April 21, 2023 - Superintendent's Update

We have much to highlight and celebrate in the Ann Arbor Public Schools during this exciting April time, including Autism Acceptance Month and Earth Day.

Autism Acceptance Month

Each April across the AAPS, we work alongside the Autism Society to bring awareness to and promote understanding and acceptance of those in the Autism community.  Every year, this month-long recognition aims to break the stigma of people living with autism.

As many individuals and families affected by autism understand, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to developing a strong support system. Acceptance and inclusion are vital to making certain that all in the Autism community can access the resources and support they need to live their lives to the fullest extent possible. 

During this Autism Awareness month, we were grateful for  the opportunity provided by the AAPS Office of Special Education to screen the film Swim Team and participate in a discussion afterward with the film director last Thursday. The movie is the real-life inspiring story of teens with autism who form a competitive swim team. Following the event, we are also able to share the movie internally; teachers and teams across our AAPS schools have the opportunity to use lesson plans and a classroom discussion guide created by PBS to share with our students. The movie Swim Team is also available via Netflix for those who are interested in this opportunity. 

Earth Day

The Ann Arbor Public Schools, with a long-standing commitment to the environment, is celebrating Earth Day 2023. Each year on April 22, we mark the anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970 as the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world. More than a billion people every year celebrate this as a day of action to change human behavior and create better global, national and local policies to protect our health and environment.

In classrooms across the AAPS, Earth Day presents an excellent opportunity for learning as students, their teachers and school teams explore and celebrate a shared commitment to environmental sustainability. 

Together, we will continue to move the AAPS forward in responsibly living an evolving organizational and community commitment to the environment, with the goal of serving as a model school district in the country. 

We look forward to continued engagement and partnership with our students, staff and families,  community and environmental leaders, local climate change and sustainability experts and concerned citizens in our collective effort to serve as strong stewards of our planet within our own Ann Arbor community today and for future generations.

The full Ann Arbor Earth Day message, including highlights of AAPS activities, can be read here.

National Volunteer Appreciation Week 

Thank you, AAPS Volunteers! During National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we are excited to recognize and extend our heartfelt appreciation to the more than 500 AAPS volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to our students. 

The spirit of volunteerism continues as a deep and robust community value shared in Ann Arbor and is visible every day across our Ann Arbor Public Schools; we are so very grateful for the many ways our school volunteers enhance the school experience every day for our AAPS students.

We want to thank the hundreds of parents, college students, retired teachers and community members who support our students in the classroom and offer a helping hand to our teachers. 

We recognize the many bilingual and English Language (EL) student support volunteers who work alongside our EL teachers to create a welcoming environment for our increasing number of English Language Learner students.

We want to thank the hundreds of parents and community members that coach our Rec and Ed Youth sports teams. It would be impossible to offer these highly-valued programs without our volunteer coaches.

Special thanks to the PTO members, event volunteers and the many other parents and community members who volunteer in a variety of ways throughout the district. Many thanks to our Board of Education Trustees, who serve as ‘super’ volunteers in the AAPS. 

You may learn more about our inspiring volunteers and the opportunities available for volunteering in the AAPS on our Strategic Partnerships page here.

Listen & Learn Ann Arbor: A Community Conversation 

We want to hear from you! We value the input of our students, families, staff and community, and we are currently engaging our Ann Arbor community in a conversation as we plan the future of AAPS. 

The premise of the Listen and Learn is straightforward: No one knows better the strengths and celebrations, the challenges and areas for improvement, dreams and hopes for the future than those individuals who live, work and bring their children to learn and grow in the Ann Arbor Public Schools each day. 

As we prepare to move forward in planning for our future together, to align the work toward equity, inclusion and opportunity for all our students, we want to align our school district improvement and enhancement work with the direction, experience, needs, and aspirations of our students, parents, staff and community. 

There are three great ways to participate in this Ann Arbor Public Schools Community Conversation over the coming weeks: we hope you will join in one of the community meetings, participate in a parent group or school-based conversation and/or use our online ThoughtExchange survey to share your thoughts and see what others are saying. Link to ThoughtExchange here: bit.ly/TECommunitySpring2023. Please note that this link is for students, families and community members. There is a separate link for AAPS staff that has been shared via staff email. 

We invite you to participate in the upcoming community Listen & Learn events, listed below; we will continue to announce additional May events over the coming days and share them here.

Tuesday, April 25th, 6:30pm - AADL Pittsfield Branch, 2359 Oak Valley Drive

Friday, April 28th, 9am Coffee - Venue, 1919 Industrial Hwy 

Tuesday, May 2nd, 6:30pm - AADL Westgate Branch, 2503 Jackson Ave.

Thursday, May 4th, 6:30pm - Huron High School, 2727 Fuller Rd

Friday, May 5th BYO Brown Bag Lunch, 12 noon - AADL Traverwood Branch, 3333 Traverwood Dr.

Monday, May 8th, 6:30pm - AADL Malletts Creek Branch, 3090 E. Eisenhower Parkway 

Communication from the AAPS

This week’s episode of the A2 Schools Podcast includes Executive Director Environmental Sustainability Emile Lauzzana and is focused on the AAPS Environmental Framework, and the ongoing environmental efforts across AAPS, including work done by student groups.

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 would like to share our warmest wishes for an Eid Mubarak, a blessed and beautiful feast, with all our students and families, staff and community members observing Ramadan.

We are grateful for your partnership and support as we work together in support of our students, staff, schools and this beautiful Ann Arbor Public Schools community we share.


Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools