- From the Superintendent
- Human Resources Corner
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From Superintendent Shawn Ryan
A little over a year ago on March 10, 2020, Governor Whitmer announced the first presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan. We’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the profound losses of the past year, but as I visit with the people of this incredible school district, I also see the rewards of our collective experiences.
We are one year wiser.
A year ago, you were asked to prepare for what we thought would be a two-week closure. We returned with incredible innovation. We now have a 1:1 technology program, a host of digital learning resources, and life lessons about the human tolerance for screen-time.
We are one year stronger.
Our team has been through the wringer as the pandemic pushed us to our limits and refused to accommodate the comfortable and predictable routines of the past. I’ve witnessed resilience and determination that until 2020, I didn’t know the human spirit was capable of summoning.
Sometimes it takes adversity and struggle to show us the things we truly appreciate. Never again will we take for granted the simple beauty of an ordinary day. Throughout this year, who hasn’t looked back on the ordinary, pre-pandemic days and wished, even if only for a moment, to have them back?
We are one year more appreciative of the good in our lives.
Sometimes it takes adversity and struggle to show us the things we truly appreciate. Never again will we take for granted the simple beauty of an “ordinary day.” Throughout this year, who hasn’t looked back on the ordinary, pre-pandemic days and wished, even if only for a moment, to have them back? Ordinary days will return, and we will appreciate them that much more.
One year ago, I wrote, “This situation is evolving moment-to-moment and we must adjust our sails to the current weather.” I could not have known then just how many times we would be adjusting our sails over the course of the year. I know now that this is more than a “three-hour tour!” We will continue adjusting our sails for some time to come, but I’m one year more grateful for my companions on this journey. You are second to none. Together, we have proven again and again for the past year that we can face rough waters, and keep sailing on.
I wish you a restful Spring Break,
Munk Orthodontics (5825 S Main St #201, Clarkston): Our friends at Munk Orthodontics are generously offering a $750 discount on regular braces or Invisalign for Clarkston Community Schools staff and immediate family members, if you schedule and start treatment between now and May 31, 2021. Read more.
- Shawn Ryan, Superintendent
- John Lucido, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services
- Nancy Mahoney, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services
- Kathy Christopher, Executive Director of Student Support Services
- Westley Goodman, Executive Director of Operations
- Mary Beth Rogers, Executive Director of Business Services
- Lori Banaszak, Administrator of Technology Integration
- Christa Fons, Shared Services Director
- Angela Harrison, Administrator of Technology
- Ken Janczarek, Director of Special Programs
- Colleen Mayes, Transportation Director
- Wendy Osterman, Administrator of Data Structure & Analysis
- Staci Puzio, Director of Student Growth and Well-Being
- Mary Ellen Rowe, Director of Marketing and Community Relations
- Matt Severson, Director of Dining Services
- Ken Janczarek, Clarkston Virtual Director
- Gary Kaul, Clarkston High School Principal
- Gary Bigger, Renaissance High School Principal
- Adam Kern, Clarkston Junior High School Principal
- Liz Walker, Sashabaw Middle School Principal
- Kim Fletcher, Andersonville Elementary School Principal
- Glenn Gualtieri, Bailey Lake Elementary School Principal
- Brian Adams, Clarkston Elementary School Principal
- Nate Fuller, Independence Elementary School Principal
- Jennifer Johnson, North Sashabaw Elementary School Principal
- Jodi Yeloushan, Pine Knob Elementary School Principal
- Matt Gifford, Springfield Plains Elementary School Principal
- Lisa Marion, Early Childhood Center Director
As part of our district's continued commitment to nurturing staff well-being, we invite you to participate in two new enrichment programs that we will be offering in a virtual setting. These drop-in classes are free and no registration is required. See you in the "studio!"
Feel your stress evaporate as we center ourselves through breathing exercises, guided imagery, and peaceful silence in this mindful meditation session led by CCS parent Amy Metz. Find a comfortable space in your classroom, office, or home to connect virtually for this half-hour practice. Beginners welcome.
Dates: Wednesdays from March 17 through June 9 (No class March 31 - Spring Break)
Time: 3pm-3:30pm or 4pm-4:30pm
Yogis of all levels will be empowered and energized as retired CCS teacher Kathy Noble leads a traditional vinyasa (gentle flow) yoga practice. Dress comfortably, place a yoga mat or towel on the floor in a quiet space in your classroom, office, or home to connect virtually for this one-hour session.
Dates: Thursdays from March 18 through June 10 (No class April 1 - Spring Break)
Time: 3pm-4pm or 4pm-5pm
It remains critical to the collective health of our community that every employee remains committed to practicing the public health protocols outlined in our Updated 2020-2021 Return to School plan.
All employees who work on district grounds are required to complete the Employee Self-Screening Questionnaire. The questionnaire must be completed each time the employee reports to work in our buildings. If you answer "yes" to any question on the form, please reach out to your direct supervisor immediately. If you travel between school buildings, please check all of the buildings you expect to be at that day. This will help with contact tracing if we have a positive case in a building — we will be able to know who was at that building and can notify you of possible exposure. We have created a Printable QR code that you can scan with the camera on your phone to complete the Employee Self-Screening Questionnaire each day. This can be printed and placed somewhere visible (like on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, etc.) so that you make the daily questionnaire part of your morning routine. The QR code will also be posted at building entrances.
As mandated in the MI Safe Schools Roadmap, every student and staff member must wear a face mask inside the building, unless a medical exception is provided. Masks may be removed in your individual classrooms and offices, if you are alone. All employees will be provided with a washable, reusable cloth face mask to wear at all times in the building, though they may choose to wear any mask that is comfortable.
Employee Assistance Program
Did you know that as a Clarkston Community Schools employee, you are eligible to take advantage of free counselings services as part of our Employee Assistance Program? Our partners at Counseling Associates includes a staff of social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists to provide an extensive range of services for CCS employees. For more information please call (248) 626-1500 or click here.
Natalie McGowen, social worker for Sashabaw Middle School and Renaissance High School, was recently named the School Social Worker of the Year Award for Oakland County by the Michigan Association of School Social Workers.
Natalie was nominated for the award by her colleagues Kendall Stortz, Christina Fink, and Kylie Krentzin, who said, “Natalie is a leader within the district and she seeks out new challenges regularly. She has spearheaded many initiatives and the development of new programming options within Clarkston Community Schools. Specifically, she was integral to the development of the LRC Plus program at the secondary level, as well as the development of the SEL program at our alternative high school. In the development of these programs, she brought in and implemented a social thinking curriculum by conducting research and evaluating implementation options. Natalie has initiated the social thinking training for staff in all programs, including teaching social thinking and zones of regulation directly to groups of students in all SEL, CI, ASD and Basic Plus programs at Sashabaw Middle School. In addition, Natalie seeks to support new social workers as they enter the field. She frequently supervises graduate students in their final year-long internship as a field instructor. Finally, frequently supports her social work colleagues who are struggling with difficult situations outside of the programs she is assigned to support. She is frequently sought out by co-workers and administrators who are facing a challenging situation throughout the district.
Natalie earned a master’s degree in social work with school social work approval from Grand Valley State University and is a licensed clinical social worker. She has been with Clarkston Community Schools since 2009 and serves as the social work representative for our district amongst all Oakland Schools IEP coaches. Congratulations, Natalie!
Congratulations to Kara Yeacker on being named Tutor Doctor Orion & Bloomfield's "Sweetest Teacher 2021." Kara was nominated by one of her Early Childhood Center SPICE families, and we must agree...she is pretty sweet!
Natalie brings the highest standard of professionalism, dedication and commitment to her role as a school social worker. Those of you who have been fortunate enough to have worked with Natalie understand the level of integrity and compassion she demonstrates in all situations. We are very fortunate to have her as part of our special education (and district) team!
In this unprecedented year of technology integration, our outstanding and hardworking Media Techs came together to help roll out a new 1:1 device program, working countless hours to set up thousands of Chromebooks and iPads. They not only supported staff at their buildings, they were also a lifeline to families in the Clarkston community. The following individuals were recently recognized by Oakland Schools for being “District Stars!” Congratulations to...
- Grace Topham, Andersonville Elementary
- Karen Fallis, Bailey Lake Elementary
- Kristen Barnes, Clarkston Elementary
- Cheri Troutvine, Independence Elementary
- Nataya Bryant, North Sashabaw Elementary
- Heather Dost, Pine Knob Elementary
- Shanon Cole, Springfield Elementary
- Sharon Roush and Lyndsay Kirkland, Sashabaw Middle School
- Dawn Brozowski, Clarkston Junior High School
- Carol Howell, Clarkston High School
- Vonny Husain, Technology Support Assistant
ECC Teacher-Author Honored at State Capitol
Earlier this month, Representative Lori Stone invited Dianne Giehtbrock, a Funshine teacher at our Early Childhood Center and author of two children’s books, to the State Capitol to recognize her achievements and contributions to children's literature in Michigan. She was given an award from the House of Representatives as part of March Reading Month. ECC Director Lisa Marion said, "Dianne brings so much joy, happiness, and creativity to her class each day, I am thrilled that she was recognized in Lansing for her work. Her enthusiasm is contagious and families instantly feel connected to her and Clarkston Schools."
You may have noticed a steady stream of “Celebrations of Learning” from around the district on social media this month. If you have Celebrations of Learning to share, please email a photo or video with a caption and students’ names to your principal or subject area coordinator. We would love to see and celebrate your hard work!
As the 2021-2022 school year approaches, Clarkston Community Schools is providing families an opportunity to decide if they would like their student(s) to continue with their current learning model or request a transfer to a different learning model in the coming school year.
