Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MYERS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Caring donor gives presents for second year in a row

For the second year in a row, Kaelyn Burnett, daughter to the music teacher, Mrs. Burnett, donated 50 shoeboxes full of gifts to the students at Myers Elementary School for Christmas. 

She spent the entire year, saving her own money to purchase things like, soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste, fruit snacks, bouncy balls, play dough, ornaments, and other assorted items for the students.  The students were very excited to open their Christmas presents from her!

MYERS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: It's all about penguins

Mrs. Lezotte and her Myers Elementary School kindergarten class had fun learning all about penguins and naming their very own penguin projects!

RANDALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Kindergarteners go from theme to theme

At Randall Elementary School, Mrs. Holstein’s kindergarten class was excited to do many fun-themed holiday activities in the month of December.

Each day was a themed, from candy canes, gingerbread men, elves, Christmas trees, wreaths, ornaments, reindeer, to Santa. Each day the class popped a balloon that was on the “Santa balloon countdown” beard which was on the classroom door.

Each balloon had a book title inside that would be read to match the theme for the day. Santa even delivered a class elf named Jingle to watch over our class.

The class finished the two-week themed days with a Polar Express party wearing pajamas and drinking hot cocoa. The final day before break was celebrated with a Who-ville Who-billation party.

Everyone dressed as a Whoville character from the Dr. Seuss story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. The class had fun doing the activities while meeting the common core!

KENNEDY HIGH SCHOOL: Eagles News is hot off the presses

CANCER FUNDRAISER: Scheduled for January 25

The "No One Fights Alone" fundraiser for Marla Sanna, a stage four lung cancer victim, is being held at Roosevelt Lanes, 6701 Roosevelt Avenue, Allen Park, on Sunday, January 25.
The event will run from 1-4 p.m.

Cost is $20. It is $15 for children 12 and under. Including two games of bowling, pizza, pop and shoe rental.

For more information, call Stevi at (313) 717-6076 or Kim at (313) 683-2303.

LITTLE LEAGUE: Taylor NE offers 'early bird' discount

Taylor Northeast Little League we will be offering a "early bird" registration from noon until 4 p.m. on January 24, 2015 and January 31, 2015, at its clubhouse. 

Cost on these dates ONLY is $35. The fee includes shirt, hat and socks.Trophies for younger divisions only. Players must participate in the league's fundraiser, as well. 

Additional registration dates are noon until 4 p.m. EVERY Saturday during the month of February. Cost on these February Saturdays is $45 (and you must participate in league's fundraiser). Discounts are available for multiple children registering from same family. Leagues are open to boys and girls ages 4-16. Must provide proof that you live in the Little League's boundaries or go to school within those boundaries. 

Visit us at  for additional information or call at 313-291-7576. Located at 21720 Wick Rd, Taylor 48180.

LITTLE LEAGUE: Taylor NC registration is Saturday and Sunday

Taylor North Central Little League registration is between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 17, and against from noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 18. The North Central Little League is located at 6750 Pardee. Call (313) 292-0541 for more information.

DADDY-DAUGHTER DANCE: Tickets go on sale Tuesday for city event

"A Night of Magic," the City of Taylor's 2015 Daddy-Daughter Dance, is scheduled for Saturday, February 21, at the William Ford Senior Activities Center, 6750 Troy.

Tickets for the event go on sale on Tuesday, January 20, at the Taylor Recreation Center, 22805 Goddard Road.

The daddy-daughter dance will offer two time slots, both on February 21. The first will be from 4 to 6 p.m. The second is 7 to 9 p.m.

The cost is $30 for the first two tickets. Each additional daughter in the same family is $5.

This was one of the hottest tickets in Taylor last year. About 160 tickets are sold per dance on a first-come, first-served basis -- so get 'em while they are hot (and still available).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

MELISSA SKOPCZYNSKI: Latest edition of Cougar Connections

TAYLOR PARKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Kindergartners enjoy the season

Children became readers on the laps of their parents recently at Taylor Parks Elementary School.

The kindergarteners had many reasons to celebrate this holiday season. They went to Santa's Magic Forest for their first field trip and had a "magical" visit with Santa.

On the Friday before holiday break, they celebrated by having a pajama day and holiday centers. They exchanged gifts with their secret friend and toasted juice to welcome 2015.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

TOMMIE SAYLOR: Want to really improve U.S. education? Why not learn from the best?

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
-- Albert Einstein

By Tommie Saylor
Kennedy High School Principal

It may be the scientist in me, but I have always believed that if you want to be among the best in your field, you must first see what the best are doing, analyze their success, break down what they are doing and follow their lead. 

If you are not already on top, then you can’t continue to do what you are currently doing and believe that your condition and/or situation will change.  Essentially, “you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”

You certainly do not want to follow the lead of those around you if they, like you, have not reached the pinnacle of your profession.

To this end, I just recently read an article by Mika Martikainen titled “Math Teachers, Testing and Education.”  This article is about the educational system in Finland. Why Finland?  Because educationally Finland consistently scores near the top year after year on international tests.  If Finland isn’t No. 1 in the world, then it is number two. This has been true for more than 30 years. 

No other nation in the world can make this claim. Only Finland consistently remains at the top. So, the question begs: What are they doing, and why aren’t we doing it?

Ten things that Finland does that we are not doing:

1. School starts later in life. Children are not subjected to formal education until the age of 7, as opposed to the U.S., which starts at the age of 5. In Finland they believe that children are not mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for formal education until the age of 7.  This makes their students two years more mature as they pass through high School and prepare for international testing.

Imagine what it would be like of freshman had the maturity of juniors. Finland does offer preschool up to the age of 7, but its preschool concentrates mostly on playing and socializing, knowing that these are important skills for students to have before entering a formal educational environment.

2.  Students are given more recess and/or break time.  In the United States students are given an average of 27 minutes a day of recess at the elementary level. In Finland students are given an average of 75 minutes a day of recess at the same level. At the high school level students are also given more time between classes to “mentally decompress” from the last lesson just received, and to mentally prepare for the next lesson soon to be experienced. 

Break time is as important to the educational process as class time.

3.  Students are not subjected to constant testing, they are only tested once at the end of high school.  In the U.S., with few exceptions, students are subjected to standardized testing every year from the third to the 11th grade, with the 11th-grade test being the “big test” determining the effectiveness of the school system – and thus the value of all efforts over the last 12 years of formal education.

The problem is that by the time our students get to this 11th-grade test they have been tested so many times that it is nothing special, it is just part of doing business. It has no effect on their overall GPA, nor does it affect their graduation status. 

This being said, to our 11th grade students, it is just another hurdle they must get past. In Finland, because this is the only such test they must take, it is a much bigger deal and thus students prepare much harder for this test. They end up outperforming most of the world.  Also in Finland very little homework is given. Instructors would much rather have their students perform work and go through the learning process in class where the student can receive expert help from their teachers, than struggle at home and become frustrated.

4.  Class sizes are kept to an average of 20 students per teacher, and if a student is struggling, a certified teacher’s assistant is assigned. These certified teacher assistants have undergone a year of college-style specialized training on how to help the struggling students.  In Finland, in a class of 20 students, one will find a teacher and several assistants.

5.  Language education begins on the first day of school where students begin to learn another language. This continues throughout the entire school career for all Finish students, and by the time a student graduates from high school they have not just learned two sometimes three different languages, they have mastered these languages.

6. Teachers are given guidelines as to what must be taught, but are not given “prescriptions” of how to teach it, when to teach it, where to teach it and under what conditions it must be taught.  It is assumed that the professional educator in the room knows their students better than the politician in the capitol, and thus is better equipped to create a curriculum to achieve their student’s educational goals.

