WSD Voice - Season 2

WSD Voice PodcastWSD Voice is a Waterford School District podcast that focuses on topics geared toward inspiring, educating and empowering our students, staff, alumni and community.

The goal of WSD Voice is to inform our audience about our district’s positive news while showcasing our successes. Listen below to learn more about all the exciting and innovative work going on behind the scenes in Waterford School District.

Season 2

Episode 5: Celebrating the 2022-2023 School Year
Published: May 2023

watch on our youtube channel   Download episode 5

In this episode, we focus on some of the amazing accomplishments both staff and students achieved during the 2022-2023 school year. First, we meet Chris Braue, our 2023 Waterford Foundation Teacher of the Year. Next, we talk to three of our Waterford School District 2023 graduates to learn their plans for the future. 

Guests for the 2023 Waterford Foundation Teacher of the Year discussion:
Chris Braue, Teacher, Mason Middle School
Radhika Issac, Principal, Mason Middle School
Charlie McClain, Nominator/7th grader at Mason Middle School

Guests for the 2023 graduates discussion:
Madison Loriaux, Senior student, Kettering High School
Nolan Lazuka, Senior student, Mott High School
J Leigh Saunders, Senior student, Durant High School 

Sarah Davis, Director of Communications and Community Relations
Lisa Eldredge, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services
Jane Tekiele, Video Production Coordinator

- Welcome to WSD Voice, a podcast focused on positive and informative news in Waterford School District. I am your host, Sarah Davis, the Director of Communications and Community Relations, and I'm here with my new hosting partner for this episode, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services, Lisa Eldredge. Lisa, thank you for joining me today.

- Thank you for having me, Sarah.

- Absolutely. So this is going to be our last podcast episode for the 2022, 2023 school year, and we're gonna spend it celebrating our many successes. Lisa, as assistant superintendent, I know that you are very in tune with the inner workings of our schools here at WSD. What classroom related accomplishment are you most proud of this year?

- Well, I think there are a number of things to be proud of this year, but the thing I think we are most proud of is the new English Language Arts program that we are implementing K12 in our district. The elementary schools are fully implemented this year, and the secondary schools are delving into it little by little and started working on it this year as well. Our elementary program is based on the science of reading, and so it includes phonics, phonemic awareness, comprehension, vocabulary, and all those things that kids need to learn to be proficient readers. So we're very excited about what's going on in classrooms and we're also very excited that our first set of data showed great growth for our students using the program. So we are looking forward to even more growth and better things to come.

- Yes, absolutely. Some great data out there and looking like a lot of great things on the horizon. But let's get into our episode topic. First we're gonna meet Waterford Foundation 2023 Teacher of the Year, Mr. Chris Braue, music teacher at Mason Middle School. Then we will meet three of our graduating students, one representative from each of our high schools to learn about what their plans for the future are. But Chris, we'll begin with you. Welcome to the program.

- Oh, thank you so much for having me.

- Absolutely. So first of all, congratulations on winning Teacher of the Year. What did that feel like?

- Oh gosh, it was a lot of things all at once. Kind of definitely surprised and also obviously humbled and very honored that, people felt that I was a worthy candidate. And no, that day honestly, we interviewed and we were observed back in, gosh, probably late January, early February, and the Waterford Foundation kind of said, don't hold your breath, just wait. We'll announce this in late April. And so honestly, I had pretty much forgotten, not forgotten, knew it was coming at the end of April, but didn't know the day. So when everyone, Sue Austin and everyone from the foundation came in and kind of hit me pretty quick, I'm like, oh my gosh, it must be. And so that was really, really great and the kids were wonderful and all the staff and administration that came was just really fantastic. So it was a really, really fun day. I'm very surprised.

- I got to witness it as well. And it's always such a great day to see some of our best teachers recognized. I was happy to see you get that award, Chris. I know you've worked for us for a number of years, 29 to be exact, I believe. What are some of the levels and classes you've taught over the years here?

- Well, I started here at Mott back in 1994, and I was assistant to a Jerry Spry, longtime director, wonderful director in Waterford. And during that time I did the beginning bands, the concert bands, taught the jazz band. Then we also had an improv class, so "Studies in Jazz class" we called it. I kind of developed the curriculum as we went. And it was a really, really neat class, but all focused on jazz improvisation and jazz style. And I was here for 11 years, then went to, and obviously marching band, concert band, jazz band. And then went to Crary for a few years before Crary was closed. That was 2005 to 2009 in basic classes there. And then 2009 went to Mason and have been there ever since. And there, I've done obviously all the concert bands. We have a jazz club we call it, and that's just a volunteer, basically a club. We only meet a couple mornings each week, but they do a really, really great job. So it's fun just having both seven of the eighth graders combined to come out and learn a new style and work on jazz music and Latin and rock. And so that's really neat. A few years ago we even had a garage band class, we had to come up with another elective. So I was kind of charged with coming up with something that would be for maybe someone that wasn't in band, choir orchestra, but wanted to learn like drums, keyboard, bass, guitar. So that was kind of neat. That was fun. And we did that for a year. So yeah, everything from and choir, taught choir for the past few years. So music theory to choir, to garage band to marching band. So a little of everything.

