School Beat

Education Blackboard — November 11, 2010

November 12, 2010 // 0 Comments

Mustaches for Mitchell? by MIKE WESTGATE Assistant Principal Rockford Freshman Center Yes, Mustaches for Mitchell. This year in Rockford Public Schools (RPS), a yet-to-be-determined number of brave souls will sacrifice their faces and dignities as “growers” for Mustaches for Mitchell. Our goal is to use our “push brooms” to raise as much money as possible in our first year for Mitchell’s Run and Parent Project MD. Mitchell Peterson is currently a student at the Rockford Freshman Center and was diagnosed in March 1999 with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Mitchell’s Run Thru Rockford and Volley for Mitchell have become mainstays in our community and raise funds to fight this disease. Mustaches for Mitchell is the brainchild of Al Reickard, Mitchell’s social studies teacher at the Freshman Center. As the organizer of this event, Reickard wanted to contribute to Mitchell’s campaign and fundraising efforts in a new and fun way for the staff and students of Rockford. Conceptually, Mustaches for Mitchell works like the read-a-thons held in grade school, except there’s no reading requirement, and you’re growing a mustache. (OK—not exactly the same, but you get the idea). Each “grower” collects pledges from friends, coworkers, distant relatives, acquaintances, local merchants and bus drivers to sponsor their ’stache. Each ’stache is limited to the Magnum P.I. corner-to-corner style—no goatees, stingers, or other redeeming facial hair is allowed. The parent organization, Mustaches for Kids, is a volunteer-run organization started in Los Angeles in 1999 to do good and have fun by growing mustaches for children’s charities. Since its humble beginnings, Mustaches for Kids satellite chapters have spread across the continent, a steady expansion that is not unlike the measured, deliberate growth of a mustache. The growing season begins for participating RPS staff members at the Clean Shaven Day Kickoff on Monday, November 15, and for five glorious weeks thereafter sweet, sweet ’staches are cultivated. During the growing season, growers and sponsors will have the opportunity to meet up at “weigh-ins” to give each other moral support, and compare their facial follicle follies. At the end of five weeks, a finale will be held to determine whose ‘stache is sweetest, with much fame and hardware to go around. All proceeds will benefit Mitchell’s Run and Parent Project MD.

School Beat — October 14, 2010

October 14, 2010 // 0 Comments

Quality Schools, Quality Community… Together Building a Tradition of Excellence  by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools Rockford Public Schools  The above statement has been an important part of the Rockford Public Schools (RPS) logo for over 20 years. Not only is the declaration true, it is ongoing with no ending point—we live it every day. RPS and the Rockford community enjoy a real and functioning partnership which has endured and expanded over the years. Despite the current economic challenges which are negatively impacting state, local, school and family budgets, RPS remains an exemplary educational institution because of our people! Several weeks ago, I spoke at the Citizens Research Council’s annual conference in Detroit, when I was asked, “What has RPS done and what is RPS doing to improve educational opportunities for students?” Before I could finish my answer, the program moderator had to “cut me off” because the list of our accomplishments is so lengthy. That question made me realize the importance of reminding the Rockford community of just a few of the excellent opportunities and successes we have enjoyed despite the economy. Beginning in 1989, we began conducting focus groups and surveys of parents, employees, students and the community at large to identify priorities and expectations for RPS. Thus, the first Rockford Action Model for Success (RAMS) was born. Every three years since that time, a new and relevant RAMS model has been created with input from our school and community. RAMS VII is nearing completion, and we have already started the process to create RAMS VIII. This ongoing strategic blueprint for continuous improvement has played a major role in our success. RPS has earned a strong reputation as an exemplary public school system based on the following facts: • Rockford is the only school district in Michigan to require students to demonstrate proficiency in math and language arts by successfully passing the ACT WorkKeys high school competency tests to earn a high school diploma. • All of our schools are recognized by the State Board of Education as exemplary Blue Ribbon Schools, which is based on student achievement test scores, educational programs, and parent involvement. We are the only school district in Kent County to earn this recognition. • As defined […]

