Stronger Together Family Newsletter
May 27, 2020
As we wrap up the last week of May and head into our last full week of the school year, we want to reflect on some positive outcomes. We know we can be flexible and creative when faced with challenges to meet the needs of students and families. We now have better data to understand the needs of those we serve and most importantly, in times like this, we know we can rely on one another.
Please take a moment to review the updates below from our instructional teams.
Career & Technical Education Update
For many years, the Wilson Talent Center (WTC) has honored senior graduates with a WTC medal. Many students choose to wear these medals during their graduation ceremonies at their local districts to represent their time and program involvement at the WTC. This year students from Fowlerville, Haslett, Leslie, Webberville and Williamston will receive their WTC medal from their local district. Students from the districts of Dansville, East Lansing, Lansing, Mason, Okemos, Stockbridge, Waverly and others were able to pick up their medal last week at the WTC.
We would like to take one last opportunity to congratulate all of our graduating seniors! We look forward to seeing what you accomplish in the future. Please visit the WTC website for a list of graduates by district.
Secondly, if there are any WTC junior students who may still have personal items at the WTC, those items will be available for pick up on Wednesday, June 3 and Friday, June 5 near the Cosmetology entrance on the Hagadorn Road side of the building. Junior students with last names A-K can pick up personal belongings from 9-11 am and last names L-Z can pick up between 12-2 pm. Please be sure you have communicated in advance with your instructor about what items you need to claim.
Early Childhood Update
Toddlers have it pretty good. Their job is to work on visual motor skills, grasping, communication and cognitive problem-solving. During telepractice sessions, our Early Childhood staff are providing parents with ideas to focus on these skills through play. This video shows a simple activity idea using painters tape. The parents created a fun, safe, interactive play activity that lasted over an hour for their two toddlers. The girls babbled, explored and used problem-solving skills to take tape from the board and hand to their Mom. The parents decided to expand on the idea and put sticky notes on a vertical surface, so the girls could work on standing balance, up on toes to reach and grasp from different angles.
Is your family going through a lot of wipes these days? Another idea is to save the lids and create games with them such as peek-a-boo who do you see under the lid? This is another fun way to work on visual motor, fine motor, communication, problem-solving and matching of shapes or colors under the lids. This can be adapted for visually impaired children by using Mylar or brightly colored paper.
Regardless of what you have on hand, there are many options for practicing these skills. Maybe these ideas will lead you to some others and create some fun for you and your child!
Student Support Services Update
Our Student Support Services team is still going strong, delivering high-quality programming and support. On average, each week 1,500 students have connected with a staff member, approximately 130 paper packets have been distributed and student participation is still high at over 80%. We hope to keep those numbers up and finish the school year strong.
“During this time of stress and uncertainty, I feel we have retooled the way we instruct our students much like our automotive plants do every year as they begin to roll out the newest and most innovative vehicles. We did this in just a few short weeks. I believe this will help us understand how technology can make us more creative, interactive and better communicators with our students and families. New relationships are growing among educators, students and their families.“ stated Phil Booth, Assistive Technology Consultant.
Karianne Harris, Speech and Language Pathologist, added, "It has been a great opportunity to connect with the parents of my students and communicate with them regarding ways to target speech therapy goals right at home!” We have all had to work together.
Project SEARCH has had some pretty cool things happen in the last few weeks. Alana Anderson and Brooke Locher from Project SEARCH started to see a decline in attendance with a few students and implemented a real-life employee policy with students. Since Project SEARCH is about preparing students for the world of work, this was another good experience for our students. It worked! Students started reporting their attendance and taking days off as needed.
In addition, we want to send a thank you to our State of Michigan Project SEARCH partner, Shawn Vaughn, Department of Transportation Management and Budget. for sharing the history of the program and the personal impact it made working with a Project SEARCH intern. Partnerships like these keep our programs going and help our students achieve success. Thank you Shawn!
May 20, 2020
As we look toward the end of the school year with just a few weeks left, we want to reflect a little on all the changes. Since March 16, we have closed our buildings, placed a pause on education, then restarted education without face-to-face instruction and have been working so hard to complete the school year in a remote learning environment. All of us, families and educators alike.
