Meet Mrs. Fenech


    Meg Fenech, Angell Principal


    Welcome to James B. Angell Elementary School!  We are excited that you are reading about a fabulous community of learners.  Our school draws students from five Ann Arbor neighborhoods and over 40 countries of the world.  We have an exceptional staff and are fortunate to have a distinct enrichment program for all students. 

    Our school was named after the longest serving president of the University of Michigan.  He said that he wanted to “provide an uncommon education for the common man.”  We try to fulfill that statement at Angell by challenging students to excel, develop skills for self-advocacy and problem-solving. 

    We celebrate mistakes.  Learning essentially comes from the modeling of others and our errors.  A feature of the school is the promotion of student autonomy.  When students are given choices, they learn to make decisions for themselves and also learn that they must live with the consequences of their selections.   We hope that each Angell graduate develops the capacity to be assertive and assume leadership when opportunities exist.

     Life is a series of relationships.  We take our responsibility to develop a warm, caring school environment very seriously.   Attention is paid to both vertical relationships (between adults and students) and horizontal relationships (student to student and adult to adult).  The culture of school will determine how students feel about coming to school each day.  Our goal – happy, successful students. 

     A local software firm uses the outcomes of the Kindergarten report card for criteria when hiring new employees.  We endorse them as well.  They make perfect sense because they describe essential characteristics on how we are to live our lives with each other:


    +  Attends to the task at hand

    +  Listens attentively

    +  Works cooperatively with others

    +  Solves problems constructively

    +  Complete tasks independently

    +  Follows directions

    +  Perseveres even when tasks are difficult


  • AAPS Update

    Posted by Gary Court on 3/27/2020 7:00:00 AM


    Dear Parents,

    I trust all of you are well and taking care of yourselves and your families.

    The governor issued a directive that schools will remained closed until Monday April 13th.

    Reminder:  Spring Break is March 30th – April 3rd. 


    Each classroom teacher has a learning platform (on this website) that families can access. 

    Please remember that Lexia (reading) and Dreambox (math) are available to each student as well. 

    In addition to the enrichment, review, learning opportunities and activities that the classroom teachers have provided each day, the special area teachers have a variety of activities for students to do.  Please use this link,


    All Angell classroom teachers are communicating with their students each day.  After the Spring Break, teachers will resume the daily online learning activities and messaging with their students each day beginning April 6th.  ..   


    Food distribution:


    The AAPS will continue food distribution for students, at the sites listed on the AAPS website.  Beginning the week of March 30th – food distribution will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.   



    Gary Court

    Comments (-1)
  • The Importance of Daily Reading

    Posted by Gary Court on 6/11/2019 8:00:00 AM
    "Independent reading is the critical time when students both consolidate and take ownership of reading skills and strategies.  Richard Allington, noted literacy researcher and a past president of the International Reading Association often pointed out that without extensive independent reading practice, reading proficiency lags.  The benefits of independent reading are inarguable; the best readers are those who read the most and the poorest readers are those who read the least.  The more students read, the better their background knowledge, comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, self-efficacy as readers, and attitudes toward reading for pleasure."
    Gary Court 
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  • Technology

    Posted by Gary Court on 2/25/2019 8:00:00 AM
    As we know, technology is neither good or bad, it is how we use and leverage it.  I am noticing that many of our students are eager to engage in being entertained rather than making, producing or building something (anything!!).  
    We have responded to that challenge.  Two of our fantastic teachers started a coding club (computer programming) at lunchtime to help students develop their tech skills.  The kids are excited and very adept.  Our Project Lead the Way science curriculum promotes programming skills so the "robot" will carry out specific functions.
    Please try to steer your child(ren) into constructive screen time activities.  Give them the idea that they can learn to create and assemble something and that is both fun and useful.  
    I came across this article from Dr. Victoria Dunckley, M.D. in Psychology Today (Sept. 2016) and is an easy read about the downward spiral of too much video gaming.  We can all relate to her story. 
    Gary Court
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  • Screen Time

    Posted by Gary Court on 10/16/2018 9:00:00 AM

    Dear Parents,

    Lately, parents and teachers have raised the issue of screen time for elementary-age students.  In particular, several families have shared their struggle with their children’s eagerness, fixation and sometimes addicting-appearing focus on playing video games. 

    Fortnite has become the best-selling game ever.  “Players fight each other, making it through a night of zombies, or surviving to the end of a massive battle, and they use the landscape around them to find materials to build shelters.”  What core values are developed and nurtured by playing a game like that?  

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that games “in which killing others is the central theme (like Fortnite) are not appropriate for children. Incidentally, “children” here means “humans under 18 years of age.” (Dr. Sax)

     One must recognize that most of screen-based activities are to promote consumption, engage us and keep us entertained, and we can learn them far too quickly.  One writer states, “They ask too little of us and make the world too simple.”  Instead of making or creating something, screen time demands little effort and we end up producing very little.  Often, screens command our attention, consume vast amounts of our time and not much more. 

     The Barna Group reports that 60% of all parents set limits (Do you set any limits on the amount of time your children can spend on an electronic device?) and 40% answered no.

     Limits should be established.  The amount of time permitted on screens is a parental decision.  When games or screen are available or accessed is a parent’s prerogative.   Some families are instituting a no device at family meals guideline to inspire conversation, dialogue and discussion. 

     Lastly, please feel absolutely free to use my name with your child(ren) if you need some leverage when establishing boundaries and parameters.  I am always glad to help!


    Gary Court


    Resources to help with screen time and technology:


    Fortnite, Boys and Self-Control by Dr. Sax in Psychology Today, May 12, 2018


    Parenting the Fortnite Addict by Lisa Damour, NYT April 30, 2018


    The Tech-Wise Family, Everyday Steps to Putting Technology in Its Proper Place

    by Andy Crouch. Baker House  2017


    Reclaiming Conversations:  The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle.  Penguin  2015

    Comments (-1)
  • How to Talk with Your Child About School Shootings

    Posted by Gary Court on 3/15/2018 8:00:00 AM

    Very few events hit home for children and families like a school shooting. When children see such an event on television or on the internet news, it is natural for them to worry about their own school and their own safety, especially if the violence occurred nearby.

    Many psychologists say it's normal for parents to feel some anxiety as we digest the news of recent school shootings.  It is important to be in touch with our own worries and concerns and be cognizant that we do not transmit those to our children.  It is normal to think about the safety of our children at school.  And, do not be afraid to talk with friends and family about how we are feeling and ways to overcome our fears or insecurities.  


    Advice on how to talk with your children:


    Psychologists suggest the troubling news of school shootings can be an opportunity to talk and listen to children.  Remember, the conversation about the news should vary based on the age of your child.  Think about the analogy about a conversation of where do babies come from.  A conversation with an elementary student will be very different than someone older.  Many of our students are not aware of school shootings and it may not be appropriate at all to engage them in a discussion.  


    Suggestions about how to talk with our elementary-age children if they raise the issue or your perceive that there is a need to address the issue:

    • Focus on the fact that many people are working to keep them safe. Point out specific ways Angell School is practicing safety (ex. exits are locked, intercom system to alert if there is a problem, all visitors go through the office, safety drills we practice, always follow school adults’ directions).
    • Allow your child to talk about fears. Help him or her with using "feeling" language so they can express themselves and be understood. Talking about fears is healthy. Being able to talk about how to manage fears is also healthy.
    • Ask your child questions to make it OK to talk about, "What would you do if you didn't feel safe in your school,"  (talk with your teacher, go to the office, find an adult and tell him or her)
    • Limit exposure to news coverage. Acknowledge the news coverage, allow it in a small dose (depending on the age and emotional maturity of the child), and then turn it off and talk openly as a family to make it OK.
    • Keep routine and typical plans to help your child feel they are functioning and that the world is still what they know. Focus on normal and predictable activities.

