May 5, 2023 - Superintendent's Update

We begin this month of May with our AAPS community actively engaged in activities and events to wrap up a strong 2022-2023 school year. 

Preview of Coming Attractions: Upcoming 23-24 Dates

We are excited to share that the first day of school for the 2023-2024 school year is Monday, August 28th.

The opening week of the year will extend Monday through Thursday of that week, followed by Labor Day weekend: Friday, September 1st through Labor Day Monday. We return to begin week 2 of the school year on Tuesday, September 5th. 

Our calendar teams continue their diligent work on full detail of the 2023-24 calendar, and we will share that information as soon as it is finalized.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Our ongoing whole-child approach to educating students and prioritizing student well-being continues in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. 

We understand that strong student well-being is foundational for quality learning, growth and success in school and in life. For 2023, May mental health awareness month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has chosen the theme “More Than Enough,” giving us an opportunity to reflect and recognize the inherent value each person holds. Regardless of background, ability, appearance or socioeconomic status, we are all worthy of more than enough. This theme is reflective of our focus in the Ann Arbor Public Schools to honor the dignity of every student and staff member. Dignity rises above difference; dignity does not have to be earned, and every individual is deserving of dignity in our classrooms. 

Members of our AAPS team partner with our parents and families to prioritize learning and support for student well-being and social-emotional growth every day of the school year. We also recognize that social-emotional and mental health concerns among children and teens, certainly a concern before the pandemic, have been exacerbated during these past three years. 

Members across our AAPS team are working hard to support our students to ensure strong social-emotional learning and student well-being while also supporting and connecting those students in need of clinical support. We each have an important role in ensuring our students experience a ‘whole child’ education, with student well-being at the heart of our approach in school. 

We also have a responsibility to support those around us who are living with mental health conditions. We can learn the warning signs of emotional distress and suicide.  We can fight the negative stigma that makes it harder for those in need to seek mental health support. Together, we can work to educate, support and connect to ensure those who are experiencing mental health challenges truly feel the inherent value they hold, and have a system of support available in our schools and across the greater Ann Arbor community.

This video, created by AAPS students, You Are Not Alone, shares a message and resources for support. 

Asian, Pacific Islander, South Asian/American Heritage Month in the AAPS

We are excited to observe Asian, Pacific Islander, South Asian/American Heritage Month during May to honor and celebrate the contributions that generations of Asian, Pacific Islanders, South Asian/American and Native Hawaiians have made to American history, society and culture. This time of recognition provides an opportunity to listen and learn more about the rich diversity within APISA/A communities throughout our country and in our own Ann Arbor community. 

We are delighted to explore the contributions of APISA/Americans in literature, history, the arts and science during May. We also look forward to activities coming to the AAPS during Asian, Pacific Islander, South Asian/American Heritage Month, sponsored by the APISA/A parent advisory group. 

We are pleased to share that once again this year, our students will have the opportunity to celebrate the countless contributions of Asian Pacific Islander Americans and, specifically, in welcoming three inspiring Asian Pacific Islander American authors to the AAPS.   

With special thanks to APISA/A and Joslyn Hunscher-Young, we are pleased to announce the following student-centered, virtual events specifically designed for elementary, middle and high school students in celebration of the accomplishments of these incredible authors!  

High school students and families are encouraged to join AAPS alumna Shirley Higuchi on Tuesday, May 16, from 9:00 - 10:00 am for a virtual author talk about her work on the book Setsuko's Secret and her continued work with the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation surrounding the experiences of families during Japanese American incarceration in World War II.

On Thursday, May 18, from 10:30 - 11:00 am, lower-elementary school students and their families are invited to attend a talk with author Grace Lin who will read one of her books, lead students in a draw-along and participate in a Question and Answer session.

The event on Wednesday, May 24, from 1:00 - 2:00 pm is geared toward upper-elementary and middle school students and families. Robin Ha will share her experiences as an Asian American with immigrant parents and also talk about her books and answer audience questions.

Many of these highlighted authors/books are available on Sora and in our school libraries; check them out! Registration details will be shared later this week with all of our AAPS staff, and we look forward to welcoming these incredible authors and seeing our AAPS students and staff there. 

More activities and events will occur throughout this month, and we will share more information as we move through May. 