It is highly recommended that all transfer requests are completed no later than April 4, 2021 for the best course selections; however, transfer requests will be accepted through August 1, 2021. Please refer any interested students or parents to our website: https://www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/transfer.
This pandemic continues to impact teaching and learning. In partnering with administrators, teachers, and Subject Area Coordinators, we are moving forward with the following temporary adjustments for Semester II to continue to support learning and achievement opportunities.
Student grades for Semester II that are below 50% need to be adjusted to become a 50%.
This will provide any students who missed work or class due to connectivity issues, lack of materials, or difficulty during Covid learning, a better opportunity to earn a passing grade or credit for Semester II courses. This includes assessments, assignments, projects, etc.
However, a “0” grade will be given to students who do not submit work, are found to be academically dishonest, or who do not provide a “good faith effort” on an assignment. A good faith effort will be determined by the teacher based on their professional experience. Students struggling to complete assignments should be proactive in communicating with their teacher.
There will be no traditional, comprehensive final exams. Final exam week will be used to continue teaching and supporting students.
Teachers can utilize this time to move forward with curriculum for all students, and/or work with students regarding missing assignments, missing assessments, projects, etc. per department and course-specific guidelines.
Classes may have assessments, projects, or tests during this time period.
If your student is taking an “advanced” course which culminates in a comprehensive test (AP or IB), teachers may provide larger tests or assessments given the particular curriculum or test preparation strategies.
As long as face-to-face instruction is sustainable, we will not implement the option of Grade vs Credit as we did for Semester I.
Easterseals Michigan is offering free mental health consultations for Clarkston Community Schools staff on April 14. Your one-on-one, 15-minute, confidential session with an Easterseals Licensed Mental Health Professional may include discussing concerns related to classroom management, struggling students/parents and your own mental health/self-care needs. Here are some examples of what you may gain from the session:
- Classroom management techniques
- SEL Strategies
- Trauma-informed approaches
- Ideas to promote resilience
- Linking to resources
- Identifying your own burn-out
- Strategies to implement work/life balance
- Self-care strategies
The scheduled day for our district is 4/14/2021. To sign up, click on the "Schedule and Easterseals Mental Health Consultation" button. Please enter your name, email address (for the confirmation to get sent too) and a quick description of why you are seeking consultation. You will receive a confirmation email that you can cancel or reschedule your session at any time.
As a reminder, this is a confidential session and is meant for YOU and what YOU determine is the need.
When did you last say "YES!" to yourself? "YES!" to doing one thing that makes you happy, to honor and serve yourself?
In Practicing Presence: Simple Self-Care Strategies for Teachers by Lisa J. Lucas, she states that “To serve our students, we must first serve ourselves so that we can have more abundant energy and bring presence to each encounter.
Serve ourselves. Chances are you are the last you serve, the last you say YES! to, the last to engage in self-care.
Perhaps we can take some cues from the children’s book, Yes Day! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal where in a day the only answer can be YES! It has been adapted into a movie on Netflix now that really seems to take it in an over-the-top direction. Both appear to highlight that sometimes we just need to allow ourselves to enjoy life and say YES! to things outside the close boundaries of safety and order we have created. We may find ourselves experiencing true joy.
So, what will you say YES! to for yourself? Shonda Rhimes, writer, executive producer and creator of the hit ABC series Grey's Anatomy, and Scandal, shared in Year of Yes this commitment that may inspire you to say:
Yes to everything that takes me out of my comfort zone. Yes to everything that feels like it might be crazy. Yes to everything that feels out of character. Yes to everything that feels goofy. Yes to everything. Everything. Say yes. Yes.
We extend a heartfelt thank you to LaFontaine Automotive Group for their generous investment of $100,000 toward our district’s social-emotional support therapy dog program. This five-year commitment has catapulted us toward our goal of embedding a therapy dog in each of our 12 schools for the benefit of more than 7,000 students everyday!
It has been proven that having a therapy dog in school can help increase attendance, build trust and connection between staff and students, and provide support to students who feel anxious, sad, or upset. Therapy dogs are especially beneficial in supporting students with learning differences. This meaningful program has the potential to positively impact Clarkston Community Schools’ students and staff, and the Clarkston community at large for years to come!
Our students currently benefit from the service of two fully funded therapy dogs named Charlie and Vinny at Pine Knob Elementary School. We plan to expand the program to North Sashabaw Elementary School and the Early Childhood Center in 2021 with the addition of Frida and Nori. We will eventually grow our “pack” to adopt eight other professionally trained therapy dogs that will be placed with staff handlers in our schools. These working dogs are bred and trained with the specific purpose of supporting students in a school setting, and as such, are considered valued school district employees.
You may be eligible to become a therapy dog handler in our school district. If you are interested, please email your principal to be added to our list of potential therapy dog handlers.