force. 

In each of the areas of our district our teachers are dedicated to providing our students both a birds-eye view of their subject area, similar to the outlook from Sky Ride at Cedar Point, and the ground-level detail that will give our students a foundation for a successful future.  Make sure you have your child registered for the first day of school: Wednesday, August 22, 2018!  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District, our programs and opportunities for success, email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Columbia Students and Jackson County Early College!

The Columbia School District is participating in the Jackson County Early College (JCEC) program through a partnership with Jackson College.  This new early college program paves the way for Columbia students to move from a traditional k-12 approach to a more vigorous k-14 conduit that will be personalized for our students.

The Jackson County Early College program will assist students gain a post-secondary education while still in high school  They may take courses along a path to earn an Associate’s degree, certification, credential, or skillset.  The early college program is deliberately designed to guarantee transferability of credits to four year universities. Our program is designed so students may begin their college education as early as their freshman year and remain in the program through their 13th year to a maximum of 60 credits.

Our emphasis on positive learning and integrated technology helps to weave complex thinking skills into each area of the curriculum. The Jackson County Early College program will enhance the lives of our students and give them the best chance for a successful future!  If you are interested in learning more about the opportunities at Columbia School District email me at or call 5175926641.

The Shopping List!

Many of us make shopping lists.  Whether digital or on paper, our shopping list may include items like eggs, milk, dish soap and tissues.  As we arrive at the end of July and look towards the beginning of school, our lists could include purchasing items designed to help prepare our children for school: pencils, pens, crayons, glue sticks, and notebooks.  One thing every parent of our students should put on their list is to have them participate in one of the Columbia Summer Programs!

Learning can happen anytime, anywhere, anyhow.  This philosophy gives today’s students the   Columbia School District is committed to giving students the optimal learning activities to gain the knowledge they need to be successful in the 21st Century. 
opportunity to experience a different type of learning environment to help them be ready to start the school year.

We not only have great teachers and learning opportunities at Columbia, but our summer programs are a lot of fun!  The following sessions will give you some options to put on your end of the summer list!

During the week of August 6th, we have Art Camp for students in grades 1st – 6th and 7th through 12th grade taught by our art teachers, and Leaders In Training for grades 4th through 6th, taught by Miss Wing.  The week of August 13th features Academic Games Camp for grades 3rd through 6th, taught by Miss Wing and Ms. Weidenbach, Explore! for grades 1st through 6th, taught by Mrs. Friday, Mrs. Knaup, Miss Wing and Ms. Weidenbach, and Underwater Robotics taught by Mrs. Coughlin.  In addition, the Electric Science Camp is August 13, taught by Mrs. Liebau and Mr. Snow, but it is full.  Register for one or more of the programs today!  You may register online by accessing the Summer Programs on our website at .   If you are interested in learning more about the opportunities at Columbia School District email me at or call 5175926641.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Windmill!

Outlined against the early morning sky, the windmill stood tall over the farm.  For centuries, windmills have been working to create electricity, pump water and grind corn or barley.  Although an old idea, this is a new windmill.  The technology used in developing windmills stands as a stark contrast to what we normally think of as technology.

At Columbia School District we focus STEM with positive up-to-date technology to prepare our students for the future.  Our teachers work with their students using Smart Boards, iPads, Chromebooks, robotics, and 3D printers.  These technology based items enhance the learning environment for our students and provide excellence in education. 

Our focus on STEM helped form the basis for the Project Based Learning for our sixth grade students this year. The students worked closely with their teachers, Mr. Williams, Mr. Meschke, Mr. Learned, and Mrs. Friday.  The students used research to learn more about their particular scientific issue and then formulated a solution for this scientific concern.  One group of sixth grade students, Lorado, Savannah, and Izzy, used a video to present their project focused on garlic mustard, which is an invasive plant species in Michigan.  Izzy said they learned that garlic mustard spreads very quickly and soaks up the nutrients essential to other plant life.  She went on to mention that it prefers small clearings with sun and it pushes other plant life out of the area. This particular group of students completed a project based learning research last year as fifth grade students.  They learned about mute swans, which are the big swans with the orange beaks.  Their concern regarding the mute swans was that they are mean and attack other swans and even humans. Learning about science in the world around us helps support our students in preparing for life in the years ahead.  

