Monday, March 19, 2007

Great Job Academic Games Team!

Congratulations goes to the 2006-07 King Academic Games Team who concluded their season recently. We are pleased to report a successful year with over 30 students participating. Thanks goes to King alumni Christy Vanek, parent Mike Vanek as well as King teacher Mrs. Vanek (yes, they are a family ☺) for their coaching and organizational efforts. All of the students and coaches have done an excellent job!
We also want to celebrate the King Academic Games Team and their success at the 33rd Annual Michigan League of Academic Games State Super Tournament in Grand Rapids from March 14 – 16, 2007. It was a very successful trip for our students with second and third place finishes in the Equations competition, a second place in On-Sets, and honorable mentions in the Presidents competition and the Propaganda competition. We couldn’t be more proud of our Academic Games team!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Safety and MEAP Scores

March 4, 2007

Dear King parents,

I write today with some of the most exciting news of the year—and some of the most disappointing news, which is where I’ll start.

Safety—Drop Offs—Pick Ups
The disappointment: several parents approached me recently to express dissatisfaction and disappointment with safety during drop-off and pick-up times. After watching in the front drive of the school on several occasions, I couldn’t agree more. Our problems during these times are serious and are on-going issues. We need to come together to address this NOW!

What’s wrong and why it should be changed:
• Parents are dropping off and picking up students from the left hand lane of the circle drive in the front of the school. This means students cross in front of other cars to get to and from the school—and as unthinking, sometimes too rushed drivers leave the school, students could be hit and hurt or worse.
• Parents backing their cars up—even if just for a couple feet—in the front drive. Students may be standing in driver’s blind spot (or may step out from the curb) while some unthinking, unknowing driver backs up and hits them, hurts them or worse.
• The above two bullets exemplify parent practices that are not acceptable. Other unacceptable parent practices include driving too fast around the school, parking in the front of the school during pick up and drop off, and standing in the left hand lane of the front circle drive.

What needs to be done to act safely:
• Parents must obey traffic signs around the school;
• Parents must slow down when dropping off and picking up students. This does not only mean to drive more slowly but also means exhibiting patience to realize it makes more sense to make a second loop to the front drive than to pick up students in an unsafe manner;
• Use the left hand lane of the front drive for driving only;
• Never back up in the front circle drive;
• From 8:40 – 9:10 and from 3:30 – 4:00, you cannot leave your car while in the front drive (i.e. no parking allowed).
• If you are perpetrating any of the above-mentioned dastardly deeds, you should change your behavior. If you are not doing these things, talk with other MLK parents about the issues. We must raise awareness that what is happening is dangerous.

Beyond this we need to think, as a community, about how to best address this in an on-going, safer way. Some of the suggestions I’ve received this year:
• Ask the Ann Arbor Police Department to monitor traffic at school. I would love it if it were this easy but the AAPD gives tickets on Waldenwood Drive, not in the King driveway.
• Ask the PTO to form a Safety Committee to help address the issues. I would welcome the help from such a group.
I would be happy to receive additional suggestions about this topic. Thank you.

Now on to some of the more exciting news at MLK. Let’s get right to the fall 2006 MEAP scores, which were released not too long ago. Here you go:
3rd Grade
Reading- 96
Writing- 74
English/Language Arts- 96
Math- 97

4th Grade
Reading- 98
Writing- 83*
English/Language Arts- 97
Math- 99

5th Grade
Reading- 98
Writing- 91*
English/Lang. Arts- 98
Math- 98
Science- 100*

* denotes highest score achieved at King School in given area

As you can see, King School continues to perform on the MEAP tests at an exceptional level. Few schools in the state have shown this type of success from year to year. Nice job everyone!

During Curriculum Night in the fall of this school year, I shared the MEAP scores from 2005. Writing was the area that “stuck out” in our achievement data (as well as the achievement data for the AAPS and the composite data for public schools in Michigan). So, looking at the scores above, there is reason to celebrate! I hope you’ll join me in congratulating our students and teaching staff on this accomplishment. Effort, work and thought has gone into addressing writing—and it has shown signs of paying off!

As a learning community we need to continue to be committed to the improvement of writing beyond the scores above. So far this year, the following have taken place that contribute to our writing improvement:
• The King School Improvement Team and staff established writing as an area of focus in support of the AAPS Action Plan;
• K-2 and 3-5 teachers have participated in several sessions of professional development around writing instruction and implementation of the AAPS writing curriculum;
• Schedules for implementation of the writing curriculum have been established and are reviewed;
• Additional resources for the teaching of grammar have been purchased for teachers use;
• The State of Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations have been reviewed;
• In consultation and planning with me, fourth grade parents established an after-school writing program for interested students with the assistance of;
• A parent writing program from the Eastern Michigan Writing Project was offered to a pilot group of parents and teachers including the School Improvement Team and the PTO board;
• Discussions and planning is underway to offer the parent writing program to other interested parents (hopefully in May!).
I’d like to give thanks to the King staff and our School Improvement Team members for their work and initiative around our efforts in writing. The School Improvement Team members for this year are Laurie Barnett, Mona Berry, Elizabeth Donovan, Kevin Karr, Susan Lake, Reema Jarjoura, Colleen McAlinden, Teresa McMahon and Laura Stidham. I’d also like to give thanks to fourth grade parents Ksenia Kozak and Monica Tecchio for their initiative on the 4th grade after-school writing program. It is my hope that we’ll identify others who may be interested in developing similar opportunities for other grades. If you are interested, feel free to contact Ksenia, Monica, Maneesha Gulati, the PTO educational chair, or me ☺.