Rockford Community

Rockford teachers employ differentiation

April 1, 2009 // 0 Comments

by MAGGIE THELEN Principal, Cannonsburg Elementary Gifted & Talented Coordinator “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”-Henry David Thoreau By nature, every student who crosses the classroom threshold requires a distinct and diverse educational plan. While our state sets the outcomes for our children, it’s the teachers alone who create the plan to help students meet those outcomes. Or, for the student who has already learned the content, the onus rests on the teacher to present new opportunities. This process is termed differentiation, and it’s how every teacher, coach and mentor meets the individual needs of pupils. What is differentiation? It’s a new term for a tried and true educational method. Differentiation is simply meeting the student at their readiness level; in other words, teaching students, not teaching content. “One size fits all” has never been a philosophy to which Rockford teachers have subscribed. Imagine a piano teacher who planned the same lessons for all first-year piano students, neglecting to acknowledge or plan for those students who have natural talents, previous musical training, or difficulties. It’s not hard to see how ineffective those lessons would be for the majority of the students, because readiness was not considered. While anecdotal evidence abounds regarding the effectiveness of differentiation, research is confirming this premise, as well. A noted expert in the area of differentiation, Carol Ann Tomlinson, writes:  From a very young age, children understand some of us are good with kicking a ball, some with telling funny stories, some with manipulating numbers, and some with making people feel happy. They understand that some of us struggle with reading words from the page, others with keeping tempers in check, still others with arms or legs that are weak. Children seem to accept a world in which we are not alike. They do not quest for sameness, but they search for the sense of triumph that comes when they are respected, valued, nurtured, and even cajoled into accomplishing things they believed beyond their grasp. The immensity of this task for teachers is considerable. To meet the needs of all Rockford students, teachers meet weekly before school hours in Professional Learning Communities (PLC) to examine teaching practices and […]

Community EXPO a success with more visitors than ever

March 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

They couldn’t give the money away fast enough The lesson for next year: stay longer. As the Rockford Community EXPO 2009 wound down, local celebrity Juliet Dragos couldn’t give the $500 door prizes away fast enough. “Must be present to win” was the key phrase as name after name was called with no takers. At quarter to closing time, the call “come to the stage, you are the winner” was starting to sound a little comical. Two prizes remained unclaimed, a cool grand for two different people… still there. It wasn’t for lack of visitors. According to Brenda Davis, Rockford Chamber executive director, the turnout was even higher than last year’s 11,000. Except for the cash prizes, no one was having any trouble giving things away. Several food vendors ran out early, with the Corner Bar going the distance with samples of white chicken chili. Corner Bar owner Andy Tidey said, “There is only so much chili two people can scoop into cups in six hours.” He said the restaurant gave out 45 gallons of chili, or the equivalent of 1,700 servings. “It’s great exposure for us. There are a lot of people who don’t know we have that every day,” he stated. “We are always busy the entire six hours with a line going around the corner, so it didn’t make any difference for us. We could have been the only food or one of 12 vendors.” Dr. Michael Shibler, Superintendent of Rockford Schools, said the event was again a tremendous success and a win-win for the community. “It’s held here in a building built with our tax dollars. The entertainment is by students from all ages of our district, who are also products of this community,” he said. “For many people who come here, this is the first time they’ve been in this building. They can see first-hand how their tax dollars are spent.” See you at next year’s EXPO-and don’t leave early.