- Wow, that's a lot of options for kids. I know a lot has changed in teaching since you started in 1994. How is teaching music different now than when you became, then you began?

- I think, I guess one of the, kids in most ways I think are pretty much the same. We're still just trying to instill that love for music with them. I think one of the biggest changes is just, I think students have become probably more busy. They just get pulled in so many more directions, whether it's athletics and academics and all those things are great. And then, the social media, the gaming and everything, I know it takes a lot of time. So I just kind of feel like, maybe kids, of course there's the focused ones and there's the ones that get attached to their instrument and just do a really, really great job. And I think we still have the majority of our classes that do that. But I think that challenge is kind of there. There's so many other things they could be doing after school. But again, I think we find a way to work with whatever level of commitment they can give us and we find a way for them to be successful and enjoy our classes and come up with some outstanding ensembles. So that's really the goal. So some things have changed, a lot has stayed the same. And yeah, it's just kind of some different challenges for sure.

- And what would you say your classroom philosophy is?

- I think, I mean, at the heart of it is really just trying to instill that love for music. I think that has to be there. They have to enjoy what they're doing. They have to be excited to come to class each day and make music. So that's a lot of it. I was thinking about this a little bit. The past couple years, I have a quote and just a kind of a poster on my wall and it's an Aristotle quote, but it's, "We are what we repeatedly do." Therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit. And I find myself coming back to that so often and even, referring to it in class, just to say that, even the little things just coming in, having all your stuff sitting up straight, putting effort forth into rehearsal every day in music, you can't just turn that on the day before the concert. You've gotta be able to build skill upon skill over the weeks and the months. So I'm trying to instill, I think in the students and even in myself honestly, when I approach my plans for the day, you really do have to make excellence your habit, otherwise you're practicing something less than that. And you know, I really try to, I hope I get the kids to be excited about it and then start to head towards that as their goal.

- I love that building skill upon skill and excellence is a habit. I like that a lot. Chris, how did you first get into music and what led you to wanna teach it?

- Gosh, I think it would, I have to kind of credit my parents for that. My dad was all in into big band and jazz, Stan Kenton, my mom was all about classical music. And I even say, I went to U of M for my undergrad music education, but I would not want to go up against my mom with a drop the needle test. I mean, she knew everything. She could name you symphonies and operas and everything. So it was always in our house. And I always listened and kind of listened intentfully, because they were always playing things. And then I actually started on guitar for a few years and then when I got into a Novi High School, band and saxophone kind of took over. And somewhere in that time I was kind like, I think I could see you doing this. I really enjoy music enough. I got with a really good grad student out from U of M, University of Michigan. And he helped me get ready to make it in the School of Music. And he was, Kevin Burner was his name from Akron, Ohio. And he was just an amazing, amazing saxophone player and teacher. So he was a huge inspiration. And then also my prof at U of M was Donald Sinta. And he, at the time, probably one of the best 10 saxophone players, classical saxophone players in the world.

- Oh wow.

- Yeah, and he was just, everyone that had a chance to study with him. It's life changing. So those things. And then I'm always little jazz, and I did my masters down at Wayne State a couple years, '96 to '98 in some of the props down there, Chris Collins. They're just all, I think really helped inspire me. And then again, my own love for that music is what I want to try to instill in the kids. So, yep.

- That's awesome. I can see when you're with the kids, that passion come out. It's really exciting to be witness to. Could you share a memory with us that sticks out to you from your years of teaching?

- Sure, I had to think about this one. I mean, so many concerts, jazz festivals, marching competitions, bands doing well at band and orchestra festivals and so on, ensemble. But one of the ones that sticks out most in my mind was on a spring trip that we did with Mott back in the late nineties. And we went to Disney. And so we kind of did all the parks and we did a parade in Magic Kingdom. We did kind of a studio recording on their sound stage, which was really neat.

- Wow.

- But the jazz band got to record, or it got to perform, I'm sorry, at a restaurant called Cosmic Ray's. And it was just the most fun experience. I mean, students still will bring this up. Do you remember back and you know, when we were in Florida it was so neat because there was a stage that kind of had a sort of a goofy animatronic octopus. So he was kind of doing karaoke while everybody was just eating. But underneath was another stage. So the jazz band set up down there. And then when we were ready to perform the stage, the octopus went up in the ceiling and the stage came up. So we were actually on the stage playing it raised up and there was like 600 people, all of our guys that were with us, parents and students and the jazz band just playing to a huge crowd. And I just remember, I mean, the kids loved it, the students were just all about it. They played well and it was just such an electric atmosphere, and yeah, right there in Disney. So that one really stands out. And some of, I think it was '98, '97 or '98, so some of those students and that jazz band still remember when. So yeah, that was very memorable for sure.

