Does that come with a salad? Offering our students more options (November 2018)
When we shop for a new car, seek out a vacation site, or even order dinner one of the first questions we ask is; what are the options? Having a variety of choices helps to meet our individual needs and creates a more meaningful experience.
The Dearborn Public Schools has a long history of offering students a variety of opportunities in and outside the classroom that help them learn, grow, and become a successful part of our community. In our high schools, students have several options to prepare them for success after high school including:
- Michael Berry Career Center
- Dual Enrollment
- Advanced Placement
- Honors Classes
- Henry Ford Collegiate Academy
- Henry Ford arly College
- Dearborn Center for Math, Science and Technology
Additionally, our highs schools have well-established instrumental and choral music programs along with numerous athletic offerings, clubs, and other organizations such as National Honors Society, Student Council, and Key Club.
New this year at Fordson High School is the start of the Academies model. This is a concept that helps students develop a focus on possible career choices early in their high school experience. This is not a “tracking” system that some may remember from a long time ago. Rather the Academies model is collaboration with industry, post-secondary and community partners to ensure that all students engage in a program of study that provides a comprehensive and career focused curriculum to prepare every student for post-secondary success in college and/or career. We look forward to sharing more information on the Academies at Fordson in the months ahead.
As a school district we must continually look at programs and options that will meet the changing educational needs of our students while at the same time providing a stable and safe school environment for all children.
Let’s Do Whatever It Takes to Increase Student Success (September 2018)
Summer is filled with great American traditions, the 4th of July and fireworks, picnics and family reunions, and of course hot dogs and baseball. Besides a few home games at Comerica Park cheering on our favorite and new Tigers, my family and I were able to finally experience a Cubs game in the “friendly confines of Wrigley Field”. My family and I really enjoyed spending time in Chicago. The best part of our vacation was being together 24-7, which is why I love family trips and vacations.
Whether you were able to travel over the summer or just relax at home, I hope that you too have been able to enjoy your favorite summer activity with family and friends.
Now that summer vacation is over our schools are humming with activity. This is the first time since 2006 that Dearborn started before Labor Day. The early start date is due to a state law that requires five additional instructional days.
I’m very proud of the work of our staff and the success of our students. Although we have been able to celebrate some great accomplishments over the last few years, our work is never done. We continue to move forward with our strategic plan, work hard each day, and provide a high quality education to our students. I hope you will join me, and all of our staff members, in this educational journey. Our community plays a huge role in the education of the children in our schools.
Last year, I referenced one of my favorite musical groups in my back to school letter, AC/DC and spoke about what we need to do to get to the “Top”. This year, I feel that a more recent song by Imagine Dragons called “Whatever It Takes” is more fitting. That phrase, “Whatever It Takes”, is an attitude that I have witnessed throughout our district. Staff members, students, and parents are consistently doing “Whatever It Takes” to bring about increased academic
achievement and student success.
This year, let’s continue to inspire, educate, and celebrate and always do “Whatever It Takes” to put Students First!
District Offers Words of Sympathy for Family of Superintendent Whiston (May 8, 2018)
On behalf of the Board of Education the Dearborn Public Schools offers its most sincere condolences to the family of State Superintendent Brian Whiston. The District is saddened by the news of Brian’s passing and will keep the Whiston family in their thoughts and prayers.
“Brian was a great son, husband, father and grandfather and I am very fortunate to have been able to call him my friend. Professionally he was a mentor but it was the times I was able to spend with him outside of work that I will always treasure and will miss,” expressed current Dearborn Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko.
While in Dearborn, Whiston was named Superintendent of the Year in 2014 by the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA). The award recognized his hard work, leadership, innovation, and collaborative efforts. Programs and initiatives put into place under Whiston’s tenure in the district won awards, saved tax payer dollars, and most importantly provided quality instruction to the students in the classroom. Dearborn’s recent 95% graduation rate is a continuation of a trend that started in 2012 due to programs put in place by Whiston.
The Henry Ford Collegiate Academy was another program started by the seven year superintendent of Dearborn. The program gives qualified District students an opportunity to achieve their high school diploma and associates degree in 5 years, at no cost to the student while still remaining active at their home high school. The program has won two awards, one from the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce recognizing its innovative approach and the Education Excellence award by the Michigan Business and Professional Association.
