December 4, 2022
Update from Superintendent Shuldiner
Dear Lansing School District Community,
I hope this newsletter finds you well. As always, it is a pleasure to be writing to you all. I hope you were all able to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and spend time around your family and loved ones. This week, as you might have seen, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released their School Index report. The Lansing School District did not fare well. Our test scores were low, our attendance was low, our graduation rates were low, and in general, we were underperforming for our children as compared to other districts across the state. Because of this low performance, our district will be considered a "Partnership District." Accordingly, this means that MDE will partner with us to help move our current work forward. The details of the partnership have not been worked out, but we have been assured that MDE will be working with us in a positive and supportive way. We welcome any and all help from MDE, just like we welcome any and all support from anyone who wants to help our students. And just for reference, the Lansing School District has been a "Partnership District" previously and was a "Priority District" (different label, same idea) before that.
At this point, after dealing with 18 months of no face-to-face instruction, a year of wearing masks in schools, inflation, safety concerns around the city, and just a general tough two and a half years since the pandemic started, you all might be thinking, here is yet another thing to beat us down. Rather than see it that way, I ask that we change our vantage point and think of last year's numbers as the truth that we have known for a while, the Lansing schools have not served students as well as we could have. But let us acknowledge this and move forward. We are not hiding this fact nor making excuses. We are using the report as a clarion call for action. We can and will do better. In fact, already this year, we have made great strides in addressing the MDE's report. I would like to share with you what I wrote and shared with the press when MDE released their index report:
Since I arrived in Lansing 16 months ago, I was struck by the great people working for the school district. All staff members I met wanted to do right by students. However, the Lansing School District had antiquated systems and structures, a lack of district-wide focus, and a history of low performance. Today, we acknowledge what MDE has stated, that for far too long, the Lansing School District has underserved our children. We have already taken significant steps to ameliorating the areas of concern: we have hired more teachers, we have increased Pre-K enrollment, we have created an alternative education school, we have increased Career and Technical Education programs, we passed a bond to build new schools, we have created the Department of Instruction, to focus on improving instruction in the classrooms, to name just a handful of positive changes. But we must do more. We welcome this partnership with MDE so that together, the school district and state department of education, can better serve our students and our community.
Everyone who lives in our community knows that we can do better. But I hope that for the first time in a while, you are starting to see real, substantial, and systematic positive change. I know that this is just the beginning. The tide is turning, the work is beginning, and our district and our community are on a new path toward excellence. I look forward to seeing this future together with all of you.
Benjamin Shuldiner, Superintendent
Lansing School District
Meet Our Featured Student!
Janiya Jefferson, Lansing Learning Hub
Janiya Jefferson, first-year student at the Lansing Learning Hub and future social media influencer, is one of the district's finest students. In her spare time, Janiya enjoys watching YouTube videos, as it is one of her goals to become a social media influencer. Janiya says, "You have to watch other influencers if you want to become an influencer."
In the meantime, Janiya is using her influential powers for good on the home front. She has two brothers that attend Dwight Rich School of the Arts, and she never misses a basketball game! You will find her cheering for them so loudly that she has often lost her voice. One of the things that Janiya tells her brothers is, "SCHOOL IS YOUR FIRST PRIORITY!"
That may have been a lesson hard learned for Janiya, but she is proud to say that she is making the most of her time at the Lansing Learning Hub. Janiya is committed to being successful and one of her favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Staff Feature of the Week
Maria Richmond and Candie Wegienka, Gier Park
This week we highlight not one, but two staff from Gier Park elementary. Maria Richmond (second from right) and Candie Wegienka (second from left) are an essential part of the Gier Park family.
Though the pair are officially titled as noon assistants, the reach of their presence at the school extends far beyond their expected duties of serving food, and making sure the lunch area is clean and tidy. For the past two decades, Ms. Candie and Ms. Maria have also aided the learning and social wellbeing of each and every student that walks through their door.
There are too few words to describe the full scope of their contributions not only to Gier Park elementary, but to the entire Lansing School District family. Thank you both for going above and beyond for our students!
Native American History Presentation
Online Safety for Middleschoolers: My Social Media Life
Students in grades 6-8, their parents, and caregivers will learn how social media affects our relationships during this hour-long zoom meeting.
Thu, Dec 8, 2022, 05:30 PM
Nurturing Parenting Series: Introduction to Nurturing Parenting
Is parenting sometimes a struggle? Discover how Nurturing Parenting can help you have less stress in your journey. This series will be ongoing and feature topics such as communicating with respect, understanding feelings, and dealing with stress and anger. Stay tuned for future topics!