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A SPECIAL SECTION OF THE OAKLAND PRESS | SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

DISCOVER THE DIFFERENCE AT ROYAL OAK NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

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ROYAL OAK NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

DISCOVER THE DIFFERENCE

With student achievement driving all decisions, Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools is poised for the future

By JANE PETERSON

Special to The Oakland Press

Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools hasn't been immune to the economic challenges, but district leaders have always made budget decisions thoughtfully and with input from the community. As a result, the district has been able to maintain its low teacherstudent ratios, high level of student achievement and array of extra-curricular activities, athletics and fine arts.

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hile the news that school districts across the state need to trim their costs because of dwindling funding resources isn't a surprise to most, there are certain sacrifices parents aren't willing to make when it comes to their children's education. Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools hasn't been immune to the economic challenges, but district leaders have always made budget decisions thoughtfully and with input from the community. As a result, the district has been able to maintain its low teacher-student ratios, high level of student achievement and array of extracurricular activities, athletics and fine arts. "We know where the real business of the school district is conducted ­ the classroom," said Superintendent Dr. Thomas Moline. Strong schools create strong neighborhoods and the tight-knit Royal Oak community has been supportive of the district's efforts. When tough decisions have to be made, like consolidating Kimball and Dondero high schools into one Royal Oak High School, it proves that district leaders are working hard to be good stewards of taxpayers' money. The district reviews its priorities with student success in mind. Its buildings are equipped for the latest technology and teachers are well trained on how to use the Internet and other modern resources to access information, teach and network. "Royal Oak has a quality group of educators dedicated to students," said Cheryl Goodgine, Executive Director, Administrative Services. "Teachers consider students' individual needs to motivate, teach and support them." "Our teachers love what they do," she said. "They love and care about kids." Student programs and services continue to be a priority. Royal Oak High School offers a plethora of college-level coursework, the International Baccalaureate Programme continues to expand and extracurricular activities and after school clubs remain strong. Thanks to actions like these, Royal Oak students are thriving. Each year the district administrators, teachers, parents and students celebrate test scores that are higher than the Oakland County and state averages. Last year 69 percent of Royal Oak High School students qualified for the Michigan Promise Scholarship. Their efforts aren't going unnoticed. Even in these tough economic times, the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools increased its student population this year, said Dr. Moline.

It's a combination of committed instruction and strong support by parents in the home and people in the community that make students and the district so successful, said Dr. Moline. Goodgine agreed. She said parents and teachers are working toward the same goal: To help students in all aspects to be well rounded individuals. "We have good people, good programs and a great location in the Metro Detroit area with a wealth of resources," she said. Parents are welcome in the schools and information about the district is shared freely with them as well as the general community. Dr. Moline said "We have lots of outreach in the neighborhoods," he said. District leaders understand that all residents play an important role so they work hard to communicate financial data to everyone so they get proof of the investment they are making in Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools. They also invite grandparents and the general public to the schools with various events throughout the year. Royal Oak is made up of several neighborhood schools: Royal Oak High School, Royal Oak Middle School, Jane Addams elementary, Oak Ridge elementary, Upton elementary, Northwood elementary, Helen Keller elementary and Oakland elementary. The district serves 5,300 students in these schools as well as a top-rated alternative and adult education at Churchill Community Education Center and numerous early childhood programs at Jane Addams Early Childhood Center. To learn more about Royal Oak schools, visit www. royaloakschools.com.

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

Students in Royal Oak Middle School are prepared to answer a teacher's question.

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

A young reader in teacher Kari Griesbaum's reading class at Oak Ridge Elementary School looks forward to the next page.

To learn more about Royal Oak Schools, visit www.royaloakschools.com or contact the appropriate building below

· Royal Oak High School 1500 Lexington (248) 435-8500 Michael Greening, Principal · Royal Oak Middle School 709 N. Washington (248) 541-7100 Cecilia Boyer, Principal · Helen Keller Elementary 1505 North Campbell (248) 542-6500 John Houghton, Principal · Jane Addams Elementary 2222 West Webster (248) 288-3100 Judith Juneau, Principal · Northwood Elementary 926 West Twelve Mile (248) 541-0229 Carole Benedict, Principal · Oakland Elementary 2415 Brockton (248) 542-4406 David Pontzious, Principal · Oak Ridge Elementary 506 East Thirteen Mile (248) 588-8353 Zoe Marcus, Principal · Upton Elementary 4400 Mandalay (248) 549-4968 Sharon Ivascu, Principal

SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

ROYAL OAK NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

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Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

`CHANGE FOR THE BETTER'

A Message from Superintendent Dr. Thomas L. Moline

xcellent instruction and high student achievement continue as a hallmark of the School District of the City of Royal Oak. For over eight decades, our public school system continues as a leader in student achievement within the State of Michigan and within Oakland County. Thanks to excellent preparation, Royal Oak public school graduates find many opportunities Dr. Thomas Moline for higher education at some of the best colleges and universities in Michigan as well as throughout the United States. Teacher-to-student ratios in Royal Oak continue to remain some of the lowest in Oakland County and the optimal learning climate creates great results. Though grading systems do not describe all of our system's strengths, the majority of schools within the Royal Oak public school system attained an "A" rating for performance in the past year as determined by Michigan's Education Assessment Program (MEAP) and federal No Child Left Behind expectations. Despite the economic problems and school funding shortages that continue to be experienced in Michigan, the administrative leadership and instructional staff in the Royal Oak public school system continue to create

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new service and program options for students. Many students elect to remain at school long after the instructional day. Ample after-school opportunities such as athletics, clubs, service opportunities and performing arts programs continue to keep our students engaged within their school and on campus into late afternoon and early evening hours. Teachers at all grade levels come together regularly to focus on the specific needs of individual students and develop individualized instruction based on a child's interest and talents. More effort is being directed to understanding our interconnected world and the part each student may play as an educated adult. The study of other nations and other cultures is now an emerging aspect of a Royal Oak public education as our school system expands its affiliation with International Baccalaureate programming. The bonds between teacher, student and especially parents have increased dramatically in the School District of the City of Royal Oak by major investment in digital communication. Today, parents in the Royal Oak school system can have the equivalent of an online parent/teacher conference at their liberty. Pinnacle Internet Viewer allows parents to see what is happening with their child in class on a daily basis and what is expected in the near future. Imbedded messaging systems allow for daily personal interaction between teacher and parent. Each school building in the Royal

Oak school district has its own website, but now teachers in the school system are going one step further in creating their own classroom websites. Drupal is the newest addition to the software toolkit of Royal Oak teachers that provides regularly updated information about classroom operations. The past four years have been busy times for public school facility improvement in our community's public schools. The Royal Oak community approved a major facility improvement bond in 2005. Since then, Royal Oak High School and Royal Oak Middle School have been commissioned and exemplify the movement in our community to facility renovation, planned reuse and new construction. Three additional elementary schools were also renovated and upgraded with the latest in operating infrastructure. Our building program recently culminated with the dedication of the new Northwood Elementary School. Change is a constant in today's world. Despite economic challenges in our region, change for the better is the intention of the School District of the City of Royal Oak. I encourage you to please read on in the following pages and see for yourself. Sincerely, Dr. Thomas L. Moline Superintendent

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ROYAL OAK NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

FOUNDATION FOR LEARNING

Children get a good start to a great education at Jane Addams Early Childhood Center

By JANE PETERSON

Special to The Oakland Press

The teachers at the Jane Addams Early Childhood Center know that children learn best through play. That's why they introduce and explore specific academic concepts in a developmentally appropriate and individualized manner as children go about their normal activities.

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hen a child builds a block tower, she's learning about the laws of gravity. As she puts a puzzle together, she's mastering spatial concepts. Scribbling in a coloring book helps her build fine motor skills. The teachers at the Jane Addams Early Childhood Center know that children learn best through play. That's why they introduce and explore specific academic concepts in a developmentally appropriate and individualized manner as children go about their normal activities. "It's a great place for kids," said Supervisor Karen Andersen. "It's warm and inviting and the staff is awesome." The facility is equipped with everything young children need to learn and play. In addition to individual classrooms, there are two enclosed playgrounds specially designed for 2-5 year olds, said Andersen. Students have access to the school's gymnasium and there is also a gross motor skills room where students play in a safe, structured area to they burn off energy when the weather is uncooperative. The staff continuously completes training that keeps them knowledgeable about current best practices. As a result, the Jane Addams Early Childhood Center is constantly updating its programs so children benefit from the latest research. An example of this are changes to the center's Early Intervention Program. Designed for children birth to age 3 with developmental delays, in the past children would come to the Early Childhood Center accompanied by their parents for speech and language, occupational and/or physical therapy or support services, said Andersen. Children would typically attend two or three times weekly depending on their needs. However, this fall all that changed and services are now provided in the students' natural environment. "Research shows that these young children fare better in their own environment," said Andersen. "The staff will go to the student, rather than the student coming to them."