As our students move into junior and senior high school they have opportunities to increase their scientific knowledge.  This year some of our junior high school students will have science electives along with robotics electives.  The opportunity to learn fun science, do experiments and the basic elements of robotics enhances the academic environment for our students.  As our students move into high school, they have the opportunity to continue their understanding of engineering through a STEM offering.  This year, Mrs. Samson wrote a grant to Lowe’s and received two laser printers.  It is amazing to see the students learn the principles of engineering and act upon their new understanding.

Columbia students have the opportunity to excel in mathematics through the combination of technology and math.  Our youngest students work on math principles through their classroom assignments and investigations, then follow up with targeted lessons on iReady through their computer portal.  Our older students may take Advanced Placement mathematics classes or math classes at Jackson College through our new Early College program.  If you are interested in learning more about our STEM opportunities, email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

STEM at Columbia School District!

One of the important areas of emphasis at Columbia School District is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  Science is very important in society today.   Science impacts every facet of our lives, from the pavement we drive on; to the medicines we take; to the alarm clocks that wake us up each day.  Science has provided us with new plastics that make up our water bottles, bullet proof vests for our law enforcement professionals and parts for our automobiles.  Our students have the opportunity to take chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, physics, sports medicine and forensics.  Columbia Central High School offers the opportunity for our students to earn take college level science courses through our Early College and Advanced Placement programs. 

Globally, one of the things that science has provided is the basis for technological advancements, which paved the way for cell phones, computers and an impressive array of electronics.  Technology has given students new avenue for learning.  At the schools in Columbia we focus on integrating technology into every area: Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.  Our students use iPads, Chromebooks, desk top computers and graphing calculators.  Technology allows our students to increasing their learning potential by performing research anywhere and anytime.  Some of the lessons our students perform are flipped lessons.  In a flipped lesson technology allows teachers to provide basic learning opportunities through technology, and then the students work together with their peers and teacher to put their learning into practice the next day. 

Engineering is of increasing importance and is directly connected with the other elements of STEM.  Our students have the opportunity to learn basic engineering principles through our science lessons.  Engineering principles are also taught in our robotics course, through our robotics teams and the high school principles of engineering course.  This week our elementary students are enjoying Robotics Camp.  Even the first and second grade students have the opportunity to experience hands-on robotics learning activities.  In August, fourth through sixth graders will enjoying learning about underwater robotics through our summer programs.  Columbia Central offers robotics teams to our students in junior and senior high school.  As a bonus to our elementary students we will offer robotics teams for fifth and sixth grade students.

As the final letter in STEM, M stands for mathematics, which offers a platform for technology and engineering, and is directly tied to science.  Math is in our everyday lives, from shopping for bargains, to driving our cars, to figuring out how much tax we owe on a purchase.  Math is not only used in the science, technology and engineering, it is used by artists and musician in their daily work.  At Columbia, we offer our students an opportunity to play in our Academic Games afterschool where mathematics, language arts, social studies are combined to provide an extensive learning program for participants. Our Columbia Central High School students are able to take Early College or Advanced Placement Calculus course.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia’s many STEM opportunities, email me at or call 5175926641.  You may sign up your child for underwater robotics through the Torch Bearer link on our website.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Making Tracks to Success!

There they were in the dried mud, practically side by side, tracks: Hoof prints from a horse, the track left by a bicycle, automobile tire tracks, and tennis shoe imprints.  As we move through life each one of us makes unique imprints on the world around us.  In the Columbia School District each one of our teachers, administrators and staff members make an imprint on the lives of students, help to shape the future of our children and improve the community through their positive spirit, caring, nurturing, diligence and hard work.

This spring six of our positive, fabulous, amazing staff members are retiring and they will be remembered by their footprints on the hearts those of us in of Columbia!  Initially hired by Options High School as a coordinator, Mrs. Schmidt has made a difference in the lives of many Columbia students. Certified to teach science, social studies and English language arts, Mrs. Schmidt has given our junior high students a firm foundation.  Since 1993 she has prepared her students by teaching them writing and reading.  As her students move on to high school, many of them come back to tell Mrs. Schmidt how successful they are completing writing projects at the high school level.  In addition, Mrs. Schmidt has been active planning and scheduling the junior high trips to Detroit and Washington D.C. each year, capping off the students learning activities.

Also retiring after 33 years at Columbia is Mr. Ron Guernsey.  Mr. Guernsey has taught English and history at CCHS and at the middle school level.  In addition, he has been a terrific, tenacious wrestling coach, with many of his wrestlers earning their way to the State competition.  Mr. Guernsey is currently preparing students for college English and writing courses through the Advanced Placement program.   Often, students comment on social media and in person, how Mr. Guernsey’s techniques and insight has prepared them for college.

