Saturday, March 11, 2017

TOMMIE SAYLOR: This week, the principal offers words he can't improve upon ...

“Professional Learning Communities require organizational structures and supports to be successful” 
-- Supovitz & Christman, 2003

By Tommie Saylor
Kennedy High School Principal

This week for my “Principal’s Friday Update”, I offer an article written by Tom W. Many.  I could not say it better.

Helping students to find their greatness. Making Kennedy the school of choice. Excellence by design.

KENNEDY HIGH SCHOOL: Eagle News for March is published

TAYLOR CAREER CENTER teacher writers spotlight column

Techlit e-Newsletter features a “Teacher Spotlight” column on Ashley McKenzie from the Taylor Career Center.

McKenzie has done a great job helping her students improve their technical reading skills, and by using Newsela, has provided them a tool to help track their progress and interact with relevant, current and industry specific journals and periodicals.

McKenzie has been using Newsela as part of her instruction in the Computer Office Specialist program that she teachers at the Career Center.

HOLLAND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL raises fund for heart association

Pupils at Holland Elementary School raised money for the American Heart Association by participating in Jump Rope for Heart. The children who went above and beyond and raised $15 or more received some thank you prizes. Great work by the Huskies!

JOHNSON EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER children prepare for next level

At the Johnson Early Childhood Center, students in Mrs. Beyer's class have been practicing literacy skills to get ready for kindergarten.

Her students put on special "I Spy" glasses and went on a letter hunt around the school to uncover different letters and record them on their clipboards.

A great way to engage minds and incorporate movement.

TAYLOR SCHOOL DISTRICT: Some exams pushed back to next week

Due to power outages, the Taylor School District was closed Friday, March 10, and exams for middle and high school students have been pushed back into next week.

Students whose exams were scheduled for Thursday and Friday of last week, will now take Trimester 2 final exams on Monday and Tuesday.

For middle and high school students only, Monday and Tuesday will now be half-days, with teacher record days in the afternoon to score and enter exam grades.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

KINYON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL gets a special visit

At Kinyon Elementary School, State Representative Erika Geiss read a story to Ms. Danaj's kindergarten class for March is Reading Month.


Kinyon Elementary School kindergarteners visited the Heritage Park Petting Farm and it was amazing!

TAYLOR SCHOOL DISTRICT reading interventionists celebrate reading month

Taylor School District Reading Interventionists, Rhonda Reilly, (Holland and Kinyon elementary schools), Sheila Lee, (Taylor Parks, Randall and  McDowell) and Stevi Sanna, (Moody and Myers) celebrated author Dr. Suesses' Birthday on March 2, and will continue helping students celebrate March is Reading Month.


Kinyon Elementary School kindergarteners paid a visit to the Taylor Police Department on pajama day and had an awesome tour by Officers Hopper, Canning and O'Connor. In part two of this post, the children try on SWAT gear.

KINYON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL makes visit to police department

Kinyon Elementary School kindergarteners paid a visit to the Taylor Police Department on pajama day and had an awesome tour by Officers Hopper, Canning and O'Connor. It was great!

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL choirs post outstanding performances at festival

On March 4 the West Middle School choirs, conducted by Mr. Dave Martin, performed at Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) District 12 Choral Festival.  

The Cardinal Singers, Cadet Choir, and Men in Black each prepared two musical selections from the classical, spiritual, folk and art song genres. The performances included songs in English and Latin. Each group also read new music at sight, under Mr. Martin's direction.  

For their performance and sight-reading, each group was rated using a MSVMA rubric.  

The Cadet Choir and Men in Black each received an overall Division II (or "good") rating.  The Cardinal Singers were rated Division I ("Excellent") and are now invited to represent West and Taylor Schools at State Choral Festival in Holt on May 8 and 9.  

You can hear the West Choirs perform at Festival on the attached video. Congratulations to all the fine musicians at West! 

CINDY NYARKO: Join the Beauty is Diversity Campaign (with video)

By Cindy Nyarko

I am the founder of the #BeautyisDiversity campaign.

Currently a junior attending Truman High School, I started this campaign in 2016 as a project for Michigan’s 2016-2017 DECA State competition

With the help from the Taylor Truman DECA chapter, I have been able to raise awareness about my campaign’s message – a message to integrate more women of color in American media, thereby making the ideal of beauty more inclusive of women of color.

Currently, the American beauty standard has failed to be as inclusive of women of color as it could be. We live in a country where a little more than 35 percent of women are of color and the number is predicted to grow substantially by 2050.

Bearing this mind, I hope that America’s standard of beauty accurately represents the diversity of the people.

America has always advertised itself as a country that embraces and celebrates diversity. However, on multiple occasions, it has failed to keep those promises. Embodying that failed promise is our American media.

Media plays a large role in the lives of many young people today. Taking this idea into consideration, it is no surprise that it has great influence when molding our minds. Unfortunately, our media tends to favor those of a certain aesthetic, especially in regards to women. More often than naught, women with lighter skin, straighter hair, and paler eyes are considered the epitome of beauty.

