September 15, 2023 - Superintendent's Update

We have wrapped up the third week of the 2023-2024 school year. We are grateful to see students, teachers, staff, and families settled into the rhythms and routines of learning and growing together during these back-to-school fall days. I was delighted to stop in at Lawton Elementary earlier this week to say hello and to meet Cooper, their white lab therapy dog who supports the Lawton school students and community. 

Our schools are engaging in Curriculum Nights during September, and we are seeing big crowds turning out across our schools.  Students, staff and families are engaged in many fall opportunities, including athletic and enrichment activities and special events such as Fall Carnivals, Fun Runs and more coming up this fall. 

We are delighted to see solid student enrollment and attendance this fall, with our schools remaining consistent and/or increasing in enrollment across the AAPS. We are especially excited to share that the incoming cohort of Y5/Kindergarten is solid, even with numbers from last year at approximately 1,500 members. Welcome to the Class of 2036! 

I want to share a special thank you to our students, teachers, support staff and principals, our parents and families and our Ann Arbor community; everyone has worked together to launch a successful back-to-school in the AAPS this fall. Together, we are working to strengthen our practice of dignity, belonging and well-being for every child, every day - our focus for this 2023-2024 school year.  

AAPS Adult Ed and English Second Language Classes Program Expands

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Adult Education program has expanded its English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to two new locations this fall, including EL classes now offered at Lincoln Consolidated Schools as well as the new Michigan Works location, 1201 E. Ellsworth Road. You may view a video highlight from recent AAPS News coverage of this expansion and meet some of our adult ed students here

AAPS paraeducator Sat Paul Goyal is an accomplished and very published author and poet. I am pleased to share one of his most recently published poems

In case you missed it, Pioneer student Lawrence Robuste qualified for the World Special Olympics Games in Berlin this summer, where he excelled. His participation in the World Games was due to the support of Club Unify, a student-led organization ​at Pioneer High School. The club raised over $10,000 for him, as well as another $5,000 for the ​Pioneer OSE department. Lawrence's opportunities were possible due to this amazing support. 

​At the World Games, Lawrence obliterated his personal record every time he raced​. As a member of the United States 4​x100​ relay team, Lawrence and the team accomplished a 5th place finish. ​You will note that Lawrence was competing against world athletes who were 5-10+ years older than him, further cementing the impressiveness of ​all his accomplishments. 

Exceptional Teacher - DeMarko Thurman

This week’s AAPS District News Exceptional Profile is of A2 Virtual+ teacher DeMarco Thurman. Principal Anthony Lauer shares, “De’Marko’s leadership style and passion for online learning is evident in his approach to supporting teachers, students and families. His tireless work ethic as the A2 Virtual+ Summer Term Principal does not go unnoticed by the over 800 students who take summer classes through A2 Virtual+.” 

Student Health

The AAPS school nurse team has updated the When to Keep Your Child Home from School guide for parents. This one-page document includes recommendations for many symptoms and communicable diseases. 

The 23-24 COVID guidance for students/families and staff is posted on the district website. Per Washtenaw County Health Department requirements, we are continuing to monitor student and staff case reports frequently to detect potential outbreaks early. The same tools of early communication to parents, sending home over-the-counter tests, and masking can be deployed when there are clusters or outbreaks. School nurses continue to support building staff, students, and parents with COVID questions and recommendations. 

AAPS Team Health/Well-being Focus 

As a part of our work to deepen our focus on well-being, the first of four 2023-2024 Early Release Day sessions focused on staff well-being will take place on September 27. Jenna Bacolor and Bill Harris are leading this effort using the Office of the Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being and CASEL adult SEL competencies. The Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being offers a foundation that workplaces can build on to deepen our work in support of the health and well-being of staff across our AAPS organization.

Community Division: Community Education and Recreation (Rec & Ed) 

For fall 2023, before/after care programs are available for the following 11 elementary school communities: Abbot, Allen, Angell, Burns Park*, Carpenter, King*, Lakewood, Lawton*, Mitchell, Pittsfield (after care only with bussing to Allen) and Wines. (*3rd party provider)

Before/After Care Staffing Update – We’ve retained approximately 25 supervisors, assistants, and high school after care assistants from last year and also hired about seven new staff. We continue to interview and hire with the focused intention of continuing to add more program sites as we move through this school year. 

More information about Before/After Care openings can be found here

Community Division: Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement

Stuff the Bus Recap – Through our partnership with Stuff the Bus, the AAPS received hundreds of school supplies that will help support student academic success at our elementary schools.  Donations included hundreds of binders, backpacks, writing utensils, glue, erasers, paper, markers, crayons, pencils and more.

Strategic Partnership Engagement -- AAPS is delighted to welcome back our nearly 70 district-level Strategic Partners to our schools. This year, the AAPS Strategic Partnership Office created a Guide for Strategic Partners to help our partners continue to work effectively with our students and our schools. This guide contains information on district programs, community resources, district policies and protocols, resources for learning, a brief overview of some key district initiatives and more.

You may learn more about the AAPS Strategic Partnerships program here. 

Communication from the AAPS

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Strong, quality public schools are an outcome of committed, engaged communities. We are grateful for all your engagement, partnership and support in our work 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