7. Teachers never teach more than four hours a day, and are given two to three hours a day to prepare lessons, correct papers, research curriculum and confer with colleagues. They believe it is crazy to expect a teacher to teach all day long, and then do other essential tasks at home. That is because these essential tasks will suffer when they come into conflict with family obligations. 

They also believe that there is a “burn out” factor to teaching, and that after about four hours a teacher’s effectiveness is greatly diminished. 

Instead most teachers teach half the day and have “office hours” the other half, ensuring that when the teacher is in the classroom they are well prepared both mentally, physically and educationally.

8.  Teachers are considered highly trained professionals, are revered by the public and are paid comparable to their counterparts in the business world.  They do not believe you can pay minimum wages and expect maximum results. To teach in Finland you must have a Master’s degree from one of eight national colleges, but the cost of attending one of these colleges and becoming a teacher is fully subsidized by the government. 

Needless to say, the competition to get into one of these colleges is very high, ensuring that only the best become teachers.

9.  U.S. students enter and leave a teachers life yearly, sometimes even every few months. In Finland, students stay with an instructor for many years, especially at the elementary level. It is not unusual for a student in the early grades to stay with a teacher through several levels and/or grades, and in high school a student may have the same Math, Science, and Language teacher the entire time.

It is believed that by having teachers and student’s stay together, relationships are formed, and that the teacher is better able to evaluate individual student needs and abilities and create specific learning opportunities for their students.

10. In Finland, when students have complete the American equivalent to middle school, students are given the choice to either enter a college prep or to attend a vocational prep high school.  In the vocational prep students learn a skilled trade, and upon graduation are better prepared to enter the work force.

In the college prep, students are prepared to enter collegiate academia, ending their high school career by taking the one and only standardized test given to students. 

On average, only 54 percent of students go on to the college prep in Finland, the other 46 percent attend the vocational prep.  Students from the vocational prep can attend college, but must take a college entrance exam and score well enough to be considered. 

Finland does not expect every student to go through a college prep curriculum in high school and they understand that not everyone will go to college. They understand that skilled trades are very important in their society.

As a result, not everyone takes the standardized test, only the top half of each class (only those attending the college prep high school). That eliminates those who would not do well and really have no interest in doing well because they have no interest in attending college.

Now armed with the above information, you want to improve the educational system in our country? 

Let’s start by the following:
  • Stop testing our students to death
  • Stop telling our teachers how to teach
  • Stop “beating up” our teachers, administrators and schools
  • Stop believing that every student is college bound
  • Start putting money where your mouth is
  • And start following the lead of those nations that score consistently at the top of the global education scale.

Our “failing school system” has nothing to do with teachers and administrators not working hard. They are working harder today, for less pay, than ever before in our history. 

Our “failing school system” has everything to do with failures of our political leaders and our society’s perception of the primary missions of schools.

What starts here, changes the world. Making Kennedy the school of choice. Excellence by design.

MYERS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Talking about resolutions

The Myers Elementary School students in Mrs. Lumani's first-grade class talked about New Year’s wishes and promises people make every New Year!

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Braving the chill factor

Look who braved the cold at McDowell Elementary School!

It's been really cold outside and the schools even had a snow day recently so attendance was down on Friday. These students from Mrs. Farago's second-grade class are the lucky ones, because they got to relax in the library with their new books.

RANDALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Sticking with peanut butter ...

Randall Elementary School first grade students in Mrs. Ostrowski and Ms. Schoen's class read "How to Make Peanut Butter," by Sue Howard. 

First, they were able to work their way through challenging vocabulary words such as roasted, measuring, and carefully. 

Then they confidently read through the companion book "Peanut Butter A Traditional Song," by Robin Oz. 

Next, Music Teacher Mrs. McCracken taught the "Peanut Butter" song to the entire class.  Finally, the students have a melody in their ear when they read about peanut butter!