Keeping staff informed about GISD through news and views!

September 25, 2015

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to staff returning for a new school year, and welcome aboard to staff that are new to GISD. Best wishes for a rewarding and productive school year!

We hope you enjoy this edition of InnerViews, which includes recaps of the Fall Workshop 2015 key messages and activities. Additionally, you will find several reminders about the new tools and opportunities that were introduced at the Fall Workshop and during the afternoon department/program sessions.

A Message from the Superintendent

As we all settle in to a new school year, I hope the excitement and energy never fades for you and for those we serve and educate each day. With each new year comes another opportunity to start new things and stop others. As educators, one of our challenges is that concept of stopping. At the Fall Workshop, you heard Sam Parker and others talk about the 212° idea and that giving just one extra degree can turn an experience from good to extraordinary.

To accompany that thinking, I also encourage you to reflect on what you do and to make sure the routines, patterns, procedures, and efforts to which you are giving energy really deserve to continue. Can you identify something that should stop, either because it is really not making a difference, it's inefficient or outdated, or you honestly have no idea why you do something, but you just do it because you always have?

We all can probably think back to things our parents or grandparents did. Maybe we still do it, too, just because we were told that’s what needed to be done. No one really understands why, but it’s just done that way. Some easy examples might be ironing socks, or saving copies of emails in files. Those are some pretty easy stops. Please give yourself permission to really look at what you do and determine effective uses of your time and expertise. This will help you pursue 212° moments!

Our start to the year has been a great one for thousands of students and their families. Most of our students begin a school year asking, "Why are you doing that?” By the end of the year they'll be asking, "Now, how is it that you do that?" You help explain the why, so that students will want to learn the how. This is your transformational power as a member of the educational experience, no matter what role you have. Please know how much your efforts in the educational process are sincerely appreciated, especially as we start this new academic year.


The 2015-2016 school year kicked off on Monday, August 31 at the annual Fall Workshop. Dr. Lisa Hagel opened the workshop by reminding us that we are all leaders in our organization. Excerpts from her message to all staff include the following:

  • “Leadership is everywhere. Great leaders are not always found on the stage or in the front of a room. Great leaders are found in every department and in every role. Great leaders are bus drivers and teachers, technicians and administrators, and para-educators and business specialists."
  • "Leadership is in your mind, it’s in your heart, and it’s in your actions. Leadership isn't about your title in the organization. It’s about the difference and the impact you have on others, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO.”

The Fall Workshop guest speaker, Sam Parker, delivered a message meant to energize and inspire staff to make good things happen for those they serve. His presentation centered on how staff, through commitment, effort, and persistence, can make amazing things happen. He illustrated that point through the use of various examples, including the following memorable one:

“At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. With boiling water comes steam and with steam, you can power a train! That one extra degree can have exponential results.”


The Fall Workshop also offered the opportunity to recognize GISD staff members for the various honors, accomplishments, and longevity milestones they achieved during the previous school year. Below is a recap of those who were honored.

STAR Award Recipients

The Special Thanks and Recognition (STAR) award was implemented to give GISD staff an opportunity to continue to thank and recognize fellow staff members for their efforts. Recipients of the STAR Award in 2014-2015 include: Laura Caballero, John Dias, Dr. Beth Hackett (posthumously), Sui-Lin Harper, Amy Hoeksema, Megan Kinsler, Jim Lane, Aimee Phillips, and Barb Steffes.

The STAR award recognition program is open to all employees. To nominate a staff member, simply complete the nomination form that is available in the Staff Resources area of the GISD website and in the main office of GISD school buildings.

Years of Service Recognition

During the Fall Workshop, GISD staff members were honored for their years of service to the organization, ranging from 5 to 40+ years. A total of 118 individuals were recognized for their dedicated and outstanding service to Genesee County students, parents, and educators. Pictured below are the honorees. See the full list of staff recognized for their years of service here.

Navigator Award

The first ever Navigator Award was presented to David Burt and Karl Lang, along with all of the GISD maintenance and custodial staff. Under their leadership, this department has quadrupled in size, all while assisting the organization through several program and building relocations. Additionally, the department has implemented various tools that are proving to help streamline the processes associated with maintaining GISD buildings and grounds. Overall, the maintenance and custodial team has demonstrated shared leadership and accomplished amazing things by living the mission of our organization: Leadership, Service, Innovation - Partnering for success!

Positive Lifestyle Change Award

Kaleigh Howard, Para-Educator at the Marion D. Crouse Instructional Center, was honored with the Positive Lifestyle Change award. Kaleigh has implemented personal lifestyle changes that include daily exercise and healthy eating, which have led to weight loss for her. She was selected for the award based on her dedication to her new lifestyle, and also because of her enthusiasm to motivate her colleagues to eat healthier and exercise more – by offering encouragement and setting a great example!


There were several exciting new tools and resources, along with Captain Innovator – GISD's very own super hero, introduced at the Fall Workshop and during the afternoon department/ program sessions. The tools are intended to expand professional learning opportunities for staff, create more ways for staff to stay connected with and support GISD programs, and provide a forum for staff to submit their leadership, service, and innovation ideas to the district. Featured below are some of those tools.


GISD U was created to empower your continued professional learning. The goal of GISD U is to invest in YOU. Some trainings on GISD U are designed for all staff, others are just for particular departments, some are mandatory, and there are many additional courses in the GISD U catalog for individual staff growth. Many courses are offered online, while others are face-to-face.

GISD U can be accessed here: Select the Getting Started tab for logon instructions.

Innovative Idea Submission

One of GISD's organizational goals is to implement innovative solutions that improve, sustain, and grow the organization. Innovative ideas that contribute to GISD’s continuous improvement processes are welcomed from all staff­. Each idea will be considered based on how it relates to GISD’s Service Framework.

There are items you will want to consider as you are submitting an idea. The Innovative Ideas website provides tips, instructions, and other resources to assist you. You’ll also find Captain Innovator there. He’ll guide you through the steps for submitting your innovative idea!


Stay connected with GISD and access your staff resources, calendars, and other website favorites right from your smart phone or other device, using the new GISD App. The GISD App is free and can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play app stores.

You can also stay connected with GISD by following GISD on Facebook and Twitter! It will help you keep up with news about GISD’s many programs and services, and alert you to our district's special events and other community activities.


The Fall Workshop featured the annual kick-off for the United Way Employee Campaign. GISD has a longstanding tradition of conducting a United Way campaign for its employees. As mentioned by Dr. Hagel at the Fall Workshop, “The United Way is a major contributor to GISD programs, with our students and families being the ultimate benefactors, and GISD programs continue to receive far more from United Way than we give back.”

The 2015-2016 campaign features a new and improved online donation/pledge process. The online platform allows organizations like GISD to send unique login credentials to all staff members so that they can make their donations and pledges electronically. Whether contributing through a one-time payment or via payroll deduction, staff will have the freedom to designate funds to a wide range of organizations and agencies with just a few clicks.

See your GISD email for your unique login credentials and subsequent updates about the progress of the campaign.


New this year to the Fall Workshop was the admission ticket process. GISD assisted with piloting The Whiting's new ticketing system. A big THANK YOU to the GISD staff for your patience with the new system, and for remembering to bring your admission ticket to the event!

The admission tickets made it possible to establish a system whereby door prize winners could be selected. Congratulations to the following staff who won door prizes at the Fall Workshop: Tina Duvall, Debra Marien, Karen Merrill, Kathryn Morgan, Gina Phelps, Alexia Phifer, Carrie Renner, Leila Rivard, Kari Salo, and Debra Wright. Door prizes included $10 gift cards to various vendors.

Updates from the Service Crew

The Navigator Service Crew has been working on the development of an Outboarding process and will host a session on October 8. At that Outboarding session, external stakeholders will learn about our organization, its mission, the services we provide, and how we can serve them. The Service Crew has also developed Customer Service trainings, and will host two sessions on October 28. Visit the new GISD U website to sign up for either the 8:00-11:00 a.m. or 12:30-3:30 p.m. session.

The Service Crew is pleased to report that since the launch of GISD U at the Fall Workshop, there have been over 1,500 unique visits to the GISD U site, with over 7,000 pages viewed! If you have not already done so, visit the GISD U site to see all of the professional learning opportunities available to you.

GISD Employee Flu Shot Clinics

GISD staff may attend any listed site and must show their GISD identification badge and their current insurance card in order to receive a flu shot.

September 30, 2015

  • 7:30-10:00 a.m. at the Marion D. Crouse Instructional Center

  • 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Erwin L. Davis Education Center

  • 2:30-5:00 p.m. at the Elmer A. Knopf Learning Center

Vaccination costs will be directly billed to your insurance provider. This includes BCN, BCBS, and Medicare (part B). You do not need to know if your insurance covers this service. Clinic staff will determine if your insurance has flu immunization coverage and the billing will be done automatically. If you do not have vaccination coverage, GISD will pay the cost during our Flu Shot Clinic. GISD will not reimburse employees for costs associated with attending a public clinic or receiving the vaccine from a private physician.

Spouses and immediate family members (9 and older) may participate by providing an accepted insurance card or by paying the $25.00 fee if not covered by insurance. However, clinics are offered as a convenience to employees and if vaccination quantities become limited at a site, preference will be given to GISD employees.

NOTE: These clinics are for GISD employees only. Flu Shot Clinics for GECS Employees will be held at a later date. Be sure to watch for information.

Carrying Out the GISD Mission

The GISD Head Start teaching team of Billie Dantzler and Tawana Johnson recently demonstrated the GISD mission in a creative way that led to improved services for Head Start students. The team recognized the potential for a gap in services over the summer for students who attended their Head Start site that is located at Job Corps. The students at this particular site have parents from many areas outside of Genesee County. Since the students are away from their home locations while their parents are training at Job Corps, Billie and Tawana realized they would miss out on the wraparound services typically provided during the summer months.

Billie and Tawana used their ingenuity and problem solving skills to develop a solution that gave students extra academic support throughout the summer, all while meeting the various requirements and needs of the Job Corps site, including the childcare agencies that share the site. The teaching team developed a proposal that was ultimately approved by all entities. As a result, Billie and Tawana were temporarily hired for the summer months by one of the childcare agencies at the site, and assigned to work with the Head Start students to deliver childcare and academic support.

The team reports that their proposal took some negotiation, but the aim of doing what is best for kids prevailed in swaying the decision to accept the idea. GISD is very proud of Billie and Tawana and their desire to ensure continued academic support and wraparound services for preschoolers at the Job Corps site.

Student Wins Book Cover Design Contest

Megan Pohl, a Genesee Career Institute (GCI) Advanced Studies - Illustration student has transitioned from being a finalist to a winner in the Kerrytown book cover contest! Megan, also a Fenton High School student, entered her book cover design for My Last Kiss, by Bethany Neal, in the contest at the Kerrytown Bookfest in Ann Arbor. The contest drew over 100 entries from across the State of Michigan, including eight entries from GCI students.

Megan and GCI classmate Lacy Evans were notified in the spring that they were top ten state finalists. Both were invited to an awards celebration and opening reception of the 2015 Kerrytown Bookfest in Ann Arbor on September 11. While there, Megan learned that her design was chosen as the winner by a team of judges who found her work to be quite striking. Robin Agnew, President of the Kerrytown Bookfest stated, "Megan's winning book cover entry captured the essence of the author’s final moments in the book and garnered great praise, and the ultimate vote, from the judges for her original photography and excellent typography choice." Way to go, Megan. You make GCI and GISD proud!

Student Summer Fun!

Staff report that the Elmer A. Knopf Learning Center provided another great summer program for its students. Summer Time: Summer Fun was this year’s theme. Art projects included picture frames, tote bags, wind chimes, sand art, music makers, clay, and t-shirts. The students also visited Groveland Oaks park, the Splash Pad, and Grand Blanc Lanes. This summer’s day campers left with many great experiences, including a wrap-up that featured a visit from Jazz on Wheels and an old fashioned ice cream social.

Attendance Awareness Month

September is Attendance Awareness month. Learn how educators and parents can help promote and encourage school attendance here.

Staff and Family News

Congratulations to Stephanie Hart, Transportation Services Coordinator, who recently became engaged to Eric Granger. The couple are planning to be married on April 30, 2016. Best wishes, Stephanie and Eric!

Joy Moll reports that her son, Nathan, graduated on July 16 from U.S. Army Basic Training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. After four months of physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging training, he and his fellow soldiers received their cross rifle badge worn by the infantryman. Nathan’s father, also an Army veteran, had the honor of pinning on Nathan’s blue infantry chord! Nathan will be stationed at Ft. Benning for the next three years, and will accrue $60,000 for college through the GI Bill, when he is done. Joy noted that she and her husband are so proud of Nathan for choosing to serve his country!

Congratulations to Anthony Buza for being honored, along with two other instructional technologists from other ISDs, with the ISTE Making It Happen Award for his work on the 21 Things 4 iPads course. Anthony and the others created the course, and were recognized for their efforts during a REMC in-service earlier in the summer.

A Safety and Security Reminder

Did you know that all of the school districts in Genesee County follow a countywide policy for Emergency and Crisis Response? School administrators take safety very seriously and districts across Genesee County have worked together to form a standard set of safety procedures for safety events such as Evacuation, Severe Weather, Secure Mode, Lockdown, and Shelter-in-Place. Administrators, local police and fire municipalities, and county emergency management also collaborate to conduct multiple drills during the year in an effort to review safety procedures and keep students and staff safe.

You can help keep students and staff safe by reviewing these procedures and your building’s safety map. Familiarize yourself with pertinent areas such as where to go during a tornado, locations of exit doors, or even where to congregate outside in the event of a fire or building evacuation. If you have any questions, please be sure to contact your school administrator or members of your building’s crisis response team. Let’s keep each other safe!

Genesee Intermediate School District

GISD is proud to be an NCA AdvancED accredited intermediate school district. Serving students, parents, educators, and the greater Genesee County community!