As we look toward the summer and fall, we are unsure what our educational setting will look like. We want our families to know that we have teams working together on a plan to reimagine education. Flexibility has been the key and we want to find the best way to support all of our learners, using multiple delivery methods. This may mean we have to be flexible again if the need arises. Let's hope that closures will be minimized in the future, and we can safely move forward with educating our families and students.
Thank you for the important role you have all played in helping us move education forward.
Please take a moment to see updates from our instructional areas.
Career and Technical Education
The National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) celebrates the accomplishments of today’s career and technical education students, empowering them to know the value and impact of their career paths and trades. Since 1984, NTHS has been honoring outstanding student achievement, providing scholarships and career development opportunities. Under the chapter leadership of Lindy Daman and Deb Stump, the Wilson Talent Center has inducted and honored deserving NTHS students for many years.
We would like to take a moment and recognize those students serving in an officer position for the chapter. In the AM session we have AnnaMaria Dion (Co-President), Nicole Partridge (Co-President), Alex Nguyen (President Liaison), Abigail Krajniak (Vice President), Gwendolyn Cox (Secretary) and Megan Catron (Secretary Liaison). In the PM session we have Caitlin Fowler (Co-President), Katelyn Franks (Co-President) and Helen Lloyd (Secretary).
With school buildings closed this spring due to COVID-19, we were unable to host the NTHS celebration for our seniors, so our Wilson Talent Center (WTC) staff brought the celebration to them. WTC staff delivered NTHS medallions to each of the 36 seniors' homes so they would have them in plenty of time for their local district graduation ceremonies.
|Jonathan Daman||Nicholas Hardie||Kelsey Andrews|
|Lauren Boylan||Caitlin Fowler|
|Helen Lloyd||Alanna Cox||Paige Wooden|
|Gwendolyn Cox||Ronni Allen||Zoe Barber|
|Jadynn Brown||Desiree Jacobson|
|Abigail Krajniak||Katelyn Franks||Ashlea Nicholas|
|Seth Russ||Paul Do|
|Steven Levra Jr.||Dalton Trimmer||Jacob Trevino|
Nextech High School
|Briona Moss||Doug Jueckstock||
|Julissa Seegraves||Rachel Lee||Carter Emmons|
|Anna Nelson||Nicole Partridge|
Each week, we are connecting and communicating with an average of 384 families. For the first three weeks of virtual services, Home Visitors have provided 399 telepractice visits to families. In the same time frame, we have received 96 new referrals and welcomed 27 new families into services. We so enjoy connecting with our families!
Early Childhood staff has created videos and activities to share with families. Remember Row, Row, Row Your Boat? Watch this version that incorporates parent-child interaction, belly breathing, and different ways you can adapt singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat with infants and toddlers. Check out the video by Miranda, it's very fun!
Student Support Services
The old cliché “jack of all trades” is becoming more and more true of Ingham ISD’s itinerant staff. Itinerants include physical and occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, audiologists, teacher consultants, social workers, psychologists and adaptive physical education staff. These staff members are embracing their new roles in distance learning, collaborating with local districts and families to coordinate the learning and therapies that best fit everyone’s unique needs. It's not easy to provide things like physical and occupational therapies virtually, but we are finding ways to make it work!
As itinerants, we are part of a team that supports a student's needs. We have been writing or contributing to hundreds of contingency plans in partnership with all of our local districts, implementing lessons on multiple learning platforms, writing or attending Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) virtually, and collaborating and problem-solving with education colleagues. A student’s IEP team is encouraged to develop an individualized contingency plan to enable the student to; advance appropriately toward attaining the IEP goals, be involved in and make progress in general education curriculum or appropriate activities for children ages 3-5, participate in extracurricular and other non-academic activities and be educated and participate with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate in all of these activities.
“Distance learning has been a blessing in disguise as I have gotten to know many of my families on a more personal level as communication between myself and parents has increased and thus key to the success of the students I teach and serve,” notes Kristin Knight, a teacher consultant for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Occupational therapist, Tyler Allen, added, "Parents and students have had the flexibility to participate in meaningful play and learning experiences within their home environment. During this time, increased consultation and collaboration has allowed parents to gain a better understanding of functional tasks and motor skill development activities that they can work on with their child while in their natural home environment."