On top of the many positive changes that occurred while Mr. Whiston was Superintendent, he will always be remembered in Dearborn for his ability to build relationships. One of the first projects he started in Dearborn was to work with all of the Union groups to develop an on-going dialogue that built trust and positive communication. That skill extended to the community as he built strong partnerships with local organizations, the business sector, and the City of Dearborn.
“His genuine kindness and friendly personality is what truly made him a popular figure in the District. His actions were not for show, rather they always came from the heart,” added Maleyko.
The Dearborn Pubic Schools will remember Mr. Whiston with a moment of silence at the May 14, 2018 Board of Education meeting along with sharing a few photos of his time in Dearborn. In addition, in honor of Superintendent Whiston, Board Trustees and members of the Cabinet will wear blue shirts at the meeting, an almost trademark look of Whiston’s.
3D Model Is Multidimensional Approach To Meeting Student Needs (May 2018)
Recently, Ms. Rose Aldubaily, Director of ELL and Compensatory Education, and I had the opportunity to share an overview of our 3D Community, a teaching model for meeting the academic needs of our most at-risk students. The article appeared in District Administration, a national education publication. This is the fourth article our team has authored for this publication. The article tells how three different departments work together to close the achievement gap.
District designs K12 model to better serve special populations
– Dearborn’s 3D Community brings specialists together to close achievement gap
Striving to ensure the implementation of best practices that support all learners is critical to academic achievement for diverse populations. Dearborn Schools is committed to ensuring that all students reach academic success.
With a population of 20,907 of which 50% are English learners (several refugees and newcomer students), 8% special education and approximately 73% below the poverty level, it’s even more important for us to continually explore avenues to support students to become successful.
Ensuring that staff is meeting the needs of every student, the district brought experts from various departments to work as a team. We created building leadership teams that support teachers in the core instructional classroom and targeted interventions to close the achievement gap.
The 3D experience
The district established a “3D Community” consisting of English language development specialists, instructional literacy coaches and special education resource teachers. The goal is to bring these three departments together as a team to close the achievement gap of our various at-risk populations.
This model is aligned with our collaborative professional learning community model. These highly trained specialists collaborate monthly with one another in order to meet the needs of all students in our district.
During the collaborative meetings they share areas of expertise and strategies that can be adapted within each department. All the shared strategies are evidence-based best practices that focus on student engagement, growth and achievement.
The shared practices focus on providing teachers and support staff with strategies that will allow students to develop proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Matching interventions to student needs can be very challenging. As a district we are aware that the high levels of student achievement and growth will occur only when instructional practices are defined, supported and implemented.
The 3D community incorporates many instructional practices that can be adapted in whole groups or small groups, or with individual students. These routines are often shared with classroom teachers at MTSS meetings and professional development as well as through our districtwide co-teaching model.
All members of our 3D Community co-teach in classrooms with the classroom teacher. They pair and collaborate in lesson planning, lesson delivery and formative assessment. Co-teaching allows teachers to see the impact of actual implementation of these strategies.
Serving all students
One practice that has been highlighted is the specially designed instruction model. The English Language Development Department created a framework for working with newcomers in small groups. It’s similar to the specially designed instruction model for students with disabilities.
The framework is specific to student needs and includes ongoing formative assessments that drive instruction. For example, a 45-minute lesson includes phonics, word work, a reading strategy, oral language development and a structured writing task.
The specially designed instruction model is aligned with the reading foundational skills standards from the Common Core. The English language development specialists design instruction for newcomer sessions that ensure the development of a balanced literacy model. In addition, members of the 3D community have supported teachers in adapting and implementing lessons that meet the various needs of all students.
Ensuring academic achievement for all learners requires our educators to improve their knowledge and skills on the ever-changing best practices that support all learners. A district’s capacity to learn is a collective task rather than an individual one.
What’s Next…Can Student’s Action Bring About Real Change? (April 2018)
British novelist C. S. Lewis said “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
The Student Walk Out is over, the cameras are gone, and the “tweets” will soon be turning to the next “trending topic” of the day. What remains is the important question, what’s next?
What will the thousands of students across the country now do as we continue to search for a solution to keep students safe and make sure there is no longer a need for seventeen minute walk outs?
The students who gathered in gymnasiums and football fields, who read the names of the victims, who chanted and proclaimed “no more”, must now be ready to do the hard work. Their day to day actions, the things they do when no one is watching, can have the biggest impact on creating a safe school environment.
