East China School District News

Every Child.Every Day

November 16, 2020

Important COVID-19 Update

Please read the letter below from the Superintendent.

Dear Parents and Staff,

The health and safety of our students, staff and their families are our number one priority. With the significant increase of positive COVID-19 cases in St. Clair County, the East China School District has made the decision in partnership with the St. Clair County Health Department to temporarily pause in person instruction. Our last day of in person instruction will be Friday, November 20th. Please know this decision was not made without careful consideration for everyone in our community.

From the beginning, it has been our goal to provide safe, in person instruction to the students in our district that have wanted it. We relied on science and data to guide us in our decision to safely open our schools on September 8th and we have been closely monitoring the situation since then. The past few weeks have shown a significant upward trend in positive cases which has caused an increasingly challenging situation in operating our schools. We will continue to monitor the trends very closely and will open up to in person instruction again as soon as it is safe and logistically possible.

· The last day for in person instruction for students will be Friday, November 20th. We will use this week to prepare our students for the transition to remote learning.

· Monday and Tuesday, November 23rd and 24th will be professional development days for our teachers and staff (no school for students) to prepare for the pivot to remote learning. Elementary parent-teacher conferences will be held as previously scheduled.

· Remote learning for all students will begin on Monday, November 30th

· This learning experience will not be what we experienced in March. Our school buildings will have hours of operation in which assistance will be available.

· This week, each building principal will be sending an email to families with guidelines, resources and information on the switch to remote learning along with school building office hours.

· Our technology and food service teams will be releasing their plans to support student learning in a remote setting.

· Starting November 30th we expect all students to follow the schedule and guidelines for remote learning that will be forthcoming from their school.

· With current State guidelines, events and sports can continue to meet as all of our safety protocols and limits of group gatherings continue to remain in place.

At this time, families should plan for remote learning to continue until the end of Christmas break and possibly a couple of weeks into the new year. We will continue to evaluate the situation and communicate any potential extension on a monthly basis.

I understand that this will present a new challenge as we transition to a remote learning environment and I want to thank all of our families for your understanding and support as we continue to navigate this virus. I am also grateful to our teachers, principals and all of our East China School District employees for being the leaders in St. Clair County on providing face to face instruction safely as well as virtual instruction. It was not easy and I sincerely appreciate everyone’s dedication.


Suzanne Cybulla

Superintendent of East China Schools


Congratulations to Pat Biebuyck, Todd Distelrath and Michael Westrick who were elected to continue to serve on the ECSD Board of Education. We appreciate their dedication and hard work as they continue to serve our students and families.

Pine River Staff Spotlight

Pine River Paraprofessionals

Paraprofessionals are vital members of our school’s staff. They develop specialized skills to provide instructional, behavioral, and other support for students both in and out of the classroom. Our parapros work closely with teachers to provide one-on-one and small group assistance to students, and our students benefit from the support, encouragement, and positive relationships they develop with our paraprofessionals. These ladies are truly heroes at Pine River!

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Terrilyn Spencer is a paraprofessional in Nikki LaParl’s Cognitively Impaired Classroom. She has worked as a parapro for six years. What she loves most about her job is all of the joy and love the students bring into her life. When she is not working, Terrilyn enjoys time with her husband, John, sons, Andy and Joey, and their three cats and bearded dragon. Her hobbies include baking and cooking.

Carol Conigliaro is also a seasoned paraprofessional in Nikki LaParl’s C.I. classroom. She has worked as a paraprofessional for 23 years, and this is the beginning of her ninth year in the East China School District. Carol enjoys being with students and that every day is different. She also likes being able to leave a positive impression that enhances both her students’ and coworkers’ lives. Carol has been married to her husband for forty years, and they have two adult children that graduated from St. Clair High School. In her spare time, she enjoys riding bicycles, walking, hiking, and spending time outdoors.

Holly Felax recently joined the paraprofessional team in Mrs. LaParl’s C.I. classroom. She was worked for the district for four years. What she enjoys about her job is that every day is different and children’s unique personalities make every day so much fun. The students and staff in her classroom laugh a lot, and Holly enjoys watching the students learn and grow. Holly has three children: Cheyenne, Kennedy, and Nolan. She enjoys weightlifting, shopping, and spending time with her family in her free time.

Tera Hopkins has been a Special Education building paraprofessional for five years. She loves that she gets to make a difference in students’ lives, and she absolutely loves her coworkers. Tera is the mother of three children who are students in the district. She spends her free time watching her sons play baseball (even during the winter) and watching her daughter participate in cheer and dance.

Amber Dionne is a Special Education building paraprofessional, and this is her second year working at Pine River. She said she absolutely loves her job because having the chance to change a student’s day from bad to good is rewarding, often helping a student go from angry and frustrated to smiling and giggling. Amber feels the best motivation is knowing that she is making an impact on students’ education. Amber graduated from Cros-Lex High School and worked during the summers at Muscular Dystrophy camp. She also worked at Lake Huron Medical for three years until choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. Amber has two daughters, Aurora who is a student at Pine River and stepdaughter Kailey who attends Marysville Schools. She enjoys spending time with her Yorkies, Peanut and Frankie, when she is not at work.

Becky Kurylo is a Special Education building paraprofessional. This is her second year working at Pine River, where she loves seeing the students grow and learn. She says that the looks on students’ faces when they accomplish challenging tasks are priceless. Becky also enjoys working with “some of the most amazing people in the world.” She feels lucky be be inspired daily by the staff at Pine River and wishes that everyone could see how truly amazing teachers are and all they do for their students. Becky enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters, son, dog, and cat. Before becoming a paraprofessional, she worked in the medical field and spent time at home raising her family.

Jessica Laurinec is a Kindergarten support paraprofessional who started working at Pine River in the beginning of October. She loves that she gets to see the educational growth in Kindergarten students every day, as well as the amazing amount of knowledge they consume. Jessica also enjoys the students’ excitement and energy and the way they want to share their experiences with her. She is a mom of two students at Pine River, Eli and Willa. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys baking and reading, and she is excited to do some holiday baking soon and share some goodies with her new Pine River family.
Cathy Stockwell has worked for the district for 22 years as a noon aide, Special Education parapro, and currently as an office paraprofessional. She has enjoyed every position and school she has worked at. However, her favorite job has been office parapro because she gets to see and work with a vast variety of people, particularly the wonderful Pine River staff and great bunch of students. There is always something going on and it seems there is never a dull moment. Cathy has been married to her husband, John, for 45 years and they have four grown children who are all graduates of St. Clair High School. Their ten grandchildren are all students in the district, and three of them attend Pine River. In her free time, Cathy enjoys beading, reading, and spending time with her family.

Pine River Elementary News

Sponsor a Safety Program

The Pine River Safety Patrol, advised by Mrs. Andrea Ursitti and consisting of fourth grade students, guides and assists younger students in and out of the building before and after school. As well as developing their own leadership skills, the safeties model responsibility and safety for our younger Pioneers.

When the Safety Patrol needed new belts, the PTO developed the Sponsor a Safety Program. Within 12 hours of the program being introduced, all 40 of the safety positions were sponsored by individuals and families. In addition, Katherine Hoffmaster of AAA Insurance donated $350 to the program, and former Pioneer Evan Brengman donated $100. The remaining sponsors included Cathy Stockwell, Avyrie Allen, Colton Bullock, Nash Prescott, The Archibald Family, The Distel Family, The Koehn Family, The Kelly Family, The Schneider Family, The Malburg Family, Drew Langmesser, Tyler Langmesser, Lauren Bowen, Ashlynn Bowen, The Thoel Family, The Murdock Family, The Kurylo Family, Keely Allen, Noah Rapier, and Jacob Koehn. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our sponsors, and our fourth graders are excited to take turns filling the safety positions with their new gear!

Sensory Path

Teachers Jessica Jones, Cristina Malburg, and Darcee Schneider received a grant for a sensory path at Pine River. The sensory path was installed on October 16th in the hallway next to our Kindergarten classrooms. The path consists of spots that give directions for various cognitive and physical responses from students. Going through the sensory path provides an outlet that lets students channel some of their excess energy to help them better concentrate on their learning in the classroom. It also adds fun breaks to the school day.

Here is a cute video of Mrs. Schneider and Mrs.Malburg demonstrating the sensory path. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNedvGDSSpg

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Little Explorers

Our Little Explorers have been busy!

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Front Line Worker Scholarships

Do you know of a high school graduate that was a front-line worker for at least 11 of 14 weeks between April 1-June 30? If so, they are eligible for scholarship money through the community college.

NEW STATEWIDE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the Futures for Frontliners Scholarship Program.

What Is It?
Provides scholarships for Michiganders without college degrees who worked in frontline jobs in essential industries during the state COVID-19 shutdown in spring 2020.
Provides tuition-free access to public community colleges to earn an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate.
Uses federal funds to launch the program.
Two Pathways
Path 1: For frontline workers who have a high school degree (or equivalent).
Path 2: For frontline workers who need to complete a high school degree (or equivalent).

Eligibility Requirements
Be a Michigan resident. Worked in an essential industry (at least half time) for 11 of 14 weeks from April 1 to June 30, 2020. Have a high school diploma or equivalent. Have not have previously earned a degree.
Not be in default on a Federal student loan. Complete the Futures for Frontliners scholarship application by Dec. 31, 2020.

How to Apply
Application period: Sept.10-Dec. 31, 2020
Apply here → Scholarship Requirements
Apply to and be admitted to a Michigan public community college.
Enroll at least half time in a Pell-eligible program that leads to an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate.
Complete the current-year Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Enroll and begin classes in the winter, spring, summer, or fall semester of 2021.

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Give Your Child A Great Start!

The Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) is a state funded preschool program for eligible children who will be four years old on or before September 1st. This program covers the key areas a child needs to be ready for Kindergarten. Applications for the 2020-2021 school year are now being accepted! The application and more information can be found by clicking on the links below:

Click the link below for additional information

Click the link below for an online application

For additional questions, comments, or concerns, please contact:

Chris Klecha, GSRP Enrollment Specialist
(810) 676-1010

Contact Information

Superintendent Suzanne Cybulla can be reached at scybulla@ecsd.us or by calling the East China School District at 810.676.1018.