Michigan Association of School Administrators

Service | Leadership | Collaboration | Excellence

2012 Winners' Circle Inductees

The following administrators were inducted into the MASA Winners' Circle in January of 2012 at the Midwitner Conference in Detroit.



Academic mentoring program for at-risk African American male students

Dr. JoAnn Andrees, West Bloomfield School District
With Brian Flaggs, General Chair, West Bloomfield African American Parents Association

West Bloomfield School District’s academic mentoring program for at-risk African American male students aims to  improve the academic standing of a growing student population of struggling African American males, thereby closing the achievement gap. Students with the lowest GPAs were selected to participate in the groundbreaking program that was endorsed by the West Bloomfield African American Parent Association. Several African American male staff and community members volunteered to participate as the group met monthly with parents and students, teaching organizational and study skills. Clear goals on improving parent and student skills in building confidence and school navigation were established. Each student kept a journal and progress reports were routinely monitored.

Sessions included African American male guest speakers relating their own struggles as well as students sharing their personal and academic challenges. The group empowered and motivated the young men as GPAs improved by at least one  grade point. Attitudes towards school dramatically improved as well as relationships between parent and child. Aspirations were lifted and these young men developed as school leaders. One student led a workshop at Oakland Schools Youth Forum at Oakland University to tell his journey. Another participated in the Oakland County Superintendents Summer Workshop. Of the students who started the program, two went to college this fall with a renewed attitude and interest in their learning.  Three students are seniors this year, and are all on track for graduation and attending college afterwards. The success of this effort was due to parent involvement in every meeting and a supportive environment for students. Helping parents help students led to better achievement on the part of the student. A similar program is planned at the middle school level.




Armada Middle Academy of Arts and Sciences (AMA2S)

Dr. Arnold A. Kummerow, Armada Area Schools

The Armada Middle Academy of Arts and Sciences (AMA2S)“school within a school” is a dynamic and unique middle school learning experience. More than 150 students in grades 6-8 (50 percent Armada , 50 percent area districts) participate in this regional half-day experience.  The program is high-challenge/low-threat where students are engaged in real-world research using sophisticated technology with research teams that investigate and report on a “problem” of their choice.  AMA2S serves low- as well as high-performing districts in Macomb and adjacent counties.  AMA2S engages middle school students in the critical and creative thinking that is essential to high achievement in STEM areas, where the need for creative, skilled mathematics and science graduates is near critical.  Students exiting this program transfer high school credits into ninth grade, accelerating their high school STEM-based class options. The establishment of AMA2S was partially funded through a grant received from the U.S. Department of Education for the expansion of Armada’s high school math/science center (MA2S).

Today, AMA2S students are outperforming comparison groups in mathematics at grades six and seven (grade 8 students were not included in the analysis). Moreover,  100 percent of AMA2S students tested met or exceeded state standards in mathematics.  Armada Middle School teachers who instruct our AMA2S students in other subjects (E/LA, social studies, etc.) report that the academy students are significantly more independent, inquisitive and eager to perform than many other students in those classes.  Presently, Armada is beginning the process of providing professional development opportunities to all middle school teachers that will assist them in integrating AMA2S instructional strategies in general classrooms.




C.O.R.E. (Central Office Reading Enrichment) program

Mark Greathead, Woodhaven-Brownstown
With Andrea Stevenson, Director of Curriculum

As part of the C.O.R.E. (Central Office Reading Enrichment) program, each central office employee in the Woodhaven-Brownstown  "adopted" a first grade classroom in the district (15 in all), committing to spend time reading with them for a half-hour each month.  The books are carefully chosen for alignment with grade level expectations for 1st graders. The readings also include discussion about what is being read with suggested questions provided to the C.O.R.E. readers. Frequent meetings are held where readers can share their experiences with each other about how to streamline the process by deciding what works well and what does not. After each visit, the book is left for the classroom library.  Administrators, secretaries, and other support staff from central office are participating in the program, getting into the school buildings and making a connection with students and teachers.

Each classroom takes on a unique "personality."  Some classes will correspond in writing with their C.O.R.E. reader in between readings while Others act out parts and incorporate local characters into the stories. One line from an email sent by CORE reader sums up the program best: “I think this program is not only good for the students, but the staff as well since it visually reminds us all why we are ultimately here."




Cultural Exchange Program

Christopher Loria, Lake Shore Public Schools

Superintendent Christopher Loria has developed a long-term partnership with a foreighn language school in Beijing, China. In 2009, the district obtained SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) status as a public school, thereby allowing students from China to attend school here for twelve months.  Lake Shore has gained valuable cultural experiences by hosting students on weekends and planned activities.  An available district building was renovated into dorms and classrooms for visiting students to take advantage of this international educational opportunity.  Since 2008, students from Lake Shore have been visiting and staying at the Beijing school for two-week periods every other year.

Since 2009, the cultural exchange program has already brought over approximately 170 students and 10 teachers to visit Lake Shore all the way from Beijing. The program has also allowed approximately 75 Lake Shore students and 20 teachers/staff to visit the foreign language school in Beijing.  An elementary building was converted to dorms, in 2011, to house 110 students and teachers.



Custodial Training Portfolio program

Jeff Mills / Tom Surprise, Van Buren ISD
With Tom Surprise, Volunteer Supervisor

Tom Surprise, a retired hospital maintenance supervisor, wanted to find a way to give back and teach the skills he had learned to others. He found the perfect audience amongst the residents of the Van Buren ISD community-based transition center. The center is home to students with disabilities ranging in age from 19-26. Thanks to Mr. Surprise, these students now receive training in a variety of cleaning methods all of which satisfy hospital cleaning standards, some of the highest cleaning standards in existence.

The goal of the program is to help students learn to be independent by teaching them the skills to help them find employment. Students are routinely tested to ensure they have mastered the appropriate skills for the work place. The students are able to hone their skills by maintaining the transition center. The students are so proficient that no outside cleaning services are needed (something that has saved the district money.) After the students complete each portion of the training they are given a certificate and their “custodial training portfolio,” a three-ring binder containing their credentials.  After graduating many students go on to find employment in the field of custodial services. Companies have been impressed by the skill level of the students and by the portfolios, which detail clearly the students’ abilities.




Frontiers program

Dr. Thomas Reeder, Wyoming Public Schools
With Al Vigh

In 2007, having realized that the nature of education is changing, the Michigan Department of Education asked school districts to create ideas that allowed for a non-traditional approach to schooling. Wyoming Public Schools’ response to this challenge was the Frontiers Program. By allowing students to help design their course load, they are able to better direct the focus of their education as it relates to their goals and career ambitions. By allowing for the flexibility to take all or some classes online, the program is able to reach out to students who are unable to participate in the traditional high school experience. Additionally, the program appeals to honors students who desire a faster pace than an ordinary high school offers. Students in the frontier program may set their own pace, allowing for the possibility of early graduation. Students enrolled in the frontier program are in no way cut off from the traditional high school experience. Students are allowed to participate in after school activities and sports. Each student is assigned a mentor who works as a teacher at the school.

After the implementation of the program the results are in. Over 30 percent of the students involved with the frontiers program graduate in less than four years. At risk students are seeing a 50 percent greater graduation rate. Additionally, the program is seeing a 20 percent higher rate of college entrance than the peer high school.  The frontiers program’s success is not going unnoticed. The program is serving as the model for similar programs around the state.




Peer to Peer

Corey Netzley, Hemlock Public School District

With Kim Ross, Special Education Supervisor, Saginaw Intermediate School District (SISD); Beth VanSumeren, Teacher Consultant for Autistic Spectrum Disorder, SISD; Karen Kalina, Speech Pathologist, SISD; Mike Vondette, Hemlock High School Principal; Bonnie McInerney, Christy Granda, Stacey Schuknecht, amd Madeline Curtiss, Special Education Teachers; and Diane Mulvaney, Special Education Paraprofessional

In order to meet the needs of a growing ASD (autism spectrum disorder) population, the Hemlock Public School District implemented the Peer to Peer project six years ago. The goal of the project was to foster greater independence, socialization, and communication skills for this growing sector of special needs students. Rather than isolating them,  ASD students are assigned a peer from the general student body that is tasked with assisting them with reaching the goals outlined in the program by checking assignments, reading quizzes, providing feedback, and acting as role models.  These LINK students keep a daily journal of their interactions and summarize their experience in a paper at the end of each marking period. A paraprofessional oversees the project and works with the students on a daily basis offering help where needed.