The program is only for students who live in the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools District. Similar to the Early Intervention Program is the Early Childhood Program. This program is for preschoolers ages 3-6 who live in the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools District and have been identified with a delay in one or more of the following areas: speech and language, emotional or social development, motor development, hearing, vision, or acquiring new skills. For families who qualify, there is no cost for the program. The center offers many programs that prepare children for future success in school. Those gearing up for kindergarten will get their academic career off to a great start with the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP). This is a fully licensed, state-funded program based on a curriculum to prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten. Sessions meet in the morning or afternoon

PLEASE SEE EARLY CHILDHOOD/PAGE 5

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

Two students in teacher Sue Ellen Mentag's Great Start Readiness Program at Jane Addams Early Childhood Education Center help put the finishing touches on a gingerbread man.

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Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

For more information

Jane Addams Early Childhood Center is located at 2222 W. Webster in Royal Oak. To learn more about the programs it offers, call the appropriate number below: · (248) 288-3220, ext. 3582 for the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) · (248) 288-3220, ext. 3561 for the Preschool Programs · (248) 288-3220, ext. 0 for the Child Care Program · (248) 288-3220, ext. 3568 for the Early Childhood Program · (248) 288-3220, ext. 3565 or ext. 3568 for the Early Intervention Program · (248) 288-3220, ext. 3561 for the Young Oaks Program · (248) 288-3220, ext. 3561 for the Acorn Program

Preschool & Child Care Open House

The 11th Annual Preschool and Child Care Information Night sponsored by the Royal Oak Public Library will be held at Northwood Elementary School on Monday, January 25, from 7-8 p.m. Representatives of the Jane Addams Early Childhood Center will be on hand to talk to parents and answer questions about the various programs offered.

EARLY CHILDHOOD

FROM PAGE 4

Monday-Thursday. GSRP is open to all families on a tuition basis, but there is no cost to participate for Royal Oak families who meet specific criteria defined by the state. The Preschool Program emphasizes gross motor skills, small group activities, songs, stories, creative arts and social interaction. The classes, which meet two days a week for 3-year-olds and three days a week for 4-year-olds, allow children to develop and master these skills while in a safe, positive and supportive classroom setting. The Jane Addams Early Childhood Center provides for the needs of all children. Families who need child care are welcome to visit Addams' Child Care Program for children ages 2 1/2-5. This program offers excellent child care in addition a traditional preschool component. It is open from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday to accommodate parent work schedules. Children can attend on a part-time or full-time basis. For children already in school, the center offers flex-

ible child care programs before and after school. Called the Young Oaks Program, it also offers care on most vacation days, during summer break and for an additional nominal fee, even on snow days. The Acorn Program is an extended day, fee-based program for half-day kindergarten children. The program is a combination of daycare and enrichment. The 11th Annual Preschool and Child Care Information Night sponsored by the Royal Oak Public Library will be held at Northwood Elementary School on Monday, January 25, from 7-8 p.m. Representatives of the Jane Addams Early Childhood Center will be on hand to talk to parents and answer questions about the various programs offered, including: · Early Childhood Program for preschoolers ages three through six · Early Intervention Program for children ages birth through three · Preschool Program for three- and four-year-olds · Young Oaks Before and After School Child Care Program · Acorn Kindergarten Enrichment Program · Great Start Readiness Program · Child Care Program for 2 1/2- to 5-year-olds.

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

Students in the 4-year-old Child Care Program, taught by teachers Martha Erwin and Mary Covey, at Jane Addams Early Childhood Education Center certainly seem to be enjoying themselves.

We wish Royal Oak Schools continued success in their mission to create a world class learning system.

