The Oak Park Advantage

January 2021 Fourth Edition Newsletter


Monday, Feb. 8th, 7pm

This is an online event.

Virtual Meeting via Zoom.

Meeting ID: 832 6659 1712. Password: 3ptTix.

To join the Zoom Meeting by phone, please dial 1-929-205-6099 and enter the Meeting Id above. You may also click this link for the meeting.

Oak Park High School Students!

Thinking about college? Here's your chance to hear firsthand from those-in-the-know at hundreds of colleges and universities nearby, across the country, and around the world.


The National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is hosting FREE virtual college fairs! Students may attend as many fairs as they wish! Click to see a list of colleges that will share information about their programs, majors, financial aid, and much more on each fair date.

Virtual Fair Dates

On each fair date, more than 600 colleges will offer Zoom sessions and meetings. Students everywhere can log in, drop in, and ask questions. It's a great opportunity for you to explore your college options.

You'll want to sign up now at Look around several days before each fair date, the first fair is this Sunday, January 31 from 1-7 PM!

Spring 2021 Schedule
Students may attend as many fairs as they wish! Click to see a list of colleges that will share information about their programs, majors, financial aid, and more on each fair date. Additional colleges will be added throughout the spring.

Four of these events are smaller Focus Fairs and are especially for students with special interests or residing in specific regions: STEM (Mar. 7), Performing & Visual Arts (Mar. 16), Western US (Apr. 10), Southeastern US (Apr. 20).

Connect Virtually
COVID-19 has shut down many opportunities students previously had for visiting, learning about, and connecting with colleges. NACAC aims to bridge that gap through these special one-day events.

At each virtual fair, students attend college presentations, learn about their options, ask questions, and demonstrate interest... all without leaving home.

Welcome to NACAC Fairs!


The state of Michigan is offering a free program to stop adult-oriented advertisements from reaching e-mails and mobile phones (text messaging ads). The Michigan Child Protection Registry, created by Michigan’s state legislature in 2004, allows Michigan schools and families to protect their students from receiving adult-themed content and is located at

Kids can be exposed to unique risks in cyberspace. Help kids remember that cybersafety should always be a priority, check out these tips for promoting kids’ Internet security.

  • Increase awareness: Help ensure younger children know the basics of staying safe online by using techniques like online games and videos that will define computer terms (e.g., cyberbullying, netiquette, virus protection) to establish basic understanding.

  • Protect your kid’s identity: Remind your kids never to give out personal information, such as name, home address, or telephone number, to anyone they don’t know through email, Twitter, Facebook, or in online chat rooms or bulletin boards. Talk with your children about the online risks of interacting with strangers through the computer and sending notes and pictures into cyberspace. Online games may help kids understand how to protect their personal information and the ramifications of stolen identity.

  • Protect your computer: Regularly updating security software can protect your family against scammers, hackers, and other online threats that can compromise your computer system and, consequently, your family’s financial security and other private information. Using software security that automatically updates keeps your technology current and decreases the likelihood of picking up bad programs or malware.

  • Create unique passwords: For online safety, tell your kids to use different passwords for every online account they have to help prevent others from accessing their personal information. Make sure that you monitor each account and make sure your children know that strong passwords should include elements like symbols, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and no names or words that others could easily guess.

  • Monitor online activity: Monitoring your kids’ online activity can help keep them safe. Explore various parental controls and consider what options may work best for you and your family.

  • Prevent cyberbullying: Cyberbullyingbullying using electronic technology—can happen anytime and anywhere. Teach your children to think through what they post on the Net about other people and the consequences those posts could have if they are unkind or mean. Also, keep communication with your child open and speak up if you suspect someone is bullying him or her.


In conjunction with Microsoft, Oak Park Schools is bringing 13 of the world's top Black history museums to classrooms in the district virtually to celebrate Black History Month. Teachers can choose from any of the following dates. Registration will begin Monday, January 25.