During the first year eight LINK students participated in the mentoring program. The second year saw that number increase to 30. For the past four years, between 50 and 80 LINK students have signed up for the program each year. Approximately 300 general education students have participated in the program since it began. Recently, the project was presented to a neighboring ISD by two of the LINK peers and a high functioning ASD student. Since the project began, the high school has seen dramatic improvements in friendship and discipline, while at the same time witnessing a decline in bullying. Self esteem, in the LINK peers and the ASD students, has shown a dramatic rise. One ASD student was named homecoming king by his classmates and was taught how to dance by his LINK peer.





Project SEARCH Internship Program

Donald Spencer, Monroe County Intermediate School District
With Bill Hite, Michelle Brahaney, Dawn Peterson


The Project SEARCH Internship Program is a collaboration between the Monroe County Intermediate School District, Mercy Memorial Hospital System, Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth, Monroe County Community Mental Health Authority, Lake Erie Transit, and Goodwill Industries of Southeast Michigan. The program is designed to provide students with disabilities work experience combined with educational instruction and supported employment services. The Project SEARCH program provides internships throughout the MMHS organization where students learn competitive, marketable, transferable skills to assist them in achieving their employment goals. The student interns work in areas throughout the hospital including the Dietary, Operating Room, Emergency Room, Ambulatory Surgery, Logistics, Human Resources, Housekeeping, Warehouse, Infusion, Laboratory, Daycare, and Outpatient Rehabilitation departments as well as the gift shop, nursing floors and nursing care center. Monroe County’s Project SEARCH is modeled on a program that began at Cincinnati (OH) Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996.

In the two years of its operation, 20 Project SEARCH interns have completed their educational programs. Ten young adults who participated in Project SEARCH are currently employed. All of the students have acquired marketable skill sets that will assist them in seeking job placement.




The Singing Hands program

Dr. Jan C. Amsterburg
With John Miller, GIRESD

The Singing Hands program is a performance consisting of students with a hearing loss ranging in age from 2 to 26. The Singing Hands program allows students to experience music in their language: American Sign Language (ASL.) Students perform through dance, using student-made props and costumes to create a more meaningful experience for all involved. When the program began, only a handful of family members comprised the audience. Over the years, attendance has grown to include community members and members of the Deaf Community. Local colleges (Lansing Community College) and universities (Central Michigan University) now require their students to attend the performance as part of their ASL/interpreter training programs.

Since using this medium to expose our students to music, dance, and performing, many have gone on to pursue these newfound interests on their own. For example, last year, a second grade Deaf student went to Detroit to audition for a music video. Some have gone on to join local dance studios while others have chosen to join the school band. Not only does this program allow students with a hearing loss to experience music, dance, and performing, but to put it all on, they must learn to work together. Students assist in creating props, costumes, song selection, and choreography. The students have become such an inspiration to other Deaf and hard of hearing students that many people come from all over the state to watch their performance.

In the past, they have been invited to perform for Alma College, Michigan State University, and Central Michigan University. They have also been asked by several of the local schools to come and perform for their student bodies.



T.E.A.M. 21

Dr. Thomas Reeder, Wyoming Public Schools

T.E.A.M. 21 is a holistic after-school and summer program that fosters academic, social, and emotional growth by providing meaningful activities implemented by a caring staff. T.E.A.M. 21 is a partnership between Wyoming Public Schools and the City of Wyoming, Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, Godwin Heights Public Schools, and Kelloggsville Public Schools. Every day around 500 students (800 in the summer) come to nine program sites for academic support, fitness, character education, service learning, and life skills.  The program also provides snacks and meals daily through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. In the 2009-2010 year T.E.A.M. 21 served 1,396 students. 

T.E.A.M. 21 has enjoyed both growth and success in its varied areas of focus since its inception more than seven years ago.  A 2008 health study by the University of Florida concluded that “T.E.A.M. 21 is positively affecting the health, social, and character development of students in the program.”  T.E.A.M. 21 has been  recognized by west Michigan NBC affiliate WOOD TV 8, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Association of School Boards.  The Michigan Department of Education, after an on-site visit, called T.E.A.M. 21 ”an exemplary program that is a model for the entire State of Michigan.”

