TPS Video Series on the Reorganization
What's in a Name?
It is interesting how we can be so tied to tradition. We may not even realize it until someone tries to change something that we have known to be for so long. As part of our transformational work in the district, we are renaming the current facilities. Why in the world would we do this? Let me share with you why we felt this step was so important to the future of TPS.
Traditions are important. They are so important that they are celebrated in every facet of our lives. We have certain family traditions that we participate in during the holidays. We have traditions that center on our college days. We celebrate our sports teams (win or lose) as part of our traditions. Traditions are important. However, when we are talking about transformational work, sometimes we need to celebrate the “ending” of a tradition in order to be open to “new beginnings”.
At Tecumseh Public Schools, we are undertaking a “new beginning” when it comes to education. We are working collaboratively and reorganizing our district in order to customize learning for each and every child. If you think of other buildings just in our community, name changes are pretty common. The reason the names change in part is to reflect the service being provided in that space. We all remember Don’s Beef Buffet or Cusimanos, or, going way back, Trickey’s. While those names no longer represent services in our community, we still have lasting memories related to those places. The same is true with our school buildings. When we are approached by past Tecumseh graduates to tour the “high school” as part of their class reunion activities, the building tour is specific to where they went to high school. They may tour our current high school building, but, depending on the class, they will tour the current board office or the current middle school. That is where the memories lie--not with the name, but with the building where those memories were made.
As part of our new beginning, we continue to treasure our history and our traditions---the past has truly been what has allowed us to take this next big step! But, we cannot allow the past to hold back the progress we need to make when it comes to education. When determining the new names for our buildings, stakeholders shared the importance of communicating the service we will be providing to our learners in our new and more flexible structure. Our North and South Early Learning Centers will allow our educators to focus on the needs of each learner in a way that allows for developmentally-appropriate learning opportunities. We will continue our Preschool Center services at the South Early Learning Center;ensuring that our learners have the best possible chance for success. Our educators will have the opportunity to collaborate in order to provide the best learning environment; allowing each child to develop his or her gifts and talents. Compass Learning Center will bring our learners and educators together through the alignment of resources, curriculum, and instructional practices. Educators and learners alike will have increased opportunity to collaborate and build solid skills that will prepare each learner for success.
Our STEAM Centers will provide project-based learning opportunities that develop collaboration and problem-solving skills. Community partners will be key to our work with learners; assisting with career exploration and identifying potential post-secondary paths for each learner. Finally, our High School will serve as a capstone experience. THS learners with expand their knowledge base in order to be best prepared for life.
So, what’s in a name? It is a reflection of the services provided by the organization to the community. Tecumseh Public Schools is moving away from a structure that represents the industrial age to a more flexible structure where learning is the constant and time is the variable. TPS is moving to a system where each individual’s gifts and talents are identified early and developed throughout his or her educational career. We are moving to a structure that will prepare each and every learner for life. We are clearly communicating, through the new building configuration and names, what you can expect from your district--a change that is necessary to the future of our children.
TPS Start Times to Stay Consistent
For next school year the bussing for the district will remain consistent with the current set-up and be split into two “tiers.” The main change is the configuration of the two tiers. One will be a Kindergarten through 6th grade run and the other a 7th grade through 12th grade run. Building start times will stay consistent with the current schedule.
These start and end times are staggered to assist in transportation for both busses and for parents. Throughout this process we looked at all of the potential configurations for our bussing runs and possible start times. After receiving a large amount of community input we decided that the best route forward at this time was to keep our start times as consistent as possible. Also the way that the Tier 2 routes are set allow learners from the same family attending the ELCs and Compass to ride the same bus.
TPS is proud to announce the new school names for the 2017-18 school year!
Introducing the 2-6 Learning Center, 7/8 STEAM Centers, and Y5-1 Early Learning Centers!
This month we have mailed out, or sent home with your student, letters introducing the administrators and staff of the two 7/8 STEAM Centers, the 2-6 Learning Center, and the Y5-1 Early Learning Centers. If you missed the letter in the mail, or it got lost on its way home, you can read them below:
Letter to Parents: Y5-1 Early Learning Center
Letter to Parents: 2-6 Learning Center
Letter to Parents: 7th Grade STEAM Center
Letter to Parents: 8th Grade STEAM Center
Josh Mattison, our Director of Facilities, has begun getting quotes for the physical changes happening in all our buildings over the summer. This week Dr Coffin, the future 2-6 administrators and current Elementary Administrators will be walking through the Middle School to finalize room assignments and other physical changes.
The work in going strong and we will be releasing a series of videos in the coming months, helping to explain the process, where we are, and where we are headed. The first video, An Introduction to the Reorganization, is available to view directly above this post.
Recently a group of School Board Members, Administrators, Learner Facilitators, and Learners traveled to Steelcase, a company that designs furniture solutions for educational spaces, and took a tour of their facilities. Below you can find some pictures and videos from that trip, as well as a few videos from Steelcase that illustrate the functionality of their products.