Parents have also been very appreciative of the work being done by our itinerant staff. One parent shared, “I know I have told you before, but I will always be grateful that you came into our life when you did. My child is a different kid than the one you met years ago. He talks constantly, his speech is always becoming clearer, and I think before too long people won’t even know what a delay that he had. He’s a more confident kid, and he’s funny. He’s finding real pride in becoming a reader and works hard for his teachers. All of these successes start with you and working so hard to find the reason he wasn’t a part of our world. I will forever be in your debt, so I wanted to reach out again and express my gratitude.”
Michigan (MI) Alliance for Families is finding ways to keep families well informed from the safety of our homes to their homes. We have created a COVID resources page on our website. It is being updated almost daily as we gather new information about Early On and Special Education, as well as providing resources for distance learning.
MI Alliance has also partnered with The Early Childhood Investment Corporation to provide an online support group for Michigan families.
May 13, 2020
Two months ago, we would not have guessed we would be here today. Many of us are at home while essential workers are keeping us safe. Some families are able to spend more time together.
During tough times, we have to remember to celebrate. Celebrate the small things, wave to your neighbor, share a kind word to the grocery store worker and smile as often as you can. Thank you, parents and educators, for all you do to support our children and one another. It takes all of us working together to finish this school year strong.
Even though we are unsure what the future looks like, we are beginning to make plans for the next school year. We are working together with local districts to develop a few different options as we consider what learning to support our students will look like. It's important that families know that we are having these conversations to be prepared. We want to provide families and staff with a structure that enhances the learning experience, even if it's different than what we've traditionally done. Watch for more information in the coming months.
Please take a moment to review updates from the Ingham ISD instructional areas.
Career & Technical Education
Students who attend the Wilson Talent Center (WTC) know that missing even one day of class at WTC is similar to missing about three class periods at their homeschools. Because students are with us for half a day, each day, they spend more time in career and technical education classes than any other they are currently taking.
We would like to take a few minutes to acknowledge the students that had perfect attendance for the 2019-20 school year. Congratulations to Zachariah Carter, Parker Douglas, Duncan Dusa, Kenzie Greene, Karla Hacker, Maycol Linarez-Hernandez, Jacob Maurer, Madison Pham, Sydney Piper, Luke Render, Andrew Walters, Tyler Barnes, George Brewster VI, Megan Catron, Gabriel Gaddie, Sebastian Metzger, Valerie Hendershott and Caelan Parker!
We also have four students that had perfect attendance for TWO years, they include: Gwendolyn Cox, Jonathan Daman, Chase Dancer and Michael Franklin. To all of these students, we applaud your dedication to education. Accountability like this will certainly be an asset to your future employers!
Also over the past week, WTC staff members delivered National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) medals to our graduating seniors at home. These students not only have achieved excellence in the classroom but have given back to their communities through a variety of activities and volunteerism. While many local districts are still working on potential graduation ceremony plans, we wanted to make sure NTHS students had these medals to recognize their achievements. Congratulations, seniors! Keep an eye on the Wilson Talent Center Facebook page for updates about our student celebrations!
Through a generous donation from Dean Transportation, 207 books were purchased to be mailed to children's homes.
Invitations to ReadyRosie have been extended to 242 families, and so far 107 families have enrolled. ReadyRosie shares activities and games that relate to learning through 2-minute videos, so families can learn together. Families can receive the weekly videos through text message or email and in English or Spanish. ReadyRosie is a very fun and engaging way for families to spend time with their child.
Families currently enrolled in Play and Learn Groups were surveyed about their interest in participating in virtual Play and Learn Groups, their internet access and what types of activities they would prefer to be provided. Over 75% of the families who responded are interested in some type of virtual Play and Learn Groups, 95% have excellent or average internet access and are mostly interested in book shares, songs and rhymes.
Student Support Services
Ingham ISD’s two residential instruction programs, Malcolm Williams School and St. Vincent Home for Children, have taken a unique approach to remote-learning. St. Vincent Home School has an elementary, middle and high school classroom and Malcolm Williams is serving males in grades 6-12. Teachers and paraprofessionals are at home and using GoogleMeet every day, from 9-12, providing instruction to their students. It’s not traditional face-to-face, but instead, face-to-SmartBoard. This technology has given both teachers and students some sense of normalcy. Each classroom has a SmartBoard with a laptop, webcam and microphone. With an additional laptop, students who receive speech and occupational therapy services can get on the individual laptop with their speech teacher and occupational therapist.
