All the Buzz
News and Info from HCS -- January 20, 2023
From Your Superintendent
Above my desk, I have a picture I took about five years when visiting an elementary school. The picture is of a sign that the principal had posted in the office conference room, and its simple brilliance really struck me.
It is a wonderful visual reminder to consider the impact of every decision, no matter its size. As one of my favorite education authors (Vivienne Robinson) writes, we have to ask ourselves if our leadership decisions and actions will be reflected in better student learning.
Of course we want our schools to be managed well too - we want kids to be happy and meet behavior expectations, we want clean and orderly school buildings and property, and we must have sound financial control. We also want and need solid relationships between and among the adults in our organization and parents/guardians. But without student-centered leadership, none of that is enough on its own to guarantee that students will learn at high levels.
Student-centered leadership decisions and actions may not always be the most popular decisions. That is why it is crucial that we are always transparent with our "why" behind decisions. In this way, even if people disagree with the decision, they can trust that many different perspectives were considered.
Here's the great news about Harrison: the student-centered perspective was already a part of our principals' and other district leaders'' practice when I got here! It is rewarding to be part of a team who not only say they are about kids, but whose actions demonstrate it. Our challenge is to keep it up, especially when difficult decisions need to be made, and continue to up our game around communication and transparency.
As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns.
School Board Appreciation Month
- Kendra Durga, President
- Courtney McCrimmon, Vice President
- Therese Haley, Secretary
- James Neff, Treasurer
- Betsy Ulicki, Trustee
- Carrie Whitaker, Trustee
- Chelsea Roland, Trustee
Harrison Community Schools joins 537 local and 56 intermediate school districts across Michigan to celebrate January as School Board Recognition Month. Our school board members work to provide the best possible education for our students. Celebrating them this month is one of the very small ways to express appreciation for all they do.
School board members represent the views and priorities of our community in the complex system of maintaining and running our schools. They also reinforce the principle of local control over public education, which is an important and highly valued aspect of education in Michigan.
The school board’s main goal is to support student achievement. To achieve that goal, the board focuses on the following needs:
Creating a vision for what parents and citizens want their school district to become and how to make student achievement the top priority.
Setting standards for what students must learn and be able to do.
Assessing whether schools achieve their goals and whether students are learning.
Accounting for the outcomes of decisions and by tracking progress and reporting results.
Aligning the use of the district’s human and financial resources.
Creating a safe and orderly climate where students can learn and teachers can teach.
Collaborating to solve common problems and to support common successes.
Focusing on continuous improvement by questioning, examining, revising, refining and revisiting issues related to student achievement.
Even though we are making a special effort during January to show appreciation for our school board members, we recognize their contributions reflect a year-round effort on their part. No matter what challenges might lie ahead for our district in 2023, our school board members will continue to govern to improve student achievement and provide exceptional education for all our community’s children.
Thank You For Making Your Voice Heard
Our dress code survey had 700 responses! We are currently breaking down the data for the next step (our dialogue/discussion groups). However, here is some preliminary info:
- 700 respondents: 46.6% (326) were students (open to grades 5-12); 29.3% (205) were parents, guardians, or caregivers; 12.3% (86) were community members; and 11.3% (79) were staff members.
- 71 respondents, from all different groups, have volunteered to be a part of dialogue/discussion groups to look at all of the information we collected and being the "sensemaking"process.
How Do We Decide to Delay or Cancel School Based on Weather?
Twice this school year, we have delayed or canceled school due to weather-related conditions. Have you ever wondered how the decision is made? The short answer is safety, and the longer answer is all of the factors that go into the safety category.
Looking at weather forecasts is always a bit tricky, because patterns can change so quickly. But that is usually our first step - knowing we may need to pay extra attention on certain days and at certain times.
Typically, the conversation starts around 4-4:30 am, in two ways. Our area superintendents communicate via a group text, and each of us communicates with our transportation director. One or more of our bus drivers takes some trial runs and reports back regarding road conditions. Even when the main roads are in decent shape, secondary and "back" roads may be very different.
Our district covers 240 square miles, with a variety of different road types and conditions. Our bus drivers need to head out by 6:15 am to start their routes, so we have to make a decision before that, based on current conditions and forecasted conditions. When we chose a two-hour delay, it is because we believe the forecast will improve enough to have school. However, there are times that decision turns into a full closure because not enough improvement happens in the next decision window.
Sometimes the decision across area districts is similar, and other times it is not. But our individual decisions do impact whether the CGRESD, and specifically the career/technical program, delays or closes, so we want to maintain contact with our neighbors.
All decisions are ultimately made based on whether, with the information we have on hand, our students can safely be at bus stops, and whether our buses can safely drive all routes. While it is vital that we have our students in school and learning, we will not jeopardize their safety in getting to or from school. Occasionally, the weather may dramatically improve after we have made a call to close, but we would rather err on the side of safety.
High School Happenings
U.S. History: Progressive Era
Historians in Ms. Lipovsky's class leveraged their creativity to demonstrate learning around the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s).
Middle School Magic
Bringing Home the Hardware!
Our middle school competitive cheer team took 2nd place at their competition in Meridian! The next competition is January 27th in Evart at 6:00 pm.
Our middle school robotics team, coaches, and high school mentors led the Pledge of Allegiance at the January Board of Education meeting.
More Points of Pride
Middle schoolers Julien Brazier and Eli Wing, and Larson teacher Heather Jensen, were recognized for writing and teaching achievements by the VFW.
School Board members Betsy Ulicki and Carrie Whitaker get an up-close view of the middle school team's robot.
Board of Education Meeting
The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by students from our high school. Principal Joe Ashcroft will present an instructional/school highlight.
Mon, Feb 13, 2023, 05:30 PM
Hillside Elementary School, North 4th Street, Harrison, MI, USA
Upcoming Calendar Events
February 10: no school for students -- full day of professional learning for teachers
March 27-31: spring break -- no school for students or staff
April 7: no school for students or staff
School Contact Information
- Larson Elementary, 989.539.3259 (Principal Andrea Andera, email@example.com, Assistant Principal Sandy Hargraves, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Middle School, 989.539.7194 (Principal Jennifer Thrush, email@example.com, Dean of Students Stacey Van Antwerp, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- High School/Hive, 989.539.7417 (Principal Joe Ashcroft, email@example.com, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Brad Carlstrom, firstname.lastname@example.org)
COVID-19 protocols for positive cases, staff or student:
- With a positive case, the person must isolate for 5 days and not attend or be in school. In counting those days, the first date of symptoms (or the test, if no symptoms) is day 0.
- The COVID-positive person may return to school on Day 6, assuming symptoms are subsiding. We recommend, but do not require, masking for days 6-10 in school.
We are also attaching a handy resource from public health officials that provides guidance on when to keep a child home from school in a variety of illness-related situations.