Mrs. Bernstein is an amazing kindergarten teacher at Columbia Elementary School.  When I visit her classroom she is always involving her students in creative learning activities.  When working on graphing in math, Mrs. Bernstein had her students taste testing various types of M&M’s.  Rather than quickly completing the task, Mrs. Bernstein led her students through evaluating, graphing, reflecting and reevaluating the task, to vary the results from day to day.  Another example of her top teaching and learning activities was when she led her students through an integrated science and math activity.  The students had collected snow and made miniature snowmen.  Throughout the day, the children measured their snowmen with plastic blocks and discussed the melting process and the various forms water can be found in at different temperatures.  Throughout Mrs. Bernstein’s 23 year tenure as a teacher at Columbia, she has been a leader and mentor for new teachers.  She has shared her excellent teaching and learning techniques and helped to create a new generation of fabulous Columbia teachers.

For the past seven years Ms. Sachar has made her imprint on the lives and hearts of Columbia Central High School students through her excellent teaching techniques.  She joined the high school staff after retiring from another district.  She has taught French at CCHS and enriched the lives of students and adults from the Columbia community through her fun and educational trips to Europe.  Ms. Sachar has the unique ability to enlighten students academically, while motivating them to achieve success.

Also retiring is Columbia Elementary School principal, Mrs. Powell.  She has not only been a leader in Columbia, but she has been serving on the board for the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals’ Association.   Her volunteer leadership has extended in to the community through the Columbia Education Foundation and the Brooklyn Kiwanis Club.  She began at Columbia Middle School as a counselor in 1995.  In both her work as a counselor at the middle school and as the elementary principal, she has made a difference in the lives of many of her students.  She has been instrumental in providing professional development for elementary teachers in the areas of mathematics, English and emotional support. 

Brenda Schedeler has also given her a notice of retirement from her position as a Reading Recovery Specialist at Columbia Elementary School.  Mrs. Schedeler has made a positive difference in the lives of struggling readers for the past nine years.  As a former elementary teacher, she had a unique insight into academic supports for her students.  Her work with the Reading Recovery program has successfully transformed struggling readers into excellent and proficient students.

We are so thankful for our retirees.  They have given so much to the community and have left their imprints on the hearts and minds of our children.  They have been a blessing to the students at Columbia School District.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia Schools, please email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Critical Thinking at Columbia Schools!

Each week when I receive the newspaper there are advertisements for appliances from Sears, Lowes, Home Depot, Penny’s and other stores.  They advertise many models of refrigerators; there are side-by-side with or without ice in the door, French Door refrigerators with one or two drawers and regular basic no-frills one door refrigerators.  This week I looked at a low cost refrigerator that was advertised for $367, while another more expensive model was on sale at $2898.  Although all of the refrigerators keep our food cold, some have more options than others.  As you shop for a refrigerator, you would actively collect data and choices for your comparison.   As you compare and contrast the prices and options for the refrigerators, you would use the skill of critical thinking. 

In each classroom in the Columbia School District, students use critical thinking in their daily assignments.  Critical thinking is an important skill that will help our students be successful in all of their school subjects.  Let me offer some examples for you to work with your child on his or her critical thinking skills.

The first example is: Finding similarities in our daily lives.  Take a look around a room and find two things that do not seem to have anything in common.  You may say a lamp and couch.  Challenge your child to use his critical thinking skills to find a minimum of one thing that is similar in the lamp and the couch.  She may tell you that they both sit on the floor or that the lamp shade has a pattern with material and so does the couch.  You may repeat this in other rooms in your house or in outdoor settings.

A second try at increasing your child’s proficiency of their critical thinking skills is to play games.  You may choose word games to play in the car.  You may mix and match comparing and contrasting words like; river is to ocean like plant is to what?  You might choose games that your child can look ahead to predict the outcome like checkers or chess.  You may ask them, if you move there, then I might move here and where would you move next?

Finally, you may help your child and his or her friends make up a story or rewrite one they already know.  To write a new story together, have one of them begin something like, “I was walking in the woods one day and”, then the next person takes over, and each person puts in a sentence as they write their new story.  You may tell them what the last sentence should be, or let them write in a freestyle way.  Not only will they end up with an intriguing story, they will have fun!  When using their critical thinking skills to rewrite a story, you could choose a traditional children’s story like “Little Red Riding Hood” or one of my favorite, “Horton Hears A Who.” You could have them think about writing their story from the wolf’s point of view in “Little Red Riding Hood” or describe what happens to Horton or the Who in the next chapter.

