Friday, January 17, 2014

MELISSA SKOPCZYNSKI: Things are rockin' at Truman!

By Melissa Skopczynski
Truman High School Principal

I would just like to highlight some of the things going on this past week to let you know that Cougar Pride is surrounding all of us here at Truman High School.

  • Congrats goes out to Ms. Lundgren and our DECA students who qualified for the state competition.  Once again they represented Truman well and I couldn't be prouder.
  • A big THANK YOU to Ms. Voorheis and the staff members who opened their doors to our fellow colleagues from Roseville, who came to visit our school to see what we where doing that has made our school such a success.  My number one answer to them was all of YOU!  Without you the things we have accomplished over the past 3 years would not of been possible and I know we will only continue to improve!
  • Thank you to the department heads who on short notice came up with agendas for PLC's!
  • A huge thank you to Mr. Abraham, Mrs. Louwers and the rest of the counseling department for putting on our most successful Financial Aid Night yet.  Way to go!!!  You guys rock!

Have a great weekend and remember to show some Cougar Pride!!

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: A big welcome for Mrs. Santarossa!

McDowell Elementary School recently welcomed Mrs. Santarossa.

Mrs. Santarossa comes to the school from Beacon Day Center and has taught for six years.

She says, "The school year is going wonderfully and my class is awesome with many hard workers."

She is very glad to be working with her aide, Mrs. Maddox.

Everyone at the school wishes her a great year.

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Wurmlinger and Wurmlinger is no law firm ...

There are some future basketball stars at McDowell Elementary School!

And that was why there was excitement all around as 20 boys waited with patience and nervousness to try out for the basketball team. Asked why they wanted to play, they gave some answers that were expected … and unexpected.

Here are just a few:
  • I really like sports,
  • It's something to do
  • I like making baskets
  • Fun and more fun
  • I like to win
  • I'm good at it
  • I love to play B-ball
  • I want to play like LeBron James
  • I want to be like Michael Jordan
  • It's great exercise
  • I'm going to be a pro basketball player
  • I'm want to be famous
  • Basketball is a family friendly sport
  • (and) I am really good at it.

The school welcomes two new coaches,  Mr. Wurmlinger and Mr. Wurmlinger, who are father and son – with the son being the head coach!

We'll keep you posted on how the team does.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

EUREKA HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Frosty has nothing on these kids!

A number of students in Ms. Farkas and Ms. Schoen's first-grade classroom at Eureka Heights Elementary School brought back custom made snowmen after their winter break.  

The snowmen were a part of the "Think! Stretch!" Brain Freeze activities that the students worked on over their break to help with math and literacy.  

Students were encouraged to read at least 20 minutes each day, while also completing 20 math problems per day. Creative activities such as making the snowman out of household items, as well as mini-science projects using items found around the house, were also included.  

There was also a section for students to practice their writing and narrative skills.  

Frosty the Snowman tips his hat to these first-graders that went above and beyond over their winter break!

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL: Meteorologist speaks to science classes

Chris Edwards, meteorologist from WXYZ-TV Channel 7 News , spoke to six seventh-grade West Middle School science classes on Wednesday, January 15.
Edwards began by discussing his background, education and duties as a meteorologist.  

While in college, he spent time as a tornado chaser and then he actually started out as a meteorologist in the U.S. Air Force and eventually moved to television.  

Edwards stated how all the news broadcasters get to read the news from prompters that have written scripts, but for the weather man or women, they have to tell the story about the weather live.

He did an experiment with the students showing what happens when cold and warm air mix by using hot and cold water, which separate similar to when warm air rises and cold air drops.  

Then he explained when that happens and you get blowing air from the jet stream, spinning starts in the cloud, which can form a funnel cloud and sometimes a tornado. 

He showed a video of tornados forming and also used a model to show how they are created.  He also talked about storms and lightning and finished the presentation by talking to students about how to stay safe in bad weather situations. 

Edwards’s presentation was informative and engaging and West students asked a lot of good questions all of which reinforced the curriculum and student learning. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TAYLOR READING CORPS: AT&T donates $5,000 to organization

Taylor Reading Corps Executive Director Lori Hill-Sanders (front, second from right) holds AT&T’s donation of $5,000 during the check presentation ceremonies at the TRC offices on January 8. Also attending was Wayne County Commission Ray Basham (front, left), State Rep. Douglas Geiss, TRC Chairman Debbie Stellini, Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars (back row, left), AT&T’s Greg Clark, TRC board member Armando Sardanopoli, District Court Judge Geno Salomone, Wayne State University’s Kate Roberts and TRC staffer Marissa Miller. For more information or to volunteer, email or call (313) 769-6730. You can also click on

AT&T presented the Taylor Reading Corps with a $5,000 donation Wednesday, January 8, to help the organization continue its efforts recruiting, training and supervising adult reading mentors for pre- and elementary school children in the Taylor School District.

Making the check presentation at the TRC office, 22755 Wick Road, Taylor, was Greg Clark, AT&T Executive Director, External Affairs. He told the group gathered for the occasion that he had gained a great amount of respect for the TRC’s efforts and was proud that his organization could lend a hand. The TRC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that runs on donations and volunteers.

As of the end of 2013, the TRC was mentoring 367 students in the Taylor schools, but still needs more volunteers. The next training schedule for volunteers is January 21, with sessions planned at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when 14 new volunteers are slated to participate.

In addition to Clark, on hand for the check presentation was TRC Executive Director Lori Hill-Sanders and her staff; the TRC Board of Directors; Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars; State Rep. Douglas Geiss; and Wayne County Commissioner Ray Basham. Sollars is a member of the TRC board and Geiss and Basham are supporters of the group’s efforts.

