The Oak Park Advantage

January 2021 First Edition Newsletter

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Tuesday, Jan. 19th, 3pm

This is an online event.


Dear Oak Park Schools Families,

Throughout my career as an educational leader, critical national events have occurred that have required me to rely on the partnerships within our community to ensure the emotional and physical safety of students. The events that occurred yesterday were extraordinary and have been difficult for adults and children alike to process, especially as we battle isolation due to COVID-19.

We are all managing the uncertainty of the pandemic, the economic impact, political unrest and now the events on Capitol Hill compounded by the difference of our justice system’s response to yesterday’s events contrasted by their response to protestors last summer. Therefore, we are working with our Teaching and Learning Department to provide appropriate resources for teachers and the space to have age-appropriate discussions.

To help reassure children during difficult times, please limit the amount of media (television, social media, online, radio, etc.) consumption, allow opportunities for them to share their thoughts and ask questions, provide factual information, and reassure them about the many trusted adults in their lives that are here to keep them safe.

For additional resources, please visit the following:

Baylor College of Medicine

Teaching Tolerance: When Bad Things Happen:

NASP Guidance for Ensuring Student Well-Being in the Context of the 2020 Election:

Mayo Clinic: The Children are Watching, What Can You Tell Them:

Mayo Clinic: Talking to Kids about Stressful Events:

If you need additional assistance beyond the resources above, please do not hesitate to call the Oak Park Schools Student Support Line at 248-336-7667. Press "2" for social emotional support from an OPS school psychologist, social worker or counselor or Press "4" for virtual mental support from our Ascension Providence School Based Health Center located at Oak Park High School for all OPS students.

Though we have experienced so many challenges this year, I believe that we will get through this and better days are ahead.

If you need additional information, please contact your child’s school principal.


Jamii J. Hitchcock, Ph.D.

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Below is information on the COVID-19 vaccination program:

State of MI COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ link:


When I receive the COVID-19 vaccine, will I have to continue to practice other mitigation measures?


Yes, while vaccines are a key part of fighting the pandemic, wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing will help reduce your chance of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus or spreading it to others.

Stay Healthy and Happy New Year!

Vanessa Long

Oak Park Schools District Nurse

(248) 342-9944

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Oak Park Schools announced this week that it has partnered with Henry Ford Health System to provide free COVID-19 testing for the community at Oak Park High School every Wednesday 10 am - 6 pm beginning January 6. Visit for the complete schedule and locations.

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Thursday, Jan. 14th, 9am-1pm

13701 Oak Park Boulevard

Oak Park, MI

Enter Coolidge parking lot and follow signs starting at station #1

Flu Shot appointments also available Monday - Friday

Contact the OPHS in-district clinic and make an appointment:(248)398-0199


We’re looking forward to welcoming our Oak Park High School students and staff to the new addition to our high school, the Knights Cafe! This space is fully equipped with food, a tv monitor, plugs for tech & more!

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Thank you to our Director of Dining Services, Chef Aric Wienclaw and Food Service staff, for the positive community impact with the Unanticipated School Closure and traditional Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) this year. Your dedicated efforts have made a positive impact on Michigan’s children and in your community by providing healthy meals during a great time of need. We appreciate all that you do!

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Please join us for this Oak Park High School Hoffman Planetarium Private Live-Stream Event as we honor the legacy and dream of Dr. King by hosting a special fireside chat with his close friend and confidant, Ambassador Andrew Young. Ambassador Young will share his fondest memories of Dr. King from the early days, to planning marches, to being by his side on the balcony the day he was assassinated.

After the fireside chat, younger students will also have the opportunity to delve into a Minecraft Education experience entitled "Lessons in Good Trouble" where they will complete challenges as they journey through time with Congressman John Lewis to meet leaders of social justice movements such as MLK and Nelson Mandela who were catalysts for Good Trouble and positive change.

For more information, click on


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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Office of Teaching and Learning

District Wide Updates

w/o January 4, 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!

  • Please join us, Friday, January 15th for an Oak Park High School Hoffman Planetarium Private Live-Stream Event as we honor the legacy and dream of Dr. King by hosting a special fireside chat with his close friend and confidant, Ambassador Andrew Young. Ambassador Young will share his fondest memories of Dr. King from the early days, to planning marches, to being by his side on the balcony the day he was assassinated.

After the fireside chat, younger students will also have the opportunity to delve into a Minecraft Education experience entitled "Lessons in Good Trouble" where they will complete challenges as they journey through time with Congressman John Lewis to meet leaders of social justice movements such as MLK and Nelson Mandela who were catalysts for Good Trouble and positive change. If you are interested in attending with your class, please RSVP HERE.

  • Shout-Outs!

    • A special shout out goes to Linette Thomas and ALL support staff across the district. The amount supports our staff, students, and families need through in these challenging times (particularly throughout the holiday season) can seem overwhelming. Nonetheless, our support staff continue to answer the bell on behalf of students and families and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Please take a look at these two resources provided by Ms. Thomas around supporting marginalized students. Here are some tips for educators and tips for parents

    • A shout out goes to OPHS teachers Alisa Biederman and Kenshasa Redman for the all the diligent work they’ve put into developing and supporting PBIS at their school. Positive based interventions are essential at all times...even more now! Keep up the great work!

  • ​​​Article of the Week:

    • Kids do a lot of listen in class. They should also be Reading, Writing, Speaking every day! Check out this article!

  • 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.

    • 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.


Dear Oak Park Schools Families,

For those of you who were able to join us last evening during the OPS Board of Education meeting, thank you for your time, and input. We recommended to the Board of Education that our phased re-entry to in-person instruction be extended and the recommendation was approved by the Board with a 5-1 margin.

Therefore, we will not return to in-person instruction on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 as originally planned. At our Monday, January 25 Board of Education meeting, we will determine if our phase re-entry to in-person instruction will begin on Monday, February 22, 2021 following winter break.

Last March, I do not think any of us could have imagined the experiences we would share as an Oak Park Schools community over the past 9 months. Although we have faced many challenges this school year, our students, staff, families and community have persevered. Schools are beacons of hope during troubled times and we are dedicated to providing a sense of normalcy, stability and resources, whether we are fully remote or in-person. If your child or family needs assistance, please contact your child’s building principal for support and/or resources.

I recognize that navigating the uncertainty of this global pandemic has been extremely challenging, but I have no doubt in my mind that we will rise and overcome all that we have endured during this unprecedented journey. We remain committed to the health and safety of our students, staff, families and community. Thank you for your support of Oak Park Schools.


Jamii J. Hitchcock, Ph.D.


The Wade McCree Incentive Scholarship Program is open to students who have been continuously enrolled in, as well as graduate from Chandler Park Academy, Hazel Park H.S., International Technology Academy, Oak Park H.S., Pontiac High School, with:

  • a 3.0 GPA college preparatory curriculum
  • at least a 1060 SAT composite score
  • a US Citizen or Permanent Resident

Students will receive a four-year scholarship to Oakland University covering tuition. This scholarship is renewable for up to four years if they meet the scholarship criteria.

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Saturday, Jan. 9th, 1pm

Churchill High School, Livonia, MI, USA

Livonia, MI

With the landscape of the 2020 Michigan high school football season affected by COVID-19, the MHSAA has loosened its restrictions on live-streamed broadcasts to help alleviate the burden on fans having less opportunity to watch games in person due to COVID-19 attendance restrictions. The regional championship game will be livestreamed at

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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

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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!


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.