School/University Partnership Office JUNE Updates

"Student Success is our Passion"

Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) is committed to student success as its number one priority. Working with the overall mission of SVSU, the School/University Partnership Office seeks to impact all students to realize their academic potential.

June 2021 - Newsletter

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Congratulations Cesar Chavez High School students, staff, and leadership!

The U.S. News rankings also show that the top seven open-enrollment high schools in Detroit are all charter schools. An open-enrollment school is one that’s defined as a school that doesn’t have entrance requirements and allows any student to enroll no matter where they live in the state. Every charter school in Michigan is an open-enrollment school, as are many traditional public schools.

In the rankings for Detroit, the top seven open-enrollment high schools are all charter schools:

  1. Voyageur Academy
  2. Cesar Chavez High School
  3. Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies(now known as University Prep Art & Design)
  4. Detroit Community Schools
  5. Universal Academy
  6. University Preparatory Academy
  7. Detroit Edison Public School Academy

The U.S. News rankings are considered the gold standard of high school rankings. The methodology focuses on six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rates. College readiness specifically measures participation and performance on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. The data used in this edition is from the 2018-2019 academic school year, and therefore was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rankings are further validation that charter schools are leaders when it comes to providing a quality education for all students.

Every student is welcome at a charter school, and charters serve a disproportionately higher percentage of minority students and students in poverty. By every metric – including the U.S. News rankings – charter schools are leading the way when it comes to providing a quality education. This is well-deserved recognition for the job they’re doing.”

- Dan Quisenberry, MAPSA President.

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The Leona Group received Cognia Accreditation

The Leona Group is excited to announce that it has earned system accreditation by Cognia™, a nonprofit organization that provides quality assurance for schools, school districts, and education service providers.

Cognia, formerly AdvancED, nationally recognizes educational institutions that meet rigorous standards that focus on productive learning environments, equitable resource allocation that meet the needs of learners, and effective leadership. Earning accreditation from the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission means that the system and all of its schools are accredited, and that The Leona Group is recognized across the nation as a school system that meets Cognia Standards of Quality, and maintains a commitment to continuous improvement.

To earn accreditation from Cognia, a school system also must implement a continuous process of improvement, and submit to internal and external review. School systems in good standing can maintain their accreditation for a five-year term.

Congratulations Valedictorians!

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Rand Nahhas - César Chávez Academy High School

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Janaye Laniece Marble - Pontiac Academy for Excellence

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Rebecca Chmiel - Merritt Academy

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Nykesha Sanders - Chandler Park Academy High School

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Samir Hollingsworth - Chandler Park Academy High School

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Asma Murshed - Oakland International Academy High School

Asma Murshed elected not to have her photo included due to religious integrity and honoring the values of her family and loved ones.
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Aryn Fenner - Landmark Academy

Special Student Recognition

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Bill Gates Scholarship Recipient - Jaylen Body - Chandler Park Academy High School

Below is a bio Jaylen Provided:

As far as a bio: I am a senior with a 4.0GPA and recognized as Class of 2021's Salutatorian. I am also President of Michigan Youth In Government, President of DECA, a member of the National Honor Society, and I participate in Dual-Enrollment where I've made Wayne County Community College District's Dean List and obtained Phi Theta Kappa status.

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My name is Julien Deems and I am an 8th grader at Pontiac Academy for Excellence. I have attended Pontiac Academy since third grade. The overall experience has been amazing. This year I was recognized as the first place winner for the city of Pontiac and Pontiac Academy for Excellence in the America & Me Essay Contest. My essay excelled over 5,000 other Michigan students and that made me feel incredible. My favorite hobby is basketball. My favorite basketball player is Kyrie Irving. ELA is my favorite school subject. I like it because reading and writing stories are my favorite things to do. My favorite colors are red and white.

