Friday, May 20, 2016

News and Notes: Volume 2, Number 31

Sinking Fund
At the May 9 Board of Education meeting, a proposal was supported unanimously to ask voters of the Whitmore Lake Public Schools to support a 1 mill increase for a three year sinking fund. Voters will see this proposal on the August 2, 2016 ballot.

In the coming weeks, I will be preparing question and answer sessions along with materials delineating what it is we will do with the revenue this fund generates. Right out of the gate, I can tell you our top priority is addressing technology needs. We plan on rebuilding our wireless infrastructure which will allow us to bring in more devices for student use. We started down this road in the fall with our Chromebook campaign, and we want to continue to bring in the best resources for our students. A sinking fund allows WLPS to fix many of our biggest technology issues while preserving our general fund, which just adds to our financial stability.

In addition to technology, investment in our facilities comes at a critical time. We need to maintain our properties, and we need to keep pace with ever-increasing technology demands. We are a much stronger district today than we were a few years ago; and I know, with our community's support, I will make that same claim a year from now.

As always, today is a great day to be a Trojan!

New Guitar Class' First Concert
Our new guitar class at WLES had their very first concert performances last week and this week. Our 5th and 6th graders took to the stage to showcase the skills they have learned this year. This is the first year we have offered the course, (see NN 2.3) and it is safe to say it has been a hit. While all the students in the class are enjoying learning something new, many have developed a strong interest in playing the guitar as well. A good indication of that is when the school year began, we only had one student bringing a guitar from home. Now we have 12.

WLES music teacher, Lisa Shanks, said teaching this class have been one of the most fulfilling experiences of her teaching career. Trying something new and working with small class sizes (the largest class having 14 students in it) she has the opportunity to get to know the students better as individuals, and they just have a blast!

Ms. Shanks has already begun developing an advanced guitar curriculum to offer to our 6th graders next year. We look forward to watching the program grow.

WLES continues to accept donations of guitars or monetary donations to assist in the purchase of ideally 15-25 new guitars over the next few years. In order to optimize student learning, it would be best for each student to use a guitar during guitar class instead of sharing, which is a possibility as interest in the class continues to grow.

If are you interested in supporting the program, contact Ms. Shanks at

Book Bingo Coming this June 

While teachers at WLES wrap up the school year celebrating the strides their students have made, they are simultaneously thinking about ways to keep their kids learning during summer break so all the progress is not lost. In NN 2.21, I highlighted a grant we received to run an early literacy summer school this year.

Our staff is taking that concept one step further and have created an event to provide EVERY student at WLES with at least ten books for him or her to keep and read over the summer in and effort to curb summer learning loss. Details on Book Bingo can be found in the flyer HERE.

Support for the event has been strong within the community already. The Pinckney American Legion donated $1,000 (member Tom Kaiser is pictured below awarding WLES teacher Heidi Roy-Borland with a check), the Greater Whitmore Lake Area Kiwanis donated $500 and the Kiwanis of Whitmore Lake donated $200 to purchase new books. In addition, WLES staff, families and community members have donated an additional $600 to date along with GoFundMe donating $100 as a thank you gift during Teacher Appreciation week. In total, we have received $2,400 in monetary donations, at least 300 books and a gift card to Barnes & Noble as a raffle prize. 
But there is still a need. If you would like to support this event, here are some ways you can help:
  • Donate new or gently used books by Tuesday, May 31 in the bin in the lobby of WLES.
  • Donate funds here
  • Volunteer and help sort books, set up on June 6 (beginning at 4:00PM) and/or help at the event.
  • Solicit or donate additional prizes for raffle related to reading (ex: beanbag chairs, lamp, gift cards to Barnes & Noble, special book sets, etc.)
  • Promote event on social media.
  • Recommend authors or book series for purchase
Since this is slated to be an annual event, as you clean out your bookshelves throughout the year, donations to WLES to support this cause are welcomed year-round!
Special kudos to sponsoring staff members Caroline Semrau, Heidi Roy-Borland and Deb Moran for serving on the Book Bingo committee and making this powerful event happen for students and families in Whitmore Lake!

The new
We are excited to announce the release of our brand new website! In redesigning the site, we kept our parents and community members in mind, making sure it is user friendly and with important information as easy to find as possible. We also wanted to make sure the website accurately captures the high-quality education we provide, making as strong of a first impressions as walking in one of our buildings would.

Keep in mind this is just the first phase; some content is still available only on the old site, as we will continue to move everything to the new one. But I encourage you to check it out, click around and send any feedback to With it going live just today, as the DNS propagation continues, you might see an "under construction" message or be referred back to the old site. Just give it a little bit more time and check back throughout the weekend.

New Math Curriculum
By Jill Henry
Instructional Data Coach and 
AP U.S. Government and Politics Teacher
Whitmore Lake Public Schools

Everyday Mathematics has been approved by the Board of Education for implementation at Whitmore Lake Elementary School beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.

Everyday Mathematics was developed by educators at the University of Chicago and is already in use throughout much of Washtenaw County. The program is a research-based and field tested curriculum aimed at developing students into mathematical thinkers. Everyday Mathematics emphasizes the use of real-life examples, repeated exposures to mathematical concepts, regular practice of basic computation skills and a variety of problem-solving strategies.
Everyday Mathematics spreads out the learning by revisiting content throughout the school year and across grade levels. This approach leads to better long-term mastery of math facts and concepts and is effective for all types of students, including students who may struggle with math. The program incorporates the Standards for Mathematical Practice which are aligned to current curriculum benchmarks and assessments. These standards encourage students to think mathematically by looking for patterns and connections, showing their thinking, and persevering in solving problems. Games are also an important feature of Everyday Mathematics. Games are integrated into the curriculum to satisfy lesson objectives and reinforce key ideas.
Our teachers will have instructional materials by the end of the May and will participate in professional development beginning this summer. We believe the use of Everyday Mathematics from Kindergarten through 6th grade and the additional time and training focused on the teaching and learning of math, all combined with the exceptional, personalized education already provided by the dedicated staff of Whitmore Lake Elementary will lead to higher student achievement.

We are planning a parent night for next fall for Elementary parents to learn more about Everyday Mathematics, so keep an eye out for additional information.


No comments:

Post a Comment