School Beat

School Beat, June 10, 2010

June 10, 2010 // 0 Comments

This is not my father’s classroom teacher by DAN WARREN Principal, East Rockford Middle School Certainly, many baby boomers can remember the days at school when you could convince that certain teacher to spend nearly an entire class period talking about any topic of interest other than the subject matter. Go ahead and admit it—you had at least one or maybe two of these teachers. My favorite was an eighth-grade history teacher who served on a Navy ship during WWII. He was a good citizen and great guy, but certainly his memory was questionable, as he prefaced his stories with, “Did I ever tell you about this time back in the Navy?” Of course, being the budding leader that I was back in those days, I made sure all my classmates never admitted we had already heard him tell the story several times. We learned a lot about life on a Navy ship from a very caring and interesting educator, but we probably could not have been successful on a state social studies curriculum assessment similar to what is required of secondary students today. Some 40 years later, I fondly remember the Navy stories with much more detail than, let’s say, the political causes of the Civil War. Although I have many wonderful memories of my eighth-grade history teacher, I’ve grown to realize that he would have struggled in today’s classroom. Current classroom teachers, unlike my eighth-grade history teacher years ago, have many more responsibilities sitting on their teaching plate. We can start with the existence of state curriculum standards. In Michigan, just like most states, grade-level content standards exist for all core teaching areas. Teachers spend many hours working collaboratively with their colleagues to map their subject area curriculum, ensuring these content standards are present and taught. Often this is similar to throwing a dart at a moving target, as the state continues to change and modify these standards. Nevertheless, it is imperative that every teacher teach the standards, and we are mandated to give our students state assessments over these very standards. These state mandated assessments are given each year at identified grade levels and at identified times of the year. Since we have multiple buildings in our district that include many teachers […]

Education Blackboard — June 3, 2010

June 3, 2010 // 0 Comments

Rockford art students participate in ‘Children Make Art For Children’ by MIKE WESTGATE Assistant Principal East Rockford Middle School “Children have a very, very uninhibited point of view,” said Linda LaFontsee, who, along with the LaFontsee Galleries staff, will provide and frame all artwork for the $286 million 14-story Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital slated to open in 2011. With this mission in mind, LaFontsee Galleries is partnering with local schools in a project entitled Children Make Art For Children. “The goal is that when kids walk into this hospital, they feel this is for them, and children can tell the difference,” added LaFontsee. East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) art teacher Sara Mullen established a connection with LaFontsee Galleries while studying with Linda LaFontsee at Kendall College of Art and Design. Excited about the opportunity to contribute and involve Rockford students in donating art for the project, Mullen met with gallery organizers to discuss the possibilities. They were very enthusiastic about Mullen’s ideas and more than willing to include our ERMS students’ artwork in the hospital. In addition, our sixth-grade art teacher Tami Appleby and Mullen collaborated to include over 600 students from both ERMS and North Rockford Middle School (NRMS). With 14 floors to fill with original art, the gallery and students have been busy. The gallery started gathering art last year at the Celebration on the Grand and is even supporting our schools with materials. Art II and Advanced Art students made fruit and vegetable paintings that will be on display in the Health and Education Lobby. Other students are working on underwater Lake Michigan landscapes that will be converted into linoleum tiles and Grand Rapids city landscapes with paint and tissue paper. Sixth-grade students are making 6×6-inch squares with a numbers-and-letters theme that will be worked into a larger mosaic mural. This experience has provided our Rockford middle school students a wonderful opportunity to see the value of their art and the importance of community service as they help to create an interesting and healing environment. The hospital plans to hold two “open houses” in December for the local student artists to view the displayed art. For more information visit LaFontsee Galleries at 820 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, or online at