Julien Ray Deems

Julien Deems, an eighth grade student at Pontiac Academy for Excellence in Pontiac, has been named a local winner in the 52nd annual America & Me Essay Contest, sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance (the top ten winners can be found at (

Julien will receive an award certificate for the achievement and their name will be engraved on a plaque for permanent display in the school. Several thousand eighth grade students from nearly 200 Michigan schools participated in the 2020 - 2021 America & Me Essay Contest, which was conducted with the help of Farm Bureau Insurance agents across the state. The topic of the 2020 - 2021 contest was My Personal Michigan Hero."

Julien's Essay

My Michigan hero I’d love to base this essay on is my loving mother, Carmen Delgado. My mother is one of the most warm-hearted, caring, and beautiful people I know. She’s the person I’ve always looked up to as her son and as a human being. If I or anyone she knows: friend, co-worker, or family member was sad, down in the dumps, or mad or frustrated, she’d make sure they ended up feeling good.

Sadly, she is currently in prison, but not everyone is perfect. She only has two months left, but if she could read this right now, let alone know I'm writing this about her, she’d be filled with joy to know how much I love her. She's the happiness that makes me try hard to do anything one hundred and ten percent. She’s the inspiration that motivates me to try anything. She's the person who asks when something’s wrong, “Are you alright?” If you respond, “It’s ok,” she’ll ask over and over until you're nice and comfy in your bed asleep, then SCREAM, “Are you still alright?!” She can make complete strangers laugh even if they’re going through a tough time, and she can make them laugh like they never laughed before.

I'm only thirteen years old, and she’s taught me so much already. She kept me and my two other siblings fed, and even though there was no support from my dad, she made it work like he didn’t even exist. Like my aunts, if I was sad because my dad wasn’t there for me, my mother would make me feel better by talking about him in a way that would make me laugh. She’s such a nice person that if one of my friends walked home and it was raining, she’d pick up my friend and say, ”Everyone, squeeze in the car. We’re gonna’ make this work!” That's how kind-hearted she is. She’d play basketball with me and say that she let me win when really I’d win, but that's not important. Every time I was sick, she’d get a wet rag, put it on my head, make me chicken noodle soup, and buy me a couple of Gatorades. She’d make me feel so special. Even if we were going through difficulties, which were common, she’d make me feel like nothing was wrong. If something was bothering her, I would try my best to cheer her up.

It’s so special when she sends me letters from prison, making sure we have a good day, asking how school was, and telling me to write her back. No matter how far away she is or how I'm feeling, I can tell she loves me so much and can't wait to see me. Ever since I was a little kid, I always did, and for years to come, will look up to her - no matter what age I am. I’ll always love her. And that’s my personal Michigan hero, my dear Mother.

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Special Teacher Recogniton - Carlotta Quince - Pontiac Academy for Excellence

Carlotta Quince, a middle and high school teacher at the Pontiac Academy for Excellence is being recognized for the continued excellence that she exhibits in her teaching, relationships with students and passion for learning. We often hear that it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a teacher to raise a reader. Ms. Quince imparts a love of reading and writing with her students by allowing them to step beyond the curriculum. The article above shared the work of one of her students, Julien Deems. In the midst of pandemic uncertainties and having 100% virtual students, Ms. Quince has had students place in the America & Me Essay Contest for two years in a row. Thank you Ms. Quince for allowing students to have the opportunity to share the heroes in their lives. You go above and beyond the call of duty, beam with enthusiasm, and take the time to ensure that all students realize the power of their voice.
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Mission and Vision

The mission at New Dawn Academy is to create a learning environment grounded in the diverse cultural resources of the community. New Dawn Academy will use supportive bi-lingual delivery enhanced by STEM focused hands-on project-based content to provide a challenging curriculum for its students. Their vision is to ensure that all students have an equitable opportunity to achieve academic success regardless of economic background, gender, race, creed, ethnicity, heritage, native language or disability. A comprehensive curriculum with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—delivered with English and native language support in a safe environment—will ensure that students develop into compassionate critical thinkers, lifelong learners and well-rounded participants in local and world affairs. Students, staff, parents and graduates will have multiple avenues to contribute to the betterment of human culture through intellectual, scientific, and artistic endeavors designed to create a more peaceful coexistence. New Dawn Academy will be a public school academy where cultural diversity and global awareness are both valued and nurtured. New Dawn Academy believes that its ultimate success will be measured by the value that it adds to each student, both academically and culturally.