Education Blackboard — School Beat — October 7, 2010

October 7, 2010 // 0 Comments

When students give back… It’s a wonderful thing! by Tom Hosford Assistant Principal, Rockford High School Our school system is blessed to have incredibly talented students roaming the hallways from the time they are in kindergarten to the time they graduate from high school! Their achievements stretch from the rigors of the classroom and athletic fields to the polished fine arts productions and beyond. There is not a week that goes by without some sort of recognition regarding student accomplishments, and this week is not an exception. I am continuously amazed at how much our students give back to the community. Every year, the students of Rockford Public Schools give of themselves to many great and worthy causes. Whether it is a monetary donation, a canned good, an article of clothing, a pint of blood or valuable time, the students in our district treat each cause with the same amount of energy and dedication. The list of organizations that are positively affected is long and diverse. Our student body truly wants to make a difference in our community and send a positive message to society that there is somebody out there that will help during difficult times. Last year alone, our students raised tens of thousands of dollars, donated hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and canned goods, participated in a house rehabilitation project and spent countless hours planning and executing other various service projects. They do it all without judgment and without recognition, just from the bottom of their heart and for the good of humanity. We should all be proud of our students for their involvement in community service projects, and I look forward to witnessing the positive impact that will be made in the years to come!

No separation between school, community

September 30, 2010 // 0 Comments

by Adam Burkholder Assistant Principal, North Rockford Middle School  “Rockford!” What is your initial thought when you hear this? Is it schools? Is it community? Is it both? From my perspective, the two entities are synonymous—when you refer to one you are speaking of the other as well. Upon graduation from college and being hired here in Rockford, the popular question from former college teammates was “How can you move back and teach in the district you grew up in?” My initial answer to that question was to encourage those friends to come see for themselves, and many of them have. Now that most of us have children, the answer has taken on a more deeply rooted answer. The blending of school and community is a powerful instrument in the success of our students, our schools, and the community of Rockford as a whole, and I am honored to be part of this community. City and school leaders are continuously looking for ways to grow together. Our students will have yet one more opportunity to become involved for the betterment of both school and community. The well-established Lions Club approached me last year about getting a junior Lions Club (Leo Club) going in the middle schools. Last year the concept began at East Rockford Middle School and will be carried over to the remaining secondary buildings this school year. The Leo Club will be comprised of students who want to give back to both their school and community. The only prerequisite is that you are a student in grades 7-12 here in Rockford. In organizing my thoughts prior to speaking to our seventh- and eighth-graders from last year, I wondered how important community involvement was from a post-secondary perspective. On nearly every college application I reviewed (both in state and out of state), one of the first questions was: What community organizations have you been involved in? Now, the idea of starting a Leo Club in the secondary schools was not simply for the purpose of providing substance students can apply to a college application, but rather I feel it emphasizes the fact that getting involved in communities is a positive and powerful device for both individuals and groups as a whole. There is no distinct […]

Education Blackboard — June 17, 2010

June 17, 2010 // 0 Comments

Closing thoughts…  by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent, Rockford Public Schools  With the end of the 2009-10 school year rapidly approaching, I would like to make a few observations.  Senior Class of 2010 Congratulations to the 625 Rockford High School and River Valley Academy seniors who are receiving a guaranteed diploma from the Rockford Public Schools (RPS). I wish you the very best that life has to offer, and I encourage you to use the skills you have acquired at RPS to further your life-long learning. Losses RPS students, staff and community have experienced several heart-wrenching losses this year. Beyond the pain that we have all experienced, I continue to be humbled by the overwhelming outreach, love and support demonstrated by our community for the families and friends of the loved ones who have passed. God bless you!  More Recognition for RPS As many of you already know, RPS is one of only a few school districts throughout Michigan that has all of its schools recognized by the state board of education as Blue Ribbon Exemplary Schools. Also, all of our schools are accredited by the North Central Association of Schools. Just recently, educators from Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan visited our district and conducted a comprehensive evaluation of our students’ test scores, educational and co-educational programs, preschool through adult education, curricula and staff, and they have recommended that RPS receive the AdvancED accreditation recognition, which is reserved for only a few school districts throughout the Midwest.  May 2008 Bond Issue Progress Two years ago, our community voted to renew a one-mill debt retirement levy that was scheduled to be retired. That generous renewal created $45 million for capital improvement projects throughout the school district, including classroom additions to existing buildings, updated district-wide instructional technology, and recreation and athletic fields. To date, all of the projects have been completed on time and within budget. The only project which will require more work than originally anticipated is the renovation of the infrastructure of the North Rockford Middle School pool. Following a thorough evaluation of the facility, engineers determined more work was required, setting back the completion date to at least January 2011. Thank you for your patience and understanding during the past two years, as we have […]

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