    This short article may prove to be helpful:

    Comments (-1)
  • The Lost Art of Listening

    Posted by Gary Court on 2/28/2018 8:00:00 AM


    Listening is rapidly becoming a lost art. When we are an attentive listener, the other person is usually surprised. One of the best Tedtalks I listened to recently is entitled “10 ways to have a better conversation” by Celeste Headlee. She says that when your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have conversations -- and that most of us don't converse very well. And she knows the ingredients of a great conversation: Honesty, brevity, clarity and a healthy amount of listening In her Tedtalk, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations. "Go out, talk to people, listen to people," she says. "And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed."


    Comments (-1)
  • Transition to Angell Elementary School

    Posted by Gary Court on 8/1/2017 8:00:00 AM

    It will not be long before elementary students begin thinking about school starting. We are so excited each fall when our students return to start a fresh, new, year of learning, growing and leading.

    There are some ways for parents to prepare and help transition their children as summer winds up:

    - Maintain routines such as family meals and household chores.

    -  Expect your child to read (or for younger students – to be read to) 30 minutes a


    -  Limit television, internet surfing, social media and video games. Screen time tends to isolate children from one another.

    -  Establish the same expectations for behavior at home that they will face at school. (listen without interrupting, take turns, share, wait patiently, follow directions)

    -  Provide choices – give your child the opportunity to make a decision and live with the consequence of that choice. (red pants or blue pants, peas or carrots, brush upper teeth or lower teeth first, carry your coat or wear your coat, set the table or wash the dishes)

    -  Encourage lots of physical activity. Research shows that children sleep better and are better learners and listeners when they engage in regular, gross motor exercise and play.

    -  Find opportunities to serve others. Helping people in our community increases one’s self of purpose and shifts the focus from self to others. Doing something positive often results in experiencing joy and satisfaction.

    Comments (-1)
  • The Value of An International School

    Posted by Gary Court on 2/1/2017 8:00:00 AM

    We are really fortunate to have a school community which is diverse. It is a privilege to work and teach in a school with lots of different kinds of people. It is somewhat of a rarity. David Brooks write in The Atlantic, “Maybe it's time to admit the obvious. We don't really care about diversity all that much in America, even though we talk about it a great deal.” 

    Most of us gravitate toward homogeneity. We fear that which is unfamiliar.   We like to associate with people who reaffirm our viewpoints, lifestyles, values, education, wealth, etc.

    In a school environment where 40 countries of the world are represented in the student body, we can become an interdependent community of people. We can learn from one another if we are intentional and eager to listen to voices that may express ideas unfamiliar or unlike our own.

    As students get older and move to middle school, high school and beyond, I have watched “sameness” exert its powerful attraction and appeal. I hope that we can help the Angell students enjoy the rich variety they experience with the hope that sustaining that is worthwhile.

    Comments (-1)
  • Why Reading Is So Important

    Posted by Gary Court on 12/1/2016 8:00:00 AM

    An article in the Chicago Tribune caught my attention.  It cited a story from Renaissance Learning, an educational analytics company about reading patterns among students.  Students who read 30 minutes a day will encounter 13.5 million words by the time they finish high school.  Students who read less than 15 minutes a day will encounter only 1.5 million words by the time they graduate from high school.  "High exposure to words is crucial in developing vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, writing and higher-order thinking skills," the report says.

    Comments (-1)
  • Angell School Culture

    Posted by Gary Court on 11/1/2016 8:00:00 AM

    In addition to earning the title, National Blue Ribbon School  in 2015, we are by all estimates, a counter-culture school. 

    By this I mean, that our principles, beliefs and practices are in stark contrast to the popular culture around us.  For at least a decade, probably more, our media, entertainment, music and popular culture has not exuded the core values that we promote at school; care, nurture, encouragement, support, forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, patience, kindness. 

    I had the opportunity to talk with a parent and shared that we pride ourselves in having discussions where opposing voices are heard, and where dissent occurs all in a spirit of forbearance.  We endeavor to teach skills such as listening for understanding and giving each other the benefit of the doubt.   We are clearly not perfect at disagreeing in love, but that is our goal.

    At Angell, we dignify respect and civility and will work toward that end even when voices, images and musical lyrics say otherwise.

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