The National Center for Civil Human Rights (5th Grade & Up) 2/3/2021 900 am - 1100 am

Muhammad Ali Center (6th Grade & Up) Sensitive Material 2/4/2021 900 am - 1100 am

Negro League Baseball Museum (3rd Grade & Up) 2/5/2021 900 am - 1100 am

The Legacy Project (3rd Grade & Up) 2/8/2021 100 pm - 300 pm

Friends of the Tuskegee Airmen (3rd grade & Up) 2/9/2021 900 am - 1100 am

George Washington Carver (3rd grade & Up) 2/10/2021 900 am - 1100 am

Freedom Rides Museum (6th Grade & Up) 2/11/2021 900 am - 1100 am

Sullivan Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson Museum | The Selma Montgomery Experience (3rd Grade & Up) 2/12/2021 100 pm - 300 pm

The Slave Experience - Ft. Monroe, Whitney Plantation, Milton House (5th Grade & Up) 2/22/2021 900 am - 1100 am

Grammy Museum (4th grade & Up) 2/23/2021 100 pm - 300 pm

Buffalo Soldier Museum (3rd - 6th grade) 2/24/2021 900 am - 1100 am

For a full description of each event, please click here or visit

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Do you know of an 11th or 12th-grade male or female student that can use some help with applying for scholarships, FASFA applications, college applications, finance management, ACT/SAT information, etc. for FREE?!?

To register, please email and zoom meeting details will be emailed upon registration.


Thursday, Feb. 4th, 6-9pm

This is an online event.

Mark your calendars to attend the Oakland Schools Virtual Career Night to learn more about what doors an Oakland Schools Technical Campus education can open.

Programs: Engineering, Robotics & Mechatronics, Machining and Welding

Zoom link for all events:

Meeting ID:

415 555 9196




Participate today! Calling all OPS students!

Earth Day Poster Contest and Environmental Service Award Competition

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development invite students to participate in either the Earth Day poster contest or the Environmental Service Award.

The Earth Day poster contest is for students in Kindergarten – 5th grade. Their submitted posters are judged based on the ‘Restore Our Earth’ theme and including plants, wildlife, or ecosystems native to Michigan. The artwork can be drawn by hand or digitally created. Each school hosts its own contest for the students and submits the top three posters for each grade. The Earth Day poster contest committee selects the top two first and second place winners from each grade.

The Environmental Service Award (ESA) competition is for students in 6th - 8th and 9th - 12th grade categories. Schools are invited to nominate a student or group of students to be recognized for completion of a school-sanctioned, environment-based project, that has tangible results. The project must incorporate the ‘Restore Our Earth’ theme and provide a benefit for plants, wildlife, or ecosystems native to Michigan. Schools confirm the validity of each project and outcome. The Earth Day ESA committee selects the top two projects from each category.

Schools can find the applications for either contest at, The deadline for both contests to submit entries is February 28, 2021. The winners from both contests will be notified by March 15, and their work will be posted on the Earth Day web page. If you have any questions, please contact Pam Howd at 517-282-8357 or

Due to this year’s challenges with COVID-19, the Constitution Hall celebration will be held virtually. Pre-recorded sessions will be posted to the web page the week of April 22, 2021. The Earth Day awards ceremony will include the winners of the 2021 annual Poster Contest and Environmental Service Project awards, and will be posted on website.

Earth Day Poster Contest

Earth Day Poster Contest Template

Earth Day Environmental Service Award

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Will the COVID-19 vaccine help keep me from getting COVID-19?


Getting vaccinated protects you and may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. Wearing masks properly and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. It is important to note that even fully vaccinated individuals should continue mitigation measures. Stopping the pandemic requires using all the tools we have available; this includes handwashing, wearing masks properly, and social distancing along with building immunity in the community through large scale vaccination programs.

Talk with your doctor or go to the Oakland County Health Division's COVID-19 Vaccination Hub found on the website and click on the "Vaccine" tab to find out more information or to see if you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Stay Healthy,

Vanessa Long

Oak Park Schools District Nurse


The Oakland County Health Department (OCHD) has started “Save your Spot” in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. Save your Spot will help inform them of your interest in getting the vaccine as well as organize the distribution of their vaccine supply.

According to OCHD, when you are eligible to set an appointment and vaccine doses are available, they will contact you by phone, text or email. To learn more information, please log onto: and complete the form. The site also provides an Oakland County COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard so you can monitor the following in real time:

  • Total Doses Received
  • Doses Administered
  • Vaccine Appointments Set (secured through a certain date – meaning the amount of doses they have already received and scheduled appointments for)
  • Number of Appointments Available

You can also register your email address to receive news and information about Oakland County vaccination appointments and COVID-19 resources or text OAKGOV to 28748.


Henry Ford Health System is offering free, walk-in COVID-19 testing at Oak Park High School and multiple locations throughout Metro Detroit through Wednesday, March 31.

No appointment, physician referral, prescription or insurance is needed. The PCR (nasal swab) tests are available for adults and children.

Results will be provided within 48 hours. If you are having symptoms or suspect that you may have COVID-19, please take advantage of this free service.

Because testing dates, times and locations may change, please visit for updates. Or, call 313-876-1363 Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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Office of Teaching and Learning

District Wide Updates

w/o January 25, 2021

  • Fall 2020 NWEA Results for all K-12 students are now uploaded to MISTAR Parent Portal!

  • All Conference PD videos from August, October, and November have been compiled and uploaded for your learning pleasure! We also have uploaded the (6-12) Nepris Professional Learning session from December 7. If you are interested in additional learning from our Return To Schools Conference, our October PD Conference, or November 5D+ PD, or Nepris please click the links below! The uploads can also be found under “Staff Links” on our district website!

  • Come Celebrate Black History Month by attending any number of virtual events developed by our very own Hoffman Planetarium! Registration links are available for these highly engaging virtual events developed and curated by (K-12) Science Coordinator and Hoffman Planetarium Director Grayling Mercer.

  • Building Mirrors and Windows Virtual Conference with Gholdy Muhammad: The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is excited to announce and host a free virtual conference for educators and administrators, Building Mirrors and Windows: Children Seeing Themselves and Others in the Literature that We Teach, on February 25, 2021. Free for Michigan educators and administrators! REGISTER HERE!

  • If anyone is interested in a fun, unique, and creative way to give back to the wonderful community in which we work and and live, consider being part of the Lasagna Love organization. If you have been working hard trying to make ends meet through these difficult times and would love a lasagna delivered to your doorstep for dinner, check this out!

  • Shout-Outs!

    • As Oak Park Schools continues to examine and develop educational opportunities for our students, the Office of Teaching and Learning would like to shout out all of the passionate and dedicated teachers and staff members who have made themselves available through numerous surveys, council meetings, and staff meetings to provide insight and opinions on ways to deliver safe, engaging, high quality learning to our students during a pandemic. Thank you to the teachers serving on the Oak Park Schools Teaching and Learning Council, the teachers attending New Teacher PD: Equity in Education, and all the teachers who participated in the district wide town hall earlier this week. Your voice, opinions, concerns, and expertise are greatly valued. Thank you all!

    • Shout out to OPHS ELA teacher Navneet Khangura for working to develop a targeted reading intervention class aimed at providing the necessary support to students to close those reading gaps! Though Ms. Khangura has just joined our district within the past few weeks, she’s already making a lasting impact on the lives of her students! We are fortunate to have her! Also, a shout out is well deserved for OPHS Instructional coach Emily De La Cruz who continues to dedicate her time prioritizing literacy development across all contents! Way to go!

  • Professional Learning Opportunities:

    • Oakland Schools is offering free 1 hour professional development sessions for all math teachers. All participants will receive 1 SCHECH hour for every session they attend. Check out the calendar of events for the school year and register if you’re interested.

    • Oakland Schools Culturally Responsive Teaching Institute (4 Days, 2 hours)

      • This interactive professional learning series will provide participants with an opportunity to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary to teach and provide support for the education of students who are identified as ethnically diverse.

      • Dates/Time: March 25, April 8, April 15, April 21 (4:00 - 6:00 pm) Register Here!