Education Blackboard — May 13, 2010

May 13, 2010 // 0 Comments

School Beat A Mother’s Day Dedication by DOUG HOOGERLAND, Principal Crestwood Elementary School There are some pretty demanding careers out there these days, and some of them pay big bucks. They require years of education and special licenses. When we think of some of the most specialized or top-paying jobs, we might consider a CEO of a large company, a neurosurgeon, or a Supreme Court judge. Some of us wouldn’t trade what we do for the difficulty of what they do. But when I think about the most challenging, demanding, and often thankless job out there, it is the unpaid job of a mom caregiver to a child. Yes, a mom does choose that unpaid role, whether as a biological mom, an adoptive mom, a step-mom, a foster mom, or a care-giving relative. But that certainly doesn’t make it an easy role, and it is often one for which there is little in the way of a direct “thank you.” It is a job that will daily throw obstacles and new experiences at you with the implicit expectation that you moms will know what to do and you will do it. You are responsible for your own training in this area; no one will check up to see if you’ve renewed your “mom” certificate. But, still, you do your best with what you know and what you have. Moms amaze me every day with what they are innately capable of. I do consider myself a pretty good dad, but it has been pointed out to me (nicely) that I am NOT a good mom. And it’s true. I can roughhouse, tease, joke, go on bike rides, play games and I will usually remember to do whatever I write down in my planner to do. But moms? They remember all of that in addition to things like remembering to feed the kids (before they are beyond starving!), putting on sunscreen (before they burn!), brushing teeth (before noon), clean sheets (regularly!), bed time (before they are too cranky to go to bed!), homework, and all of the other little unpredictables that happen each day. In most cases, who do kids want when they are sick? Who do they go to for a bandage even when there is […]

Education Blackboard — May 6, 2010

May 6, 2010 // 0 Comments

School Beat First impressions… with anxiety or confidence! by LISSA WEIDENFELLER, Principal North Rockford Middle School Did you know that it only takes 30 seconds to make a first impression? Once a bad first impression is formed, it takes approximately 20 additional encounters to change that opinion. With so much on the line, being anxious about meeting someone for the first time is normal, especially when it is someone that you feel is important or that you want to impress. An example could be a job or college interviewer, instructor, teacher or coach. To overcome these anxieties, you must understand the basics of first impressions. According to the Flippen Group, authors of Capturing Kids’ Hearts, the following cues are what people notice when you are meeting others for the first time. They include: •            facial expressions—Smile it is free! •            handshake—firm, but not too strong. Do not twist your wrist. Twisting your wrist is a sign of domination. •            tone of voice—Speak clearly and loud enough for the person to hear you. A positive attitude is communicated through your voice. •            dress and grooming—The situation will determine how you need to dress. Regardless of the situation, your attire should look complete. •            eye contact—Make it! •            posture—Do not slouch or pull away. Lean in when handshaking. •            level of relaxation—Feel confident. Remember the past successes in your life that will make you feel proud. •            energy—Are you excited and feel honored to meet this person? If so, let your energy show it. Practice these skills and do not be afraid to recognize and initiate contact with someone else. They will at least know that you care! When you meet someone for the first time and start to engage, it is the first step to building a potential relationship. Remember, your tone and body language must say, “I am enthusiastic about meeting you,” or “I am excited about being here, and I want the position.” With these basic skills, I hope the next time you have an interview or meet someone for the first time, your anxiety will be reduced and your confidence will help you make a good first impression.

Education Blackboard — April 8, 2010

April 8, 2010 // 0 Comments

Measure success based on students’ performance by MAGGIE THELEN Principal, Cannonsburg Elementary School Director of Gifted and Talented Director of Instructional Technology No Child Left Behind, EdYes, MEAP tests, ACT tests, SAT tests, PLAN tests, Response to Intervention, EXPLORE tests, IDEA 2004… educators live in a world of standards and assessments. We need to look at how and what we teach and then measure success based on how well our students perform. Isn’t there more to teaching and learning? Don’t we want all students to come to school to learn and grow each day? Many policies and procedures are in place, which safeguard the progress of students—the majority of our students—but still lack the accountability for meeting the needs of the highly able student. If we equated the education of our youth with that of a sports team, we would quickly realize the disparity in quality of education that could exist. The following article was originally printed on the Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page. Read the comparison between the game of football and that of educating all students. No Child Left Behind: The Football Version Author Unknown, additions by Carolyn K., director, Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page 1. All teams must make the state playoffs, and all will win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. 2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time and in the same conditions. No exceptions will be made for interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL. 3. When players arrive at any game with remedial skills in football for any reason, their coaches will be penalized for their performance, regardless of how long the players have been on the team. 4. If remedial players do not achieve proficiency by the next statistically recorded game, their coaches and athletic directors will be put on probation. After several games of probation, coaches and athletic directors may be released. Coach and athletic director probation and release will not be conditional on the size of gains in the remedial players football skills; players […]

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