Recent perception data (complied August 2011) showed over 95 percent of parents reporting that T.E.A.M. 21 either met or exceeded their expectations both in general, and also specifically, in reading and math and physical, social and emotional health. Teacher responses to a similar survey  showed nearly all teachers reporting growth in the area of reading, math, and social skills, along with overall improvement in preparedness for the coming school year. 




VR-Tech High School

Brian Davis, Holland Public Schools
With Deborah Feenstra, VR-Tech High School Director

VR-Tech High School is a learning lab platform high school for alternative education students that bridges life skills, career development, credit recovery, employment, and post-secondary options using E2020 as a platform. Students earn 28 credits for a Holland High School diploma, or 18 credits for a VR Tech diploma that’s accepted by the military, technical schools and community colleges. Wrap around services from over 20 different agencies round out the program to ensure success. According to the director of the VR-Tech High School, Deborah Feenstra: “Today everybody needs something more than high school to be successful. Our most serious students dropped out for a while, and now realize how important a diploma is, not as an end but to progress to more training.”

With an enrollment of over 200 students from seven different local districts, the school has been recognized by the Human Relations Commission of the City of Holland earning a humanitarian award for advancing the cause of social justice and human dignity in the core city. The program, now serving 174 students, in its third year, has seen nearly 100 students graduate or return to Holland High School. Total behavior referrals have dropped by 32 percent in the secondary program, 27 percent of major offenses have dropped, and behavioral referrals have decreased by 41 percent. Average daily attendance is over 90 percent as a result of students being able to attend 2/3 sessions morning, afternoon, and evening.


Honorable Mention: Blended Learning Environment


David M. Richards, Ph.D., Fraser Public Schools

In addition to standard courses, Fraser High School now offers a “blended learning environment,” combining face-to-face classes and online classes. The staff at Fraser High School implemented four blended courses which served 101 students during the second semester of the 2010-11 school year. The rapid growth of the program has demonstrated to the staff the need to provide learning opportunities in a flexible manner. These courses were a tremendous success and resulted in 9 blended courses being offered during the 2011-12 school year with 309 students enrolled. All of the courses are taught by existing staff members and utilize curriculum which has been developed through our Professional Learning Community (PLC) process.

The program will continue to expand for the 2012-13 school year when 21 blended courses will be offered along with 8 totally online courses. Preliminary findings are showing students are achieving at or above the level of the face-to-face courses.




Honorable Mention:International Baccalaureate (IB) Program


Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Southfield Public Schools

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program,  under the leadership of Dr. Cook-Robinson, Superintendent of Southfield Public Schools, has been established and designed at two schools within the district to increase student achievement in a rapidly globalizing world.

Both Thompson K-8 International Academy and Southfield-Lathrup High School  have earned IB designations for three programs. The Primary Years Program (PYP) for pupils aged 3-12 focuses on the development of the whole child in the classroom and in the world outside. The Middle Years Program (MYP) for students aged 11-16 provides a framework of academic challenge and life skills through embracing and transcending traditional school subjects. The Diploma Program (DP) for students aged 16-19 is a demanding two-year curriculum that meets needs of highly motivated students, and leads to qualifications recognized by leading universities around the world.

The implementation of the IB program at SPS has contributed to the district’s more than 91 percent graduation rate, with 93 percent of SPS graduates attending 4- or 2-year college, university or technical schools. Students enrolled in the IB program exhibit increased academic achievement, have exemplary leadership and social skills, and are often involved in extracurricular school and community activities.





Honorable Mention: ISD-wide collaborative RtI model


Stanley S. Kogut, Jr., Ingham Intermediate School district

Three years ago under leadership of Stanley Kogut Jr., all 12 districts in the Ingham ISD service area made a unified commitment to system reform to ensure each student reaches their maximum potential through an RtI initiative. Our ISD-wide collaborative RtI model empowers local districts, through shared leadership, to develop and implement research-based strategies, structures and systems that lead to improved student outcomes.  Collectively, the superintendents have become stronger leaders through this RtI initiative and they are laser focused on closing the achievement gap. Strong data results indicate that the commitment to RtI was the right choice.

