Dr. Christine Johns

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Optimistic and Inspiring, The Class of 2017 reflects our confidence in a bright future

Just ten short months ago, we welcomed the 2016-2017 school year with a renewed sense of energy, commitment and a dedication to make every day count.

As we close the year, that same optimism and focus remains as we celebrate student success.

It was never more evident than when we celebrated the accomplishments of more than 2,250 graduates at UCS graduation ceremonies.

The achievements alone of this graduation class are impressive: nearly $28 million in scholarships to the best colleges and universities in our state and nation.

This newsletter features the accomplishments of 178 valedictorians, 11 salutatorians and students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and community service as recipients of a Superintendent’s Scholarship award, or have excelled in AVID and Early College of Macomb programs.

Beyond these numbers and accomplishments is a greater story. It is a story of tremendous growth and the type of individuals our graduates have become.

UCS graduates are committed to their community.  As students, they have dedicated countless volunteer hours to supporting those in need. They think globally, act ethically and care deeply about the future they will soon lead.

This community should have a tremendous amount of pride in our young adults and great confidence that they will be the ones that affect change in the world.

We remain committed to our college culture and focused on increasing the academic rigor for all of our students.  The district constantly looks at new ways that we can provide students the skills and experiences that give them a competitive advantage for their post-secondary experiences and professional lives.

The energy and excitement that characterized this entire year will only continue to grow when we begin again on September 5.

Until then, I wish you and your families a relaxing and safe summer.

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UCS Success preserves strong neighborhoods

As we begin another promising school year, Utica Community Schools remains committed to providing exemplary teaching and learning for the more than 28,000 students who fill our classrooms every day.

Doing so, we also recognize our responsibility to the community in creating a well-educated, globally
competitive future workforce. Our work – and the way we go about it – impacts far beyond the families that directly use our schools.

When new residents or businesses locate here, they have chosen to make an investment in this community – and for good reason.

According to local realtors, our school district’s reputation for academic excellence is a driving factor in attracting homebuyers and business owners.

In fact, a number of parents, grandparents, graduates, business and community leaders and others are
confirming this by sharing their stories of what Utica Community Schools means to them through the UCS Means SUCCESS initiative.

Here are just a few of the comments we heard:

-Angela and Brent Freeman, both active members of the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce – “You are going to have a strong customer base for your business if you have quality schools and neighborhoods.”

-Al Block, who’s been a realtor for 25-years – “The information we provide (clients) on Utica Community Schools has always shown a high level of student achievement.”

-Business owner Ray Lope – “(Utica Community Schools) protects the investment you have made in a community and maintains vibrant and attractive neighborhoods.”

-Senior citizen Jo Anne Phillips, known as ‘Grandma Jo’ at Beck Elementary, where she volunteers –“If we can continue to support our schools and that success continues to grow, we are going to have a great future in this community.”

The demand for homes in Utica Community Schools is closely tied to our students’ high academic success.
Buyers know that quality schools protect their investment and increase property and resale values.

As residents and homeowners ourselves, we each can take pride in the fact that UCS students continue to outpace county, state and national peers in achievement.

We can also be proud that all four UCS high schools are named among the nation’s best by Newsweek magazine.

One more fact of UCS pride is that our district’s overall 90-percent graduation rate is 14 points higher than the state average.

And the fact that our schools consistently provide students world-class college and career preparation from kindergarten through their senior year is yet another point of district pride.

UCS continues to offer students the best learning opportunities by focusing on quantified data, best practices and responsible management.

Our secret to UCS Success is by no means a secret. We achieve it by adhering to four proven strategies: setting high standards, teaching students to be productive users of technology, promoting innovative thinking and ensuring accountability to our public.

In keeping success in our sights, the year ahead includes a redoubled emphasis on early childhood literacy by expanding our personalized blended learning initiative in grades K-2, introducing a new reading series in grades 3-6 and implementing the Great Start preschool readiness program.

Back to school means only one thing in UCS. It means we are back to teaching and learning at its best and a new year of success for our students.

It’s the best way I know to protect everyone’s investment in the future.

Help us celebrate the people and traditions of UCS

As the superintendent of Utica Community Schools (UCS), I see firsthand the amazing things happening in our schools every day. We can all take pride in UCS for its tradition of academic excellence and integral role in our community.

Our nationally recognized schools are preparing students for a very bright future. UCS students consistently score higher on tests than the state average and our 90% graduation rate is nearly 14 points higher than the state average.

We are regularly honored throughout the country for educational excellence. Our four high schools – Eisenhower, Henry Ford II, Stevenson and Utica – are ranked among America’s best high schools by Newsweek Magazine. The Utica Academy for International Studies was recognized as Michigan’s most academically challenging high school in Michigan. Utica Community Schools was recently named one of the best communities in the country for music education. Here is something else we can all take pride in: Utica Community Schools protect home and property values and attract new businesses and new families to our community.

Realtors frequently use the fact that homes are located in the UCS district as a strong selling point. These agents tell us that our strong schools are directly translating into higher property values and a better environment for small businesses. Our school district is truly a destination for families seeking quality education and good neighborhoods.

We all have a story to tell about UCS and what the district means to us, our families and our neighborhoods. We want to do a better job of celebrating and sharing our stories with the community and we need your help!

That’s why we’re launching the “UCS means SUCCESS” program. Whether you’re a graduate who is excelling in college or your career, a small business owner who was attracted to our community because of our great schools or a parent or grandparent who has been a part of making our school district one of the best—we want to hear from you! We’ll be sharing these success stories through videos, social media, local newspapers, the UCS website and school newsletters.

You can submit your stories online by visiting www.UCSmeansSUCCESS.org or calling 586-797-1100.

Our stories are all different, but they share a common thread: We are UCS! Our achievements are the result of a tremendous team effort on the part of students, teachers, parents, support staff, local businesses and the greater community. I look forward to hearing from you!

Christine Johns, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools