Thursdays With North and East Oakview – EDE #82 for 2014/15 – Small and Large Miracles

May 21, 2015
Arrival Time: 7:40 a.m.

Very interesting conversations with students as they ate breakfast this morning.  It seems that young children are very much aware of the age of their parents and upcoming birthdays.  One young girl told me that her mom is 47 and dad is 51 but mom wouldn’t really like that she was telling me the “facts.”

Another said his mom’s birthday was coming up real soon and that she would be 39…..again.  I’m not sure if she gave him the go ahead to discuss the “facts” with me. I did start the conversation that I would be 65 in a couple of weeks.  That is when one of the 2nd grade students said “wow, my sister can’t even count that high.”

Another important “fact” for elementary students is when one of their parents agree to go on the field trip to the Grand Rapids Museum.  “My dad is something called a chaperone today and he gets to be with me while we look at the real old stuff at the museum” was the excited sentence shared with me by one second grade girl.

Most of us remember gym/physical education class.  However, do any of you remember your gym teacher having a book talk about books that are available in the library that relate to exercise?  All of the classes at North will remember this as part of gym class.  They will also remember the basketball dribbling drill set to the music they had been hearing in music class.  Just think about the fun of dribbling a basketball to the music of “STOMP.”

My coaching sessions with Travis are nearing an end for the year.  As I approached him at the drop-off line today it occurred to me that his backpack is almost as big as he is right now.  That proportion will change over the next several years as he grows physically.  The contents of the bag will help him grow academically.  The contents of the bag will also change.  He was also carrying a big blue bag that he said contained his lunch.  My question about the number of sandwiches in the bag was met with the quick response of “100.”  I told him that would result in being a heavy weight wrestler.  He just smiled and headed toward the school.

A simple yet very elegant conversation with a first grade life coach topped by a smile.  This is what “remembering the important stuff” looks like when it happens.

Meanwhile Back at East Oakview………

Kindergarten students entered the music room for practice on standing on risers and singing.  The task of standing on high steps without falling off is difficult for an “almost first grade” student.  If you add a song with movements it is even more challenging.  They were flawless as they sang “When I Make A Promise I Keep It.”  Memory, balance, a singing voice, and a life lesson …. all within the first five minutes of class.

One second grade class was working on writing “a story about myself.”  This was just one of the objectives posted for the day.  Others included listen and follow directions; explain vocabulary from GR History; play WORDO; write poetry; and count coins with dollars.

As I visited rooms and talked with staff today I couldn’t help but think about the interventions they had to make today (and many other days during the school year) to address the social issues confronting our young children when they are outside of our schools.  The social issues are serious and these at-risk factors that are created get in the way of student growth.

Our Northview children/students are not “at-risk.”  They are sometimes placed in an environment that is “at-risk” and then those factors play out in our schools. They are children.  They are our students.  They are important. We care about them.  We will do anything to help them deal with the at-risk factors in their lives.

Our staff perform small and large miracles every day.  As a result, every child has the opportunity to grow academically and socially.  Today, those miracles were in full force.

By the way, the kindergarten kids thought my “red tennis shoes” were just like the ones Pete the Cat wears.

This is what “remembering the important stuff” looks like when it happens.

Thanks Coach…….red shoes, small and large miracles, and remembering the important stuff happened all day today.

Sincerely,

Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent
Northview Public Schools

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Every Day Evidence #81 for 2014/15 – Parent Voice, K-12 Art Show

Every Day Evidence #81 for 2014/15

May 20, 2015

Good Morning Governor Snyder, Senator MacGregor, Representatives, VerHeulen, Lyons, Brinks, Dillion, Yonker, Hooker,

and Afendoulis

You have received the Revenue Estimating Conference numbers that indicate the revenue for School Aid Fund for this budget year is down $5.9 million.  The same estimates indicate the revenue for the SAF will be down approximately $20 million for next year (FY 2016).  The General Fund is projected to have a surplus this year of $220 million and increases next year.

The School Aid Fund had a surplus this year (2014/15) and our Governor approved the move of $250 million to help balance the General Fund budget this year.  Now a surplus of $220 million is projected for this year in the General Fund.
Questions for Your Consideration:

  1. If our Governor’s proposal of $75 per-pupil increase on the base foundation is accurate and if Northview receives $65 per-pupil “at-risk” funding, why does $75 + $65 = $70 per-pupil in funding?  ($5 per-pupil unrestricted and $65 per-pupil restricted for use with students meeting “at-risk” criteria only.) This is about $10 per-pupil above the funding level of the 2009/10 school year. Do you believe this is an adequate and appropriate “net operating revenue increase?”
  2. Are you planning to replace any of the $250 million of the School Aid Fund?  If not, are you willing to help us understand why?
  3. Are your actions strengthening the relevance of public education?

Every Day Evidence

Today’s EDE comes from a parent of an elementary student who had a piece of his art work displayed in the annual Northview K-12 Art Show.

“Good Morning!

    I have to share something with you all. My son, Emerson, had a piece of art work chosen to be in the districts spring art show. We attend the open house on May 5, and had a wonderful time. Emerson was so proud that his art work was at “the big kid school” for everyone to see. While there, a couple people commented on his piece and he just beamed with pride. His eyes sparkled, his smile was ear to ear, and he was excited to show anyone who would look his “artist” badge he got to wear.

We had a wonderful time and talked about it for the next couple of days. That’s where I thought it would end. But it didn’t! His art work came home yesterday and attached were many positive, kind, caring notes all from High School and Crossroad students!! As we read them together, I couldn’t help but tear up at all the support and encouragement these students sent to a young kindergartener they don’t know.  Once again, his eyes sparkled and his grin was wide!

Thank you to all the students who wrote a note or two for another student. I’m sure they don’t know it, but it means so much to these younger students!  Also a thank you to the wonderful art teachers, who allow children to express themselves in fun and creative ways.

Proudly,

Tiffany”

Fun Fact

http://www.schoolnewsnetwork.org/index.php/2014-15/former-student-honors-art-teacher-encouraging-his-dreams/

Sincerely,

Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent

Northview Public Schools

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Thursdays With North and East Oakview – EDE #80 for 2014/15

May 14, 2015
Arrival Time:  7:40 a.m.
Do you know the name Gustav Holst?

The fourth grade students at North Oakview know him as a composer and musician who played four different instruments.  They know why he finally settled on the trombone and how he composed the Mars Suite.  They understand that John Williams was influenced by Gustav and his March of Darth Vader sounds very much like the work of Gustav.

Need more information? Visit a fourth grade student at North and ask them about the Somerset Rhapsody and why Gustav had to settle on the trombone.  Yes you can “ask Siri” by using your smart phone, but you may have more fun talking to a smart kid.

Our staff is really engaged in the teaching and learning process on a daily basis.  Do you know that our staff has established what our students need to know and be able to do.  They assess on a regular basis to determine whether or not our kids have mastered the standards or not yet mastered the standards.  They also know what to do if the students have mastered the concept and what to do if they have not yet mastered the concepts.

You would expect that in one of our schools.  However do you also know that our staff has established a school safety plan complete with lock down procedures and it is practiced on a regular basis.  Did you know that internet safety is built into every lesson that requires the use of the internet for learning?  Are you aware that our kindergarten teachers track the weather for the upcoming day to make a decision on whether or not to cancel a filed trip to Meijer Gardens?  All three of these tasks are done with student safety in mind.

By the way, Travis informed me today that he is now on Reading Level 10.  He plans to get to Level 14 and be ready for second grade.  He said second grade is really hard and then made a face that looked a little like the painting “Scream.”  He laughed and ran into the school.

The coaching Travis has provided me over the past two years was featured in an article by School Communicators’ Network.  I am thinking that he may be reminding a lot of people to “remember the important stuff.”  Here is the link:

http://scnforyou.com/blogging-can-be-an-effective-way-to-build-relationships-with-community/

Meanwhile Back at East Oakview……..

Our school resource officer Deputy Andy Kozal of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department is usually housed at our high school.  Over the past few months he has taken his office on the road to each of our schools.  Today, he was operating out of East Oakview.  This is a very proactive approach to help increase the likelihood that our schools are safe.  More importantly are the relationships that Deputy Kozal has formed with hundreds of our students and their families.

“If you give a mouse a cookie…” was being read in one classroom I visited today.  The whole point of the story being read was sequencing and word identification.  As each page was read and spoken by the students, a tangible assist was pulled out of a shoe box and placed on the floor in front of the students.  Great lesson to make words become real rather than abstract letters on a page.

Later on in a 4th grade room math concepts were being discussed and a lesson on concrete and abstract ideas was added a fractions lesson.  The teacher held up a pencil in each hand and told the class that this was a concrete idea – two pencils.  She put the pencils down and held out her cupped hands and said “I have fear in my hands and this is an abstract idea.”  She urged her students to make abstract ideas concrete and they would own the idea.

I think the highlight of the visit today happened on my way out of the building.  The building administrative assistant had a little extra time, picked up a bottle of Windex and started cleaning the office windows.  I had been having a little pain in my right ankle and I thought about asking her if she saw the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?” and if so, would she mind spraying the magic fluid on my ankle.

Maybe another day….

