Thursday, December 17, 2015

Everyone Can be Great

"Everybody can be great, because everyone can serve."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is greatness?  Is greatness defined by awards, money, and fame?  Is greatness determined by character, passion, and significant contributions?  We all know that Stephen Covey wrote the 7 Habits to provide a framework for human effectiveness.  However, did you know that he wrote the 8th habit because he realized that at some point people must move from effectiveness to greatness?  They must find their voice.

If you haven't heard the story of Hunter Gandee, Sports Illustrated 2015 High School Athlete of the Year, I highly encourage you read the article and watch the video.  Hunter is the high school student from Bedford Public Schools who walked from Bedford, MI to Ann Arbor, MI with his brother on his back to raise awareness about cerebral palsy.  His little brother, Brayden, has CP and he wasn't able to use the playground easily with his wheelchair.  The walk raised money for a new inclusive playground.  I've watched it four times already and haven't grown tired of it yet.  It will be the best 10 minutes of your day.  When you have finished, show it to our students.  It is a powerful message of love.  It reminds us that at any point in your life, you have the power to take initiative; to chose leadership.  Everyone one of us has the power to be great.

Big Rocks:
Have a wonderful and amazing winter break.  We truly wish you a relaxing break.  You deserve it!

Thank you to Karen and Sandy for the beautiful musical performances this week.

Thank you to the Enthusiasm team for the yummy breakfast and time to spend with one another.

Before you leave, please make sure to 
  • turn off your monitor 
  • shut down the computer and printers
  • turn off and unplug all electronics
  • close all blinds
  • turn off lights
  • unplug vending machines
  • empty and clean all refrigerators (excluding those containing student meds)
We were supposed to have the M-Step Parent Reports on Tuesday.  They have not arrived.  M-Step reports will be mailed home the first week of January.

Robin emailed out the writing prompts.  It will be a busy January.  The IOWA/CogAT window is January 5-January 22 for 6th grade teachers.  F & P must be done for students below level in reading.

Calendar for the Week of January 4, 2016:
Monday: Welcome Back!
                Student Lighthouse 11:15
               Curriculum Advisory 1:00-4:00 (Sarah)
Tuesday: IOWA/CogAT begins
                Lighthouse Team 3:45-5:00
Wednesday: Parent Lighthouse 6:00
                     PTA leaders 11:15
Thursday: Staff Meeting 8:00
                 Elementary Principal's Meeting 1:00-4:30
                  Title Budget Amendments Due
Friday: Young Adult Book Club 8:00 (Read The Night Divided)

Friday, December 11, 2015

College Readiness

On Tuesday, I had an awesome opportunity to spend some time with our Triad colleagues.  Bill Green, the new principal of Roosevelt, organized a visit to Emerson and Franklin for us.  In four years, it was the first time I had ever toured Franklin or Emerson.  It was a great opportunity to see our schools and talk with other principals in our area of the district.  One of the questions we want to explore is "What are we really preparing our students for?"  Sometimes we make assumptions about what the middle school and high school are like and what they want from our students.  We also explored the question, "What do we want our triad to be known for?"  Around these topics, we had good conversation about leadership, community, programs, and curriculum.

It was powerful conversation but actions can also speak louder than words.  Students at Emerson especially were glad to see us.  We received many hugs, waves, and hellos.  The students were engaged in classrooms, they walked quietly and safely down the hallways at passing time, class size was smaller than I expected, and technology was being used.  It was a softer more joyful middle school experience than the media often makes it out to be.  

The Gallup Poll states that engagement (the involvement and enthusiasm for school) and hope (the ideas and energy students have for the future) links to student success.  Some elementary principals were concerned that we are knocking the joy of learning out of students far too early.  How do we create engaging environments for our students?  How do we ensure that they feel hope for their futures?  We have not received our Cooper Gallup Poll results yet but our district results stated that only 67% of students feel that the will most likely attend a four year college or university and 8% stated they will attend a two year college.  We need to continue to inspire hope in our students.  As Robert John Meehan said, "We are not JUST teachers.  We are managers of the world's greatest resource-children."

Check out this fun music video encouraging students to go to college and featuring the First Lady!

We would like to encourage all teachers to consider posting the colleges they attended outside their classroom.  At Emerson, there are signs with the teacher's name and the colleges they attended posted right by the entrance to their classrooms.  What a subtle and smart sign to encourage students to begin with the end in mind.

Mrs. Aherne
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Eastern Michigan University

Big Rocks:

Thank you to Sandy Crociata and Karen Danke for all of their hard work with the 6th grade vocal and instrumental concerts.  They did a wonderful job using student leaders to announce and provide some information about each piece.  The students did it with such poise and personality!  It was great to see such a wide variety of our students being highlighted with solos, duets, and speaking parts.

Thank you to the Enthusiasm Team for planning the staff holiday party.  We are looking forward to celebrating with everyone tonight!

As you all know, we continue to have days when we do not have sub coverage.  Additionally, we have had several instances where teachers have had unexpected health/family emergencies that required them to be out.  We would like everyone to make sure that they have at least one day of emergency sub plans on file.  Please turn them into the office by January 8th.