    • Developing and Assessing Math Fact Fluency

      • Audience:K-5 Math Teachers and 6-8 Math Essential Teachers

        • Presenter: Gina Kling - Math Instructor at Western Michigan University

        • Description: Have you noticed students who are struggling with math fact fluency and are interested in ways to build and assess student fluency in a meaningful way? Join Ms. Kling as she provides proven strategies to help struggling students develop an understanding of fluency and learn games that will help them in a key mathematic focus area.

      • Dates/Times: Feb 11, Feb 18, and Feb 25 from 7 to 9 pm

    • Anti-Racist Leadership Institute hosted by Dr. Jay Marks

      • The goal of this professional learning experience is to provide participants with an in-depth examination of race and racism, and its interplay with power, privilege and dominance. Participants will develop the knowledge and skills necessary to address structural racism for the purpose of eliminating systemic racial disparities and achieving racial equity in schools. The institute is designed for educators who already possess a foundational knowledge about race and racism, and its impact on schools and society.

      • Tuesday, February 2, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

      • Wednesday, February 3, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

      • Thursday, March 25, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

      • Tuesday, April 27, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

      • For more information and registration instructions, CLICK HERE!

    • MASSP is providing a free, asynchronous, learning opportunity to help teachers familiarize themselves with CEL's 5D instructional framework and 5D+ evaluation tool. In this session participants will gain both an understanding of the background and purpose for using the 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning (5D™) instructional framework, the 5D+™ Rubric for Instructional Growth & Teacher Evaluation and their roles and responsibilities within cycles of inquiry. The course is offered through Michigan Virtual and is completely self-paced. Upon completion of the online course you will receive 3 SCHECHs applied to your recertification license. The course is open to all educators, whether you are new to the district and have never used the 5D framework, or simply want a refresher on the dimensions and how to use the tool to increase your instructional effectiveness. ​ If you are interested in learning more click here to register.


On January 5th, Oak Park School's Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning Cassandra Baptiste participated in the latest Educationally Speaking podcast discussing education access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many issues when it comes to education access. Nationwide, there has been an increase in the number of students absent from school and it's not due to illness. This same issue has also been noticed in our state and Oakland County is no exception. More and more children are missing from classrooms and there is a myriad of reasons why.

check it out along with other Educationally Speaking podcasts at:

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Important Announcement Regarding Technology Services

Beginning January 4, 2021, Oak Park School District’s Technology Helpdesk will be serviced by Oakland Schools. You will receive an email within the next day or two from the “OS Service Desk”. This email will include your Service Desk login and a temporary password. Please follow the instructions on the email to activate your account, change your password, and access the new Service Desk.

You will now be able to access Technology Services help in four different ways:

(1) Login and create a ticket via a link on

(2) Chat online with a Service Desk agent

(3) Email the Service Desk

(4) Call the Service Desk.

Our Student support line 248-336-7667 will still remain, and students may press 1 for Technology Support. This will transfer the calls to Oakland Schools automatically.

Our staff Support number will change to 248-209-2060.

Support will be available Monday – Friday from 7:00am to 6:00pm!

Maintenance and Building requests will still be created using the Oak Park Schools Ready desk Ticket system. In the future, Maintenance requests will move to another platform as well.

Oak Park Schools Technology Services

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Congratulations to our Oak Park High School Health Science Academy students on their success at the HOSA Competitive Events Program regional competition in December. This year’s competition was intense, but six of eight students that competed finished in the top ten and are now qualified to compete in the state competition in April. Huge shoutout to these dedicated students as they sacrificed time during their holiday break to represent Oak Park High School and our HOSA program.