National School Lunch Hero Day

I know you will join in today, Friday, May 5th, in celebrating and sharing our deepest appreciation for our AAPS School Lunch Heroes.

Our AAPS food and nutrition team serve as superheroes each and every day throughout the school year. Our team works diligently to prepare and provide children with nutritious meals and snacks each school day across our 32 school locations. By the end of this 2022-2023 school year, they will have served 290,941 breakfasts, 758,994 lunches, 35,000 snacks and 250 dinners totaling more than a million meals, all while keeping the health and safety of our students and staff as their priority.

We salute these school lunch heroes who work hard to achieve our goal of ensuring quality food and nutrition support so our students continue to stay healthy, grow and learn each day.

The full message can be read here

AAPS PLTW Distinguished Schools and District Recognition

We are proud to share that the Ann Arbor Public Schools is once again leading the way with PLTW Distinguished School recognition for 2022-2023. 

We are excited to share that for the first time, Ann Arbor Public Schools is distinguished as a Project Lead the Way Distinguished District.  AAPS is the only district in the state of Michigan to receive this honor and 1 of 17 districts throughout the country.

Created by teachers and led by educators, PLTW supports teachers and motivates and prepares students to be ‘stem-successful.’ A recent study shows PLTW students outperform their peers in school, are better prepared for post-secondary studies and are more likely to consider STEM careers compared to their non-PLTW peers. Students find PLTW programs relevant, inspiring, engaging and foundational to their future success. You can learn more about PLTW here.

For the first time, AAPS has 32 schools receiving this honor, including A2STEAM and Ann Arbor Open, being recognized at both the elementary and middle school levels.

Congratulations to the PLTW Launch Programs in all 21 AAPS elementary schools (this number includes K8 schools). AAPS represented 21 of 27 elementary schools (78%) recognized in the state of Michigan and 21 of 492 elementary schools nationwide (4%) to earn PLTW Launch Distinguished School Recognition.

Congratulations to the PLTW Gateway Programs in all 7 Middle Schools. AAPS middle schools represented 7 of 9 middle schools (78%) recognized in the state of Michigan and 7 of 212 middle schools nationwide (3%) to earn PLTW Gateway Distinguished School Recognition.

Congratulations to the PLTW High School Programs at Community, Huron, Pioneer and Skyline. AAPS High Schools represented 4 of 5 high schools (80%) recognized in the state of Michigan and 4 of 262 high schools nationwide (2%) to earn PLTW High School Distinguished School Recognition.

A huge shout-out to all our AAPS Project Lead the Way teachers, and Mr. Tom Pachera, AAPS Director, Career and Technical Education & PLTW; we are fortunate to have an impressive team engaging our students in memorable STEM learning across our AAPS schools.  

Listen & Learn Ann Arbor: A Community Conversation 

We are excited to engage with our Ann Arbor community in a conversation as we plan for the future of AAPS; we so appreciate hearing the valued input of our students, families, staff and community. 

We recently enjoyed community conversations on Tuesday evening at the Westgate Library and today at the Traverwood Library where we have enjoyed conversation with students, parents and staff representing many AAPS schools. I am grateful for everyone who has taken the time to engage with us in person; this continues to be an extremely thoughtful community conversation with patterns emerging within and across the meetings and groups. 

We hope you will join in one of the public meetings, participate in a parent group or school-based conversation and/or use our online ThoughtExchange survey to share your thoughts and see and respond to what others are saying. Link to ThoughtExchange here: 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. 

AAPS Listen & Learn Dates

Upcoming dedicated group conversations include the En Nuestra Lengua Saturday Spanish School,  the AAPS Newcomer Fair, and visits to various bus stops in the AAPS to connect with parents. 

Also, upcoming community meeting dates include: 

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

You can learn more information and keep updated on the progress of our Listen and Learn Conversation, including the announcement of additional public AAPS community meeting dates, here.

Communication from the AAPS

This week’s episode of the A2 Schools Podcast includes our conversation with Victoria Davis, the AAPS Director of Food & Nutrition Services; we explore the many exciting activities with students in our school cafeterias and share a ‘shout out’ for our own AAPS School Lunch Heroes this week. 

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 for your partnership and support in working together to support our students, staff, schools and this beautiful Ann Arbor Public Schools community we share.


Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools