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From Superintendent Ryan: Intentional Action Brings Change

From Superintendent Ryan: Intentional Action Brings Change

Dear Friends of Clarkston Community Schools,

This week, three fifth graders from our schools were recognized by the Clarkston Area Optimist Club as "Outstanding Student Citizens" for the ways they exemplify the tenets of the Optimist Creed in their lives. (Take a look at the photos here.)

  • Layla Jordan from Andersonville Elementary School worked with classmates to raise money to buy coloring books and crayons for children in the hospital over the holidays.
  • Hannah Budzynski from Clarkston Elementary School created a "Quote Club" at school, and worked with classmates to put boxes full of notes of encouragement and uplifting quotes in every classroom.
  • Emma Tisdall is a quiet and humble leader at North Sashabaw Elementary. At the recognition breakfast, her principal, Jennifer Johnson, described Emma as a friend to all, and said, "You don't have to be the loudest person in the room to be a leader."

Whether they realize it or not, these students have learned early in life that intentional action gets results. When we back our words and ideas with intentional actions, we have the power to influence the culture in our homes, schools, and workplaces. We have the power to create change.

Though much of our work in education requires us to act in a responsive way to outside forces, we make sure to carve out time to work on intentional, proactive actions that will have a lasting impact on our school community.

Last year, a group of community members (including many medical and mental health professionals) came together to learn more about what students need to do well in school, and in life. Ideas were born, and with intentional action, those ideas are now a reality.

  • We forged a unique partnership with Clarkston Medical Group to open School Health Centers at North Sashabaw Elementary School and Sashabaw Middle School. The centers opened last week, and will support parents in providing their children with quality, affordable, and convenient healthcare services. (Read more here).
  • We are also working with Easterseals Michigan to offer professional, individualized counseling services to students at North Sashabaw Elementary School. Through this partnership, a qualified, licensed Easterseals Michigan therapist is onsite at North Sashabaw Elementary. (Read more here).
  • At CHS, RHS, and CJHS, our staff will participate in SafeTALK training to recognize warning signs of students in crisis in order to get help without delay. We look to possibly expand this training to students as well.

This is only the beginning - we continue to explore many other opportunities for students and staff. By offering additional supports where we need it most, we are confident we are planting the seeds for lifelong social-emotional and physical well-being, and giving families resources they can use to truly thrive.

I am also intentional about keeping the promises I make. A few weeks ago, I shared with you that we were investing in crisis response training for all of our faculty and staff. I can now share that we are utilizing the gold standard in active shooter response training, ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). When we informed our staff, a veteran teacher who received this training in another district reached out to me and said, "It's very powerful, engaging, and emotional. It was hands down the best training I received working in the seventeen years that I worked there. It completely changed everything I knew about what to do in a crisis." Other area superintendents I've spoken to echo these thoughts about the profound effect that ALICE training has had on their staff. Our team is ready and eager to expand our learning with top-notch training this spring, and continue on with additional work through next year.

When we take intentional action, we take control and shape our future.

If you have ever wondered how you can have a voice in the important decisions that affect our kids, I leave you with an invitation. Please join me in a new effort to build relationships and connections with the decision-makers who enact laws that impact our students and schools. It has never been more important to speak up on behalf of our kids, schools and community. Sign up to receive notifications about our new school advocacy group, Clarkston Champions, and consider attending a special kick-off event on Tuesday, May 1 to learn more.

Make a connection, build a relationship...truly make an impact. One conversation can change the world, but without intentional action, words are only words.

I believe that we have the right people, ideas, and conversations here in Clarkston today, and I believe we CAN and WILL change our world...starting in our homes and schools.


Shawn Ryan
Interim Superintendent

About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 8,000 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Each Clarkston Community Schools' student is fully engaged in a globally focused education, from preschool through graduation, that fosters in students a sense of self, perspective, responsibility/ownership, and contribution. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to cultivate thinkers, learners and positive contributors to a global society.

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