“One Wyoming” wants your input

[Versión en Español abajo]

One Wyoming, a collaborative of area churches, schools, businesses and government, is asking for your input to help them understand how you feel about your city, and identify how to make it a better place for all of us to live. All individual answers will remain confidential.

This is a great opportunity to express your desires for your neighborhood, the Godfrey-Lee community, and the city as a whole. A similar survey is being conducted in other Wyoming communities, as well.

You can take this short survey at the following links designated specifically for Wyoming residents who live in the Godfrey-Lee area:

English: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/onewyomingglps


One Wyoming, un área colaborativa de iglesias, escuelas, negocios y gobierno,  está solicitando su punto de vista, para ayudarles  a entender cómo se siente usted acerca de su ciudad e identificar cómo  hacerla un lugar mejor para vivir para todos nosotros. Todas las respuestas individuales permanecerán confidenciales.

Esta es una gran oportunidad para expresar sus deseos para su colonia, la comunidad de Godfrey-Lee y la ciudad en su totalidad.  Una encuesta similar se está llevando a cabo también en otras comunidades de Wyoming.

Usted puede llenar esta encuesta corta  en los enlaces siguientes:

Spanish: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/onewyomingglpsspanish


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Superintendent Performance Survey Results

Several weeks back, I asked the district staff to complete a 26-item survey as to how they felt I had performed at least in the last year in each of the various areas. The final item is an overall performance rating.

This feedback is invaluable to me as I focus on areas of needed growth in the coming year. The survey will also be considered by our Board of Education as it completes my annual evaluation.

The results of the survey are in PDF format and are provided for your review by clicking on the following link.

Superintendent’s Performance Survey for 2015-16

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Graduation Rates: The Full Story

The State of Michigan has released the graduation rates for the cohort Class of 2014-15 and overall they continue to climb.

Reports by local media tend to show a district’s combined graduation rate, lumping together all of the high schools within a district, including those designed to provide an alternative pathway to a high school diploma or GED for students who for many reasons were not successful at their home school.

The chart below depicts the 4, 5 and 6 year graduation rates for those students in our district who graduated in 2015. As you can clearly see, the rates continue to improve overall but don’t tell the full story for each high school.

District All Years Trend

Lee High School, which has experienced significant growth as well as a substantial cultural change since the dawn of the 21st century, continues a strong 4-year on-time graduation trend as the chart below depicts. Considering that the community battles with the highest child poverty rate in the county and our extraordinary staff works to help many limited-English-proficient students meet success, we should be proud of what our students, parents and staff accomplish each year!

LHS 4 Year TrendThe trend for Lee High School’s graduation rate continues to be higher than the statewide graduation rate as the following two charts indicate:

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.35.50 PMEast Lee Campus is a non-traditional high school that provides many young men and women with what often is their last chance to successfully complete high school or prepare for the GED test. This school is an “open enrollment” campus that allows students who have dropped out or find they are struggling due to a number of life’s circumstances to return to the classroom. Many are already behind in their education and it isn’t unusual for students to take an additional year or two to complete their graduation requirements. We believe the opportunity we provide these students is invaluable and contributes positively to the community and Greater Grand Rapids area at large. The federal and state government and many of our citizens, however, don’t always see it that way and prefer to label our district as sub-standard or failing. Little do they know.

The chart below illustrates the 4-year graduation rate at East Lee but as I pointed out, it’s unfair to brand the school as anything but exemplary given that most students arrive there behind in their respective educations. Because it’s not unusual for a student to need a 5th year to get on track and successfully complete the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements for graduation, the next subsequent slide shows the positive 5-year trend for graduates through 2015.

ELC 4 Year Trend

ELC 5 Year TrendAs you can see from the chart below, the trend has accelerated significantly since 2010 but actually, it has been improving since the graduation rate was sort of drifting along hit bottom in 2009-10, as the next chart shows. At that point, we made some changes and much of this improvement is attributable to effective leadership and the hard work of staff and students to rebrand the school and develop a more rigorous academic and job skills focus. Since those changes, the improvement has been very positive.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.54.47 PM

This chart is a similar trend chart as the one above but for the four years preceding. If you follow this one to the one above it, you will get an idea of the dramatic turnaround at East Lee Campus these past seven years.

We’re proud of our high schools (as we are of all our schools) and the success they are achieving! We’re very excited for the future of our students who have been demonstrating time and again they have what it takes to overcome many obstacles they face and reach their educational goals and life dreams.

If you wish to examine this data in more detail or look at other data for our district, state or any school in the state, you can go to http://www.mischooldata.org.

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Should we revisit our school starting times?


Several years ago, the district did a preliminary study on the benefits of switching to a later daily starting time along with some of the attitudes of students, parents and staff towards the idea. There did not appear at the time sufficient support to move forward on switching to a later starting time but more and more health and education officials are clamoring for it, with study after study now showing the positive effects of school bells aligning more with student sleep cycles, particularly at the middle and high school levels.

I’d like to share the following links so that you can be informed of the value and inherent obstacles of changing to a later start time.

Students find more awareness with later starts


So in a state where most high schools start before 8 a.m., Nauset school officials in 2012 did the unthinkable: They pushed their start time back to 8:35 a.m., giving students an extra hour to sleep in.