- That is an awesome memory.

- Yes.

- I didn't know what you were gonna say, but that's a really good one.

- Yeah, yeah. Just the whole experience, Disney and the performance.

- Yeah, yeah.

- So earlier today actually, we had a chance to stop in at Mason Middle School where you teach at now, to get some footage of you live in action and also talk with your principal, Radhika Issac, and the student who nominated you along with his family, Charlie McClain. So we're gonna play that clip right now. Hello, we are here at Mason Middle School with Mason principal Radhika Issac and Charlie McClain, a seventh grader here at the school who, along with his mom and his brother, nominated Mr. Braue for Teacher of the Year. So we're going to talk with both of them about their involvement with Teacher of the Year. So Radhika, can you tell me a little bit about what Mr. Braue, Chris, contributes to Mason and to the classrooms here at Mason?

- Yeah, Mr. Braue has been, he's a legacy here. He's been here for quite some time and I know Charlie and his brother take lessons. His brother takes lessons, so he's embedded into our community. So Chris just brings this energy into the classroom. He's so excited about all of the students that he works with. He goes beyond the school day. He is integrated into our community. He holds a lot of concerts outside of our school day. And so just his commitment, his dedication to the art of the work that he does and all that he offers to the students, is definitely one of his strongest assets here.

- All right, awesome. And Charlie, why was it that you and your family decided to nominate Mr. Braue?

- He is very dedicated to the band program and he spends a lot of his time and money just trying to help people get better. And I don't think the band program would be nearly as good without him.

- Okay, wonderful. Radhika, why is, and you kind of talked about this a little bit, but why is Mr. Braue so deserving of the Teacher of the Year award?

- Well, again, I'll say it again. He spends so many hours here at Mason just dedicated to not just the students, but just our community as well and all that he has offered to us. He brings this energy and love to the work that we do and for all of our staff members are deserving of such an honor. And we're just so excited that he was recognized because he does put in quite a bit of time into the work that he does. And as Charlie mentioned, he is a cornerstone of our band program here.

- Absolutely, And that extra time is so important, putting that extra touch on it. Charlie, do you have an example of when Mr. Braue maybe stood out to you as a teacher of the year?

- Well, during the whole summer he would give me and my brother lessons and he would go to the school just so he could give us lessons. And I think that was really just nice and a good quality for a teacher to be that dedicated to helping students learn.

- All right. Well you heard it fresh from Mason Middle School. Mr. Braue, well, deserving of the Teacher of the Year award. All right, so as you can see, Chris is definitely a beloved and dedicated teacher there at Mason. Chris, an exciting part about winning Teacher of the Year is that you get to pick out a two year lease from Suburban Ford of Waterford. So big shout out to Suburban for helping us show appreciation to our winner. But can you tell us what car you picked out? When I left the dealership, it seemed like you were setting your sights on a pretty snazzy Bronco.

- Yep, and that is what I went with. I went back and forth a little bit, but the kids were all telling me, so did you get a Mustang? I'm like, I'm not really a muscle car guy. So I was going back and forth between a sport or a full size Bronco and just decided, you know, when am I gonna have this opportunity again? And knowing I have to split the miles, but I'm not gonna get rid of my other car. So, it's really nice, it's kind of a soft out, so we can roll back and I just, kind of chose that car because I'm very much in the outdoors. So getting to a trail head, hiking, backpacking, all those kinds of things, it's kind of a perfect vehicle for that.

- In what color?

- Oh, it's kind of that slate blue.

- Oh, very nice.

- Yeah, the black top and nice size wheels and everything. So very fun car My two kids, Joel and Evelyn were like, you better get a convertible. So like, okay, we'll do that. It was fun.

- Well I hope you enjoy that car. You've certainly earned it. Now I do wanna mention that there were four total nominees for Teacher of the Year. And in that the focus this year was on the secondary level teacher. So I'm gonna read the names of the other nominees as well. We had Julie Gross, Mason, Middle School, Language Arts teacher, reading specialist and athletic coach. Adrienne Novales, Kettering High School Spanish teacher and Christine Simiele, Children's Village Math teacher. So congratulations to all of our nominees who all do a tremendous job of educating our students with passion and excellence. Lisa, I know you know teachers, what do you have to say about this particular group of educators?

- Well, I think it's the hardest thing about Teacher of the Year is having to pick one out of a group like this. I know all of these teachers and as secondary folks, they really focus on students. Their outcome is about what do we want the kids to know and how do we want the kids to feel about what they're learning? It's an absolutely tremendous group. I've known Julie Gross for a long time. She does fabulous things at Mason with ELA and some of our EL students. Adrienne is a Spanish teacher at Kettering and her focus isn't just on teaching Spanish, her focus is on teaching students. And I would say the same is true of Christine, who's a math teacher at Children's Village with very challenged students and she reaches them and she makes a difference as do all of the teachers on this list.