It all starts with making the time to go out your way, leave your comfort zone, and take the first step to connect with someone in your school who may not have any connections. Students need to be “Up-Standers”, to speak out when they see behavior, whether in person or online, that intimidates, isolates, or belittles other people. Most importantly, if someone is having problems, shares violent or threatening thoughts, or just seems to need someone to talk to, they need to be able to share that information with a trusted adults who can help.
It’s easy to gather and chant, to make generic demands for change, or even place blame on a faceless entity. However, it’s much harder to take personal responsibility for our actions, to work with others and compromise in order to bring about real solutions that balance preparedness with prevention.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
The nationally organized student walkout may have been the big splash that started a wave in motion but it may take a collection of unnoticed drops that creates the real ocean of change.
We Inspire, We Educate, and Now IT’s Time to Celebrate! (March 2018)
Recently, two different, independent reports have been released that shows the teaching and learning taking place in our classrooms, is having a positive impact on student achievement.
Bridge Magazine rated the Dearborn Public Schools a 2018 Academic State Champion. Only 30 school districts statewide, out of more than 500 public school districts, receive this honor. Dearborn Public Schools was rated number one in the state in comparison to other large districts. The evaluation of our district was based on a national study that measured academic growth of a student from third to eighth grade. The research also took into account several factors that impact student performance such as socio-economic data, family structure, and family education. The complete report can be read on the Bridge Magazine website.
The other report came from the Michigan based nonprofit institute The Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Their evaluation tool is called the Michigan Context and Performance Report Card and adjusts standardized test scores to account for student background. Just a few highlights from their analysis of schools across the state showed 5 of the top 10 overall schools and 7 of the top 8 conventional (non-charter) schools are part of the Dearborn Public Schools. They also rated Becker Elementary as the number 1 school when it comes to long-term performance (long-term performance is calculated using 8 years of data). Earlier this year, Becker Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U. S. Department of Education, one of only 36 schools in the state and one of only a few hundred in the country to receive this honor. The complete report from the Mackinac Center can be found on their website.
By the time this article makes it to press, we will have already received news regarding graduation rates in Dearborn. In 2011 district graduation rates were at 76% and by 2016 were at 93%. This is higher than county and state averages. We are anticipating another year of increased graduation rates.
Finally, in mid-February, a team from AdvancED spent three days in our schools, conducted dozens of interviews with staff, students, and community members, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents as part of their accreditation process. There exit presentation was very encouraging as the team offered praise for several projects, and programs going on in our schools. We look forward to reading their in-depth report and hopefully will once again be awarded full accreditation by AdvancED.
A successful organization, whether it is in business, sports, or education, will consist of a team of people working together toward a common goal. When our district receives accolades it too can be attributed to the many hard working people in our schools working toward a common goal. The Board of Education, our principals and administrative team, the support staff, parents, and students all contribute to the academic gains we are experiencing across the district. However, none of this happens if not for the hundreds of dedicated teaching professionals who show up each day in their classroom. They are the front line, working everyday with students, giving their own time and resources, and making sure that each and every child is receiving a quality learning experience. There are no tools to measure the passion and caring that exist in the hearts of our teachers but it can be witnessed every time you step into their classroom. I’m deeply appreciative of all our teachers in the Dearborn Public Schools.
All of these different measures of our success provide us with many different tools to gage how well we are doing at providing our students with a meaningful learning experience. Our Vision statement tells us that we need to always put students first, we need to inspire them, educate them and now it’s time to celebrate them. However, our work is not done. We must continue to always strive for excellence, to always seek out another tool that will help our students succeed, and utilize the skills and talents of our staff to ensure that each and every child will be successful as a student of the Dearborn Public Schools.
It’s All About The Students (February 2018)
Not too long ago there was a popular song with the main lyric being “It’s all about the bass.” Well, if we had to write a song about our focus in the Dearborn Public Schools it would be “It’s all about the students.” Now I won’t be singing in public anytime soon but I will take this opportunity to sing about the impressive students that fill our classrooms.
I’ll start with the students who organized and carried out the very successful peace march on Martin Luther King Day called “#The Real Dearborn” (See front page article). More than 300 community members braved the weather to take part in an event that demonstrated the unity and diversity in our city. Students shared comments about the strengths of our city and why they love living in Dearborn. They spoke of diversity, unity, hope, and faith. Their words echoed a maturity beyond their years and offered everyone in attendance a perspective of a better tomorrow.
