2018-19 PTOC Meeting Summaries

  • October 15, 2018

    PTOC Overview / PTOC Representative Training / District Update from Dr. Swift: Answers to Parent's Questions

    AAPS Drinking Water Testing Program
    AAPS recognizes the importance that hydration plays in nurturing healthy bodies and minds.
    Some parents may choose to send their child to school with a water bottle filled at home.
    Leaders in every building in the district continue to educate children and staff to use trusted water sources for drinking. Additionally, lead-filtered hydration stations are being installed or replaced in each school. AAPS is committed to achieving the lowest possible levels of lead in drinking water and take very seriously the risks associated with lead exposure, especially in the youngest children. The district will mitigate and repair water fixtures that were identified with higher levels. “Testing for Lead Drinking Water Program Information” will be added as an annual report to the Board of Education to ensure that the Board and community receive this
    information updated directly each year.

    A thorough overview of AAPS efforts is available here.

    Answers to common questions about lead in drinking water are here.

    Superintendent Swift shared district updates with topics informed by PTOC members. Topics included information on the district’s plan to handle lead in the water system, an overview of Listen and Learn 2018, an update on strategic planning for the district, fine-tuning our approach to the Third Grade Reading Law, social and emotional behavioral supports in our schools, efforts to support mental health issues, and the district’s evolving equity plan.

    Some highlights include:

    • AAPS has developed an extensive plan to handle lead in the water system
      (2019-20 Testing for Lead Spring Update; and Testing for Lead in Drinking Water - 9/26/18).
    • Listen and Learn 2018 had 4,362 participants with 7,041 thoughts contributed on the online Thoughts Exchange program and 86,892 ratings assigned to relevant issues. Diversity and inclusion were the #1 topics mentioned by our school community. AAPS is developing a school district equity plan that is in the emergent phase (systems, leadership, culture, classroom practices, family, and community).
    • AAPS has a 6-year plan to reduce suspensions across the district.
    • Young Fives offered at every elementary building is an equity strategy.
    • Project-based learning and STEAM programming is offered at every level this year, including preschool. The District STEAM Expo is at Skyline High School on 29 November from 6:00 – 9:00 pm.
    • The International Baccalaureate Program at Mitchell, Scarlett, and Huron are in their 4th year.
    • Huron High has launched the International Baccalaureate Career Program for juniors and seniors interested in automotive, business/marketing, and engineering. AAPS is the first district in Michigan to offer an IB program with a head start in a specific career focus.
    • Bryant and Pattengill elementary schools are being redesigned as a ‘Super Pair’ with new programming and building upgrades in the next year and beyond.
    • Carpenter Elementary has begun the transition from a Preschool-5th grade to Preschool-8th with a new grade added each year. Building expansion is expected to serve the growing student population.
    • A focus on World Languages has expanded in the past few years with a track for students to follow a path of learning a foreign language from preschool through graduation.
    • Freeman Environmental Education Center opened at 3540 Dixboro Lance in Superior Township on October 7th. The dedication ceremony for the 40-acre property celebrated the beginning of hands-on learning opportunities in nature for preschool through 12th grade, including habitat walks, lessons on Winter survival, climate, forestry, and farm-to-school food initiatives.
    • AAPS is committed to educating all children to third-grade reading competency. Literacy experts are stationed in all elementary schools and K-8 campuses. A Dyslexia Specialist is available for consultation. AAPS is developing individual literacy plans and making ongoing adjustments to support instruction and intervention.
    • AAPS remains committed to supporting mental health needs of students and staff.
    • SAT Results for AAPS with Comparison to Other Michigan Districts.
    • School Funding Decline in the State of Michigan.

    Prepared by Jill Anthony Stephenson and Heather Eckner with valued contributions from Kathryn Powell, October 2018

    November 12, 2018 

    AAPS Strategic Partnership and Volunteer Coordinator, Nancy Shore:

    An overview of the Partnership Office at the Community Division of AAPS Rec&Ed was provided by Nancy Shore (Coordinator) and Jenna Bacalor (Executive Director). Nancy has held this centralized, coordinated position since spring 2018. She coordinates partnerships with area businesses and organizations. Nancy provided the Who – What – Why – Where of her systemic efforts in time, expertise, items, and money to connect AAPS to our wider community. The overall aim is to bridge AAPS supports for students with the wider community and to streamline processes such as volunteer coordination (e.g., background checks, orientation). Requests for specific support related to volunteer or collaborative opportunities can be directed to the Partnership Office through AAPS building principals. The bottom line for PTSOs is to continue to approach volunteerism and fundraising the same way they are currently, through their school community membership. School principals remain our primary contacts for requests for special support related to PTSO volunteer and collaborative opportunities. Nancy Shore is our new contact within the District with an overview perspective, connections with our larger Ann Arbor community, and even some funding through classroom grants.

    AAPS High School Sports, Eve Claar:

    An overview of the ins and outs of high school athletics was provided by Eve Claar (Athletic Director, Pioneer) with an introduction by Paul DeAngelis (Executive Director of AAPS High Schools). Our District offers a comprehensive 37 varsity sports programs, similar to the University of Michigan’s 29 varsity teams. AAPS sponsors 55 teams and 850 events per year, of which 350 events are hosted at each of the high schools. “Fields of play are an opportunity to continue education” – emphasis was made to the importance of athletics being geared toward educationally-based programs with an aim to maximize the full potential and participation of every AAPS student who wants to be part of a team. About 50% of AAPS students participate in sports as athletes, bands, and spectators with a great benefit of school spirit and team cohesion. In addition to sportsmanship, teamwork, integrity, respect, health benefits, time management, and more. Some of the great benefits of sports participation are learning how to win and lose with dignity and respect, to create an emotional attachment to school and relationships with a diverse group of people with similar interests, to stay out of trouble, and to enjoy opportunities they may not have had before. Many opportunities arise for parents to volunteer. About 500-550 students participate in Fall season sports, easing the transition to a new school or grade with a start date four weeks before school starts. Winter begins in late October-early November. Spring starts in March. Around 950 students participate in sports over the course of the entire year. Some sports benefit from intense training from a young age, however other sports welcome participation at a later age, such as crew, football, tennis, field hockey, running, and water polo. AAPS 8th grade nights are held every February and April to introduce new families to sports. Athletics comprises approximately 1-2% of the school budget general fund. The cost of ‘Pay to Participate’ and related team fees was raised as part of family concerns across the district. There are some opportunities for financial support through the Rec&Ed office (https://www.a2schools.org/recedscholarships). Eve Claar summarized sports at Pioneer and extrapolated to the other high schools in our District. Additional opportunity for questions was available during the Open Mic portion of the agenda.

    Detailed meeting minutes for PTOC can be viewed on the website: http://www.a2schools.org/Page/7954

    Prepared by Jill Anthony Stephenson and Heather Eckner, December 2018

    December 11, 2018

    A2 Excellence: What is the best fit for your child? IB, Magnets, Traditional, Virtual, STEAM, K-8, and In-District School of Choice, Presented by Dawn Linden, Jazz Parks, and Paul DeAngelis (AAPS Executive Directors for Elementary, Middle, and High Schools) with an introduction from Superintendent Jeanice Swift.

    “We know that where and how your child is educated is one of the most important decisions a family makes. Every child has rich opportunities in their neighborhood school.” – Dr. Swift

    Our panel of speakers presented an overview of the many ways to learn in AAPS, including International Baccalaureate, Magnets, Traditional, Virtual, STEAM, K through 8, and In-District ‘School of Choice.’ Every child has enriched opportunities in their neighborhood school. Variations in the style of instruction arise from individual teachers and school philosophy. Many enhancements have taken place or are in the process across the District. Some examples of enrichment opportunities and enhancements at each of the 32 schools including new playgrounds, approaches to social -emotional learning, career exploration programs, Project Lead the Way at every building, additional World Languages being offered, upgraded playgrounds, and physical infrastructure restoration.

    No matter which grade or building, AAPS has a guaranteed curriculum at every grade at every school in the District.  Rubicon Atlas is the curriculum mapping database accessible on the AAPS website for parents to learn more about what children are learning in each grade. Quarterly report cards are distributed three times per school year. Now, they are aligned with grade level curriculum standards.

    Parents considering in-district transfer are encouraged to monitor the AAPS website for space available at each school and to schedule a visit to tour the building before completing the application. All Young 5s and Kindergarten Round-ups will take place in February. More information will be posted soon.

    Social Emotional Learning continues to be a significant focus for all AAPS schools and staff across the District. Leader in Me, Responsive Classroom, and Mindfulness are some of the programs offered in Elementary and K-8 buildings. Restorative Practices are used in all Middle Schools.

    In parallel to the brick and mortar schools, A2 Virtual offers opportunities for practice, schedule coordination, acceleration, and repetition. Every virtual course has an AAPS certified teacher. Many students opt to utilize A2 Virtual to accelerate learning, to help coordinate their schedule, or to remediate. A2 Virtual can be used for practice or repetition as well.

    Additional opportunity for questions was available during the Open Mic portion of the agenda.

    Detailed meeting minutes for PTOC can be viewed on the website: https://www.a2schools.org/Page/7954

    Prepared by Jill Anthony Stephenson and Heather Eckner, January 2019