All 12 districts in the Ingham ISD service area are working together on RtI with over 90 buildings participating in at different levels.  Additonally, 30 pre-school classrooms participate in RtI. Since its inception, the data shows upward trends on oral reading fluency—specifically upward trends of 9 percent of 5th graders and 7 percent of third graders—all while seeing a reduction in special education referrals.




Honorable Mention: Key Communicator program


Keith Wunderlich, New Haven Community Schools

Every other Friday Keith Wunderlich sends out his “Key Communicator” email to all staff members as well as any interested parents and community members. The label “key communicator” applies to everyone who subscribes to the email. The goal was to reach a large number of people who would in turn share the information with those directly around them. Recently, Keith invited all the key communicators to a special VIP breakfast where virtual interactions could be turned into real life interactions.

Key Communicator members are now 130 strong. That's in addition to all 170 staff members who automatically receive it. A total of 300 people receive a Key Communicator email directly. Others access it via the district web site. Some access it via the district facebook page.

The text alert system has 51 opt-in members. the service only started two weeks ago. Many more people are expected to join as more information is disseminated about the service. 




Honorable Mention: National Elementary Honor Society Initiative


Ann M. Cardon, Holton Public Schools
With Carol Dawson, Elementary Principal

The National Elementary Honor Society was established in 2008, allowing high-achieving elementary students the same enrichment opportunities available to elite middle- and high-school students since 1921.  Carol Dawson, principal of Holton elementary school, immediately saw this as a great opportunity for her elementary students. By the start of the 2009 school year her application had already been accepted and a new chapter of The National Elementary Honor Society had been started. The process to become a part of the ENHS is as rigorous as it is for secondary students. Applicants must have high grades, letters of recommendations, good behavior, and submit a written essay. The students have engaged in a variety of community outreach activities and have taken on leadership roles in school.

The school district has seen increased participation over the years with 73 students between the ages of 9 and 12 as members.  The students are respected and display a leadership presence during school hours and at school functions. A young man who struggled with behavior problems over the last two years recently shared this with an adult: "Do you see those boys over there shoving each other? I can't be a part of that anymore because I am a member of the ENHS now."




Honorable Mention: Political Leadership initiative


Dr. JoAnn Andrees, West Bloomfield School District
With Mara Hoffert, Assistant Principal, and Katherine Law, Political Leadership Teacher, West Bloomfield High School

Political Leadership is a year-long initiative that places students in two diverse, semester-long internships in the public service field. The initiative, implemented by West Bloomfield High School, was  designed to give students an experiential, authentic learning experience in civic participation.

This program aspires to instill a value of public service and awareness of diversity. Students receive a first-hand glimpse of the challenges and rewards that a career in civic participation has to offer. Students have been placed with the West Bloomfield Township, 48th District Court, attorneys, politicians, and West Bloomfield School District. They have been trained in communication, motivation, networking, professionalism and other skill sets. Students are attending hearings, using technology to enhance offices, working on campaigns, and having an experience of a lifetime.



Honorable Mention: Universal Breakfast in the Classroom Program


Patricia Walstra, Orchard View Schools
With Pam Snow, Principal

Thanks to Orchard View Schools 'Universal Breakfast in the Classroom Program,’ all students, regardless of their family income, are eigible to eat breakfast at no cost, every school day. Three years ago, Chartwell's Food Service, Pat Walstra and elementary school principal Pam Snow met with union representation to pilot an elementary breakfast program. Committees were formed including administration, union reps,custodians, food service and teachers to discuss the feasibility of providing breakfast in the classroom to 850 elementary children. The following year the Early Childhood Center and middle school were added.  This year the high school was added to the program.  Over 80 percent of the Orchard school population (2000 students) partake in this no cost breakfast program. Benefits reveal a decrease in discipline and student tardiness, increases in student attentiveness and attendance; and generally improved learning conditions. Children are not hungry the first few hours of school and can focus on learning.

Breakfast is delivered to each classroom the first 10 - 15 minutes of the day.  Teachers have reading and student planning time during breakfast. Students learn responsibility and assist in the distribution and clean up of the breakfast. The District is able to offset designated food service and custodial costs to the food service budget for this service.  Since the implementaion of the breakfast program the school has seen a decrease in disciplinary action and student tardiness, increases in student attentiveness and attendance, and generally improved learning conditions.