According to Karen Keel, a teacher at St. Vincent says, “It’s great to be able to interact with students this way. The kids and staff seem to appreciate the connections and things being more routine. Implementing lessons in this way has made me more aware of the specific needs for students and myself to communicate the information and feedback.”
"It has been great staying connected with students on a regular basis. Whether it's helping a student with math, having a personal conversation about things going on in their lives, or dropping them a quick piece of mail, you can tell that students appreciate the effort and feel connected to school staff. Using Meet, Overall, while it's not the same as being there in person, it is great being able to see their faces, hear their voices, and share a smile," added Jim Schultheiss, another St. Vincent teacher.
Carrie Weidner, a teacher at Malcolm Williams says, “I enjoy working with the students directly via the webcam. Most of the students seem to be adjusting well. With GoogleMeet and the webcam, I am also able to have 'live' classes with my students and paraprofessionals. I think having our faces in the classroom helps keep the student motivated and engaged in their learning.”
The children served in these programs are away from families and home communities. The isolation is difficult enough when you are with your family, in your own home. Many of these students have a history of trauma that may be made worse by being quarantined. Providing an educational program with adults who are familiar and important to them can provide some needed stability during this unusual time.
These are students in the residential program classroom practicing social distancing while they learn from their teachers.
May 6, 2020
"It takes a village to raise a child" - African Proverb
It's National Teacher’s Week! We appreciate the efforts of all of our Ingham ISD educators as we have transitioned to a remote learning environment over the past couple of weeks. We also acknowledge the role parents are playing, often serving as a “teacher” with your own children at home. We thank you for supporting your students and teachers in remote learning, as it is important that we work together to best serve student’s needs.
We have successfully completed week two of remote learning. Everyone is getting into a more regular routine and we are hearing positive stories from staff, students and families about how things are going. We appreciate you reaching out, please continue to do so as you have successes, but also if you need additional support. We are certainly in this together!
Below are some updates from our instructional areas:
MDHHS Resource Guide Supports Family Well-being
The Children's Services Agency within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has developed the "Family Well-Being Guide," a new resource with information on how everyone can support children, parents and other caregivers during the COVID-19 emergency.
Education pricing on computers and accessories
Now through September 30, 2020, several vendors on the 2020 Regional Educational Media Center (REMC) Device Purchasing Bid are offering discounts to staff, students and families on computers and accessories purchased for PERSONAL use!
You can order directly from the top three vendors, you just have to register on their website. Keep in mind with the popularity of technology needs during COVID-19, shipments and deliveries may be delayed. Happy shopping!
Home visitors have been very busy with distance learning. During the first week of implementation, 384 families received at least one contact and 99 families participated in a telepractice session. One of the strategies incorporated for language development is pacing which is modeled for families in the following video by Speech-Language Pathologist, Kathryn Schubert. Access Kathy's video here.
Initial Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are beginning for children transitioning from Early On to local school districts.
Input is being gathered from families who have attended Play and Learn Groups to explore options for offering some type of group experience or activities.
Student Support Services Update
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) classroom teachers, Lisa Booth and Shelby Hastings have been working diligently to prepare materials for their students. Students have received learning kits including academic materials such as puzzles, books, worksheets, hands-on activities and more. The kits also included important supports that these students use to access their learning such as schedules, CORE boards for communication, visuals, whiteboards, sensory tools and even art supplies. These learning kits were delivered to each student (following social distancing rules). Students and families were excited to see familiar faces when the kits were delivered by Lisa and Shelby as well as Jimmy Kodet and Misty Miller.
In addition to the learning kits, the full ASD team has been supporting student engagement and communication since the school buildings closed. The teams are collaborating regularly to meet each student’s needs. Staff have stretched their knowledge to learn new and innovative ways to connect with students and support them the best way they can. In addition, they are joining virtual meetings with student’s general education classes, participating in video calls with parents, videotaped themselves reading stories out loud for students and brainstormed many other creative ideas.
