Dr. Christine Johns

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Monthly Archives: November 2013

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UCS students live what they learn

Our community puts children and their education at the center of everything it does. It is one of the reasons I’m proud to live here. The residents of Utica Community Schools – young parents to empty nesters – are committed to volunteering in our schools, advocating for our students and investing in their future. This spirit of support is the foundation of a family-centered community nationally recognized as a great place to live, learn and work.

Throughout the year, but especially around the holidays, UCS schools have always returned this commitment by helping those less fortunate in our community. True to our tradition, UCS students, parents and staff are again partnering with local charities such as Kiwanis, Lions, Extended Hand, Toys for Tots, Salvation Army and others to assist neighbors who are struggling.

Visit any of our schools and you will see mitten trees and food collections for the needy and homeless. You will also see our students giving their time and service in many other ways. Some will visit older citizens. Others will gather items for U.S. military personnel far from home. Some will raise funds to buy livestock to sustain children in third-world nations. While still others will help with everyday life closer to home – like the Young Educators Club members at Henry Ford II High School, who will offer an evening of free childcare to busy parents at a feeder school so they can do their holiday shopping.

Mentoring our students in citizenship, caring and giving really has no season in UCS. We are merely reinforcing the values you as parents and grandparents have instilled in them at home.

As citizens of an ever-shrinking globe, they are learning how each generation must work to make sure the world they inherit is a better place for all. The compassionate skills learned and nurtured in home and school will prepare them for this mission and carry them throughout life.

I am proud of our young people and our school district’s central role in the six communities we serve. As the calendar year draws to a close, let me thank you for supporting another successful year of quality teaching and learning in Utica Community Schools. On behalf of the students, staff and Board of Education, please know that we couldn’t do it without you. Have a great holiday season!

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Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parents and teachers will be sitting down this month for the first of two scheduled conferences. These important meetings are aimed at furthering the home-school partnership and ensuring students are meeting the shared expectations of both parents and teachers.
Study after study has shown that effective school-family partnerships are an important key to student achievement. This is certainly the case in Utica Community Schools, where our principals report ninety percent or higher parent participation in conferences.
The conferences are held during the fall after the first marking period and in the spring during the third marking period. Both provide avenues to make sure students are on track and experiencing academic success in our schools.
It is important that we take advantage of this opportunity to focus on how parents and teachers can support the unique needs of each student.
To promote successful conferences, national education and parent organizations have a few simple suggestions:

•Before the conference, it is important to think about the academic goals for your child. If age appropriate, you can also talk to your children about how they feel they are doing in school. Also, teachers need to be aware if there is anything unusual about your child’s approach to school this year.
•During the conference, UCS teachers will share information on how students progressed through the first marking period. Discussions will center on whether the student is meeting expectations and educational strategies that can be supported by parents and teachers. It is important that the conferences end on a positive note with concrete actions at both school and home that allow our students to meet their full potential.
•After the conferences, it is important that parents keep in touch about the progress of their child. Parents have a great tool at their fingertips in PowerSchool. Regular updates and visits to this site provide parents updated information on progress and attendance.
In addition to PowerSchool, our schools and district have active Web and social media sites that contain calendar dates, school and district activities, and news that celebrates the many successes of our remarkable students. Your participation in activities demonstrates to your child the priority you place on his or her education.

Most importantly, if – at any time – you have any questions or concerns, your teachers and principals are only a phone call or e-mail away.
We appreciate the tremendous amount of support we receive from our parents and school community during conferences and throughout the busy school year. We look forward to seeing you in our schools over these next few weeks in support of your child’s continued academic success.