Rural Education Matters (REM) – December 2010

By Jennifer Jarosz

Richard Wood and I attended the MAPSA (Michigan Association for Public School Academy’s) conference held at the Cobo Center, in Detroit on November 1st and 2nd. Along with over 3,000 other charter school authorizers, administrators, leaders, board members and teachers there were over 150 vendors of all types to aid in everything from school finance, curriculum, green cleaning products, management companies, insur-ance companies and school lunch programs. These vendors were there to assist schools that are just beginning along with offering established schools new and exciting programs to add to there existing schools.
Each day there were over 50 breakout sessions, designed to focus on specific areas of school excellent to discuss and learn from. Richard and I attended a number of these sessions both days. One session included New School Development, a session that provided us with insight into successful practices that build a culture of leadership and responsibility in preparing a plan for new school development and appointing development teams for success. Other sessions for New School Development focused on how to define quality, schools of excellence and high performing schools. Many new school developers joined in open discussions describing what quality means to them and how these standards will raise the bar across Michigan. We also attended sessions geared towards administrators. One session was presented by Vern Hazard of the Flippen Group. He provided us elements of a process called EXCEL that increases student attendance, academic achievement and teacher satisfaction thus decreasing discipline referrals and drop out rates. We gained insight from administrators and teachers on how to empower people and capture kids’ hearts in the classroom. This session gave us a better understanding of what we will expect from our school leader, administrators, teachers and every school employee, setting the tone for leadership in our school, that will be not only expected of our staff, but each and everyone of our students.
Lunch each day offered us an opportunity to gather for two highly acclaimed keynote speakers. Monday we had the pleasure of learning from Rita Peerson, a teacher, administrator and counselor who is known for maximizing a person’s strengths and building the quality of the charter school movement. Her speech focused on how to make a difference in every student regardless of economic class status. Tuesday Mitch Albom inspired us to “Have a Little Faith”, taking us on his personal journey that showed us how learning to trust and believe in others we can overcome differences and allow great things to happen. Mitch provided motivation to all attendees to overcome the adversity and misperceptions charter schools face. Both individuals reminded the thousands of listeners of how important it is to step out from everyday status quo and do something out of the ordinary to meet the needs of children before the needs of adults!
This experience allowed us to not only gain knowledge from successful individuals in the charter school world, but an opportunity to network with unique leaders in education.
Rural Education Matters will meet again Thursday, December 2nd at the Township Hall at 7:00 pm. The community is as always encouraged to attend. This month our curriculum consultant, Tony Diola, will be sharing a presentation on testing programs for ELA. As always we value any and all questions or comments you may have to further meet the community mandate to develop a quality educational institute for the children of our community. If you have any questions you can reach REM at (989) 632-1114.
Useful Links:
http://www.michigan.gov/mde
http://www.nationalcharterschools.org/
http://charterschools.org/

Reprinted with permission from The FISH Newspaper December 2010 issue.