Enjoy the benefits of volunteering for your community

March 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

The same holds true for any organization.  The Rockford community has a jewel in its volunteer police officers.  Situated in the heart of downtown Rockford, the Rockford Police Department Volunteer Service Unit (VSU) officers patrol our charming community searching for parking violations, sidewalks in disrepair or in need of shoveling, as well as patrolling trails as needed, helping shut-ins, and checking on the homes of citizens who are on vacation.  In addition to those duties, VSU officers answer questions at their downtown “headquarters,” the Welcome Center in the heart of downtown Rockford. VSU officers serve at special events such as the Start of Summer celebration, National Night Out, parades, and other community activities. They help with traffic control, crowd control, and in other ways. They have two vehicles for their patrols-a donated Jeep Cherokee and a golf cart with police lights.  They have the authority to approach someone who is breaking the law and they have the means to call for back up. All volunteers are equipped with a walkie-talkie that is a direct line to the Rockford Police Department dispatchers, who oversee the VSU.  Any sign of trouble is immediately called in to dispatch and a police officer is sent to their location without delay. The VSU officers don’t get paid monetarily; they get paid with feelings of pride by helping to make their community safer, cleaner, and happier. One such volunteer, Jim Herdegen, retired from Steelcases’ manufacturing engineering division. He has been volunteering with the VSU for over three years and has also been at God’s Kitchen in Grand Rapids for six years.  Prior to his stint downtown he volunteered at the Michigan Community Blood Center.  He volunteers his time because he likes being able to meet people from all over including, England and Ireland. He recalls a story of how a woman from west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin had ridden her bike to Rockford and was looking for trail information.  Moments after he sent this woman on her way to a local restaurant, a couple from the Rockford area came into the Welcome Center looking for trails to get them to Wisconsin.  He quickly told this couple to go to the restaurant and find the woman that he spoke to minutes before. When […]

Annual cake auction raised funds for Girl Scouts

March 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

From castles to snowmen, volcanoes to teddy bears, dads, uncles, grandpas and their favorite Girl Scout arrived with their entries for the third annual Father/Daughter Cake Bake held at Our Lady of Consolation on March 14.  Twenty-seven cakes were entered in this year’s auction and sold for a total of $1,180 for the financial assistance fund for the Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore council.  The girls and their baking partners were also recognized for their culinary designs. Tia Hawkes, Lydia Kolbe and Sarah Bloem each won prizes for the cakes depicting the best Girl Scout spirit. In the cutest cake category, Olivia Baldwin, Amanda Zeboor and Baily Knittle took the honors. The judges chose the cakes created by Emilee Frost, Danielle Dettloff and Shelby Taylor as the most creative. Every color of the rainbow was represented in the cakes designed by Katherine Parker, Emma Gearhart and Skylar Fabish in the most colorful category. Most artistic honors went to Julie Fitzhugh, Micha Merren and Maddie Ripple. A salute to patriotism was represented in the designs of Marissa Dettloff, Violetta Vega and Sarah Nicklowitz and were awarded prizes in the most patriotic category. “The turnout was great for this year’s event. We raised more money this year then ever in the past-that says a lot about the caring community we live in and their support of our young people,” said Lori Dettloff, co-chair of the event. “As Girl Scouts celebrates their 97th birthday, it is great to know that this organization is stronger then ever in the Rockford community.” The Rockford Girl Scouts would like to extend a “thank-you” to Our Lady of Consolation for donating the use of their building for the event, Wiley and Company for the assistance with decorations, judges Candy Lancioni and Jeannie Gregory and to all our bakers and bidders that made this event possible.             To learn more about Girl Scouting in our area, visit

Community says goodbye, Ram Nation

March 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

by RICH ZECK The Ram Nation was more than just a store with hip styles and every kind of Rockford paraphernalia; it was a business that defines what the American entrepreneurial spirit is all about. People may see the store’s closing as a sign of the times-but don’t feel sorry for owners Kevin and Rachelle Butler. This couple is passionate about their community and they decided to take the risk. They saw an opportunity and never looked back. Kevin states, “We have never been shy about taking risks.  There have been many times that we took a risk and it turned out very well.  Sometimes things work out great, sometimes they don’t, but we can’t be afraid of falling down.” Many of us have fallen down or experienced a failed opportunity just like the Butlers. We have a choice to either stay down or as Kevin says, “it’s time to turn the page and open the doors to the next opportunity.” This Saturday, March 28, ends one chapter for the Butlers as they liquidate everything in the store.  They will be selling everything at 70 percent off. You can be sure that they will continue giving away warm welcomes and a friendly smile to the people who supported them through their endeavor until the last sale. Running a small business is not always the dream that most people envision it to be. There are many ups and downs, lots of sweat and tears, along with many hours. Did I say long hours? However, without a strong supportive community like Rockford, many small businesses would never make it as far as they do. As a last parting gift, the Butlers plan to donate $1,000 to Rockford Public Schools Student Activities. The next time you think about going to the mall to shop or eat at a restaurant, think about spending those dollars right here in your town. Every dollar you spend, no matter how small, makes a difference. We are a generous and supportive community that stands behind our locally owned businesses and on behalf of all of us and the Butlers, thank you.

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