Student Name Competitive Event

Cartwright, R’reanna - Health Science: Medical Terminology (State Qualifier)

Cook, Dashari - Teamwork. Public Service Announcement (State Qualifier)

Thompson, Destiny - Emergency Preparedness: CPR and First Aid (State Qualifier)

Wahhab, Tumani - Emergency Preparedness: CPR and First Aid (State Qualifier)

Welch, Dejuan - Teamwork. Public Service Announcement (State Qualifier)

Wilson, Genaya - Teamwork. Public Service Announcement (State Qualifier)

Chalk, Donyel - Health Science: Nutrition (Regional Honorable Mention)

Thornton, Kamari - Health Science: Medical Terminology (Regional Honorable Mention)

Through the HOSA Competitive Events Program, members can compete in teams or as individuals in over 55 different events related to all aspects of the health care industry. HOSA integrates into the Health Science Education curriculum to develop and recognize smart, dedicated, and passionate future health professionals.

HOSA exists to enhance the delivery of compassionate, quality health care by providing opportunities for knowledge, skill, and leadership development of high school, post-secondary, and middle school students interested in healthcare.

For further information about the Oak Park High School HOSA program please contact our Health Science CTE Instructor, Mrs. Jennifer Gebhardt-Lavetter, RN at


In honor of School Board Recognition Month, we thank Menachem Hojda, Al Elvin, Claudette Lunkins, Yosef Klein, Maxine Gutfreund, Dawn Corporan, and Albert Smith for their dedication to our school community. Oak Park Schools appreciates this educated, caring leadership team!

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Kids Kicking Cancer has partnered with Pepper Elementary School for the past two years bringing the Hero’s Circle to second and third graders. The program consisted of professional development for teachers, daily instruction by teachers, videos, and weekly instruction from sensei masters.

The program centers on learning to control your brain so that you can reach your goal. The Hero's Circle recognizes that it takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance to reach one’s goals. The Hero’s Circle is a tool to help one reach their goals.

Kids Kicking Cancer now offers help and services to not only cancer patients, but any child in pain from a serious illness.

Using martial arts therapy, Kids Kicking Cancer staff teaches ill children and their siblings to:

  • Regain a sense of control over the chaos of their lives.
  • Become empowered partners in their own healing.
  • Push away the messages of pain, fear, and anger.
  • Provide inspiration and light to others facing life-challenges.
  • Teach other children, and even adults, how to take control.
  • See themselves as victors, not victims.

Martial arts techniques unlock the student’s Power, and the focused breathing and relaxation work brings them Peace. While teaching Kids Kicking Cancer’s Breath Brake to others, they find great Purpose in their young lives.


Kids Kicking Cancer was created in 1999 by Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, a black belt rabbi and clinical assistant professor of pediatrics. Rabbi G lost his first child to leukemia at the age of two and brings a wealth of personal experience and sensitivity to dealing with children and families facing life-threatening illness.

This program, which began with a handful of children at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, now teaches over 7,000 children in 90 hospitals and program locations in 7 countries.

The most unique and powerful element of the model is that each child becomes a teacher to others. Kids Kicking Cancer’s mantra is Power Peace Purpose. When asked what is your purpose? The children yell out, “To teach the world.”

Kids Kicking Cancer also has a “black-belt” program for patients who are not responding to treatments. This end of life care program provides ongoing meditation and family focus in a palliative format that culminates in the child receiving a black-belt in a public ceremony, usually a few days before he or she dies. Embroidered on the black-belt are the words “Master Teacher” because that child is truly teaching the world how to use the power of light to break through darkness.

Rabbi Goldberg is an awardee of the Robert Wood Johnson, Community Health Leaders Award in Washington D.C., known as the United States’ highest award in community public health. He has been honored as a Hero in People Magazine, CNN Top Ten Heroes, and the Ford Motor Company’s Heroes Gallery, amongst the many media stories featuring the work of Kids Kicking Cancer.

For further information please visit

A Look Into The Classroom at Kids Kicking Cancer!


Fall Science Introduction
The Hoffman Planetarium is an engaging, interactive full dome classroom. It is powered by advanced programs including, Starry Night, The Layered Earth and Zygote Body. The SciDome IQ2400 brings real-time space and earth science into a unique, innovative teaching environment.

We immerse students in the planetarium’s interactive visual macrocosm, explored Earth’s 3D topography and layers in spectacular detail. Each individual high school Science course and grade level courses in kindergarten through eighth grade participate in a developmentally appropriate interactive presentations tailored to the curriculum and/or Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) disciplinary core ideas while providing a connection to the astronomical 'big picture' - the Universe.