248-409-1111 www.delta-ns.com

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ROYAL OAK NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

ACADEMIC GROWTH

Elementary schools help students develop the skills they need to foster a life-long love of learning

By JANE PETERSON

Special to The Oakland Press

While each of the six elementary schools has its own unique characteristics, school community and programs based on the needs and interests of the students it serves, all share a common goal: To help students reach their full academic potential.

lementary school is an exciting time of academic growth for students. As they learn routines, master skills and make friends, they discover the world around them and build a strong foundation for learning that will serve them well throughout their lifetimes. Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools has six elementary schools. While each has its own unique characteristics, school community and programs based on the needs and interests of the students it serves, all share a common goal: To help students reach their full academic potential. For younger students, an array of projects, story times and learning games sets the stage for learning reading concepts ­ an essential part of the elementary curriculum. "Early literacy is a major piece," said Zoe Marcus, Principal of Oak Ridge Elementary School. Because learning to read is so important, teachers frequently assess students to review their progress. The AIMSweb assessment pinpoints where K-5 students are in reading, as well as writing, math and spelling, and identifies those who need additional support. Early intervention can quickly address gaps in learning. Students receive assistance in the skills they need to strengthen with techniques customized to their learning style. "It's a huge focus," said Marcus. "We all realize that the earlier we try different strategies, the quicker children will get at grade level." If children don't respond to one method of intervention, another approach is taken using the Response to Intervention (RTI) model. A RTI coordinator reviews assessment data and works with students on a variety of strategies as needed, including technology-based programs and one-on-one instruction. Each elementary school implements programs that target the needs of its school community. Upton Elementary, for example, provides a diversified learning environment with a literacy program that groups

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together first and second grade students and third and fourth grade students. Upton is an English as a Second Language (ESL) magnet school for students where a language other than English is spoken in the home. Upton also offers a full day kindergarten program, as does Oakland Elementary. Helen Keller Elementary School is a candidate International Baccalaureate (IB) School offering the Primary Years Programme to students while Jane Addams Elementary School features a multi-age program that uses team teaching concepts and building "pods" to deliver instruction. Pods are family groups of students and teachers who remain together for a minimum of two years. By grouping children in these individualized pods, there are opportunities to quickly identify students who are struggling in specific areas and address them effectively and for children to learn at their own pace as they are paired with other students at similar ability levels.

PLEASE SEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS/PAGE 7

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

A student in the teacher Lois Mann's kindergarten class at Oak Ridge Elementary School takes a break during Computer Lab.

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Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

Oak Ridge Elementary School teacher Mary Kosnik helps her fourthgrade students with their science lesson.

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

A young reader in teacher Kari Griesbaum's firstgrade class at Oak Ridge Elementary School is enjoying her book.

Special to The Oakland Press/ROYAL OAK NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

The new Northwood Elementary School, which consists of three sections: classrooms, a gymnasium and an office/media center, was dedicated in October, 2008.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

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Elementary staff members are focused on student achievement. Marcus described them as caring, positive and forward-thinking. "Everyone is focused on one thing and that's the children," she said. All elementary schools provide fine arts instruction. In addition to K-5 elementary vocal music classes, fourth grade students enjoy violin lessons and fifth graders can opt to participate in band and orchestra classes. Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools is committed to providing teachers with the educational tools they need to prepare students for the future. Marcus said affordable retreats allow teachers to bond with each and work ahead on innovative projects together. A recent retreat led to the implementation of a mentoring program at Oak Ridge Elementary School. Each staff member mentors one or more children who are considered academically at risk by checking in with them weekly. The casual connections reinforce the importance of education, lets them know that an adult cares about them and keeps the children on track with their goals.

"You can see the impact this program has made," said Marcus. Working in conjunction with teachers are parents. Marcus said parents are welcomed into all the elementary buildings and teachers appreciate the volunteer time parents give in the classrooms. Active Parent Teacher Associations offer additional support that directly benefits students as well. The facilities at Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools are designed to meet the needs of young children. Last year the district opened its first new school building since 1964. The new Northwood Elementary School consists of three sections: classrooms, a gymnasium and an office/media center. The classrooms are nearly 1,000 square feet and each is equipped with a drinking fountain, hands-free sink, modern lighting and high-speed Internet access. Students also have access to a 30-station computer lab with new computers and flat-screen monitors and a music room with acoustical panels and a drop ceiling for optimal sound, along with ambient microphones that allow the room to be used for recordings.

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SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

EASING THE TRANSITION

Middle school employs programs designed to nurture the students' social, emotional and academic growth

By JANE PETERSON

Special to The Oakland Press

Formerly the site of Dondero High School, the new Royal Oak Middle School includes fully equipped science labs, computer labs with direct access to the Internet, an excellent swimming pool, state-of-the-art auditorium, regulation gym and outdoor athletic fields.

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iddle school can be a challenging transition for many students, but the staff at Royal Oak Middle School has implemented programs designed to address the unique needs of each student. It starts with establishing relationships between students and adults in the building. Principal Cecilia Boyer said each grade in the building is its own community, or a school within a school, so to speak. Each of the three floors houses a different grade level with classrooms created for teams of students. "It's customized for students at this age level," she said. Students moved into the newly-renovated state-of-theart middle school in 2007. Formerly the site of Dondero High School, the new Royal Oak Middle School includes fully equipped science labs, computer labs with direct access to the Internet, an excellent swimming pool, state-of-the-art auditorium, regulation gym and outdoor athletic fields. Although there are common areas of the school shared by all students, like the computer lab and media center, students generally spend time with their own age group and same team of adults for most of the day. This includes their assistant principal, office secretary and counselor. These adults are assigned to students when they enter middle school in the sixth grade. As the students advance through seventh and eighth grade, they move with the students. They know each student, are familiar with their needs and are ready to help them as needed. Students know they can count on these adults to always be there. "It allows them to get to know the students well," said Boyer. "Students know they have people who know them and they feel like they have a smaller school." This is the third year of the rotation, so the current eighth graders have been the first class to be with their group of adults all three years. The program has been successful, she said. Royal Oak Middle School is in its second year of an International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years' feasibility study that would adjust the curriculum to have an

emphasis on global understanding. Teachers have been learning different ways of delivering lessons using an inquiry-based model that would make students better communicators, more inquisitive learners and more aware of the world around them. "We're committed to preparing students for a successful high school experience and continued success later on in a global society," said Boyer. A presentation on the IB study was made at the school board's December meeting. As Royal Oak Middle School readies for these potential changes, they continue to teach a rigorous, yet flexible curriculum. Students learn to think for themselves through hands-on, relevant lessons. Students also have an opportunity to participate in numerous intramural and competitive sports for boys and girls that enhance the school experience. There's swimming, wrestling, ski club and bowling club as well as basketball, swimming, volleyball and other competitive sports, depending on the season. Offering both

PLEASE SEE MIDDLE SCHOOL/PAGE 9

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

Sixty percent of the students at Royal Oak Middle School made the honor roll the first marking period. The school is also NCA accredited and rated an "A" by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

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Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

FROM PAGE 8

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

intramural and competitive sports allows middle school students to explore new interests without having to compete with students who have been involved in the activity for years. Non-athletic clubs include Model United Nations, Homework Club, Yearbook Club and Chess Club. "They help kids build skills," said Boyer. The school also offers foreign language and many exemplary fine arts programs. There's a sixth and seventh grade vocal music class and eighth grade choir program. The instrumental program is active with a band and orchestra for each grade and three levels of jazz bands. Students at Royal Oak Middle School are thriving. Boyer said 60 percent of students in the building made the honor roll the first marking period. The school is also NCA accredited and rated an "A" by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Middle school students generally spend time with their own age group and same team of faculty and staff for most of the day. These adults are assigned to students when the enter middle school in the sixth grade. As the students advance through seventh and eighth grade, they move with the students. They know each student, are familiar with their needs and are ready to help them as needed. Students know they can count on these adults to always be there.

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SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE

Royal Oak High School continues its remarkable reputation for high achievement in academic, athletic and fine arts

By JANE PETERSON

Special to The Oakland Press

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

The new Bridges class pairs general education students with special needs students. While students connect with each other and develop understanding, compassion and friendship, general education students will benefit from increased leadership skills and special needs students will enjoy one-on-one time with peers their own age.

t Royal Oak High School, teachers are learning right along with students. They continually participate in professional development activities and workshops that keep them up-to-date on current best practices in education and they are always evaluating new programs that will have direct benefits to students. "They are always looking for ways to improve," says Principal Michael Greening. "Every year we get new course proposals that are all teacher-driven." Teachers also receive training in the latest technology that will not only teach students concepts and familiarize them with software programs they will eventually use in the workplace, but also enhance communication between parents, students and staff. The staff is what makes the student academic achievement strong at Royal Oak High School. With the main focus on graduating students ready for post-secondary schools, there is an emphasis on core academics as well as opportunities for students to pursue their interest in athletics, the fine arts, foreign language, career fields and various clubs related to hobbies. "We strive to meet the needs of all students," said Greening. A good example of this is the new Bridges class that will begin next semester. The class pairs general education students one-on-one with special needs students. While students connect with each other and develop understanding, compassion and friendship, general education students will benefit from increased leadership skills and special needs students will enjoy one-on-one time with peers their own age. Students who will be working with special needs students need to apply to the program and complete training before taking the class, said Greening. The school also has programs in place to reach out to those students who aren't achieving grade level benchmarks. Resources like math lab and the credit recovery

