March 10, 2023 - Superintendent's Update

We have much to celebrate in the Ann Arbor Public Schools during this exciting March season, including March is Reading Month, Youth Art Month, World Down Syndrome Day and recognizing our AAPS School Social Workers

First, let’s reflect on and celebrate a couple of February events: 

Celebrating Black History/National African American History Month

On every day of the school year, in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, teachers and students, support staff, school leaders and our community recognize and celebrate the important contributions African Americans have made throughout history. In the month of February, the AAPS spotlights this focus as we celebrate Black History Month in our classrooms and within each school community. 

We’re sharing a highlight video of the many learning activities and celebrations across our schools. They include student-created posters, videos and artwork lifting up the contributions of African-Americans, discussions on the importance of equity, inclusion and social justice reform, a student-created wax museum of famous African-Americans, Black History Month highlights shared during announcements, libraries highlighted works by African-American authors and books focused on historical black figures and assemblies focused on African-American culture including a performance by Vincent York’s Jazzistry. In a recent A2schools podcast, we visit with three AAPS teachers about the explorations they have facilitated in their schools. 

We are a stronger Ann Arbor Public Schools community as we honor, embrace and celebrate our diversity, continually create a culture of belonging for all and value the connections that unite us as an inclusive Ann Arbor community. 

The full 2023 African American History Month message can be read here.

Career Technical Education Month

February was also Career Technical Education Month. In the AAPS, CTE high school students gain experience in the industry while gaining access to professional student organizations via conferences and competitions.

AAPS offers training for students in the following skilled, high-demand careers:

  • Auto Service Technology
  • Business, Finance, Marketing, and Technology
  • Construction Trades / Homebuilding
  • Cosmetology & Cosmetology Handbook
  • Culinary and Hospitality
  • Health Science
  • Computer Science and Cybersecurity

You can read all about CTE options in the AAPS in this recent AAPS District News story and listen to our recent A2 Schools Podcast on CTE here.

National School Social Work Week, March 5 - 11, 2023

Each March, we have the opportunity to publicly acknowledge our AAPS social workers as a part of National School Social Work Week.  

The National School Social Work theme for 2023 is: ‘We Rise.’ School Social Workers rise up - supporting their students, families, and school communities.  School Social Workers rise to share hope. They rise to listen and understand. They rise to challenge inequities. They rise to support all students.

As Superintendent of Schools, on behalf of the entire AAPS team, we express deep appreciation to all our AAPS school social workers who inspire us with hope, understanding and respect in their work every day. We honor our school social workers for the guidance, expertise and professional care they continue to provide for our students and our community.

You may read the full Social Work Appreciation message here.

NAAPID at Night Celebration

We want to thank our students, school teams, parents and community for their leadership, planning and efforts in coordinating a wonderful 28th NAAPID Celebration across the AAPS. This year, the NAAPID celebration continues into March, as we look forward to the NAAPID at Night 2023 virtual program celebration coming up later this month.  More information and the link will be shared with the community as soon as it is available.

AAPAC Summer Programming Fair

AAPAC will be hosting the student Summer Programming Fair, via Zoom, on Monday, March 13th. This event will highlight available summer programming for students with disabilities, including the AAPS Summer Learning offerings to support students who are served by an Individual Education Plan. 

World Down Syndrome Day

March 21st is celebrated as World Down Syndrome Day. In conjunction, we are encouraging everyone - staff, students and families to participate in Crazy Socks Day. We love this fun day because it gives everyone a chance to show the world their snazziest pair of mismatched socks while supporting people with Down syndrome around the world.

Strategic Partnerships Update

  • AAPS was excited to welcome Engineers from KLA to Pilot a “Science is Elementary” program with kinders at Pittsfield Elementary School.  This standards-aligned program engaged students in science experiments with the assistance of KLA employees. Photos and Tweet.

  • Rotary/Food Gatherers Fight Summer Hunger Campaign - AAPS joins the Rotary and Food Gatherers each year in this two-week community-wide effort to fight hunger.  Many of our schools, as well as student clubs and groups, are forming teams to collect nonperishable food or make financial contributions. This year the campaign runs from March 6th - March 17th. Those in our AAPS community who would like to participate can do so at a school or at the Rotary/Food Gatherers link here

March is Reading Month

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March is designated as National Reading Month - a month to motivate everyone, people of all ages, to read every day.  Reading events are occurring throughout the AAPS, including readathons, scheduling guest readers and many other events focused on literacy and celebrating the joy of reading.

Youth Art Month

March in downtown Ann Arbor is Youth Art Month. This annual Ann Arbor observance,  established by AAPS more than 60 years ago in 1961, emphasizes the value of art education for all youth. This month of celebration provides an opportunity to connect our community with the incredible creativity of our youth.

Saturday, March 18, marks the annual Youth Art Month Artwalk as downtown businesses hang student artwork in their storefront windows from Ann Arbor Public School art classes, K-12. We encourage everyone to take a stroll downtown between 1 pm and 3 pm to see the amazing artwork of our students and participate in pop-up art activities.

Orchestra Night at Hill

Orchestra Night this year was held on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, at Hill Auditorium.  It featured performances by AAPS Middle School Orchestras - A2Open, A2STEAM, Clague, Forsythe, Scarlett, Slauson and Tappan and also highlighted performances of the AAPS High School Symphony Orchestras from Huron, Pioneer and Skyline. 

Evening of Song at Hill

2023 marked the inaugural district-wide choral concert originally scheduled for February 23 but moved to March 1, 2023, due to severe weather conditions.  An Evening of Song was held at Hill Auditorium and featured 850 choir students from AAPS middle and high schools. This collaboration was many years in the making and celebrates our longstanding choral tradition of excellence in the AAPS.

The AAPS arts advantage continues on full display through this month as the many extraordinary arts events unfold during this spring season. 

Update: Adding Naloxone to the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ Medical Response Toolkit

With the health and wellbeing of students, staff and visitors continuing as a top priority, Ann Arbor Public Schools is currently taking the necessary steps to have the rescue medication Naloxone in our school buildings. Commonly known as Narcan, Naloxone is a safe and life-saving medication designed to reverse an opioid overdose. Stocking naloxone in AAPS buildings will provide an extra tool of life-saving support for anyone on AAPS campuses. 

According to the Washtenaw County Health Department, the number of county residents who died of an opioid overdose increased by 28% between 2020 and 2021. This is consistent with the increasing trend in opioid-related deaths across the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. Overdoses involving opioids continue to be a concern in our area and the state. 

Just as CPR, AED devices and EPI pens are used in times of medical emergency, Naloxone will be administered by trained AAPS staff according to medical protocols. The addition of Naloxone to our buildings’ medical emergency response toolkits will make our school environments even safer for everyone. 


Communication from the AAPS

In this week’s A2schools podcast, we preview the upcoming Ann Arbor Public Schools Listen and Learn 2023: A Community Conversation

To stay up-to-date with daily updates and information on school and district activities, you may want to follow us on social media.

We are grateful every day for your partnership in the important work to support our students, staff, families and schools and this wonderful Ann Arbor Public Schools community we share. 

Sharing a moment of joy in these delightful Kinder Heart Arts from King students in Mrs. Fineberg’s beautiful art classroom. 

Take Care,

Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools