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Director’s Note April 2018

Greetings all,

 

Let me start by congratulating and thanking all of you who put so much work into producing the talent show. The performances were amazing! The production by our middle school students was seamless, and the hard work put into preparing our middle school students by all of the adults was evident in every aspect of the show.  Thank you!

 

The return from spring break signals the start of our testing season.  The kindergarten through second grade students will be taking the Michigan Early Literacy and Math Benchmark Assessments. The testing window runs from April 9th through May 25th.

Grades 3 through 8 will be taking the M-STEP Assessment April 9th through May 25th.

Your child’s teacher can provide you with exact testing dates.

 

We will be celebrating Earth Day on Friday, April 20th. This is an annual community event. Please come out and enjoy your day with us.

 

-Al

Director’s Note March 2018

Dear Community,

 

Spring is always a busy time, and this year will not be an exception. March kicks off the state assessment season. Students who qualify as English Language Learners will be participating in the WIDA this month, and on April 9th through May 4th, fifth and eighth grade students will be assessed with the M-STEP. Grades three, four, six, and seven will take the M-STEP between April 30th and May 25th.  Kindergarten, first, and second grade students will take the Early Literacy and Mathematics Benchmark Assessment between April 9th and May 25th. As testing dates grow closer, your child’s teacher will provide you with the actual class schedule.

 

While you may still see Tracy Cummings on campus, she is no longer providing Speech and Language service for Honey Creek. I hope that you will join me in wishing her the best as she resumes utilizing her talents as a full-time mom. Ursula Anderson has joined us as our Speech and Language Pathologist. Ursula has experience in both hospital and educational settings, and earned her MA at Wayne State University. Please join me in welcoming Ursula to Honey Creek.

 

Finally, I’d like to remind you that our annual talent show will take place from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Friday, March 16. Please remember that dinner will not be served this year.

 

Best,

 

Al

Director’s Note February 2018

Greetings all,

We have been hit hard by the flu season. Our staff continues to wipe down surfaces with Clorox Wipes to limit the spread of illness, and while regular attendance is important, we urge you to keep your child home when he or she is ill. I’m hopeful that the mid-winter break, scheduled for February 15-19, will provide enough time for the viruses to cease spreading.

 

Honey Creek held two enrollment meetings in January, and once again we will have waitlists at all levels as the interest exceeds the number of available seats.

 

On January 5th, Metro Parent published an article on the top 100 elementary schools in Michigan. There are a total of 1402 elementary schools in the state, and Honey Creek was rated number 85. The vast majority of schools rated higher than Honey Creek are in Oakland County. Those schools receive significantly higher funding than Honey Creek. For example, Troy, which holds the top nine spots, receives $9075 per student compared to Honey Creek, which receives $7631 per student. If Honey Creek received the same level of funding, we would have an additional $361,000.

 

Here is the link if you would like to know how ratings were determined:

https://www.metroparent.com/daily/education/public-schools/best-public-elementary-schools-in-michigan/?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=2018+Best+Public+Elementary+Schools+in+Southeast+Michigan&utm_campaign=Daily+01-31-18+English+Garden+ad+placedhttp://bit.ly/2FRGaAu

Finally, I’d like to express my congratulations to the students and their teachers for an outstanding Curriculum Celebration. I’ve heard from many parents how impressed they were by the quality of work that was on display.

 

Best,

 

Al

 

Director’s Note January 2018

Happy New Year!

 

It appears that winter has decided to maintain its presence this year, and with that, we have not only slick roads, but also increasing growing piles of snow. These snow piles are often a great attraction to students of all ages. Unfortunately, they also border our parking lot and drive. Children playing on these mounds often make fast descents, planned or unplanned, which place them in danger. We want to keep all students safe, so please join us in restricting students from playing on the snow piles near the drive or parking lot.

 

Important events for this month include our enrollment meetings on January 16th from 5:30 to 7:30 and January 20th from 10 till noon.  Our Curriculum Celebration is set for January 19th from 4:30 to 6:30, and Washtenaw International High School will be meeting with our eighth grade students at 1:30 that afternoon. Finally, we have a noon dismissal on January 26th.

 

Stay warm and safe!

 

Al

Director’s Note December 2017

Greetings all:

 

With the start of December came the winter winds as well as a number of activities at Honey Creek. Please keep in mind that our craft sale and Winter Performance will take place on Thursday December 14th.  The winter break will begin on December 25th and continue through January 5th.

 

Once we return, our enrollment process for new families will begin with our two enrollment meetings. The first will take place on Tuesday, January 16th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm and the second is scheduled for Saturday, January 20th from 10:00 am till noon. Families enrolling siblings need not attend, but if you know of a family that is interest in enrolling a kindergarten child in Honey Creek, please share this information.  Families with children entering other grades are welcome, but should know that chances of being admitted are slim.

 

Third through eighth grade students completed the TerraNova just before Thanksgiving. Results will be available in January.

 

The Michigan Department of Education will be altering the M-STEP assessment by eliminating all performance tasks and adding machine scored items to replace a portion of the written responses. The table below indicates predicted test durations for the various grade levels.

 

Subject Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
ELA Computer Adaptive 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours
Math Computer Adaptive 1.5 hours 1.5 hours 1.5 hours 2hours 2 hours 2 hours
Science Field Test NA NA .75 hours NA NA .75 hours
Social Studies Part 1 NA NA .5 hours NA NA .5 hours
Social Studies Part 2 NA NA .5 hours NA NA .5 hours
Estimate total time 3.5 hours 3.5 hours 5.25 hours 4 hours 4 hours 5.75 hours

 

Additionally, grades three through eight will take a benchmark assessment in ELA and Mathematics two or three times per year beginning in 2018-19. The state will provide an approved list of vendors for the benchmark assessments later in the spring.

 

I wish you a safe and peaceful holiday season!

 

Al

 

Director’s Note November 2017

Greetings all,

 

Its that time of year when we need begin planning for winter weather. We do not follow Ann Arbor Public Schools, and our decision to close will be based on predictions and actual conditions on the ground. Generally, Honey Creek will not close for cold weather; however, if the cold is accompanied by blowing and drifting snow causing unsafe driving conditions we will close. Once the decision is made, we will send out an email, post on our website, notify local television and radio stations, and if you have registered, send a text through REMIND. If you would like to receive text notifications of school closings, please use the link below and follow the instructions on the page. If you have subscribed to text notifications in prior years, you do not have to sign up again.

 

Sign up to receive Remind texts for school closings

 

Finding a balance between maintaining a safe environment and providing community access is always a challenge. To keep the school secure and safe we need the support and cooperation of our families. Here are a few of our expectations:

 

  • Do not exceed the posted speed limits on the driveway.

 

  • Pull up to the curb when picking up or dropping off students. Do not double-park.

 

  • The C-Wing drive is only to be used for bus service and deliveries. Do not pick up or drop off students in that area.

 

  • Enter the building through the main entry. The doors by the cafeteria and A-Wing are for staff entry and exit only. (I will unlock the doors near the cafeteria for after school and evening events).

 

  • Never block a door open.

 

Your cooperation in keeping the building secure and safe for all of the building users is greatly appreciated.

 

Our third through eighth grade students will begin taking the TerraNova assessment in November. Results of the assessment will be available in early December.

 

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you who participated in the “Tools for Schools” challenge. Your participation allowed us to pull ahead in the final days, and we accepted a check for $1000.00 from Old National Bank on October 25th.

 

Wishing all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Al

Director’s Note October 2017

Greetings all,

 

The school year is off to a great start, and I appreciate all of the effort to get students here on time each day. I know that the policy was put into place rather abruptly, so I’d like to address some of the concerns that have been brought to my attention.

 

Let me start by stating that the intent of this policy is to address chronic tardiness and absenteeism. This has been a major problem in Washtenaw County, and Honey Creek has also experienced issues regarding excessive tardiness and absenteeism. I’m also aware that for many, this has not been an issue.

 

We understand that many families have legitimate reasons for absences and tardies, and we are happy to work with you regarding those absences and tardies.  Of course, our goal will always be to increase attendance; however, this often requires working with families to assure appropriate services are in place to address the challenges impacting attendance. Communicating with us is key to addressing attendance issues and identifying possible solutions. Below is a list of criteria for considering an absence as excused after the sixth absence. Documentation is required:

 

  • Student’s illness/medical reason
  • Medical appointments (including but not limited to medical, counseling, dental or optometry)
  • Student’s observance of a religious holiday
  • Death in the student’s family
  • Other emergency beyond the control of the student or the student’s family
  • Mandated court appearance (written documentation from court required)
  • Placement by Juvenile Court in detention, shelter care, foster care or residential placement
  • Extraordinary educational opportunities as determined and pre-approved by district administrators (This can include family travels. Please check with your child’s teacher prior to the trip)
  • Absences related to parent/guardian’s military service
  • ▪Homelessness

 

This policy has already had a very positive impact on our attendance. We have seen a significant decline in the number of late arrivals, and our observation is that student learning time has been increased by as much as 100 minutes per week.  Additionally, we have had the ability to connect families to county services previously unknown to them. Implementation of this policy has enhanced the educational opportunities for all of our students.

 

We also know that there are events that take place such as inclement weather and accidents. We keep a record of those events on a calendar so that they can be noted in the event we are required to file a report to the county.

 

I’d also like to ask you to keep safety in mind. The speed limit on campus is 15MPH and 5MPH on the drive in front of the school. We have many children transitioning to and from vehicles, so please be careful as you approach and depart the curb. Please be aware and keep the children safe.

 

On another note, I’m pleased to announce that Marta England began working as our new art teacher on October 2. Marta has both a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree in fine arts. She was granted temporary certification by the Michigan Department of Education and will be pursuing full certification.

 

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you for your participation in the “Tools for Schools Challenge.” We were falling behind for a few days, but you chipped in when it really counted.

 

Picture day is October 6, and conferences are scheduled for October 13th and 20th.  The Fall/STEM Festival will take place on the 20th. Watch for messages from the PTO regarding exact times.

 

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming events!

 

Best,

 

Al

 

Director’s Note June 2017

Greetings All,

 

It’s hard to believe that the school year is quickly coming to an end. Once again we have a full cohort of eighth grade students graduating. The celebration will take place on June 13th at 5:00. If you have not yet attended one of our graduations, you are in for a treat. School ends the following day at noon.

 

On June 19th, construction of the roundabout at Scio Church and Wagner Road will begin. Construction of the roundabout is expected to take two months. The intersection will be closed to traffic during this time.

 

We will be beginning construction on campus at the same time. The Intermediate School District will be adding two modular classrooms to support campus wide renovations. This will require both Teresa and Liz to pack their classrooms and store all of their belongings in the other two modular classrooms. Cindy and Jon will also need to pack up their rooms to prepare for renovations in those areas. While not concrete, the present plan includes temporarily moving Middle School Science and Middle School Math to the new High Point renovation modular classrooms. They will be housed there until January when they will be moved along with the 4/5 science classroom into B-Wing. This will be their permanent location.

 

Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a wonderful summer. May you do something relaxing, something new, something challenging, and something personally rewarding!

 

Best,

 

 

Al

Director’s Note May 2017

Dear Families,

 

Thank you to those of you who responded to my survey regarding an early dismissal time on Fridays. For the most part, responses were very positive; however, there were some concerns raised that I would like to address.

 

The challenge around scheduling developed when the state of Michigan increased the number of mandatory school days in the school year. The mandate required us to increase our schedule from 175 days to 180 days. Our present calendar is 180 days. We are unable to increase the number of days off during the school year or end the school year earlier in June and remain in compliance with state law.

 

Our building is shared with three separate schools, which presents many challenges to our scheduling, so changes to our schedule often require us working with High Point and Gretchen’s House to modify their schedules. If we were to shorten the school day by ten or fifteen minutes, we would not have adequate time to provide many of our specials classes without creating significant inequities in class length. This is largely controlled by availability of the gymnasium and pool as well as lunch service. A Friday dismissal at 2:10 allows us to take advantage of the two gym slots that are presently available without reducing specials class periods or creating inequities in class times.

 

The shared space also creates challenge for a later start time. High Point busses begin arriving at 8:30, but unloading those busses can often take until 9:15. We need to keep traffic clear until the unloading is complete, which would lead to a start time of 9:30 am, and a dismissal time of 4:30 pm. It would also require both High Point and Gretchen’s House to significantly modify their day schedules. This too would be a burden for many families, and it would significantly limit the number of after school activities that we presently are able to offer.

 

The administration and school board have had several discussions regarding the impact a Friday early dismissal will have on families. At this time we are strongly considering providing aftercare services from 2:10 until 3:15 on Fridays without charge; families would be asked to pay the annual aftercare registration fee.

 

If you have other questions or concerns, the survey link remains open:

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8ZBH3CJ

 

You are also welcome to attend our next regular board meeting which is scheduled for May 24 at 5:30 pm in the PIT. There is an opportunity for public comment at the beginning and end of the meeting.

 

With the end of the year nearing, we have some important events coming up.  Our Curriculum Celebration is on May 19th from 5 to 7 pm, and our Spring Concert will take place on May 25th at 3:30 pm. On June 2nd we will hold PE Play Day, so pack a picnic lunch and come out and join us.

 

Best,

 

Al

Director’s Note April 2017

Greetings all,

 

Welcome back! I hope that you found some time to enjoy our spring break. Along with all of the rain, April starts the spring testing season for grades 1 through 8. As all assessments are now online, individual teachers schedule class testing to limit loss of instructional time and as technology is available. Your child’s teacher will share the assessment schedule with you.

 

The Board of Directors and administration continue to review our school calendar. We understand the challenges associated with floating half days, and plan to reduce the number of half days to the number we have had during previous years. The added half days will now be full days. This means that while we meet the state required number of school days, we greatly exceed the number of required instructional hours. We anticipate reducing the number of hours by shortening the school day on Fridays. The dismissal time on Fridays would be 2:10 pm. Dismissal on Monday-Thursday would remain at 3:15 pm. If you would like to provide feedback on this change to Friday dismissal time, please follow this link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8ZBH3CJ

 

Have a great April!

 

Al

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