Change can be hard and there are a lot of changes happening to the Tecumseh Public Schools all at once. We are reorganizing our district and adopting a new system of education and focusing on Mass Customized Learning. The staff of TPS was fortunate to have an opening day speaker come to present to us about change and how it affects us. We were given an article titled "Presenting to Groups Experiencing Change" that outlined the 3 phases of experiencing change; endings, neutral zones, and new beginnings. Please take the time to read the article below and as always, thank you for your support as we experience these changes together.
Both the Reorganization and the new Strategic Design have talked a lot about Mass Customized Learning and how we need to change our current, traditional system of education to one that is learner centered. This TED Talk called "The Myth of Average" is a perfect example of WHY we must do this.
Dr Coffin gave this presentation to the staff on the first day back to work. She then gave it at the September Board of Education Meeting. It outlines the way the Michigan 10 in 10 Initiative, the ESSA, our new Strategic Design, and our Restructuring all fit together to shape the district to provide the best possible experience for our students.
How do you expect big “middle schoolers” to fit in little “elementary” buildings/classrooms?
This is a question that comes up a lot--and is the exact question that was asked by our Board of Education. In measuring the current classroom spaces for our 7th and 8th graders and then measuring classroom spaces at Herrick Park and Patterson, there really isn’t a difference in the classroom sizes. In fact, the future science rooms for our 7th and 8th graders will be larger than what they currently use in the middle school. Since the new 7th and 8th grade buildings will be schools that will focus on project based learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, there will be shared or common spaces throughout the building. The actual time spent in one classroom space will be much less than what currently happens in our configuration.
Were teachers asked for their input in this reconfiguration process?
Yes they were! They have been an invaluable piece to this process. The initial survey was broken up into two different links--one for staff and one for parents/community members. When we reviewed the survey results, the priorities for the staff and the priorities for the parents/community were the same. That is a really good sign in that we are all on the same page and are clear on the vision and mission of our district! Our teachers will continue to be part of this process through committee work as well as professional learning throughout the school year.
How will the Encore classes work?
At the 7th and 8th grade levels, Encore classes are the courses that support the core. These include physical education, health, life skills, band, orchestra, choir and enrichment or support classes for math. While we do not have a specific schedule set up at this time (we will work with a committee on this during the 2016-17 school year), we do know that some of these courses will be offered either at the current middle school or current high school. We will look to have 7th and 8th grade students take these courses either at the start of the school day, or at the end of the school day to reduce transportation time. The district will provide transportation for the students to and from either the middle school or high school, depending on the building holding the course. There are districts in the area who do this already, so we will be contacting them to learn more about the process.
How will middle school sports be handled for the two 7th and 8th grade buildings?
We will be combining our 7th and 8th grade students to have one sports program. There will not be one building vs. another building. All practices will take place in the current middle school facility and transportation will be provided after school for students who need to attend practices/games.
Will students be involved in this process?
Absolutely! There have been initial meetings with students who will be the first classes in our 7th and 8th grade buildings. We are committed to gathering student input and students will play a key role when we begin to look at how the buildings will be structured as well as when we discuss project based learning opportunities.
Have your really thought about other possible configurations?
We have. The district has been working since September gathering feedback from staff, parents and the community on the priorities of any configuration. We have looked at student enrollment projections over the next 6 years and have identified the configuration that puts all of our buildings, with the exception of the high school which is a bit lower, at around 75-85% capacity. This gives the district room to grow without asking the taxpayers to pass a bond for new construction.
Why don’t we just build a new building?
That is an excellent question. The district, throughout this school year, has been working with a steering committee consisting of community members, parents, and staff members. We have discussed this question several times, and, at this time, the thought is that we need to look at ways to use our existing buildings since we do have additional space before we would request taxpayers to pass a bond. The reconfiguration plan that will be implemented in the 2017-18 school year allows “room to grow” in each of the 6 buildings. When looking at all of our options, it was determined that we work through this reorganization process as a way not only to utilize building capacity but also improve programming options for our students.
What are the next steps?
All of the feedback that has been gathered these past few months will be shared with the Board of Education. We will review the comments, questions and concerns and see if there are areas of the proposed plan that we would want to adjust. Please know that the Board has spent many months researching and reviewing data and feedback regarding the district reorganization and will make the best decision based on improved programming for all of our students.
How can I get involved?We would love to have you serve on one of our Reorganization Committees. You can sign up for a committee of your choice by using the form below. If you have problems accessing the form, please contact us at 517.424.7318 and we will be happy to sign you up for a committee.
Dr Coffin recently presented the District Reorganization to the Chamber of Commerce to open a dialogue with the local business community. Here is her slide show from that presentation.
Thank you for all of the time your have taken to fill out surveys and participate in meetings, and for your patience while the Board of Education considered all of the facts presented by the Strategic Planning Committee about the possibilities around a District Reorganization. Below you can watch the presentation of the Reorganization Plan that was presented at the May 9th Board of Education Meeting.
Using the form below you can indicate which Reorganization Committees you would be interested in serving on. Thank you again for all of your support as we go through this process.