Thank you to our ASD team members for going above and beyond for your students!
Career & Technical Education Update
The Wilson Talent Center (WTC) had planned to present over $28,000 in scholarships on the evening of March 12 at the annual Wall-of-Fame & Awards Dinner. As we prepared to close our school buildings the very next day, it was determined that the event should be postponed for the safety of our students, their families, donors and our staff. This event is such a highlight for the WTC staff as we are able to acknowledge the incredible accomplishments of many of our graduating seniors.
The event is not possible without the generous support of our many business and organizational partners as well as staff and retirees who contribute individually. The money donated allows our graduating students the opportunity to continue learning and excel in their chosen fields of study after leaving the WTC. We hope you have been able to see a glimpse into their accomplishments through various Facebook posts and our media outreach. Read the full story in our press release.
Nineteen students shared in over $28,000 in scholarship monies this year. Congratulations to all of these students and thank you to our generous donors!
April 29, 2020
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.“ - Benjamin Franklin
Education has quickly changed directions, and all of you are now in a different home environment as you play an additional role in educating your children. Of course, you are your child's first teacher, teaching the alphabet, learning colors, sounding out words and so much more. While we recognize this may be difficult to balance right now, we also know that your children admire you and all you do for them. Thank you, for this extra effort during a time when we are unable to connect face-to-face.
Our first full week of remote learning is complete. Some of this time has been spent making sure families and students have what they need to connect and be engaged in the learning process through the end of the year. Many classes now have routine schedules, students who need additional educational supports are being contacted, and we are all finding new ways to deliver instruction. Below are some updates from our instructional teams and resources that may assist you in the weeks ahead.
Resources for Families
The IRIS Center has created a new module specifically for parents to address this urgent and growing need. Parents: Supporting Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic offers practical tools and easy-to-implement strategies to help.
Children learn the fastest during the first three years of life. They gain basic skills that support their development and learning for the rest of their lives. Improving language and literacy experiences in the infant and toddler years has the potential to improve "reading by third grade" outcomes.
Early On staff is showing families different ways they can support language and a child's knowledge of reading and writing skills in many ways in addition to "reading," including sharing books with pictures, story-telling, singing, rhyming, chanting, rapping, imitating and expanding children's oral language skills.
Please watch these fun, homemade videos from Early On Service Coordinator, Karen Hoene, singing with a guest star appearance by her granddaughter.
Paraprofessionals Make Transition to Online Learning a Positive Experience
Two paraprofessionals from Ingham ISD’s SAIL (Skills for Adult Independent Living) program have made the transition to remote learning a positive experience for their students. Nancy Voss, a paraprofessional has jumped right in with online learning. She has a group of students that she is responsible for connecting with on a weekly basis. She is emailing the students daily and even started a book club with them. SAIL Teacher, Wendi (Austin) King, shared, “I love her daily connection to her students in her group and the way she is thinking outside of the box. Nancy is always thinking of what else she can do to connect. She is determined that each student will feel a connection to SAIL every day.”
Dave Cooper, a paraprofessional in the classroom of SAIL Teacher, Sara Kribs, has also really stepped up during this time of remote learning. Dave had developed his technology skills to enhance the new online experience for his classroom. According to Kribs, “Dave has put in great effort to help a student have a better attitude at home. He has made Facetime calls with students, and the students get really excited when he joins them live during class meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of each week.
Thank you to Nancy and Dave for stepping up and out of your comfort zone to make this a better experience for students!
Career and Technical Education
Our instructors have enjoyed reconnecting with students! There are so many inspiring efforts underway by both students and staff to continue learning through the remainder of the year. This time of year, we typically honor our seniors and we hope families of Wilson Talent Center students will share ideas with us so we can recognize their efforts.
We appreciate your continued support and effort during this time. Please reach out to the Wilson Talent Center if your student is struggling in any aspect of their academics or social well-being. We will continue to do our best to support our students.
