#Armada Achieves

A tour de force. That was my experience after spending a remarkable day in Armada Area Schools on the northern edge of Macomb County, a remote exurb of Detroit that manages to retain its country character. If the world is flat in 2015, Armada is a fine example. As the guest of Assistant Superintendent Phil Jankowski and Superintendent Mike Musary I was amazed at the robust programs coupled with a small-town ethic of accountability and community. In Armada there is very much a feeling that “we’re all in this together” as everybody certainly seems to know everybody. More importantly, people in Armada are proud of what they’ve built and what they do for their students. Even Phil’s daughter, a s


“Hey, G, could you explain how to solve this equation?” Dave Groenenboom has been working in alternative education at the high school level for over 29 years. He is at the top of his game. There is no question that Dave is almost engineered to work in alternative ed. He understands the myriad challenges that students at risk face and offers consistent, differentiated instruction across all mathematics disciplines simultaneously. Dave gets his kids. He knows it and so do they. Like so many skilled alternative ed teachers, there is a deep and abiding love that Dave displays when he faces kids who are struggling. His patience is manifest in the way he proposes a variety of options for kids who

Captivating Career and Technical Education

Amazing! I was astounded by what I experienced at the Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northeast. Students highly engaged in meaningful learning. An extraordinary breadth of course offerings and career paths. Passionate instructors who are expert educators and leaders in their field. My antiquated understanding of Career and Technical Education was blown to pieces the moment I walked onto the sprawling campus. The atmosphere was very professional and businesslike. The students were all very actively involved and their work was purposeful. Young people from high schools across northeast Oakland County eagerly arrive from their home schools to spend a half day working in a career path that is

Extraordinary Learning for All

Warren Woods Middle School is brimming with the kind of engaged teaching and learning that both left me breathless and filled my spirit. When I entered Todd Bloch’s science class I was immediately captivated by the high energy and dynamic learning environment. Students were so involved in hands-on, minds-on learning that I found myself yearning to sit right down and join them. The 6th graders were motivated by the chance to get messy as they learned about changing states of matter through mixing corn starch and water to make oobleck, the mythical substance of Dr. Seuss fame. In 7th grade science class, students used their choice of media to depict mitosis in animal cells. The opportunity to

Celebrating Diversity Through Extraordinary Engagement

East Kentwood High School is a marvelous microcosm of the world’s rich cultural tapestry. On a recent visit I experienced a welcoming atmosphere and the way that comfortable vibe empowered students whose families come from around the globe. I began my day in Luke Wilcox’s classroom where he applied the power of story to contextualize statistics in ways that made the data eminently relevant and comprehensible to his learners. In Chad VanHouten’s AP Biology class, students imagined new organisms in their study of genetics. Chad prides himself on encouraging students who come from underrepresented minority groups to experience the captive breeding and hands-on learning that makes this class utt