- Yep, excellent points, Lisa. Okay, we're gonna take a quick commercial break and then we will be back to talk about the class of 2023.

- Hello, Scott Lindberg here, superintendent of Waterford School District. It's time to start thinking about where your child should attend school for the 2324 school year. At Waterford School District, we aim to create today's student to become tomorrow's leader and we are uniquely prepared to build your child's future. We offer many dynamic learning opportunities, such as an innovative STEM academy and we recently invested approximately 4 million in cutting edge curriculum. Enroll at That's Come join us here at Waterford School District where your child will be inspired, educated, and empowered to thrive.

- Okay, and we are back. Now it's time to celebrate our graduating seniors. As is tradition, we have asked our principals to select for us one student from their school's graduating class to represent. This year we decided to meet the students where they are. So we went to each of their schools and interviewed them in person. But before we hear what they have to say, I just wanted to give a few quick stats. We have approximately 535 graduates representing the class of 2023. Over 140 of those students are graduating with honors and our students have been offered a combined total of over $3.2 million. Yes, that's million dollars in scholarship money.

- That's awesome, Sarah. And it's something that we see yearly in Waterford. Our students always earn a great tale of scholarship money.

- Absolutely. Okay, so now let's go meet a few of these amazing students. Up first we headed to Kettering to meet with Madison Loriaux, an athlete and theater student with big plans for the future. Hello, we are here with our first student, Madison Loriaux. She is a a senior here at Kettering. So we're gonna talk to her about what her plans are for the future after she graduates. Maddie, welcome to the show. Can you talk a little bit about your career here at Waterford and what schools you've attended?

- Well, being at Waterford, I attended Haviland Elementary, Houghton Elementary, Pierce Middle School, and Kettering High School.

- Okay, awesome. And can you talk about, currently now, what are some things that you're involved with here at Kettering? You've mentioned you're a three sport varsity athlete, you've done some performing arts. Can you talk about those things a little bit more?

- Yeah, I have done all the musicals that we've had at Kettering and this year I also did one of our plays and then I am a three sport varsity athlete. I do volleyball, bowling, and softball. And it gets me around and I meet a lot of new people.

- Yeah, absolutely. That's a lot of different things. I'm sure with all of those different things you have some fond memories. What is a memory that that really sticks out to you during your time here at Kettering? Well, this year we did the musical "Mama Mia" and I played Donna Sheridan, which was the lead. And my two really good best friends were also my best friends in this show. So it was kinda, it was cool that we got to play best friends on stage as we are also off stage, so.

- Yeah, that is really, really cool. So what are your plans for after high school?

- Well, as of right now I plan on attending Siena Heights University and I will be majoring in musical theater and I will also be bowling.

- And being involved in so many things, what is some advice that you might have for a student that's younger than you?

- Keep up with grades, that is difficult, but stay with all your schoolwork, make sure you're on top of it and if you are, then start slowly going into other things that you'd be interested in doing.

- Okay, there we have it. Awesome advice from Maddie Loriaux here, a senior at Kettering who obviously has a very bright future.

- Great stuff from Maddie. Sarah, you also took a stop into Mott and spoke with Nolan Lazuka, who has spent four years in choir, is president of the drama club and serves as a link crew commissioner among many other things. So let's listen to that interview.

- Hi, we are here at Mott High School with Mott Sr., Nolan Lazuka. We're gonna ask him a couple of questions about his plans for after graduation. So Nolan, welcome to the show. Can you first tell me about your path here through Waterford Schools? What are some of the schools that you've attended in the district?

- So I started in elementary school. I went to Schoolcraft until third grade and then after third grade I went to Grayson, when they reopened Grayson and then to Mason and then now to Mott for my last four years.

- Okay, wonderful. And what are some of the things that you're involved in school right now here at Mott?

- I'm a link crew commissioner. I'm the president of the drama club. I've been involved with several shows. I'm in ADL, which is the Anti-Defamation League. I've been through choir, I'm in chamber choir, I was in band for a little while, but I'm no longer in band but, so I've just, I'm very heavy in the performing arts side of school.

- Okay. That's a lot of different groups and organizations that you've been involved with. So you have must have a lot of different memories. What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

- Probably my fondest would be this year, so we did the musical "Cinderella" and after COVID we noticed that a lot of our numbers got wiped out. So we were a very, very small cast and there was a moment on stage where it was, everyone was kind of just doing their thing. We were doing a mic check so everyone was checking their mics and everyone was just kinda together and it was a big cast. We finally had a big cast and just looking at everyone like laughing and having a good time just really made me happy.

- Yeah, awesome. So what are your plans for after high school?

- So, I'll be going to Hillsdale College to study business administration and financial management. And then after college I'll be going to law school to get a law degree to become a business lawyer.

- Okay, wonderful. Can you talk a little bit how the education that you have received here at Mott has helped you or you think will help you as you go off to Hillsdale?