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The staff is what makes the student academic achievement strong at Royal Oak High School. With the main focus on graduating students ready for post-secondary schools, there is an emphasis on core academics as well as opportunities for students to pursue their interest in athletics, the fine arts, foreign language, career fields and various clubs related to hobbies. program E2020 are designed to assist those who need another way to master core skills. E2020 is an online learning tool that allows students to progress at their own pace, introducing new concepts as they demonstrate mastery of those they are currently studying. Advanced placement courses give students who are excelling in specific school subjects the opportunity to challenge themselves and potentially earn college credit while still in high school. Last spring Royal Oak High School students took over 500 AP tests, said Greening. Students at Royal Oak High School are very successful in many areas. Students have won numerous fine arts awards, including Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp scholarships, and student journalism awards. The school's Model United Nations Team has received high honors at the University of Michigan Model UN conference in Ann Arbor, receiving several team and individual awards at the event. ROHS students can also participate in various interscholastic boys' and girls' sports and clubs, like Business Professionals of America, Computer Club, Dance Club, Drama Club, National Honor Society, Quiz Bowl and Students for Environmental Awareness.

SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

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Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

GLOBAL ASPIRATIONS

Helen Keller Elementary School is poised to become an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme

By JANE PETERSON

Special to The Oakland Press

The mission of Helen Keller Elementary School as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme school is to be an educational community that empowers all students to become principled, independent inquirers who are socially responsible global citizens.

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Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

Students in teacher Debbie Pawlowski's fifthgrade class work on their assignments.

t's one thing to have a common goal, but quite another to have a common mission. The staff at Helen Keller Elementary School have both. Through the process of being an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) candidate school, the staff took a hard look at what goals they wanted to achieve and then developed a unified course of action to get them there. Kelly Stanesa, International Baccalaureate Coordinator, Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools, outlined the mission: An educational community that empowers all students to become principled, independent inquirers who are socially responsible global citizens. "The Primary Years Programme has moved the Helen Keller staff toward unified educational practices to achieve our mission," she said. "From classroom to classroom, grade level to grade level, teachers are using guided inquiry, open-ended projects, and whole class discussions to teach the curriculum. Students are asked to collaborate in explorations to acquire benchmark knowledge and beyond as well as construct both local and global understandings." John Houghton, Principal of Helen Keller Elementary School, said the staff spent a lot of time rewriting lessons in grades K-5 in order to transform them into an inquiry-based framework. Teachers developed broad units of study designed to deliver the state curriculum objectives in math, language arts, social studies, science, music, art and physical education based on six basic questions or themes: Who Are We; Where Are We in Place and Time; How We Express Ourselves; How the World Works; How We Organize Ourselves; and Sharing the Planet," he said. According to Houghton, by the end of this year, all Helen Keller students will have been exposed to the six units of inquiry. The shift in how lessons are delivered has dramatically impacted students already. "Students are expected to ask questions, share their ideas and take responsibility for finding answers rather than `sit and get' information. They are excited to start new projects and investigate ways to solve problems. And, they are starting to take independent action based on their acquired knowledge and understandings," said Stanesa. While many individual teachers employ these teaching methods, the difference at Helen Keller is that they are consistently implemented across the board. Teachers collaborate together to develop lesson plans that promote inquiry-based learning and assessments that measure how well students understand the task. "It's not hit or miss, once in awhile instruction. Guided inquiry is part of every unit of every grade," said Stanesa. Houghton said the school culture has also changed thanks to a focus on three essential agreements: Be

responsible, be safe and in control and be responsible learners. All introduce the idea of respect and personal responsibility. Student behavior has improved as children consider these essential agreements in their day-today actions. "It's made a wonderful impact," he said. "My biggest smile, my biggest success is the school atmosphere. It's a joy to be out with the kids." Houghton recognizes the huge contributions made by the staff and their commitment to the IB programme methods. Teachers have spent two years being trained in the IB curriculum and teaching methods. Stanesa said they are excited to see their hard work pay off with effective learning strategies and positive changes in their students. Houghton said classroom discussions are now deep and rich as students become immersed in the content matter. He said most students are exceeding grade level expectations as a result. "I'm so happy it happened. There's a feeling of satisfaction," he said. "This has exceeded my expectations." Helen Keller Elementary recently submitted the Primary Years Programme Application Form Part B, said Stanesa. This document, which is approximately 300 pages, describes in detail the make-up of the school and how they have implemented the Primary Years Programme to date, she said. This spring, Helen Keller Elementary will host a visiting IB team that will review the school's progress. She said following this visit, school officials expect to be fully authorized and start the 2010-11 school year as an official IB World School.