Just like we use critical thinking in our daily lives to make large purchases like a refrigerator, our children use critical thinking skills to make decisions and complete their school work.  Your encouragement of their ability to think critically and assist them as they practice these skills will help to make them more successful students. 

If you are interested in learning more about Columbia School District or our programs, please email me at or call me at 5175926641.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Successful Seniors!

Over the past several weeks, the Columbia Central High School senior class has begun to imagine their graduation.  They have pictured themselves crossing the stage and celebrating their success in high school.  As the day draws closer, our seniors not only think of graduation, but of their future opportunities and challenges.  The seniors are beginning to realize that having a strong academic background will get them off to a good start, and that they will also have to use wisdom as they apply all of their academic knowledge. 

This week our senior class will have the opportunity to participate in an interview process.   They have been practicing and thinking about this process.  During the interviews they will talk about their background, their plans and their hopes and dreams.  The community based interview panel will hear from our positive, intelligent students talking about scholarships they have earned, their volunteer experiences and where they will be next fall. 

Columbia School District students have distinct advantages not only because of the high academic standards at Columbia Central, but because of the caring, nurturing nature of their teachers and our exceptional programs.   The students in our Leadership program have learned to work together, organize positive community events and spend time volunteering with our elementary children. 
Recently the students in the Leadership program organized, planned and carried out the Hope Run.  After the daylong event was over, one of the young ladies on the planning committee mentioned that her experiences at Columbia Central have given her the confidence to get in front of the whole district student body and lead.  She and her team inspired the Columbia School District students and staff members to raise over $11,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Our graduating seniors have filled their high school experience by taking Advanced Placement courses so they are prepared to go to college.  Quite a few of our seniors have challenged themselves by completing AP Calculus and AP English.  Some of our seniors have mentioned their interest in science and how their experiences taking advanced anatomy, Advanced Placement biology, Sports Medicine and Forensic Science have given them a great base for their next step in college.  The Class of 2018 is a great group of young people full of promise and energy.  It will be exciting to watch them take on their future with tenacity!

If you are interested in cheering on our seniors as they walk across the graduation stage, join us at the Jackson College Potter Center on June 1st at 7:00 pm.  To have your child join the positive programs at Columbia School District, call me at 5175926641 or email me at

Monday, April 23, 2018

Thank You!

Thank you!  Each day we use these two small words to appreciate people around us.  No matter where you are, the sentiment is the same, we appreciate what you are doing!  Other ways of expressing our thankfulness include: Merci beaucoup, Gracias, Grazie, Danke, Dank u,  Obrigado, or a simple “Thanks!”

In 1952 the last week in April was set aside to recognize secretaries through National Professional Secretaries Week, with the Wednesday of that week especially promoted as  National Secretary’s Day.  This important week filled with a chorus of “Thank You!” is now recognized as Administrative Professional‘s Day.  The recognition of Administrative Professionals was the work of very thankful and forward think gentleman named Harry F. Klemfuss.  Just as Mr. Klemfuss was appreciative of his staff, the teachers, support personnel , administrators and students at Columbia School District send a heartfelt “Thank You!” out to all of our administrative professionals!

Columbia School District has many wonderful, helpful, cheerful people 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. Monika Cook is the administrative professional to the superintendent and the Board of Education. Parents who call the Columbia School District have the pleasure of speaking with her as she offers assistance.  Although this is her first year as the administrative professional at the superintendent’s office, she has worked for the district as the Upper Elementary administrative assistant, classroom aide, and ABC room aide. She enjoys working with parents, students and teachers. Her pleasant smile and easy going manner helps put even new students at ease. We are pleased to have Monika in the office at Columbia School District!

At Columbia Upper Elementary School the administrative professional 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 20 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 CUES 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!

At Columbia Central High School we have the dynamic duo: Nianne Prendel  and Debbie Russell! Mrs. Prendel has worked in the Columbia School District with various responsibilities, and has been in the CCHS office for several years.  She assists Mrs O’Neil and is the hub of communication for parents, teachers and students at CCHS.  Students appreciate her calm demeanor, quick smile, and helpful assistance when they are in need.  She is kind to students and staff and is willing to assist them with any concerns that they have.

When students think of Debbie Russell, they think of her laugh and cheerful demeanor.  After working for the Columbia School District for 26 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.”

