Dr. Christine Johns

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CTE programs give UCS graduates the leading edge on high paying careers

The importance of Career and Technical Education programs has taken center stage in Michigan. It is a familiar place in Utica Community Schools, which has long put a priority on giving students a competitive advantage to pursue high paying careers in their future.

UCS is fortunate to be located in the heart of the automotive, defense and health care industries. Through these relationships and the innovation of our staff, we have pioneered CTE programs that are now becoming the standard in education.

Recently, a 2012 UCS graduate, Adam Drotar, spoke about how far ahead he was compared to his peers when he began Lawrence Technological University. Drotar noted that UCS prepared him in key ways – he knew how to work in a team, was comfortable in a hands-on environment, could work across disciplines and knew how to solve problems.

The State of Michigan has recently announced a “Marshall Plan for Talent” to ensure meeting the demands of a professional trades industry that is expected to add 15,000 new jobs annually through 2024.

As Michigan makes CTE its focus, UCS will continue to ensure our students are a step ahead of their competition when it comes to achieving their career and college goals.
CTE demands a certain type of facility that mirrors the equipment and environment our students will experience in their future careers. We are working with industry leaders to design classrooms that give our students the workspace and tools they will need to be successful.

We continually network with business, manufacturing and education leaders to remain in touch with future needed skill sets and career projections in these fields.
This year, Eisenhower High School piloted a “Gone Boarding” program that gave students design and building skills while producing surfboards, snowboards, stand-up paddleboards and skateboards – one of the nation’s fastest growing industries.

Next year, a new program called the Center for Manufacturing, Automation, Design and Engineering will begin at Stevenson High School. It will blend rigorous academic content with relevant, real world applications by making use of strong business relationships and post-secondary partners in the field of Advanced Manufacturing.

The Utica Center for Science and Industry opened in the fall of 2008, and continues to earn national recognition for its work to provide students with direct experience in mechatronics, multimedia and engineering technology.

Our focus remains on providing our students with the innovation, support, relationships and environment that keeps them on the front line of the best jobs for the future. We want to ensure our students remain – as Adam Drotar described it – “miles ahead of the competition.”

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An involved school community lies at the heart of UCS Success

There is a common theme that underlies the stories of success and remarkable accomplishments of our students and staff. We recognize that these accomplishments reflect the work of an entire community of residents who are committed to children and give so much time and energy to their district.

Michigan’s second largest school district is comprised of six unique cities and townships. While each municipality has its own characteristics, the businesses and residents in nearly 70 square miles are united through Utica Community Schools. Our community has tremendous pride in its school district and is actively involved in making sure our children have every opportunity for success.

Community engagement is critical to the success of a school district and directly supports student success. Through community involvement, students increase their learning, engage in school, continue their education at the post-secondary level and have a more positive attitude about their future.

Utica Community Schools is a lighthouse district that exemplifies what happens when a community creates a legacy of excellence and support for its children.

The success we enjoy could not happen without a strong foundation of support. Under the leadership of our Board of Education, UCS has a strong community foundation through a network of parents, staff, families, residents, and business and civic leaders who take responsibility for providing the best educational experiences for our children. It is why Utica Community Schools has a strong reputation as a great place to live, learn, grow a business and raise a family.

You can see the impact of this involvement every day in our 36 schools. Business leaders work directly with students creating real-world opportunities and providing insight into the skills necessary to compete in today’s economy. Partnerships between senior citizens and students reinforce a love of reading or demonstrate the importance of service. Parents volunteer their time to support classrooms and provide our students with resources that create additional opportunities for learning. Our teachers and staff members are involved members of this community who advocate for the success of each student.

Utica Community Schools is a “community” in the best sense of the word. Whenever you hear about the amazing work that is being done in your schools, I hope it fills you with a great deal of pride.

No matter what your role in our partnership, you are a key part of the long legacy of UCS Success that represents our district’s past, present and future.

The Spirit of Utica Community Schools

Our school district vision includes a focus on developing students into “productive, contributing members of their society.”

Through this focus, our students are demonstrating the care, compassion and service to others that also represent the fabric of our community.

This shared vision we have with our families and residents is never more evident than this time of year, when our staff and students support more than 200 charities.

Helping others is part of spirit of our community. In addition, we promote this commitment to service through our vision because it has a direct tie to a student’s future success.

Our work with colleges and universities shows the importance of community service to admissions. Service is also an important consideration in the scholarship opportunities that are offered to our graduates.

Beyond these practical reasons, however, is that volunteering is the right thing to do.
Recently, members of the superintendent’s advisory committee discussed the many ways they are supporting others – not only during the holidays, but throughout the school year.

Many of the students have visited the charity organizations that their schools are supporting to distribute the gifts or the food items.

The students were visibly impacted by how they are making a difference.

In addition, our students are also realizing how this community has nurtured their success. They also have a greater understanding that it is their responsibility to give back throughout their adult lives.
We have great young people in our community who care deeply about their friends, neighborhoods and world.

Clearly, our future is in good hands.

All the best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.