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

Faculty and staff at Helen Keller Elementary School have instituted the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, which means its curriculum features broad units of study designed to deliver the state curriculum objectives in math, language arts, social studies, science, music, art and physical education based on six basic questions.

PAGE 12

ROYAL OAK NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

SUNDAY JANUARY 17 2010

Discover the Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools difference. For more information, visit www.royaloakschools.com or call (248) 435-8400.

SCHOOLS OF CHOICE

A Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools education is available to qualified students in grades K-3

By JANE PETERSON

Special to The Oakland Press

Applications are available by calling the district's administrative office at (248) 435-8400 or by downloading online at www.royaloakschools.com. Interested parents are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

D

Open Houses

Open houses will be held at the following dates and times: · April 15, 7 p.m. at Helen Keller Elementary, 1505 N. Campbell Road, (248) 542-6500 · April 21, 7 p.m. at Jane Addams Elementary, 2222 W. Webster, (248) 2883100 · April 21, 7 p.m. at Northwood Elementary, 926 W. 12 Mile Road, (248) 541-0229 · April 21, 7 p.m. at Upton Elementary School, 4400 Mandalay Avenue, (248) 549-4968 · April 22, 7 p.m. at Oakland Elementary, 2415 E. Brockton, (248) 542-4406 · April 28, 7 p.m. at Oak Ridge Elementary, 506 E. 13 Mile Road, (248) 588-8353 For more information, call (248) 435-8400 or visit www.royaloakschools.com.

espite the economic challenges facing school districts today, Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools continues to stand out from the crowd, implementing new programs, upgrading its facilities and installing new technologies. This commitment to academic success and student achievement is appreciated by those who live in Royal Oak and appealing to those who don't. Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools participates in the Schools of Choice program for grades K-3. Applications are available by calling the district's administrative office at (248) 435-8400 or by downloading online at www. royaloakschools.com. Interested parents are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, said Carol Hansen, Executive Director of Student Services. "Once students are accepted under the Schools of Choice guidelines, they are allowed to stay in the district until graduation. Some consideration is also given to students with siblings already attending classes in the district as space allows," said Hansen. Kindergarten Roundup is underway for incoming 4, 5 and 6 year olds who meet enrollment requirements. Royal Oak has full and half-day kindergarten choices with the flexibility to accommodate parents' schedules and meet the educational and social needs of students. All-day kindergarten is offered at Oakland and Upton elementary schools. Both full-day and half-day kindergarten programs follow the same curriculum based on pre-reading, reading skills and early math. All day students simply have more time to review the concepts taught during the day. Other innovative programs the district offers includes the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme at Helen Keller Elementary School and a multi-age program at Jane Addams Elementary School. Newly constructed Northwood Elementary School opened in 2008. Before and after school child care is also available at each elementary school and there is a fee-based half day enrichment option for children enrolled in half-day kindergarten. The district accepts open enrollment applications from residents as space permits. Parents who want their children to attend another Royal Oak elementary school other than the one designated by the attendance area can make a request in writing. The request should include the name of the student, grade level, current school attending and open enrollment school choice and be sent to: Carol Hansen, Executive Director, Student Services, 1123 Lexington Blvd., Royal Oak, MI 48073. To register for kindergarten, students must be 5 years old on or before December 1. Parents must provide two proofs of residency such as a driver's license, current utility bill, lease agreement, tax statement, etc., as well as the child's birth certificate and immunization records. Still want to learn more? Check out the elementary

school open houses where families can tour the building, meet the staff and learn more about the curriculum. Student artwork will be displayed and students can show their parents around their classroom. It's a very fun and festive atmosphere.

Special to The Oakland Press/ DAVID REED

Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools participates in the Schools of Choice program for grades K-3.

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