At the Hoffman Planetarium, we believe that 'your journey into the mysteries of space begins here...

Planetarium Offerings

  • Upon arrival into the Planetarium, students view a presentation specifically designed for their current science unit. For example, the 5th grade Earth Science show is entitled “Our Place in the Solar System” and explores most of the Next Generation Earth Science Standards (NGSS) for the 5th-grade level.
  • Students are also provided with an opportunity, during their Science Lab experience, to complete a hands-on activity related to their current unit. For 5th grade students, the activity allows students to construct a model of the solar system. Additionally, students also access the Virtual Labs available through the FOSS Science Curriculum and/or online Virtual Labs related to the unit material.

We have accommodations for both wheel-chair bound and students with disabilities, including devices for the hearing impaired. Our goal is to ensure that all students have access to the unique, interactive learning experience that the Planetarium offers!

Preparing Students for a Lifetime of Success: Next Generation Science Standards Alignment

Within the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), there are three distinct and equally important dimensions to learning science-core ideas, practice and cross-cutting. The implementation of new science standards with the support of Planetarium programs provides an opportunity to advance science education for all students. To learn more information, please review the NGSS Parent Guides below

Elementary School (Einstein, Key & Pepper)

Grades K- 2: Download the Grades K-2 Parent Guide

Grades 3- 5: Download the Grades 3-5 Parent Guide

Middle School (Oak Park Preparatory Academy)

Grades 6-8: Download the Grades 6-8 Parent Guide

High School (Oak Park High School)

Grades 9-12: Download the Grades 9-12 Parent Guide

Planetarium Coordinator

To learn additional information about the Hoffman Planetarium or schedule a visit, please contact Mr. Grayling Mercer at or 248.336.7620


Our mission is to provide a quality education that promotes respect for the individual and cultural differences of students and provides college and career readiness skills to become lifelong learners and productive citizens.

The Oak Park School District’s nearly 4,500 students are served at Einstein, Key and Pepper elementary schools (grades PreK-5), the Oak Park Preparatory Academy (grades 6-8), , Oak Park High School (grades 9 -12), NOVA (grades 3-12) the Oak Park Alternative Education Center (ages 16-19 years old) and My Virtual Academy of Oak Park (grades 5-12) in Oak Park, MI in Oakland County located in a suburban community near Detroit with approximately 30,000 residents. Our district consists of over 450 staff members, including 250 teachers and 11 building administrators.

Our school district boasts an abundance of educational and co/extra-curricular programs to meet the needs of a vast array of learners from Pre-K through twelfth grade. We encourage students to challenge themselves academically, explore comprehensive course offerings, and take risks to discover their individual gifts. We are dedicated to providing an intellectually challenging educational experience in safe, nurturing school environments that thrive on cultivating and empowering students to be their authentic selves. In addition, our academic and co/extra-curricular opportunities provide agency and shape self-identity, which are critical components to the adolescent development process.

Oak Park Advantage

The Oak Park Advantage is a holistic approach to education that not only prepares students academically, fosters a sense of belonging but creates long-lasting connections to the Oak Park community. While attending Oak Park Schools, students develop a confidence that is woven throughout their post-secondary, professional and social-emotional well-being years after they graduate.

Contact an Oak Park School District principal and take a tour! Get the Oak Park Advantage!

Our 2020 Goals

Maintain dynamic, healthy, and safe learning environments that inspire unlimited equitable opportunities for optimal classroom instruction to increase student achievement.

Implement ongoing transparent best practices to reduce operating costs to create opportunities to invest in human capital and professional learning, sustain quality facilities, establish a healthier organizational culture, and ensure fiscal stability.

Strategically design and implement organizational systems to increase efficiency, boost productivity to allow staff and students to focus entirely on student learning and social-emotional well-being.

Review and refresh curricular needs and resources employing planned adoption schedules based on current research with technology integration for classroom instruction.

Operate collaboratively district-wide and abandon ineffective silos.