The results were instantaneous, administrators say. More students showed up to school refreshed. Tardiness fell by 35 percent, and the number of Ds and Fs dropped by half.

Now, several high schools across Massachusetts are exploring whether to follow suit. The push for later start times is emerging in such districts as Belmont, Boston, Masconomet, Mashpee, Newton, and Wayland. The state Legislature is considering a bill to study the issue statewide.


In more than 40 states, at least 75 percent of public schools start earlier than 8:30 a.m., according to the CDC’s report. And while later start times won’t replace other important interventions—like parents making sure their children get enough rest—schools clearly play an important role in students’ daily schedules, the report concluded.


The changes are a culmination of a yearslong campaign by parents, teachers and sleep scientists, who advocated for changing school start times to better match teens’ biological clocks. The Seattle teachers union supported the changes.

“The proposal to change bell times is the result of a research-based community initiative,” the union said. “It will improve learning, health and equity for thousands of Seattle students.”


Classes should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., there should be a minimum of 11 hours between the end of the last scheduled school-sponsored activity and the start of school the next day, and homework needs to be limited.


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How’s our water?

With the Flint water crisis on pretty much everyone’s mind, I wanted to assure our students, parents, staff and community that we take the quality of drinking water in our schools seriously.

I recently directed the testing of drinking water in all of our schools as well as our administration office. The samples were taken on February 9 and we received the reports just this past week.

The Federal “Lead and Copper Rule” established an acceptable range for lead from 0 to 0.015 ppm (parts per million). In all of our tests, the results concluded that there were no detectible lead contaminates in our drinking water. All test samples were given a passing determination with the conclusion that all meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Primary (health-related) Drinking Water Standards maximum contaminant level goals for human consumption.

IMG_1968Copies of the certificates of water analysis are available at our main administration office on Burton Street should you wish to inspect them.

We are also reviewing a new report out from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation titled “Managing Lead in Drinking Water at Schools and Early Childhood Education Facilities” (February 2016) and will use its recommendations as a guide to help prevent any such contamination in the future.

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HCD21 Update: How might we…?

As we move through various phases in our district’s human-centered design project, we ultimately end up asking ourselves a series of transformational questions that begin with, “How might we…?”

The video below was just completed to illustrate the thinking that’s going on across the district as we look at how we can better serve the needs of our students, teachers, families and the community. Throughout the video, there are a number of underlying “How might we…?” questions that are forcing us to think about what school has been and is like right now, and how do we get from where we are to where learners want to be?

How might we help students create meaning?

How might we know our community better?

How might we follow learner interest?

How might we create a satisfying learner ecosystem?

How might we shape a problem-solving culture?


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HCD21 Update: Ideation Phase

In our district’s human-centered design project, we are getting set to enter the ideation phase where we’ll share and make sense of a large quantity of data gathered from in-home interviews with a number of our families, as well as from secondary research uploaded during the inspiration phase. We will be using the general process and several tools similar to those found in IDEO.org’s Field Guide to Human-Centered Design.

Our district HCD21 (re-design) team will meet over several days prior to spring break to view this data, capture ideas, stories, learnings and hunches, and organize the data into groupings. We’ll share our experiences during the interviews that stuck with us and look at how they relate to our original problem statement. Our overall goal will be to build a repository of stories for the team to draw on, capture powerful anecdotes, and build a narrative that helps guide us towards concrete solutions.


The ideation phase is one of the most difficult in the human-centered design process, requiring deep, critical thinking about what we’ve learned and how the learnings challenge our previous assumptions. Some of the activities we’ll be engaged in are intended to help uncover the themes, isolate key ideas and reveal those opportunities for design that can evolve into prototypes later this summer and throughout the next school year.

Our goal over the next four weeks will be to spark those discussions within our team that lead to new thinking, bridging synthesis with prototyping and future iteration. Synthesis of the themes and patterns will evolve into insight statements relative to our design challenge that point us forward once we explore our hunches and reframe the statements into critical “how might we” questions. These will ultimately provide us with the framework for innovative thinking and we’ll be sharing all of those results as we go through the sessions coming up.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 6.56.01 AM

The most important thing we have to remember as we go forward is to continue to trust the human-centered design process step-by-step, using the tools that our partners at NewNorth Center provide for this phase. Design is all about getting to something you can’t quite visualize at this point but perhaps some rays of light are starting to seep through and these steps done faithfully will either challenge or affirm the innovative thinking we’re experiencing.

Our team is also excited to be having an additional handful of teachers joining us who attended an update session on our HCD21 project and want to be more directly involved in the design process. Design-thinking is a powerful tool for improving learning at the classroom and school level, not just the district as a whole. Many classroom teachers across the country are taking advantage of it and schools are using it to design or redesign programs that benefit students. The process is similar to the one we’ve undertaken as a district but can move much quicker when focused on a particular classroom or school-level procedure, space, or activity. The teachers and principals involved on our HCD21 team are gaining tremendous knowledge and experience with the design-thinking process that could benefit our students and this community at a variety of levels over the long haul.

I’ll be posting on our progress throughout our upcoming sessions scheduled for February 24, March 9, March 10 and March 22. We’ll be sure to share with you all of the data, our synthesis, themes, patterns, and insight statements that evolve out of our work.

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