Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Leadership Team to Participate in Future Ready Regional Summit

The Godfrey-Lee district is sending a team of school district leaders to Prairie Trail School in Wadsworth, Illinois to participate in the next of thirteen Future Ready Regional Summits, on June 15-16, designed to help district leaders improve teaching and learning through the effective use of technology.  President Obama announced the regional summits at the ConnectED to the Future Convening, hosted at the White House Nov. 19, 2014.  Superintendent David Britten was one of two Michigan participants in that White House summit last fall.  This regional summit is being hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Superintendent Britten and our district leadership team are furthering Godfrey-Lee’s commitment to becoming future ready by engaging in a series of workshops that offer expert support to create or build upon an existing digital learning plan that aligns with instructional best practices, is implemented by highly trained teachers, and leads to personalized learning experiences for all students, particularly those from traditionally underserved communities. Joining him for the regional summit are Board of Education President Eric Mockerman and Director of Technology and Media Services Daniel Townsend.

“We gathered during the school year and conducted a complete assessment of our technology initiatives to provide a more clear vision of where we want to go as a district, and what our next steps are,” Britten remarked. “We’ve been a leader in West Michigan in the integration of technology into our teaching and learning, and for the benefit of our students, we want to be sure our district remains on the cutting edge.”

“Superintendents provide critical leadership to ensure that every child in their district benefits from what we know matters and what we know works for kids,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The Future Ready Regional Summits will be a forum where local leaders can share knowledge with their peers, engage leaders from outside their region and better equip themselves with skills and tools necessary to provide students with what they need to be successful in life.”

The summits are an important step toward realizing the goals of the ConnectED Initiative announced by President Obama in 2013 to connect 99 percent of students to high-speed Internet and empower teachers with the technology they need to transform teaching and learning. The regional summits are expected to engage more than 1,800 district leaders nationwide.

“Future ready is about helping district leaders leverage technology to empower teachers, engage students, and close persistent equity gaps by creating a learning environment where all students have access to the tools and expertise they need to be prepared for the future,” said Richard Culatta, director of the Education Department’s Office of Educational Technology (OET).

The summits are open to district leadership teams that have made a commitment to developing the human and technological capacity needed to transform teaching and personalize learning using digital tools, by signing the Future Ready District Pledge. Already, more than 1,800 district superintendents nationwide have taken the pledge.

For more information about the OET, including resources for students, parents and educators, visit http://tech.ed.gov.  #FutureReady

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Year-End Message to Parents

As I drafted this post a couple of weeks ago, we were in the final stages of preparing for graduation and sending our senior class onto the next stage of their lives. This was the 91st graduating class since Lee High School’s first graduation back in 1925. While times have changed, the dreams of each member of this year’s graduating class remain largely the same. Each has left here with some uncertainty about the next steps but a strong sense of accomplishment, having successful completed the first thirteen years of their life-long education.

The overall goals of K-12 education have changed substantially since the first group of five Lee High School seniors graduated in 1925. In those days, the primary goal was to have as many students as possible complete at least the 8th grade with only about half attending all four years of high school. Those last four years were mainly intended to develop a basic level of knowledge and civic responsibility that ensured these new young adults could successfully gain employment in the many area industries, marry, rent or purchase a home, raise a family, and enjoy a reasonably secure lifestyle. Another handful of high school graduates would go on to college and pursue professional or managerial careers upon earning their degree. A few would serve in the military first.

Schools back then were designed to “sort and select” for the various needs of business and industry, but all that has changed with the onset of the 21st century. Today, our district is engaged in the continuing transformation of ensuring all of our students remain in school through the 12th grade, graduate ready to pursue a college degree or similar post-high school training, and gain successful employment in the new economy of jobs requiring higher skills and knowledge. The entire professional staff at Godfrey-Lee is continuously focused on changing our school structure, classroom teaching and learning processes, and programs designed to be more engaging for our students.

Our hope is that we have been on target in meeting the needs of this year’s graduating class and will have played a major role along with you, the parents, in their future success. We’re just as excited as they are for the next phase of life’s adventure and I wish each all the best.

As for the rest of our students and families, I look forward to your return this fall.

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Message to our Class of 2015

cap01Congratulations to our 2015 graduates. With the extraordinary help of your parents and persistence on the part of your teachers, you have crossed the finish line of the first phase of life’s journey. It’s definitely an exciting time where finally you will be able to live your own life, make decisions for yourself, and at last do exactly what you want.

Well, maybe. The good news is you’re now free to make your own choices, but wait, because the bad news is you’re free to make your own choices. You see, the world is becoming ever more complex and decisions get harder every day. You may make a decision that results in exactly what you want, and you may make one that leads you in a direction you’ll regret. Every decision you confront will ultimately be based on choices and how will you know when you’ve made the best — or right — one?

Therefore, as you walk out the door following graduation, keep in mind that from this day forward you own more than you ever did before, all the choices you will make and the directions you take. Your parents have spent the past eighteen years and your teachers the last thirteen equipping you the best they can to help you move ahead. Now that you’ve mounted that horse, you’ll be responsible for taking the reins and moving out along a path that will take you toward your dreams. Your family and friends will be there to support you (or sometimes lovingly chastise you), but the reality is you have to take control, evaluate your options, make critical decisions, and act on them in the best manner possible.

Although the next phase won’t be easy — whether you’re off to college, a job, technical training, the military, or somewhere else — but it will be full of exciting adventures — as well as pitfalls. I’d be remiss if I let you think it will be rosy from here on out, though, because there will be struggles, and failures, and sometimes pain. I’ve been there. So have your parents and teachers. We’ve each encountered our bogeyman from time to time but have used our abilities to think, communicate, reason, create and develop supportive relationships that help overcome them. Rest assured, so will you.

I often share my favorite movie line that goes something like this: Thomas Wayne says to his son, Bruce (a.k.a., Batman), “Why do we fall?” Bruce is unsure, and his father responds,  “So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” You see, you will make mistakes and you will experience falls. Mostly small ones but some of them will be monumental blunders. The most important thing I personally hope you’ve come to realize these past eighteen years is that you can learn from those mistakes and get past them. Mistakes may be painful but they’re not permanent. If you don’t want them to be.

It’s going to depend on you and how you respond to life’s bumps and bruises. If after falling, you simply choose to sit in the dirt and cry about your lot, you’ll likely get exactly what you have coming — dirty (and maybe stepped on). If you instead choose to think through what are often complex decisions, make better choices, and take the action steps you need to pick yourself up and get ahead, you’ll do just that.

Eventually. Maybe not at first, but patience and persistence will pay off.

So once again congratulations on arriving intact at this milestone. Graduation is a time to celebrate you, as well as a time to thank those around you — your parents, teachers and classmates — who helped you get here. But, it’s also the perfect time to come to grips with the fact that life from this point on is going to change. Oh yes, it will change.

How it changes and how you respond will be largely up to you.

Always Rebels!

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3 Godfrey-Lee Schools Recognized for Cardiac Preparedness by State of Michigan

Today, three Godfrey-Lee schools were named MI HEARTSafe Schools by the Michigan Departments of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Education (MDE), American Heart Association (AHA), Michigan Athletic Association (MHSAA) and Michigan Alliance for Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young (MAP-SCDY) which recognizes schools that are prepared to respond to cardiac emergencies.

With the assistance of our two Spectrum Health school nurses — Rebecca Quigley and Nicole Kalinowski — East Lee Campus, Godfrey Elementary and the Early Childhood Center achieved this designation.

Between 1999 and 2009 in Michigan, there were 3,134 young individuals between 1 and 39 years of age who died of sudden cardiac death. Of those, 246 were between 5 and 19 years of age. In its second year, the MI HEARTSafe Schools designation is Michigan’s commitment to reducing the number of sudden cardiac death in our youth. Last year was the first year of the program, and 40 schools were designated in Michigan.

“Sudden cardiac death claims the lives of more than 300 Michigan children and young adults between the ages of one and 39 years of age each year,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of MDHHS. “Implementation of CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) within 3-5 minutes is crucial for increasing the chance of survival. Cardiac arrest is often unexpected and frightening, and I’m pleased to see so many of our schools taking preventative measures to address this health issue.”

Public Act 12 of 2014 requires all schools (grades kindergarten to 12) to have a cardiac emergency response plan in place. All of our schools currently have an existing cardiac emergency response plan and have taken additional steps to be prepared for a cardia emergency.

In order for a school to receive a MI HEARTSafe designation, it must perform at least one cardiac emergency response drill per year; have a written medical emergency response plan and team; have current CPR/AED certification of at least 10 percent of staff; have accessible, properly maintained and inspected AEDs with signs identifying their location; and ensure pre-participation sports screening of all student athletes using the current physical and history form endorsed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

For more information about the MI HEARTSafe Schools program, visit www.migrc.org/miheartsafe.

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Lee High School Noted for Improvement

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has notified the district that Lee High School has been released from its 2010 priority status due to the hard work of our professional staff and students these past five years.

I’m pleased to send the attached letter notifying you of the release of one of your schools form Priority School Status. Congratulations to you and to your school leaders, staff, and students for their diligence in school improvement!

As you may recall, Lee High School was identified for a significant federal school improvement grant that ran from 2010-11 through the start of the 2013-14 school year. That funding coupled with Rebel spirit and dedication led to the high school’s substantial climb in the top-to-bottom rankings of Michigan schools, particularly during the first two years.

I echo Superintendent Flanagan’s praise and include a copy of his letter, below.

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Also read: 27 Michigan schools removed from priority list after moving out of bottom 5 percent

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Event at Lee Middle & High School

Students and staff at Lee Middle & High School were evacuated this morning due to an unidentified odor. Emergency first responders were immediately called in to determine the type and cause of the odor. School staff moved the high school students to Lee Street Church (thank you, Pastor Kent Rottman) while the middle school moved into the 6th grade campus.

Trained responders searched the entire school building while administrative and maintenance staff worked to open windows and doors for ventilation. While it was determined the odor was strongest in or near the boys locker room, no exact source could be located. From the reactions experienced by staff and first responders, it appears it may have been caused by someone releasing pepper spray, a non-toxic irritant. It dissipated within an hour and the building was cleared by emergency personnel for students and staff to return.

We are reviewing our surveillance camera tapes and keeping an ear open for any information that might lead to the individual or individuals who may have caused this incident.  In the meantime, classes will continue for the rest of the day as normal. We appreciate the great support we received as usual from our Wyoming Safety Department.

We take the safety and well-being of our students, staff and visitors to our schools very seriously and will always error on the side of precaution in situations like this.Bringing any foreign substance into a school building that may harm individuals and disrupt the normal educational process is not only a serious discipline issue but a crime, and if it’s determined that any of our students were involved in this type of behavior, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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Opting Out of State Testing – State’s Official Position

There has been some talk in the media, on social networking, and face-to-face about students (via their parents) opting out of state-mandated annual assessments. I wanted to briefly pass along to you the official position of Michigan’s State Superintendent and Board of Education.

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Our school district is measured under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law on these annual mandated assessments. While I personally believe they waste a lot of valuable learning time, serve to narrow the curriculum, and utilize state and school resources that would better serve your children while spending time learning valuable 21st century skills, the fact remains that we are required by law to administer them. Should your child’s school not meet or exceed 95% of students in any grade level or subgroup completing these tests, the school will receive the lowest grade (RED) possible signifying it as a “failing school.”

If you have questions, please bring them to your child’s principal or feel free to contact me in the district administration office. You can also read the parent information on M-Step, the new name for Michigan’s annual assessments, at (PDF reader required):

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/M-STEP_Parent_Letter_485249_7.pdf

Thank you.

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