- So academically it has helped me with the AP courses and all that, getting the, more rigorous curriculum that the teachers bring forth to us plus the AP test. So it definitely academically helped me, but Mott also has helped me in, Mott's a very diverse place. So it has taught me to deal with a lot of different types of people. So communication is definitely very important and like communicating with teachers. Mott's very good about connecting to students, teachers are very good at connecting. So that has definitely helped me making a connection with people and just being able to have a conversation.

- What advice would you give to students younger than you?

- Just put everything in. Go a hundred percent. No reason to put half effort in and do something you're not proud of. 'Cause at the end, if you can't sleep at night and you don't wanna, you're just putting not your full a hundred percent yourself into it. No one's really gonna care. So people really start caring when you put your passion behind it.

- All right, thank you very much Nolan, it was wonderful to meet you and good luck as you go off to Hillsdale and do other things.

- Thank you very much.

- Okay, thank you Nolan for that awesome interview. Last, but certainly not least, I was able to meet up with Durant term three graduate J Leigh Saunders, who interestingly enough also has big polling plans for the future. Let's hear what J Leigh has to say. We are here at Durant High School with J Leigh Saunders here to speak with her as well about her plans. J Leigh welcome to the show. Thanks for being here. Can you first talk about what other Waterford schools in addition to Durant you've attended?

- Yeah, I attended Pierce and then Kettering and then now I'm here at Durant.

- Okay, wonderful. And can you talk a little bit about your time here, Durant? Some of the things that you're involved with here?

- Yeah, I was involved in a group therapy with some of the kids who needed extra help with one of the best resources ever, the best. His name is Charlie and he was amazing and everything else was just amazing about the school. I made so many new friends, they were all so supportive, a lot less drama. It was just really the best.

- I'm happy to hear that. And you are involved in bowling as well?

- Yes I am. Y Well, I was. This season's over but yeah, I was.

- Can you talk a little bit more about that and your season and what were some of the things you did on the team?

- Yeah, of course. So me and another girl were kind of like co-captains. We helped out because we had a lot of freshmen on the team and so we helped out with them. We actually ended up winning regionals and we took second in our conference tournament, which is very good for us because we did have a lot of freshmen and it was just a great accomplishment and it was just nice to work with girls who wanted to learn. A lot of the times people didn't want to learn and these girls that I worked with this year wanted to be there and wanted to learn and wanted to win.

- All right. And I think you're referencing your co-captain was Maddie Loriaux, correct? Who we just interviewed at Kettering earlier today, so that's pretty cool, the connection that you guys have there. So now that you're finished with all of that, you're graduating soon, what are your plans for the future?

- Yeah, my plans for the future are to go to school. It's Concordia, it's in Ann Arbor to pursue bowling and to pursue social work, so I can become a CPS agent and help kids who are in sticky situations like me. And yeah, it was just really nice. I'm gonna move out there. Yeah.

- Awesome. Do you have a favorite fond memory that you have of your time here at Durant that you'd like to share?

- I mean, all of the memories were amazing, but definitely that the teachers were just there. They would just help and definitely the movie day was pretty fun. It was like around my last day here and I just could go around and see all the teachers like Ms. Ramos. Ms. Ramos is amazing, one of my favorites. And it was just nice to just talk to them without having to be at school.

- Yeah, absolutely. Any advice for other students that are younger than you that might have some questions about maybe high school or something like that?

- Please, please, please do your homework. It doesn't matter, if you do great on tests, please do your homework, please. Once one gets missing, it is so hard to catch back up, so hard. That's why I was here because I needed help catching up and I just didn't make it through. So please do your homework, please.

- All right, awesome. Thank you J Leigh for being on the podcast. There you have it from J Leigh, do your homework. So obviously J Leigh has a very bright future and we're excited to see what happens coming up. All right, so there we have it. Some great students graduating from WSD this year, who will be sure to represent this district well as they go out into the real world.

- Absolutely, Sarah. We are super proud of this year's graduating class. On behalf of this entire community, congratulations to each and every one of you.

- Yep, congratulations indeed and thank you Lisa, it was great co-hosting with you. Come back again anytime.

- I'd love to, thank you Sarah.

- And to you Chris, thank you for joining us and best wishes on a career that I hope continues to bring you so much joy.

- Yeah, thank you for having me on on the show today Sarah. Appreciate it.

- Yep. And again, shout out to Mason principal Radhika Issac and student nominator Charlie McClain, who spoke on behalf of his family about Chris's nomination. We also wanna thank all of our graduates who let us come visit them at their schools. You all have very bright futures ahead and we wish you all the best. This podcast was brought to you by Waterford School District's Department of School and Community Services, and it's produced by video production coordinator Jane Tekiele. I am the host of this podcast, Sarah Davis, and you can find all episodes of WSP Voice on our website at, or you can tune in to 89.5 WAHS or Radio Central Multicultural. We so appreciate you listening today and encourage you to continue to tune in to future episodes of WSD Voice, as we discuss topics geared toward inspiring, educating, and empowering our students, staff, alumni, and community to thrive.