Sincerely and With Great Respect,

Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent
Northview Public Schools

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World Wide Wednesdays With West Oakview – EDE #79 for 2014/15

May 13, 2015
Arrival Time:  7:40 a.m.

IT IS MORE THAN AN EMPTY CARDBOARD BOX!
This morning during drop-off line duty, I watched two men standing next to their respective business trucks.  They were having what appeared to be a discussion between two outstanding tradesmen.  One was our Master Plumber in Northview.  The other was an owner of a construction company and the father of a West Oakview kindergarten student.

Their talk continued for a few minutes and then both headed off to the next important part of their day.  Denny, our Master Plumber, had already been at work for several hours at it was just now 8:00 a.m.  He headed into the school.  The dad paused a few minutes at the bed of his pickup truck and pulled out several empty cardboard boxes.

As he approached the front doors I asked about the boxes.  His response was presented with a smile and a few words that warmed my heart.  He said his child really loves empty boxes and  uses a good imagination to make them into all kinds of things.  He thought that the other kids in the class would like them too, so he has been bringing them in all year long.

They are more than boxes to a young child at West Oakview.  They become cars, planes, trains, houses, spaceships, and a package to ship themselves to somewhere warm like Disney or California.  They are hiding places, dog houses, doll houses, imaginary mountains to climb, boats, and ponds for swimming.

In some very rare cases they are just plain old boxes to sit in or stack.

Parent involvement takes a lot of different shapes.  We appreciate all of the ways our families help us help children learn and get along with each other.  Today it was a dad who recognized that creative play needs cardboard boxes.  He remembered to save the boxes used to deliver materials to his contracting company.  He delivered them to his child’s classroom.  I am betting that his home is filled with books to read to his child and a few more boxes for creative play at home.

This is what parent involvement looks like when it is happening.

When people work together toward common goals we can accomplish anything.

Sincerely and With Great Respect,

Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent
Northview Public Schools

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Hey, It’s Not Wednesday….It’s Friday! EDE #78 for 2014/15

Friday, May 8, 2015
Every Day Evidence #78 for 2014/15

Thursdays With North and East Oakview
……but wait, there is more

World Wide Wednesday With West Oakview on Friday
Thursdays With North and East Oakview

I arrived at North Oakview at 7:40 a.m. on a beautiful spring morning where the only evidence of winter clothing was in the Lost and Found.  I always wonder how the conversation goes when a 3rd grade student arrives at home wearing only one snow boot and a coat that they didn’t have on when they left for school.

Flip Flops, tennis shoes (some red, some much more colorful), spring dresses, shorts, ball gloves, soccer balls, and smiles were the order of the day.  The only draw back of the morning was being down one substitute teacher.  Since the job wasn’t picked up by anyone, the classroom teacher came in even though she was not feeling well.  Eventually, as is the case in each of our schools, staff members divided up students and this allowed the ill teacher to head home.

….. a side note
On Friday morning, the high school principal rushed through the hall heading to sub in a math class.  He didn’t seem worried at all when I reminded him he had an undergraduate degree in English.  His reply was similar to all of our staff when they live the belief that We Are Northview – “I can’t wait to be with our kids.”

Travis had some great words of wisdom for me during our time together at the drop-off line.  He told me about his baseball game last night – the good, the bad, and the really good.  It seems that a player on the opposing team had a ball hit him in the head and nose.  According to Travis it hurt enough that the player couldn’t play any more during the game.  The good part was the other team was down one player and it was easier for Travis’ team to win the game.  The bad part was another kid got hurt and that is “never a good thing.”  Travis went on to say “no matter what, when someone gets hurt you need to care about them.  You need to care about other people even when they don’t get hurt.”  I think my first grade life-coach is getting some great coaching from his parents and he then coaches me.

The 4th grade students who were in the library/media center participated in a exceptionally good book talk.  “Echo” was the book of the day.  Students listened intently as their teacher explained it was four stories in the 500 page book.  The stories were connected by the characters’ love of music.  The stories were set in 1933, 1935, 1942, and 1951.  When I arrived back at the office I ordered a copy of the book for each of our elementary libraries and one for myself.  It was one powerful book talk.

Meanwhile back at East Oakview…….

We were down a substitute teacher at East also.  Just like at North, a classroom was divided up between teachers so that our students didn’t miss any instruction.  Unfortunately, the bug affecting our teachers has also affected several students.

Our office staff is so skilled at comforting students when they are not feeling well.  The amazing part of the skill is they attend to the children while attempting to contact parents.  This happens while phones are ringing, people are signing in to volunteer, mail is being delivered, teachers are asking questions, and the Superintendent is sitting in a chair next to a 4th grade student who has a rash all over his body.

