Reflections From the Top Ten

Today, Ms. Knight, NHS Principal announced the Top Ten students for the Class of 2013.  Ms. Knight had a discussion with these students to find out the career path they are going to pursue, which school they plan to attend, who influenced them, etc.  I was privileged to get to be a part of this discussion.

The chosen career paths stated by these students include:  electronics, education, personal training, political science, physics, physical therapy, construction management, law, and pharmacy.  When asked about who inspired them to achieve, they all mentioned specific family members (parent, grandparent, older sibling) and/or a teacher or coach.  This is a powerful reminder for all of us.  Each student in our community can achieve if they have positive adults in their lives.  In fact, one can argue that having a strong positive influential adult in a youngster’s life is a necessity in order for our youth to find success.


Senator Hansen Visits NPS 4th Graders

Sen. Hansen 4th Grade Visit March, 2013

On March 25, NPS 4th grade students got a visit from Senator Geoff Hansen.  Senator Hansen came in to present to our students as a follow-up to the trip the 4th graders took to the State Capitol in Lansing during the previous week.  Senator Hansen shared his experiences as a lawmaker and imparted some valuable advice with our students.  He advised them to work hard and get good grades.  He also said that the people that get the most work done are “those that show up.”

Thank you to Senator Hansen for supporting our public schools.


Rep. Bumstead Visits NPS Students

Official Bumstead Pic (2)Representative Bumstead was able to visit with NHS students when they presented at the Technology Showcase at the State Capitol on Nov. 28, 2012.  Rep. Bumstead was impressed with the technology integration displayed by our students and their teacher, Mr. Francis.  On Friday, December 7, Rep. Bumstead visited Ms. Crater’s 3rd grade classroom and talked about his experiences as a legislator.

Thank you to Representative Bumstead for supporting our public schools.

NPS 5th Grade Student Wins Award

S. TothCongratulations to Samantha Toth.  Samantha entered the Newaygo County First Annual STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Expo held on March 20 at the Newaygo Career-Tech Center.  There were two divisions in this competition; a high school division and grades 5-8 division.  In her project, Samantha explored how stimulants and depressants affect daphnia and how this research relates to humans.  We are proud of Samantha that as a 5th grader, she won the grades 5-8 division.  Samantha is in Ms. Lindley’s class.  We encourage all Newaygo students to be thinking about their STEM project for next year’s competition!



Are You Somebody to be Imitated?

I  saw this quote several years ago, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
- James Baldwin

We need to remember that our young people watch how adults, both in and out of school, handle situations and emotions. Joy, sympathy, cruelty, disappointment, frustration, gratitude, curiosity, confidence. etc., are all examples of sentiments or reactions that our students watch and observe in the adults in their lives.  This is true no matter the age of the child or student.

Are you somebody to be imitated?  Are your actions consistent with modeling the desired behavior in our students?  We are all reminded that we can constantly ”tell” students what to do but there are times where our actions speak louder than words.  Work to be a positive example to our students!

School Carnival & Family Expo This Saturday

There are two events scheduled for Saturday, March 23, 2013 in Newaygo.  The school carnival will be held at the Velma Matson Upper Elementary from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The 10th Annual Great Start Family Expo will be held at Newaygo Middle School from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Be sure to check out both events.

Goal 2025 – Spread the Word

The Fremont Area Community Foundation (FACF) has adopted a simple but ambitious goal:  to increase the proportion of Newaygo County residents with high-quality college degrees, certificates, or other credentials by 60% by 2025.*  This is a goal of the Lumina Foundation and has been adopted by WE CAN! Newaygo County.

What is WE CAN! Newaygo County?  This is a group of community leaders working to increase college access to Newaygo County residents.  Not only is this group working closely with school districts to expand college access to high school students, but also trying to examine ways to increase college access to Newaygo County adults who need post secondary training or might have some credits toward a degree but need to finish.

Data from the Lumina Foundation shows that by 2018, Michigan will need to fill 1.3 million job vacancies.  62% of these jobs will require post secondary credentials.  In other words, a high school diploma is not enough.  No matter what your role is; parent, employer, teacher, community resident, etc., we can all have an influence in working toward Goal 2025.  Much impact can be made by having high expectations for our youth and young adults.  If the adults in and around our schools and community consistently model and share high expectations for our youth, so much is possible, including Goal 2025.

Goal 2025 doesn’t mean that all students need to attend a 4-year college or university.  In fact, there are many credentials (2-year degrees, certificate programs, etc.) that can be obtained after high school that can lead to gainful employment.  In addition to creating life-long learners and fostering a love of learning in students, we also want them to leave their K-12 experience with goals in mind and a pathway to reach those goals.

We are fortunate in this county to have FACF, community leaders, and schools working together and moving in the same direction.  Please spread the word in helping to reach this goal and help to create high expectations.  Our community will be stronger for it.

*Copied from FACF literature.

NPS School Building Reconfiguration

On March 18, the NPS School Board gave final approval of the reconfiguration of the district’s school buildings.  The resulting grade configuration is as follows:

Vera Wilsie Elemen. – Grades K-1

Velma Matson Upper Elemen. – Grades 2-4

Newaygo M.S. – Grades 5-8

Newaygo H.S. – Grades 9-12

While we know teachers, supplies, library books, leveled library books, etc., at the 2nd grade and 5th grade levels will need to move to the new location(s), we are still working out details of other aspects of the move.  One main question is that of the administrative structure and leadership at the buildings.  Parents should be aware that many different scenarios are being examined in terms of administrative leadership and support at the building level.  Last August, NPS had three administrators leave the district and we were very careful about full replacement of any administrative positions due to the strain on our budget of an enrollment decline in the fall of 2012.

Parents and families should be advised that we will carefully consider the options when making decisions about administrative staffing, and once decisions are made, we will make notification.  If you have any questions about the reconfiguration, please do not hesitate to contact a building principal or me.

First Grade Math Night a Success!

On Thursday evening (March 14), the first grade teachers at Vera Wilsie Elementary School held a “Math Night” for their students and families.  We are proud to say it was a huge success.  We are pleased with the interest our parents showed in their child’s education by participating in this event.  133 people were in attendance.  Each family left with some supplies (cards, dice, dominoes, plastic coins etc.) along with instructions of how to assist in developing math skills at home.

One parent commented, ”First grade math night was excellent.  Those teachers should all be commended for a night well done.  My son and I had a great time!”

Math Night Tools

Thank you to NPS parents for supporting your student and thanks to the first grade staff;  Ms. Hesse, Ms. Horton, Ms. Seabrook, Ms. Wilbur, & Mr. Wittenberger.

Class of 2014 Sets a High Standard

Recently, our 11th grade students engaged in mandatory state testing.  This testing, called the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) consists of the ACT, ACT WorkKeys tests, and some Michigan tests.  While one could argue that testing students does nothing but give the state some ammunition to try to discredit schools and/or make them look bad, we take these tests seriously and encourage our students to do their best.  One thing that makes the ACT an easier sell is the fact that it is a research-based test with a proven track record that can, in some instances, predict future success in college.  We use the ACT battery of tests to find out where our students stack up in terms of college readiness.

This year, our junior class participated in 3 days of testing like every other high school did in early March.  What is remarkable about this NHS junior class is that every single student was present for all 3 days of testing.  We had 100% participation.  This is a difficult feat to achieve and we appreciate our students’ effort.  This doesn’t just happen, however.  Please consider this quote from one of our test organizers, “Thank you all for your dedication to making testing week at NHS a giant success.  Perfect attendance and effort does not just happen.  It is the work of teachers in preparing these students so they are able to do their very best on the tests.  I am thankful to be working at a place with such an outstanding group of people who ALWAYS put our students first.”

School personnel are sometimes criticized because they voice their displeasure about testing or get frustrated with the increased focus on testing.  Regardless of what personal views teachers have about the nature and value of testing students, our staff prepared our kids to do their very best and our students once again rose to the challenge.  When the results come back, we will honestly and openly look at ways to improve what we do for kids.

This is just another example of taking what could be a negative situation and teachers and students making it positive for everyone.