Episode 4: Amazing Athletics
Published: April 2023


watch on our youtube channel   Download episode 4

Did you know our two high schools - Mott and Kettering - boast 41 different programs with 81 teams for a combined total of approximately 115 coaches and over 1,000 student participants? In this episode, we explore this and other interesting facts about our amazing athletic programming at Waterford School District.

Allison Sartorius, Athletic Director
Kalieb Osborne (11th grade, Mott)
Karli Koskinen (10th grade, Mott)
Emily Medford (11th grade, Kettering)
Zarek Zelinski (12th grade, Kettering) 

Waterford Athletics

Sarah Davis, Director of Communications and Community Relations

Scott Lindberg, Superintendent

Jane Tekiele, Video Production Coordinator


- Welcome to WSD Voice, a podcast focused on positive and informative news in Waterford School District. I am your host, Sarah Davis, the Director of Communications and Community Relations, and I'm here with Waterford School District Superintendent Scott Lindberg. Today, we're talking all about our amazing athletic program opportunities. I was shocked when I learned just how big our athletic program is. Did you know our two high schools, Mott and Kettering, boast 41 programs with a total of 81 teams?

- Yes, and those same schools have a combined total of approximately 115 coaches and over 1000, again, over 1000 student participants

- And our middle schoolers also have many athletic options. Pierce and Mason have a combined 16 different programs and 26 teams. They also had nearly 40 coaches and last year, had over 500 participants.

- Yeah, that's great information Sarah, but let's find out more. Today, we have a guest on our show, Allison Sartorius Athletic Director for our district. Welcome, Allison.

- Thank you for having me.

- Absolutely. You know, often as Superintendent I've become very focused on what academic opportunities we have here, in the school district and obviously, that's the main component of what we're here for. But, athletics can also play a very important role in many of our students' growth and development both physically, but also emotionally and mentally as well. Allison, what would you say are some of the benefits our students get from participating in our athletic programs?

- Well, you've heard about all the opportunities that we have in the middle school and high school levels. I'll do my best to name a few of the benefits from our athletic programs. First of all, the involvement in our school community alone. It kind of gives kids more of a connection with the school community. We have such a wide variety of sports. We can definitely find something for our students to participate in through athletics and give that additional connection. It also helps support academics. We say that educational athletics is an extension of the classroom. So, our athletic programs work hand in hand with our academic programs to make sure our kids are successful on the field, on the court, wherever, on the ice rink, but also in the classroom. Most importantly, what I took away from athletics way back when at Waterford Kettering High School, myself, was the life lessons, the teamwork, the leadership, the competitiveness, learning how to win, learning how to lose, learning how to build your character and the character of your opponents and your teammates. I think that those alone are probably just the all encompassing what athletics brings.

- Mm-hmm, yeah.

- Yeah, absolutely. I know when I was involved in track and cross country in high school, I felt like that was the time when I got some of my best grades and I think it was 'cause it helped me focus. So, a lot of advantages to to athletics for sure. Allison, you've mentioned before that this district has a really strong student athlete connection. Can you talk about some of the academic successes we continue to see from our athletes here, at Waterford?

- Yeah, Sarah. As I mentioned, I was a three sport athlete myself at Waterford Kettering way back when, and I agree with you 100%. We see the trend of academic success every single season, every single year. Even when we had the weird COVID years, we still saw that our athletes definitely did what they were supposed to in the classroom. So our academic standards, a lot of people aren't aware that the Michigan High School Athletic Association does set academic standards for the entire state of Michigan. Well, in Waterford, we wanna enhance the educational opportunities for our kids and the academic success. So, our standards are actually much higher than the state standards and higher than many of our surrounding districts. With that said, we do weekly grade checks for our athletes and making sure that they are doing what they're supposed to in the classroom, but it also gives us an opportunity for our coaches and our athletic staff, and, to work hand in hand with counselors and teachers to continue to foster their academic success.

- Mm-hmm.

- So, a few examples of these would be last season, 70%, or last year, 70% of our programs had above a 3.0 grade point average, 37% had above a 3.3 grade point average, and 20% have had above a 3.5 grade point average. Each year, we have several Academic All-State teams. Even this year, so far, in the winter, Academic All-State teams haven't even came out yet. We do have three already, named Academic All-State athletic teams and about half of our varsity athletes have earned Academic All-Conference accolades. So our, what we're doing here to support them academically definitely has shown.

- Yeah, that is great. So, and what I'd like to hear is that the counselors, the teachers are working with our coaches because that's a full program. We're doing a wrap around our students to help them be successful on the field and off the field, as you mentioned. Allison, we also typically have students sign on for college athletics as well. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?

- Yeah, so each year, in the nine years I've been doing this job, we've had over 30 student athletes from both Mott and Kettering combined signed to play at the next level. Now, this could be junior college, NAIA, Division 3, Division 2, or Division 1. So, there are plenty of opportunities in our athletic department and our coaches with our counseling staff will definitely help these kids find the right fit for them if that's a dream that they have. Basically, we've had so many successes. I think the biggest success are that several of these athletes, student athletes have continued to get their four year degree. They go along, they play all four years, they get their four year degree. We know that most of the time, there's not a professional opportunity for most of our collegiate athletes. However, we have several kids that have high D1 accolades in statistical categories in their colleges. We have NAIA, All American kids, as well as those that hold records at those NAIA colleges. We do have Olympic people that have ran in the Olympic trials. We do have an athlete that has made it to the NBA. We do have an athlete that's made it to the NFL, as well. So, there's just a variety of successes and everybody's path is a little different and we can help them get there.

- That's really awesome. As I understand it, we have some standouts this year as well. Who's a couple, who are a couple athletes, right now, you wanna talk about?

- Well, I tried to-

- Brag about.

- Yeah, well I tried to take a list and I feel horrible if I forget somebody, but individually this year, recently, we had several Pierce Middle School wrestlers earn All-County, which is a big meet for our middle school kids. The conference and county stuff is about as high as our middle schoolers will compete. We've had several All-State football players from this past fall between the two high schools. We've had several soccer boys, soccer girls, soccer's just starting. So, boys soccer players as well as football players earn All-Area, All-District, All-Region type honors as well. Individually, most recently, we've had an All-State diver, Alex Poulin. We've had an All-State wrestler, Emily Medford, and we've had a state champion in bowling, Brendan Riley. So, those are some individual accomplishments. For team accomplishments, again, I could go on and on, but Waterford Kettering Wrestling is a district and conference champion, Waterford Kettering Boys Bowling, district and conference champions, and state qualifiers. Kettering Girls Bowling, state qualifiers. Mott Football made playoffs, Mott Boys Basketball, conference champs, Mason Boys Basketball seventh and eighth grade, and Mason Girls seventh grade basketball made the conference playoffs, again, being one of the highest kind of routes you can take when you're competing for our middle schools. So, that's just a few off the top of my head, so...

- That's a lot, though. That's a lot, really impressive and great to hear that these teens and athletes are doing so well representing Waterford School District. Scott, I know you recently met up with some of our athletes at both Mott and Kettering. Let's take a listen, first, to what our Mott students had to say.

- All right. Well, hello. We are here at Mott High School with Kalieb Osborne and Karli Koskinen. And so, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourselves, what grade you're in, and what sports you play here, at Mott High School. We'll start with Karli.

- I'm a sophomore and I run cross country, play basketball, and play soccer.

- So three, three sports?

- Yeah, three sports.

- Excellent, excellent. Kalieb, how about you?

- I play football and basketball and this year, I'm gonna run track.

- Okay. So, you both play multiple sports. How do you balance school, and sports, and just life, right? All your other obligations, how do you do that?

- Well, on top of school sports, I play travel soccer too, so I'm just really busy all the time. I don't really get much free time between school and soccer.

- Wow, okay.

- With me, I have meetings sometimes with my coaches to like schedule stuff, and know I got visits and stuff going on, and I just balance it with my coaches and my schedule, and make sure I don't miss anything.

- Okay, very good. Kalieb, and I understand you have verbally, just verbally, committed to Toledo. Talk to us a little bit about how your coaches here, at Mott, help you prepare and what your future plans might be.

- Coach Fahr helped me a lot with that. He don't only teach me about, like, football and like sports. He teach me how to be a man and like, know how to own up to things. So, I feel like Toledo, it was a a good fit 'cause they helped me just know how the recruitment works and like, it's just a business, and yeah, they helped me a lot with that. So, like I trust the process with them. Yeah, that's it.

- Yeah well, excellent. Trust the process, learning about life and you know, Karli, tell us a little bit about your, you've been here in Waterford and you came up through Mason, you were involved in athletics at Mason Middle School, as well. Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences there?

- Well, at Mason I built really good relationships with all my coaches and teammates. I played, or I ran cross country, played basketball, and ran track and in eighth grade, we had a really good year. We went undefeated in basketball and our track team broke a lot of school records that year. So, it was just a fun experience.

- Excellent. Relationships, learning about life. We're just so glad to have both of you here, a part of our district and a part of our athletic programs. Good luck to both of you and what's to come in the days ahead.

- Thank you.

- All right, awesome hearing from both Kalieb and Karli, then Scott, you also went to Kettering to talk to some of those athletes, so let's take a listen to that as well.

- So, now we are here, at Kettering High School, to talk with Emily Medford and Zarek Zelinski . Hello to both of you. Can you first tell us off a little bit about yourselves, what grade you're in, and the sports you've been playing here, at Kettering?