Another group of students who are helping to shape the direction of our district is the Superintendent’s Advisory Council. Now in it’s third year, the students who are part of the council come from all of our high schools and range from sophomores to seniors. This group doesn’t just sit and talk, they work hard to gather input from their peers and bring that information back to our meetings. The dialogue is honest, constructive, and, most importantly, very enjoyable for all of us. I’m excited that this concept has now expanded to he middle school level and look forward to learning more from this group of students.
Student leadership is not new to our district. For the eighth straight year almost 150 students will come together in March to take part in the Student Leadership Diversity Summit. This annual event brings together a diverse group of student leaders from Dearborn, Edsel Ford, and Fordson to provide ongoing diversity and leadership training. These students are involved in their high school Diversity, Link, Peer to Peer, Anti-Bullying and Social Justice clubs.
These are only three examples and I could go on and on. I haven’t even touched upon the incredible accomplishments of our middle and elementary students and the district-wide involvement in activities such as: Response to Bullying Behavior, STAND, National Honors Society, athletics, theatre, band, vocal music, Interact, Key Club, student council, and many more. The point being, our students are involved in many activities beyond the classroom creating opportunities for learning throughout their day.
With all this great work being accomplished by our students, each and every staff member, no matter what position they hold in the District, must be focused on the goal of student achievement. It is our job to be student-focused, it is our responsibility to be student-focused but, most importantly, it is our passion to be student-focused.
Our students have plenty of talent, potential, and ability, it is up to us as the educators, and to you as their parents, to help them realize their potential, find their talents, and use their abilities to achieve academic success. I am also extremely appreciative of the hard work and dedication of our staff as they place student achievement and the best interests of the students as the number one priority in Dearborn Public Schools. Remember, it’s all about the students!
Our Second New Year (January 2018)
For those working in education the first New Year is in the fall when students return to the classroom and the second is in January. At both times there is always a sense of excitement and a bit of anxiety. The anticipation of discovering what lies ahead motivates us to charge forward and the uncertainty of the unknown reins in our actions and keeps us from being reckless. As we look forward to all that 2018 has to offer,
I encourage everyone to channel those feelings of excitement and anticipation into actions that will result in positive outcomes for all you seek to accomplish. At the same time, don’t be paralyzed by your fears. Those emotions can help to make sound and reasonable choices.
A group of people who are always working toward positive outcomes and making sound decisions are the seven members of our Board of Education. The month of January is School Board Appreciation month and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Trustees for their service to the community. Our district is very fortunate to have these dedicated and passionate community members serving on the Board. They are willing to make the difficult decisions that benefit all 21,000 students in our classrooms.
Board trustees address a variety of important topics including state and federal mandates, curriculum, labor negotiations, and student achievement. In addition, Board members often must decide on controversial or emotional topics such as the current discussion on high school boundaries. The work they do is vitally important to the success of our district but often goes unrecognized. As Superintendent, I appreciate the hard work, the time, and dedication from the Board of Education. I see first hand how much they care about this community and the students they serve. I am grateful for their passion, professionalism, and their continued interest in always working to put “Students First.”
New opportunities for our staff members and students, visiting classrooms throughout the District, sharing new ideas and improving instruction, and of course spending time with friends in the community are just a few of the many things I’m looking forward to in the year ahead. I hope your New Year is off to a great start and I wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2018!
DECEMBER 2017 DON’T MISS THE FIRST BELL!
Everyone remembers the first bell when they went to school; it signaled the start of a new day. The beginning to a day of learning, broadening your knowledge, sharing stories, and being with friends. Our new publication sets out to capture all those elements of what we experience at the start of a new day–all that begins with the first bell.
Our Principals and Administrators are part of the leadership team that guides the course of our district. As the third largest school district in the state, our classrooms are filled with more than 21,000 talented and bright students being taught by the very best teachers. The support staff provides the very best in secretarial, custodial, transportation, and food service. Our parents support the learning that is taking place in our schools and we value their input and partnership.
I encourage everyone to visit my blog https://superintendent.dearbornschools.org/. There you will be able to keep up to date on the good news that occurs each day in our district. I’m also very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and have made great connections with our students by using these social media tools.
The District’s website, my blog, social media and this publication are just some of the tools we use to communicate with the public. However, the communications tool I enjoy the most is sitting down face to face and having a conversation. This may happen when I’m on one of the several hundred school visits that occur during the year or at one of the dozens of community events I attend, or just when I’m enjoying a casual lunch or dinner in the community.
I’m very excited to share my thoughts, goals, and accomplishments of our students with all of you in the months ahead. During this most special month I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season.
Have a joyous and prosperous new year!