Teachers are back to school

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Teachers at Tecumseh High School spent their first day back at school in meetings and learning how important they are to students. “We are looking forward to an awesome year working with great people and students,” said teacher Janet Wigner. Pictured (l-r) are Beth Conner, Laurie Church, Joel Musielewicz, Wigner, and Connie Purkey. Photo by Mary Kay McPartlin.

On Tuesday, Aug. 26 the faculty of Tecumseh Public Schools met to kick-off the 2014-2015 school year. “This year’s focus is ‘Teaching — The Core of our Work,’” said Tecumseh Supt. Kelly Coffin. “We’re going to spend a lot of time this year supporting teachers.”

Coffin shared some examples with staff regarding the impact teachers have had on groups of students, including increased reading levels for kindergartners entering first grade, middle school students scoring top in the county in social studies, and how student scores on Advanced Placement tests in several areas surpassed scores from the past five years.

As further proof teachers continue to impact the lives of their students, administrators came to the podium to read letters written by Tecumseh students to their former teachers. The letters showed appreciation for all these teachers had done for them as students.

Quincy Garrison, a student at Tecumseh Middle School wrote to his fifth grade teacher, Ms. Grotbeck. Garrison described Grotbeck as “one of the most caring teachers in the world.” “Teachers are not told that they are appreciated enough. Sure, kids will get you guys those little things that say ‘Number one teacher’ on them, but those really are not what a teacher wants,” Garrison said. “A teacher wants to see that all of their hard work has paid off. They want to see that their students are developing into amazing young ladies and gentlemen. As students, the best gifts we can give are hugs and success.”

Sarah Hannah, former student in the Tecumseh Options Program shared how Ms. Enos “came into my life as a teacher in August of 2006, and that’s when my perspective on life changed.” Hannah told the impact Enos had on her life. “Ms. Enos always went the extra mile and never gave up on me, no matter how hard I tried to give up on myself,” Hannah said.

In addition, new teachers joining the Tecumseh Public Schools staff, fondly referred to as the “Recruitment Class of 2014” all received a letter from graduating senior, Sarah Hodgman. She shared memories of what it felt like to be in a new building as a freshman on her first day.

Hodgman said she was sure the new teachers “can relate to that feeling right about now.” Hodgman believes Tecumseh is a caring and accepting community, and her hope for all new teachers is to “find passion in your teaching” and recognize “teachers are more than just educators; they can be mentors, motivators, supporters and friends.”

“I encourage you to be a teacher that is more than a teacher, because a little bit of passion can go a long way,” said Hodgman.

All teachers found a letter from a former student waiting for them when they returned to their classrooms. Teachers spent the remainder of the day in building meetings and preparing for students who will be returning on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Preparation continues the rest of the week with more instruction and meetings. Elementary and middle school teachers are training on the NWEA, an online assessment for students in grades two through eight, while teachers at the high school will be learning how to utilize technology in the classroom.

On Wednesday afternoon, teachers were scheduled to travel to the Madison Performing Arts Center to listen to motivational speaker Todd Waites, courtesy of the Lenawee Intermediate School District (LISD).

The LISD is coming in this week to work with elementary teachers on science education.

Coffin said the district is making sure all teachers have the right materials to make this a successful year. Special support comes from coaches, two Tecumseh teachers who moved from grades six through 12, trained by a special group from California to observe practices in the classrooms and assist teachers with anything they need to be successful.

“It’s like the life of an Olympic athlete,” said Coffin. “Our teachers are the athletes and we’re pairing them with the coaches. It’s going to transform how the teachers look at education. The teachers are very excited about that.”

Last year’s eighth graders are coming into the high school with learning experience on Chromebooks. As a result, the high school teachers will be learning a new way to present material using technology, with the help of the freshman students.

“These students are going to help our teachers,” Coffin said. “Everybody’s willing to learn and try new things to accommodate our students. We are keeping a very simple focus on instructional practices. That’s really where student learning occurs, in the classroom.”

The goal for the first day of school for Tecumseh teachers was simple. “We wanted to allow teachers the opportunity to understand they make a difference for kids. They are key,” said Coffin. “It was pretty impressive. I think it just kind of sets the tone for the whole year.”




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