Professional Development

Special Education Information

Special Education Teacher Tuition Grant Reimbursement

MDE is providing a new special education teacher tuition grant reimbursement opportunity. The grant is “intended to incentivize certified Michigan teachers to earn an additional endorsement in special education….”You can access information about this grant and eligible districts at this LINK. The district must have a 60% or higher FRL based on fall 2019 data for grant eligibility. Special Education Teacher Tuition Reimbursement Grant Resources include:


  1. SE Coffee Hour - Guest Presenter: Rebecca McIntyre (MDE). Topic: State complaint and Information line issues – Year end summary. · June 10th from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Zoom Meeting Link - · June 16th from 11:00 – 12:00. Zoom Meeting Link:
  2. Contingency Learning Plan (CLP) – MDE/OSE continue to recommend development of CLPs for students with disabilities in the event the district does not provide in-person instruction. You are encourage to continue development of CLPs until otherwise directed by MDE. Remember that parent input is an important part of development of the CLP and documentation of services is essential to demonstrate compliance/delivery of FAPE services .
  3. ESY – Please make sure that you have determined your students’ need for extended School year services (ESY) using the criteria established by your ISD/Management company and have a plan for delivery of these services over the summer.
  4. Recovery Services – you are highly encourage to follow the recommendations of your ISD in the determination of the need for and implementation of Recovery Services. Make sure that you clearly document what you and the family agree to and the extent that you are able to able to implement this plan (document, document, document). Your ISD may have a documentation form that you can use to reflect the agreed upon services. Service logs are critical to maintain.
  5. Failure to provide SE Services/Compensatory Services – If a student does not receive the services of their IEP due to a failure on the part of the school/district (e.g. vacant position (SE teacher, SSW, SLP, OT, etc., transfer oversight (didn’t know the student had an IEP)), etc., you should reach out to your local ISD and/or legal counsel to determine the best steps to remedy this compliance issue. Making-up missed services outside of the typical school day needs to be a consideration and the “plan” needs to be clearly documented.
  6. Summer Services for students with IEPs – Please remember that students with an IEP/disability are general education students first and foremost. You/your district are encourage to maximize summer programming opportunities for students with disabilities that support integration within general education learning activities/interventions to the greatest extent possible along with needed support(s). ESSER funds provide flexibilities that can benefit all students.


  1. Discipline of students with disabilities is complex and procedural errors are easily made by school leaders. MDE has created a recorded webinar that provides a quality overview of key information that school leaders need to take into consideration. This recording can be accessed here: (MDE) Discipline Protections for Students with a Disability – (Amount of time to view 53.40). I would encourage you to share this recording with school leaders now and again in the fall.
  2. MDE Special Education categorical teacher waiver: MDE MEMO #COVID-19-184 - Opportunity to Address Special Education Critical Teacher Shortages “MDE is creating a limited time waiver opportunity for ISDs and districts to allow a teacher with a special education endorsement in any area to be assigned to a special education program that differs from his/her endorsement area. The eligible special education programs under this waiver include programs for students with cognitive impairments, emotional impairments, learning disabilities, speech and language impairment, physical and other health impairment, and severe multiple impairments. Waivers to administrative rule 1105(3) of the Teacher Certification Code (R 390.1105(3)) may be approved for one year with the option to renew for any ISD or LEA that is able to demonstrate the intent of the rule can be addressed in a more effective, efficient, or economical manner, or that the waiver is necessary to stimulate improved pupil performance. The ISD or LEA must also be able to demonstrate unsuccessful attempts to fill an open special education position with a properly endorsed special education teacher.” The Waiver applications can be accessed here and is available on the MDE Office of Special Education Program Planning webpage. This waiver is not available for resource room programs.