New to Columbia Elementary School as the administrative professional is CCHS Alum Carol Ladd.  We are so happy to have Mrs. Ladd at Columbia!  She brought experience as an elementary administrative professional with her and has made the transition nicely!  She keeps things organized and moving quickly at Columbia Elementary School, assisting the principal and teachers.  Her cheerful voice and understanding is reassurance for even the most concerned child and parent. 

At Columbia Options High School and Adult Education, Bill Miles is the new administrative professional.  He brings with him experience and expertise from his former position in another district.  His organizational ability is essential as he registers students six times per year!  His steady voice and kind demeanor enables him to assist students with their various concerns.  He is able to keep track of students as they work through their online curriculum, or attend in the classroom setting at Options.  He is a tremendous asset to the students, teachers and principal at Options!

Let’s make this week a time when we say “Thank You” to our wonderful and caring administrative professionals!  If you have any questions about Columbia School District or would like to register your child, please email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Columbia's Top Quality Teachers!

The other day I was listening to a speaker and he told a story about a pot.  As he held up the old commercial steel pot, he said that although it was over 20 years old, it was still in good condition and would last many more years producing great meals at the soup kitchen.  He asked us to think about how many things had been cooked in the pot and how it had fed many people over the years.  Then   This pot was a top quality commercial pot, built to last.  As he continued his talk, he mentioned that while we may purchase pots and pans that may seem more glitzy or appear to be a great deal, if they were made of low quality, of sub-par materials, or of poor craftsmanship, they will eventually bend and break.
he talked about the quality of the pot.

Similar to the quality pot, Columbia School District is built on quality.  Columbia School District has many excellent highly qualified teachers teaching our children.  Earlier this year Columbia Central High School teacher Mr. Kevin Miller was nominated for the Michigan Teacher of the year for the American Legion.  His nomination was based on his impact on the Columbia community.  The quality of the Columbia Central Leadership program, like the quality of the pot, has stood the test of time and impacted the community by providing the Forum program for the high school students, which has been reproduced at other Jackson County high schools.  In addition, the activities and community impact strategies Mr. Miller instills in his students through the Leadership program changes lives for the better.  The Leadership students sponsor blood drives, facilitate the Hope Run, and work with the Brooklyn Buddies.  Mr. Miller’s contributions to the community also include his coaching, and especially his many years of coaching varsity softball and football at Columbia Central.

Columbia School District has many quality teachers, staff and administrators.  This past spring Mrs. Angie Hogle was awarded Teacher of the Year by the Brooklyn-Irish Hills Chamber of Commerce.  Her positive enthusiastic focus on educational opportunities for her students is infectious!  When you enter her room you see the children engrossed in one of many learning opportunities and Mrs. Hogle leading the way.  Over the past couple years Mrs. Hogle has written grants and worked to accumulate STEM activities to enhance the learning environment for her students.  In addition, to her work with students during the school year, Mrs. Hogle spent time the past two summers teaching robotics to first and second graders in our summer program.

Living by the motto, “let a book be your ticket to the world”, Mrs. Schmidt has opened the eyes of Columbia Central junior high students to the world around them.  She helps students who never have been interested in reading to love getting into the next book.  Her students have had an opportunity to expand their ability to write and several of her students recently placed in a county-wide a poetry contest.  Many of her former students who have moved onto college, often talk about their junior high English class and give Mrs. Schmidt the credit for teaching them to be a great writers.

One aspect of the quality education Columbia students receive is the opportunity to experience using technology.  Mr. Moore teaches technology in education to kindergartners through sixth grade students.  His students use Chromebooks, iPads and learn how to create web pages, write code, and create technology.  In addition to his work during the school day, Mr. Moore works with students in our football and track programs.

Together the highly qualified teachers at Columbia make a difference in the lives of our children each and every day.  Columbia has stood the test of time, being an impressive successful educational learning environment filled with quality employees: amazing teachers, and many fabulous instructional aides, staff members, and administrators.  Just like the top quality pot, lasting the test of time, Columbia will continue providing excellence in education for years to come.  If you are interested in learning more about Columbia, email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Funding: The Key to Success in Education

Keys, keys, keys.  We all have keys to various things; cars, the house, and the office. In education, funding is one of the main keys to excellent teaching and learning environments.  On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, Columbia School District voters will have the opportunity to vote on an operating millage renewal proposal.  You may have some questions regarding this proposal, so here are some questions and answers: 

How does this fit into the overall School Funding Structure at Columbia?  Michigan schools are funded under a structure created when Proposal A was approved statewide by Michigan electors in 1994. Under the plan, Michigan schools are funded with a total of 24 mills on non-homesteads. This is made up of a state-wide millage rate of 6 mills on all property and 18 mills on non-homestead property when approved by local voters. When proposal A passed in 1994, the school operating property tax rate on homesteads decreased by 84 percent, from 37.92 mills to 6 mills. The school operating rate on non-homesteads decreased by 37 percent, from 37.92 mills to 24 mills.