If you haven’t heard, Andrea Oquist will be appointed the new Superintendent on Monday night.  We are so excited that she has accepted the position.  She truly is all Livonia heart.  You are all welcome to attend.  She came to our principal’s meeting to discuss future enrollment.  The district has been working on some data dive enrollment projections.  We are down 340 students this year.  We have lost 1700 students since the beginning of the bond planning.  The district will be bringing in Plant Moran Cresa to do studies on boundary/attendance areas, live birth, and other information and make predictions about future enrollment.  Apparently, they can make predictions with 99.5% accuracy.  They will be looking at the capacity of our schools and how we are using facilities (building use assessment).  In addition, they will bringing together a team of stakeholders to make some data driven decision-making.  We will keep you posted with updated information!

Calendar for the Week of December 14, 2015:
Monday: 9:00-10:00 DSIT (Sarah at CO)
               11:00-1:00 Curriculum Advisory (Sarah)
                11:15 Student Lighthouse Meeting
Board of Education Meeting at CO to appoint Andrea Oquist as the new    Superintendent.
               Cooper PTA Red Wings Game
Tuesday: 3:45-5:00 Lighthouse Meeting
Wednesday: 8:00 IST
                     11:15 Student PTA Meeting
                    6th Grade Vocal Assemblies
Thursday: 8:00 Staff Meeting
                 9:35 Bel Canto Choir Visit
                 6:00 PTA Meeting
Friday: 7:30 Staff Breakfast

             8:45 LEAD time

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Death Crawl

At our staff meeting last week, we watched an excerpt from Facing the Giants where the team captain has to do the "death crawl."  The coach tells him, "You are the most influential player on this team.  If you walk around defeated, so will they.  Don't tell me you can't give me more than I've been seeing."  When our job gets tough, during times before breaks, when we're worried about a child, when we listen to the continued negative coverage of education, we often find ourselves doing the death crawl. We must remind ourselves that we are the most influential player in the classroom.

Last Wednesday morning, I headed out to a meeting at Central Office knowing that I had several big issues to deal with upon my return.  As I drove back to school, I felt myself doing the death crawl.  I was tired.  I felt defeated.  I was asking myself, "Does what I do matter?"  That afternoon we did not stop as we investigated one problem after another.  The buses left and suddenly Kristi and I were being paged to the office.

"There's been a bus accident."  We grabbed the bus binder, legal pads, and made some calls as we headed out the door.  We arrived at the scene to see police and emergency personnel, parents gathering, and a child being placed on a stretcher.  Teachers and Central Office staff arrived and things started happening.  During the entire time, we remained calm.  Students and parents were cooperative, polite, and patient.  I've said it before but our staff is amazing.  So many people showed up and asked how they could help.  Since the accident, we've received numerous compliments from Central Office, parents, and the police about how the situation was handled.  We were all the influential players in the room and we made a difference.

As we end the year, let's give it our best.  Don't resort to worksheets and coloring pages.  Don't bust out the movies and electronics.  Be intentional in your teaching.  The students deserve better.  Keep going.  It is worth the fight.

Big Rocks:
You may notice some beautiful art around the building on Monday due to the synergizing that took place Friday night.  Thank you so much to Lauren Didomenico, our amazing art teacher, for coordinating the Work-a-thon!  Also thank you to Angie Doelker, Laura Connor, Diane Mansour, Kitty Yost, Michelle Stackpoole, Denise Kimball, Fatino Kincaide, MaryAnn Bubar, Sally Erickson, Christine McQuiston, Linda Cohan,  and Darci Licata for staying to help paint the building and supervise our students.  We can't forget out night custodians who are always helpful.  If I missed anyone, I'm sorry!  Thank you!
Canvas Leadership Quotes

New Habit Tree

Snack Cart Queen

Window Art

We are a Win Win Team!

Thank you to Judy Bowling for organizing Google Expedition.  Our students traveled all over the world through virtual reality!  Everyone thought it was amazing!
Mind Blowing!

Historic Philadelphia, Galapagos Islands, Deserts, oh my!

There are two Cooper music concerts this week.  Students had the choice of which concert they would like to attend.  The concerts are Tuesday and Thursday nights and start at 7:00.  Karen and Sandy have been encouraging families to bring a canned food donation to help Cooper families.

Our first Parent Lighthouse team meeting is this Wednesday at 6:00.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  Thank you to our whole team but especially Lynn deCarli who has been instrumental in sending out the information to parents.

Please come celebrate with us on Friday at the Box Bar in Plymouth starting at 5:00.  A big thank you to the Enthusiasm team for coordinating this special "sharpen the saw" holiday outing.  

Calendar for the Week of December 7, 2015:
Monday: 8:00-11:00 Sarah LEADS Principal PD at Riley
               12:30-3:30 Kristi LEADS Principal PD at Riley
Tuesday: 8:30-12:00 Triad meeting (Sarah)
               8:00-11:00 Literacy Leader Meeting
               3:45-5:00 Lighthouse Team
               7:00 Music Concert (Sarah)
Wednesday: 11:15 PTA Leaders 
                    1:00-3:00 Furniture Committee Meeting (Sarah and Kitty)
                     6:00 Parent Lighthouse Meeting
Thursday: 8:00 Staff Meeting
                  8:30-11:30 DSIT Meeting (Kristi)
                  11:00 Principal Luncheon
                   1:00-4:30 Elementary Principals' Meeting
                   7:00 Music Concert (Kristi)
Friday: 8:45 LEAD time
            5:00 Holiday Celebration Box Bar in Plymouth