Discipline Protections for Students with a Disability

A training video Discipline Protections for Students with Disability is now available. The training video provides a synopsis of the discipline protections and resources for students with a disability. This video is relevant to teachers, general and special education administrators, as well as ISD personnel in their continued work to ensure positive outcomes for students with a disability.
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School administrators - Please submit your MICIP goal(s) using the imbedded survey. Goals will be used by the SUPO office to provide supporting professional development for administrators, teachers, school staff and board members. Participating academies will be entered into a drawing to receive a $25 Amazon gift card.
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Offered in collaboration with Grand Valley State University

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High School Diploma & Michigan Merit Curriculum Flexibilities Expanding use of the Personal Curriculum to Reach More Students

The COVID‐19 school closures and the varied nature of school delivery (virtual, hybrid, etc.) has significantly impacted many of our high school students. As you strive to make sure that all of your students are “Career and College Ready”, you may find that the graduation requirements need to be modified to meet every learner’s needs, including those who are excelling beyond the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) requirements and select students who have IEPs. Modifications of the MMC can be achieved through individualizing the course of study for a student through development of the Personal Curriculum (PC).

This learning series consists of four (4) 2 hr virtual sessions. Each interactive session will include a presentation of content, facilitated learning activities and focused team time. Additional group or individual time may be needed outside scheduled sessions. Presentation content includes an overview of the legal requirements of the MMC and PC, explains the modifications that are allowable through the PC, and provides guidance on how to make PC decisions appropriately and based on a student’s post‐ school plans.

Participants will (1) use the information gained to solve case studies/scenarios; and (2) develop or review and revise their district policies and procedures to align with the requirements of the MMC and PC. Group work will include: reviewing/revising existing policies and procedures, defining roles/responsibilities of key staff, identifying flexibilities for demonstrating mastery of content standards and clarifying/outlining their PC approval process.

Informational Session (required) – Date: June 22 – 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. (registration link below)

8 SCECHs are being offered upon completion of the series.

The series is scheduled for August 3, 10, 17, and 24th from 9:30 -11:30 am.

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Coming Soon - Back To School Virtual Conference - August 30, 31, and September 1, 2021

The School/University Partnership Office would like to offer a series of personal and professional growth opportunities for a variety of educational stakeholders. We have often heard it said that “it takes a village to raise a child”, we would like to continue offering services and supports to enrich the competency, confidence, and culture of current and future academy leaders, educators and support staff. A sneak preview of the sessions is provided below. Several of the sessions are introductions to series that will be offered throughout the school year. Others are professional development that can be requested in full length and personalized to meet the time and dates of your school's professional development calendar.

Why is Problem Solving a Problem? - Presenter - Cathy Malotka

The dreaded “story problem”. Students ignore them, teachers try to skip that part and yet we wonder why the struggle continues. In this session, we will look at ways to problem solve by understanding what is being asked, finding out what makes sense to students and multiple strategies for solving. Come, explore a part of mathematics that we all participate in daily; problem solving.

Facts Matter: How to help your students attain fact mastery - Presenter - Cathy Malotka

When are they going to learn their facts? We could be moving faster if the students only knew their basic facts. Have you had these thoughts? How would you like to address fact fluency in a manner that all students can master, and continue to grow in mathematical understanding? This session addresses the importance of fact fluency and how to achieve it with your students.

Why I Encourage my Students to Talk - Presenter - Cathy Malotka

Talk is part of human development that helps us to think, learn and make sense of the world. Who is doing most of the talking in your classroom? This session will give you not only the reason why your students need to be the ones talking in the classroom, but how to encourage student dialog to increase learning and engagement.

Showcasing Excellence - Presenter - Cathy Malotka

An exemplar is a person or thing serving as a typical example or excellent model. We all want to know what “excellence” looks like. We may have an idea, but it may not match with what the students are thinking. The use of exemplars will assist your students in understanding assessment criteria better than any checklist or feedback. This session will look at the research behind exemplars, how to provide them, and how to assist your students in creating quality work.

Mandated Reporter Training - Facilitated by Leslie Eschenbacher - Child Abuse and Neglect Council

This state-mandated reporter training workshop is designed to teach people how be an advocate for children and inspire others to do the same. According to the 2019 Kids Count Databook, 1,595 children were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect within our Great Lakes Bay Region. Mandated Reporting educates individuals who have children in their orbit in any capacity, whether it be in the workplace or in their personal lives on how to recognize and report child abuse and neglect. “I don’t want to interfere in someone’s family.” You may be the only person to intervene and ensure a child’s safety.

Cyber Security for Educators and Parents

The Michigan State Police will present an overview on what the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force is doing each and every day to help combat online sexual exploitation. D/Sgt. David Vergison will provide parents, teachers, and students information that they may find valuable for keeping children safe online. For more information, visit

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The Do's and Don'ts of Trauma Informed Practices - Presented by John Micsak

A great opportunity for school leaders and educators to gain more insight into working with students in trauma. Mr. Micsak is a past certified trauma consultant and accredited member with the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC). John has gain national recognition in Psychology Today for his resiliency outreach programs. John frequently acts as a liaison and consultant to schools, families, mental health and legal organizations providing the latest approaches from neuro‐physiological research, attachment research and traumatology.

Title IX Policy Review and Recommendations - Presented by Allie Martinez

Title IX training stems from a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Sexual misconduct and sexual harassment are both forms of sex discrimination.

A comprehensive Title IX training program plays an important role in educating students and faculty and staff on their rights and responsibilities to address, report and prevent sexual misconduct, and foster a safe, respectful learning and working environment.

Workplace Violence Policy Review and Recommendations - Presented by Allie Martinez

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors. Acts of violence and other injuries is currently the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. The workshop will assist school leaders in assessing hazards and developing workplace violence prevention plans for staff.

Teachers Coaching Paraprofessionals - Presented by Chantra Williams

Teachers may not be the formal supervisors of the paraprofessionals with whom they work, but they do take responsibility for making instructional plans, including plans for what the paraprofessionals in their classrooms do on a daily basis. This series of professional development shares effective practices teachers can adopt or adapt in order to coach the paraprofessionals with whom they work. Viewing, treating, and paraprofessionals as co-teachers and colleagues has major gains for student success and school culture.

New Teacher Academy for Mentor Teachers/Site Coordinators - Facilitated by Candice Casey, Cathy Malotka and Chantra Williams

Mentors will be trained how to provide new-teacher support. The facilitator details six phases every new teacher goes through—anticipation, survival, disillusionment, rejuvenation, reflection, and second anticipation—and outlines targeted classroom-management strategies and self-care practices for each.

PSA Study Skills - Transitioning from high school to college - Facilitated by Chantra Williams

Solid study skills are the foundation for academic excellence. This series of personal developments will cover:
  • Study Habits - Inventory
  • Time Management
  • Note Taking
  • Reading a Textbook
  • Test Taking Tips
  • Academic Integrity
  • Tips for taking online courses

These sessions are for any current high school or college students.

The 15 laws of Invaluable Growth - Facilitated by George Copeland

Growth should be intentional and aligned with your passion and purpose. If not, you run the risk of being busy without meaning. Be honest with yourself and take consistent action based on insights from self-reflection. Design your growth to match your goals and consistently have tension between where you are and where you want to be. Show humility and exude character in all of your interactions. Manage your environment to help you and be grateful for all the support by developing your talent to serve others. This series of personal and professional development will equip aspiring and current leaders with what John Maxwell refers to as the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

Educator As Care Taker - Presented by Dr. LaCreta Clark

The goal of this course is to provide teachers an opportunity to examine their practices, values, and skills so that they can make positive, long-lasting and constructive relationships with their students, families and communities in ways that ultimately lead to welcoming learning environments and improved student achievement for every student. Teachers who take this course will examine:

1) Self–Awareness and Awareness of Others As Acts of Caring

Unconscious Bias

True Colors

See Me

2) Caring For Other People’s Kids – RELATIONSHIPS ARE EVERYTHING

Foundational Aspects of Fostering Caring Relationships

Conveying Care Through Classroom Management & Engagement Strategies

Conveying Care Through the Curriculum

3) The Legal & Ethical Dimensions of Care

The Ethic of Care

Caring Discipline Protocols - Setting Boundaries

Online Netiquette

To Report Or Not To Report

Board Members 101: Training for new board members - Presented by Doug Newcombe

School board members make decisions that have a significant and long-term impact on their students, schools and communities. To equip school board members with the necessary knowledge to successfully fulfill their responsibilities, board members should undergo regular training and development.

From behaving to belonging, supporting students who challenge us - Facilitated by Candice Casey

Challenging behavior is one of the most significant issues educators face. Though it may seem radical to use words like love, compassion, and heart when we talk about behavior and discipline, the compassionate and heartfelt words, actions, and strategies teachers employ in the classroom directly shape who students are—and who they will become. But how can teaching from the heart translate into effective supports and practices for students who exhibit challenging behavior?

In From Behaving to Belonging, Julie Causton and Kate MacLeod detail how teachers can shift from a "behavior management" mindset (that punishes students for "bad" behavior or rewards students for "good" or "compliant" behavior) to an approach that supports all students—even the most challenging ones—with kindness, creativity, acceptance, and love.

Causton and MacLeod’s approach

  • Focuses on students' strengths, gifts, and talents.
  • Ignites students' creativity and sense of self-worth.
  • Ensures that students' social, emotional, and academic needs are met.
  • Prompts teachers to rethink challenging behavior and how they support their students.
  • Helps teachers identify barriers to student success in the cultural, social, and environmental landscape.
  • Inspires teachers to reconnect with their core values and beliefs about students and teaching.

Refresh your Mind, Teaching and Momentum - Presented by Candice Casey

What am I doing here again? A fresh look at teaching in the 21st century, a reminder of why you went into teaching in the first place and motivation to make this the best year yet!

Student Opportunities

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Benefits of the Public School Academy Scholar's Program

  • The PSA Program provides academic and financial support for students who graduate from any of SVSU’s Public School Academies.
  • $24,000 in scholarships to cover tuition, fees, and books! ($6,000 per year up to four years after high school graduation)
  • If students need assistance with supplies or books - book scholarships that cover up to $250.
  • Study Abroad opportunity scholarship ($1,000 available for the student to apply for.
  • A week-long summer camp to help transition on to campus.
  • A recognition ceremony to honor student accomplishments at the end of the year.

Qualifications & Requirements

• Must be accepted into SVSU

• Have at least a 2.5 High School GPA

• Able to maintain contract requirements

• Must complete program application

CONTACT: or 989-964-7374 for more information.

School Leader Opportunities

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Let SVSU support your administrator certificate renewal

School Leaders, when does your school administrator certificate expire?

Earn college credits by continuing your education in one of SVSU’s graduate programs. SVSU offers the lowest tuition of Michigan’s fifteen public universities.

Saginaw Valley State University's College of Education offers programs in initial teacher certification, a variety of master's and specialist degree programs, special education administration approval programs, and a wide range of endorsement programs which are designed to provide quality educational opportunities for teachers and school leaders at the lowest tuition rate of any public university in Michigan.

Use the scholarship provided by the School/University Partnership Office to receive 50% off your tuition.

The School Administrator Certificate is a five-year certificate with unlimited

renewals. Each renewal adds five years to the certificate’s validity. A renewal can

be requested any time after January 1 of the expiration year.

School/University Partnership Office

Let us know about the amazing things going on at your school that you would like included in

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