STUDENTS RECEIVE BREAKING TRADITIONS AWARD
Two Wilson Talent Center students were honored with Breaking Traditions Merit Awards this week. Caitlin Fowler (Stockbridge) from the Culinary Arts & Hospitality program and Jacob Trevino (Waverly) from the Cosmetology program were both recipients. Breaking Traditions awards are presented by the Michigan Department of Education to students who have overcome obstacles and stereotypes to succeed in career and technical education programs that are non-traditional for their gender. Read the full press release on our website. Congratulations to these students and their instructors!
April 22, 2020
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey
With instruction starting again on April 20 and the Governor forgiving days through the Executive Order, all of our school year programs are on track to finish in early June. The School Year Calendar provides an overview of completion dates.
We are also pleased to share that our Continuity of Learning Plan is complete and available on our website for review. Depending on the program you or your child receives services from, instruction and support may look a little different. Please feel free to review it and ask us questions.
This week, we want to share a few inspirational stories with you to illustrate our commitment to you and the love for the work we do every single day. Thank you for being our partners in this educational journey. We are Stronger Together.
Early Childhood Services
Soon, early childhood families who have participated in Play and Learn groups will receive an invitation to join ReadyRosie. This free and simple tool is a great way to continue learning while we are unable to hold face-to-face Play and Learn groups. ReadyRosie shares activities and games that relate to learning through 2-minute videos so families can learn together. Families can receive the weekly videos through text message or email and in English or Spanish. ReadyRosie is a very fun and engaging way for families to spend time with their child.
Students Receiving Special Education Services
With face-to-face instruction coming to an end, this has been an adjustment, to say the least. We know you are all making sacrifices during this time, and the changes in your life may not be easy. Our Heartwood School staff wanted to share a special message to all of their students and families, letting them know they are missed. We hope you enjoy this video from our Heartwood Team.
Career and Technical Education
Chef Corbett Day, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Instructor, has been with Ingham ISD since 2012. He has made significant steps to transform this program over the past 8 years and make the experience meaningful to students. This year is no different, even though the circumstances are very different. On Wednesday, April 15, the second-year students of Wilson Talent Center's Culinary Arts & Hospitality program had a special guest join their class. Chef Day knew his students would miss out on the end of their senior year and not get to attend all of the state and national competitions they had qualified for, so he wanted to do something special for them. For those of you that are not fans of the Food Network, you may want to Google the host of Restaurant Impossible Chef Robert Irvine. In the Culinary world, he's a pretty big deal. We hope you enjoy the video surprise!
Resources for Families
Please contact us at Ingham ISD Communications with input and feedback, so we can continue to serve you in the best way possible.
April 11, 2020
Student learning is near and dear to us at Ingham ISD and the achievement and success of all learners is our top priority. As we move from a traditional school setting with face-to-face interactions and hands-on projects to remote instruction, we will all be adjusting. We want to thank our parents and families and recognize this change has a significant impact on you as well. While each family situation is unique, many are dealing with challenges such as having several children at home, work commitments and conflicts, limited or no internet connections, or the stress of caring for ill family members. Our goal is not to add more stress and pressure, but to provide educational learning opportunities for you and your student through the end of the school year.
Ingham ISD has had a chance to review the Executive Order and we are finalizing our plans to work with students and families through the remainder of the school year. Many of our team members have been reaching out to determine family needs to complete this school year. Next Wednesday, and every Wednesday until the end of the school year, we will send out a “Stronger Together” newsletter to keep you informed on what’s happening with our programs and share ideas between families.
We are all learning through this process and we hope you will provide us with candid feedback, so we can improve our process in the months ahead. You can contact us at email@example.com. This will help us prepare for the future. We thank you for your patience and look forward to working with all of you.
Yours in Education,
Jason Mellema, Superintendent
Instructors and Home Visiting Staff have connected with many of our students and families over the past two weeks to determine remote learning needs. We appreciate those who were able to take our survey to help us determine the best way to reach you. If you have not been able to take that survey, a letter will be mailed to your home next week. Please take a moment to fill out the survey and return it to us in the business reply envelope provided. If you prefer to take the survey online and you just haven't had a chance to do that, please visit our Family Connectedness Survey page and select your program.
Future Newsletter Sections
Starting next week, we will provide updates in Early Childhood, Special Education and Career and Technical Education. Keeping students and families informed is important as we make a significant shift in our delivery methods. Watch for more information next week!