October 30, 2014

Back to school previews

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AE Superintendent makes late exit, district expects replacement before school starts

TWINING — Rocky Aldrich’s recent decision to take a job in Ubly has the Arenac Eastern School District (AE) scurrying to not only replace the former superintendent, but prepare for the 2009-10 year as well.

“It (Aldrich leaving) happened very rapidly, like in the last week and a half,” said AE Counselor Allen Pauly in an interview Monday. “We are anticipating that we’ll have somebody by the first day of school.

“We don’t know who that’s going to be yet,” Pauly said, adding the new addition, when found will serve as superintendent and district principal.

New personnel aside, AE will also implement a new writing program – Write Steps – for elementary students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Pauly says the goal of Write Steps is to meet state benchmarks for students in each grade within the program.

But high schoolers will also notice some changes in the classroom, according to Pauly, as four student response systems will be available throughout the year for teachers.

“Each student would have, like a remote control, and be able to answer questions instantly,” he said, adding the systems can be used to instantly gauge that students know necessary material for tests and quizzes. “None of our teachers have used them before so it’ll be interesting to see how they’re going to use them.”

Besides these changes, Pauly also added that AE has 31 new computers in its lab, courtesy of a two-percent revenue sharing grant from the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe and two new staff members – Peggy Nelson, a part-time Special Education instructor; and Stephanie Campau, Band Director.

All hands on deck at AGS

AuGRES — As the academic Wolverines hit the halls this year, they’ll notice some new faces, or the same faces in new places – Anne Doriean, Superintendent; Chad Zeien, Principal; and Salle O’Neill, part-time Counselor – within the district.

Doriean, one of the new faces at the AuGres-Sims School District (AGS), says that the larger administration staff should make things easier for scheduling, special education and transportation, amongst other areas.

“When one person is trying to wear all these hats, it’s very difficult to get all those things done,” Doriean said, adding last year’s Superintendent, Gary Marchel, didn’t have the luxury of a District Principal or part-time Counselor. “I think that all hands on deck is a good way to go.”

As for students, the number of children in AGS’ all-day everyday kindergarten program is forcing the program to grow.

“Our numbers are growing here a little bit, so we added a second section (of kindergarten),” Doriean said.

In the classrooms, there will be some small changes, the first-year Superintendent says.

“We’re moving from a seven-hour day, where we had a seminar period, to a six-hour day,” Doriean said, adding this will give students more time to focus on state-required curriculum.

She also says that AGS will be offering high school students a new forensics class.

Data storage at SSC to give more insight on tests

STANDISH — Standish-Sterling Central High School (SSC) continues to work towards higher test scores this year by implementing a thorough data system that can target testing issues for individual students right down to individual questions.

“District-wide we’re going on a data warehouse. … It (new data system) allows us to take our assessment scores, our assessment pieces, right down to the individual student, to a single question,” says first-year SSC Principal Roger Fritz, formerly Principal at Standish Elementary. “It stores it all and we can retrieve it.”

He also says the system will help the district retrieve results faster and more efficiently.

Fritz added that the 2009-10 school year will be the second go-round for SSC’s trimester system and that some of the greatest adjustments will have to be made by Fritz himself.

“Most of it’s (adjustment) been trying to figure out the scheduling process and requirements for graduation,” Fritz said of his new position. “It’s a different story at the elementary level.”

SSMS connects parents to classroom

STANDISH — For parents who can’t wait for periodic progress reports, the Standish-Sterling Middle School (SSMS) is introducing “Ed line” to let parents check on grades on their own time.

According to SSMS Principal Bev Skinner, teachers at SSMS are undergoing training on Ed line, so they can update the online service, which will be linked to standish-sterling.org, daily.

“The parents will be able to sign up, get a password and look at their kids’ scores. … It’ll (Ed Line) give test scores, quiz scores, homework scores,” Skinner said. “The teachers will be able to go online and bring up a record of every student in the class.”

Skinner also says the middle school is bringing back its sixth grade choir program.

“We are using the elementary music teacher, Patty Lee, as the sixth grade choir teacher,” Skinner said, adding the program had been out of commission for a few years, but will return as a first hour offering at SSMS this school year.

Standish Elementary renewing focus on writing

STANDISH — After being moved to Standish Elementary in a Standish-Sterling Community Schools District Principal shuffle, Principal Mark Williams, fresh over from SSC, says the elementary is renewing its focus on writing.

“We will be doing periodic writings, or frequent writings throughout the year,” Williams said, adding the writing sessions will be done on individual grade levels and school wide. “We’ll be able to monitor progress, document the progress.”

Other than the focus on writing, the new Principal says he wants to work closely with the district’ other elementary school, Sterling Elementary during the 2009-10 school year.

He says the two elementaries will collaborate on curriculum and progress throughout the year.

No more crying and writing at Sterling Elementary

STERLING — Keeping with the other schools in the district, Sterling Elementary students will also see an increase in time spent on writing, though they may not know it.

“Students will be learning “Handwriting Without Tears” as they improve their handwriting skills through a multi-sensory approach. Songs, manipulatives and direct teacher instructions are all components of this new program,” said an e-mail from Sterling Elementary Secretary Leona Daniels.

The e-mail also says a new Social Studies curriculum developed by teachers throughout the Bay-Arenac Intermedi-ate School District is being introduced this year, along with new textbooks to accompany the curriculum.

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