This is one of the main reasons that I started the #BeautyisDiversity campaign. I hope to raise awareness of the unequal representation of women of color in modern American media. As an African woman of color, I want other young women of color to view the media and see women that look like they do. Although many women of lighter skin, straighter hair and paler eyes, are beautiful, that does not mean they are the only definition of beauty.

When I was younger, I grew up in a school where most of my classmates were white. At the time, I never really thought that I was that different until a Caucasian boy in my class asked me why my hair wasn't as soft as my friend's. The friend he was comparing me to happened to be a Caucasian girl.

It was then that I started to believe that I was different.

Unfortunately I equated my differences as inequalities and flaws. I hated my dark skin color and my curly hair. It wasn't until I saw actresses like Lupita Wyong'o (right), an actress of Kenyan descent, that I started understanding that the color of my skin or the straightness of my hair didn't determine the amount of beauty or worthiness I possessed.

Nyong’o looked like me. She was playing such a powerful and confident woman on the screen. When I saw Lupita, a woman who I could identify with, being as confident and beautiful as she was, I believed that I could also be just as beautiful and confident.

This is the kind of experience I want to share with others. One day, I hope our beauty is truly is found in our diversity. We must embrace and celebrate every skin color.

I intend to take my campaign to DECA's state competition and hopefully bring my campaign to nationals, which would allow it to gain national acclaim.

TOMMIE SAYLOR: A question of collaboration

By Tommie Saylor
Kennedy High School Principal

Today’s question: Why should we collaborate?

When teachers work in collaborative teams schools are more likely to see gains in student achievement, find higher quality solutions to problems, promote increased confidence among staff, create an environment in which teachers support one another’s strengths and accommodate weaknesses, provide support for new teachers, and provide all staff with access to an expanded pool of ideas, materials, and methods (Little, 1990).

“The single most important factor for successful school restructuring and the first order of business for those interested in increasing the capacity of their schools is building a collaborative internal environment.” (Eastwood & Seashore Louis, 1992, p. 215)

Improving schools require a collaborative culture: “without collaborative skills and relationships it is not possible to learn and to continue to learn” (Fullan, 1993, p. 18).

When groups, rather than individuals, are seen as the main units for implementing curriculum, instruction, and assessment, they facilitate development of shared purpose for student learning and collective responsibility to achieve it (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995).

High-performing schools promote collaborative problem solving and support professional communities and exchanges among all staff.  Teachers and staff collaborate to remove barriers to student learning and communicate regularly with each other about effective teaching and learning strategies.  They have regularly scheduled time to learn from one another (National Education Association, 2003).

“[High-achieving schools] build a highly collaborative school environment where working together to solve problems and to learn from each other become cultural norms.” (WestEd, 2000, P. 12)

“It is imperative that professional learning be directed at improving the quality of collaborative work.” (National Staff Development Council, 2006)

“The key to ensuring that every child has a quality teacher is finding a way for school systems to organize the work of qualified teachers so they can collaborate with their colleagues in developing strong learning communities that will sustain them as they become more accomplished teachers.” (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003, P. 7)

“Collaboration and the ability to engage in collaborative action are becoming increasingly important to the survival of the public schools.  Indeed, without the ability to collaborate with others, the prospect of truly improving schools is not likely.”  (Schlechty, 2005, P. 22)

“It is time to end the practice of solo teaching in isolated classrooms.”  (Fulton, Yoon, & Lee, 2005)

“[Today’s teachers must] transform their personal knowledge into a collectively built widely shared and cohesive professional knowledge base.”  (Chokshi & Fernandez, 2004, cited in Fulton, Yoon, & Lee, 2005)

Teacher collaboration in strong professional learning communities improves the quality and equity of student learning, promotes discussions that are grounded in evidence and analysis rather than opinion, and foster collective responsibility for student success  (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006)

“Quality teaching is not an individual accomplishment, it is the result of a collaborative culture that empowers teachers to team up to improve student learning beyond what any one of them can achieve alone.”  (Carroll, 2009, P. 13)

High-performing, high-poverty schools build deep teacher collaboration that focuses on student learning into the culture of the school.  Structures and systems are set up to ensure teachers work together rather than in isolation, and “the point of their collaboration is to improve instruction and ensure all students learn”  (Chenoweth, 2009, p. 17)

“Collaboration builds teacher morale”  (Thomas W. Many, 2017)

The message is simple. The days of teaching in isolation, closing your door and doing what you do are gone. The key to success, the key to improving student learning and teacher performance is collaboration. PLCs, mentoring, common lunch and prep periods, co-teaching, and teacher coaches are the paths to the future of education.  We can either learn to ride this wave, or be cast upon the shoals.

Helping students to find their greatness. Making Kennedy the school of choice. Excellence by design.


McDowell Elementary School in March celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday. Four first and second graders began the morning by sharing facts they had gathered while reading the biography of Dr. Seuss on morning announcements.

Then classrooms were invited to visit "The Cat in the Hat" to find out more about Seuss' life. Classes were also presented with Seuss-like ideas to expand the theme:
  • Ask your teacher which Seuss book is their favorite
  • Make a list of as many Seuss books as you think of
  • Graph the favorite Seuss books of your class
  • Or ask Ms. Borg to be your guest reader on this special Seuss day!