I thought schools no longer received funding through property taxes, so why are they talking about a millage renewal?  Funding for school districts changed significantly in 1993/94 when Proposal A was passed by the Michigan voters. Under Proposal A, the State pays the majority of the cost, but to receive full funding, schools must levy 18 mills on non-homestead property in their district.  What does “Non-Homestead” mean? Non-homestead represents industrial, commercial and some agricultural property   and “second homes.” It does not include a family’s primary residence.

Is this a new tax? No. This millage was approved by the voters in 2012. The district has voter approval to levy 18 mills on non-homestead property through December 2018.  How much will this cost my business?  This renewal will have little effect on your current taxes. For a business with a taxable value of property established at $200,000 the tax cost would be $3,600 ($200,000 ÷ 1,000 x 18 mills), similar to what you are paying today.

Will my residential school taxes increase?  No. This tax is on non-homestead property and does not apply to your primary place of residence.  What if the millage is voted down?  The revenue generated from the 18 mills totals over $4,499,712 or about 1/3 of the school district’s budget. If this millage does not pass, the State will not replace the funding and Columbia School District will be forced to reduce or cut programs to offset the loss.

What is the ballot language? This proposal will allow the school district to continue to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance and renews millage that will expire with the 2018 tax levy.  Shall the currently authorized millage rate limitation of 18.3361 mills ($18.3361 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property except principal residence and other property exempted by law, in Columbia School District, Jackson, Lenawee, Washtenaw and Hillsdale Counties, Michigan, be renewed for a period of 6 years, 2019 to 2024, inclusive to provide funds for operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the school district will collect if the millage is approved and 18 mills are levied in 2019 is approximately $4,499,712 (this is a renewal of millage that will expire with the 2018 tax levy.

If you have other questions, please email me at or call 5175926641.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Columbia Central Students Learn CPR

The phrase “Safe Schools” has many implications.  In addition to having locked doors, video cameras, safety apps, an updated crisis response plan, and our new school liaison resource officer, Columbia School District has taken further steps towards a safer school district.   Earlier this year, I collaborated with our some of the Columbia Central Jr – Sr High School teachers to provide Hands-Only CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) training to our seventh, eighth, ninth and twelfth grade students.

Why teach Hands-Only CPR to our teens?  Although rare, each year sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) affects children and teens.  More than 300,000 people in the United States die of SCA and it remains the leading cause of death in America. 

CPR was developed in 1960, when three researchers from Johns Hopkins University Hospital tried combining chest compressions with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  Since then, CPR has saved many lives each year.  Although millions of people around the world know CPR, most of our teens had not learned how to do hands-only CPR.  Hands-only CPR allows people to do chest compressions to circulate oxygenated blood through a victim’s body while a rescuer is waiting for EMS to arrive.  Without CPR a victim of SCA has little or no chance of survival.

In addition to learning how to do hands-only CPR, our students became acquainted with an AED (Automated Electronic Defibrillator).  Columbia Central High School has three AED’s and the students learned where to find them and how they operate.  They also learned where the AED’s in the other buildings are kept. 

During the informational hands-only CPR session, the Columbia Central High School students learned about the cardiac chain of survival: Early recognition and calling 911, early CPR at a rate of 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute, early defibrillation, advanced emergency care, and advanced cardiac care. 

Are you interested in learning CPR?  The Columbia Township Fire Department does a great job of teaching CPR.  Many Columbia School District faculty and staff members have participated in the CPR training from the fire department.  The American Red Cross also offers classes in CPR and first aid.  The Columbia Community Fitness Center will host CPR classes in the next few months.  Until you have an opportunity to take CPR, there are apps available from the App Store: “my CPR trainer” app is free and has a learn and practice button, and the American Red Cross has a free app with first aid and a small section on hands-only CPR.  In addition, the American Heart Association has a nice video available free on the internet that illustrates hands-only CPR.  Just like our students, it is important to learn CPR; the life you save may be someone you love!  If you are interested in learning more about the programs and courses at Columbia School District, email me at or call 517-592-6641.