I have yet to visit one of our schools without witnessing large numbers of kids reading a book they chose to read.  Some are reading informational text, others have found a love for poetry, while numbers of kids have favorite authors and can identify who writes the best fiction.

Some of the staff were together off site working on the School Improvement Plan for the 2015/16 school year.  The work includes identifying goals and measures we use to determine whether or not goals are being accomplished.  They are increasing the likelihood that all East Oakview staff can answer four critical questions in the teaching and learning process:

  • What do our students need to know and be able to do?
  • How do we know if students know and can demonstrate the use of the standards?
  • What do we do if they don’t master the standard?
  • What do we do if they have mastered the standard?

Our staff makes the complex process of learning look easy. Some outside of education, including some of our legislators and business leaders – not all of them, state “heck, I can do that.”  I wondered about this statement as I sat next to the 4th grade student with the rash.

But Wait There is More……World Wide Wednesdays With West Oakview on Friday

I was double booked on Wednesday and missed my regular visit.  There was a window of time on Friday morning and I used it to spend an hour at West.  A couple of students reminded me that I had missed Wednesday and questioned why.

One girl broke away from her art project to make a profound statement to me, “hey its not Wednesday, its Friday, you should have been here on Wednesday.”  Then she asked if I had retired yet “because sometimes when you are retired you forget what day it is.”

During this time of year our teachers are busy completing the required curriculum, doing end of the year assessments in reading and math, and this spring they are giving the new State test – M-Step.  One 3rd grade teacher suggested I talk with two of her students who were completing a Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA).  This assessment, given three times a year, shows student growth.  The students informed me they were working on informational text, meta-cognition, and were on level 40 – 4th grade level at the end of 3rd grade.

If you aren’t sure about “meta-cognition” ask one of the 3rd grade students at West.  They will tell you it is thinking about thinking, knowing what questions you are asking yourself while reading, and what do you think about when you are reading.

I didn’t have this skill in 3rd grade.  Back then I was thinking about how to tell my mom and dad that I couldn’t find my winter coat and one of my boots.

The dad who came into the office holding a $5 bill made my day.  He handed it to the office manager and said “this is for any student who wants popcorn but didn’t have $.25.”  No wonder the popcorn parent volunteers were making so much popcorn this morning.

Several students asked me if I had read their “retirement advice yet.”  Just for the record here are a few more pieces of advice:

  • “Ride on a helicopter.”
  • “Just go out and play tag alot.” I wonder if this is like Spamalot?
  • Robert thinks I should “go to your friend’s house and then go buy groceries.”
  • “Eat lots of food that you like.”
  • “Eat ice cream every Saturday.”
  • “Have a bonfire two nights a week.”
  • “Be in the Princess Parade at Disney World.”
  • “Play with your mom.”

Really good advice.  Especially that last one.

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Sincerely and With Great Respect,

Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent

Northview Public Schools

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Remember to vote tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

Good Morning,

REMEMBER TO VOTE TOMORROW – TUESDAY, MAY 5, 2015  Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Make an informed vote on Proposal 1.  This ballot initiative is important as it addresses the needs to fix Michigan Roads and to stabilize the School Aid Fund.

Please share this information with those in your “circles of influence.”

Here are some facts about Proposal 1:

  • Proposal 1 increases the sales tax from 6 cents to 7 cents per dollar, bringing our state sales tax in line with other sales taxes paid in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio.
  • Proposal 1 substitutes the sales tax on gasoline with a funding stream that directs all tax dollars spent at the pump to transportation purposes.
  • Right now the sales tax on fuel provides more than $630 million per year for schools.Proposal 1 replaces the money devoted to schools and prohibits the Legislature from diverting school aid funds to four-year universities, which have received $200 million or more from the school aid fund each year since 2011.
  • Proposal 1 would also provide additional dollars for schools through the increase in the sales tax, as most of sales tax revenues are devoted to public education.
  • A part of the sales tax on fuel also goes to revenue sharing, to help our local municipalities pay for police, fire and other services. Proposal 1 would replace those revenues through the sales tax increase.
  • Many people fear low-income families will bear the brunt of the Proposal 1 sales tax increase because the one-cent increase would represent a larger portion of their family income.Proposal 1 restores a reduction in the earned income tax credit to offset the burden of additional sales taxes on families at or near the poverty level.
  • Proposal 1 creates stability in the School Aid Fund.Under Proposal 1 the School Aid Fund is projected to get an increase of $300 million. This would mean $202 per pupil or $692,860 to Northview.

Sincerely and With Great Respect,

Mike Paskewicz, Superintendent

Northview Public Schools

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