If you are interested in volunteering, the TRC is interested in you. Mentors are asked to assist two students weekly for 30 minutes each, between the hours of 8:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Any training, scheduling or supplies are handled by the TRC.

For more information or to volunteer, email or call (313) 769-6730. You can also click on

Monday, January 13, 2014

KINYON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Parent unleashes artistic talent!

Ms. Polidori's third-grade class at Kinyon Elementary School received a gift from Leasa Vorves, a parent in our class.  

She purchased canvas for all the students to demonstrate his or her artistic abilities. The students were so excited.  They all did an excellent job designing their piece artwork.

EUREKA HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Almost-snow day focuses on math fun

Ms. Farkas and Ms. Schoen's first-grade class at Eureka Heights Elementary School made the most of an almost-snow day and met with their math Buddies from Mr. Beddingfield's fifth-grade class.

The students paired up with their friends to play “Domino Top It,” a game in which students need to add the total number of dots on the domino, and the student with the larger number wins.

It was a fun way to spend our "almost" snow day on Friday!

TOY CHEST: Generous donations go to needy families

Lori Brown-Platts, homeless consultant, reports that along with multiple individuals and groups aimed at helping needy families at Christmas, she was able to provide toys for 28 children through staff donations to their “Toy Chest.”

Staffers used a small room at Truman High School that was filled with new and like-new toys along with gift bags and wrapping paper.  Parents were invited to come and "shop" and select toys for their children. It was definitely a success and it may expand next year.

We are currently in the process of utilizing the same room for clothing donations, where parents will be able to come and select clothing for their children when needed.

 The Taylor staff shows an amazingly generous spirit, according to Lori.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

TOMMIE SAYLOR: Know the facts before you criticize

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
-- Winston Churchill
By Tommie Saylor
Kennedy High School Principal

After a week like we just had, you start to hear the same old tired statements from people outside of the educational community,  about how nice it must be to be a teacher and have all that time off.

This reminds me of when I was a first-year teacher and my wife and I just rented a home in the community where I was just hired as the new chemistry teacher.  Few minutes after we pulled up to our new place with the big U-Haul truck, our neighbor, an elderly retired gentleman, came over to say hello.

He asked what I did for a living.  Being very proud of my new position, I boldly announced that I am a science teacher at the local school. With disgust in his voice and a disapproving expression on his face he said, “Ah, you teachers only work 9 to 3, half the year” and quickly walked away. I was stunned, and felt like I had just been punched in the gut.

But, being the fighter that I am, I made a decision on that day to never again allow anyone to speak like that to me about my chosen profession, and in the future when such sentiments would arise, I countered with facts and figures.

The common employee in the business world works 40 hours a week for 50 weeks of the year, totaling 2,000 working hours in a calendar year.  The common teacher in the educational world works 50 hours a week for 40 weeks of the year, totaling 2,000 working hours in a calendar year. Essentially, we put in the same number of working hours per year as a full-time common employee working in the private sector, we just happen to do this in a shorter period of time.

When a person in the private sector works more than eight hours in a day, or more than 40 hours in a week, many get paid overtime. We do not.  We are expected to put in 50 or more hours a week, eight or more hours a day without additional compensation. This is considered to simply be just part of the job. 

There are days, especially during this time of the year when we have so many athletic teams in season, that I will arrive at the school 6:30 a.m., work all day, leave after 4:30 p.m. (a normal 10-hour work day), come back to the school at 6:30 p.m. to attend a game/event, and not return home again until 10 (after putting in a 16-hour day, working 14 of those hours).

Now some will say that going to the game after hours does not count, because all you had to do was watch the game.  This is true, but let’s face it, I’m at work when I’m there watching the game. I’m at work because I am expected to dress in a certain way, act in a certain way, I am the person people come to when there is an issue, etc.

I’m at work.

This is also true with normal teachers. After work when most people are enjoying their time off, teachers are preparing for the next day’s lesson. Though they may be doing this at home, they are still working. How many people in the private sector go home and put in several hours of free labor for their boss completing tasks that benefits the company?

Saturday when most of the world is concerned with relaxing and finding interesting ways to entertain, teachers are writing lesson plans and grading papers.  It is an unwritten rule and/or expectation that teachers work at home. What most people in the private sector do not understand, is that when you give your students an assignment, you just gave yourself the job of grading 180 papers. Now multiply this by the five to 10 assignments in a week, and by the number of pages of each

Essentially, when the private sector looks at Saturday, they see fun day. When a teacher looks at Saturday, they see an opportunity to read, evaluate and grade over a thousand pages of student material. But, being a good teacher you are not done.  Sunday you must place all these assignments into the grade book and upgrade your student’s grades.  

God forbid you arrive back to school Monday morning without all your students assignments evaluated, recorded and grades updated.  Once again, this is an unwritten rule and/or expectation of teachers. Essentially, when school is in session, teachers work seven days a week without getting paid overtime, weekend rates, or bonuses.

There are two ways to compensate someone for their efforts: money, and time.  Teachers are compensated for all their extra efforts with time. Winter break, spring break and summer break is our compensation for all the extra hours we put in. It is all of our Saturdays and Sundays rolled up into one long stretch.  

People in the private sector would be no more willing to give up their overtime pay, weekend rates and bonuses than we are willing to give up our time off.

So, when someone tells me that I should not be getting so much time off, I counter with the facts of an educator’s life.

Ultimately, the final argument is the best of all. If those in the private sector truly believe being in the field of education is such an easy job, nothing is stopping you from going to college, earning your degree, and seeking employment as an educator. We all make choices in life. You have made yours, we have made ours and now we must all live with the consequences.

Remember, their future is in our hands. Making Kennedy the school of choice. Excellence by design.