- Yeah, for sure. I'm a junior here and I usually wrestle most of the time but this past fall, I did cheerleading and I used to play soccer for Kettering.

- Oh, excellent, excellent. Zarek, how about you?

- I'm Zarek Zelinski , I'm a senior here. I play football, baseball, and basketball, and yeah.

- Excellent. Emily, you know, you're in girls wrestling, it's a growing sport. You've been All-State two years in a row, so very successful. Talk to us a little bit about being a female representative in a male dominated sport.

- Yeah, so my first year wasn't super hard. I didn't struggle with the male part of it at all 'cause I was like, "Oh, I'm a first year, don't really know what I'm doing." I think this year was a little bit harder. I expected myself to perform to the same levels as males which gets kind of hard, because I'm at a weight class where guys get muscular. But yeah, I think once in, like the end of the season when State starts, when I go against girls, I feel I get more confident because I'm a little bit stronger than most of them. But yeah, it's a really good sport and I really like doing it.

- Yeah, excellent. Again, two year All-State in a row. Congratulations. Zarek, you are a three sport athlete with numerous local, regional and state honors for football, baseball, and basketball. I also hear you got a full ride scholarship to Saginaw Valley State University. Congratulations on that. How have you balanced three sports and your academic achievements here, at Kettering?

- I just think it starts with just being a good role model in the classroom and just focusing during school, making sure I get all my homework in. Just having a good relationship with teachers, and just asking them when I need help, and just doing all that. And then, just with academics, just staying on top of my stuff and just trying to keep my grades up as best as possible. Just being a good student. You gotta be a student before an athlete and then just with athletics, just push myself, work hard every day and just try to be the best I can be, and just go from there. Just, yeah.

- Well, excellent. Well that certainly paid off for you, hasn't it? Well, thank you to both of you. You're a great representation for Waterford and especially for Kettering High School. Thanks for joining with me today.

- Great job by Zarek and Emily, answering those questions. Scott, how was it meeting with all of our student athletes?

- Well, again, it's one of the best parts of my job to get out into the buildings, to talk with kids, to look right at them and see the excitement of the successes that they're having, and just seeing kids passing in the halls and just talking with our staff. So I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy it. It's something I look forward to every day that, that type of activities on my calendar, the students are great and they represent Waterford and our community in such an awesome way, and that's encouraging as well.

- Absolutely.

- So, Allison, we've also had many coaching successes as well. Can you talk to us about the importance of our coaching staff and how crucial they are to the entire program?

- Yeah, so our coaches, I mentioned it before, but we think of athletics as an extension of the classroom and our coaches do a wonderful job of teaching their athletes the life lessons that they need through sport and through life, really. Now, our athletic programs, the level of successes are very different but it's awesome to see the way that our coaches can interact with such a diverse group of student athletes within their programs, and really foster the improvement of these athletes as individuals and a team as well as, you know, get to the next level in some of these very successful sports programs that we have. I think it's all about relationships and culture. The environment that our coaches create in their programs for these kids really get them to a place where they feel welcomed. A lot of times sports for kids are their passion, right? So, that's something they wanna do. So, when our coaches are able to create like a culture for them to, you know, obviously compete but feel welcomed and like they're going to succeed with their teammates, it just leads to more success. So, specifically, just this past winter, we did have our Waterford Kettering wrestling coach, Brett Hanna, named as the Oakland County Wrestling Coach of the Year. So, great honor for this area where, you know Oakland County is a big area, so lot of great coaches and just a few years back, actually, one of our former, she's still a teacher in the district but former Mott track coach was, Amy McNeil, was also honored with the exact same award through The Track Association for Oakland County. So again, those are just two examples of coaches that have been publicly awarded for some of the great work that they do behind the scenes.

- That's great, that we have such an awesome lineup of coaches here, at the district. Excuse me. On that note, we're gonna take a quick commercial break and then we'll be back to talk more about our amazing athletic facilities. So, stay tuned. Hello. Scott Lindberg, here, Superintendent of Waterford School District. It's time to start thinking about where your child should attend school for the '23-'24 school year. At Waterford School District, we aim to create today's student to become tomorrow's leader and we are uniquely prepared to build your child's future. We offer many dynamic learning opportunities, such as an innovative STEM academy, and we recently invested approximately $4 million in cutting-edge curriculum. Enroll at, that's Come join us here, at Waterford School District, where your child will be inspired, educated, and empowered to thrive.

- Okay, and we are back here, on WSD Voice, talking with Allison Sartorius, our Athletic Director. Allison, let's discuss our awesome athletic facilities here, at Waterford School District. What are some highlights of our facilities?

- Yeah, so we are blessed to have our community support with all those bonds that we've been passing my entire career here and prior to that even. And those bonds have helped to assist us in creating some wonderful athletic facilities that are highly showcased around the area. Other, a lot of times other high schools will come and actually visit our facilities in order to kind of get an idea of what they want theirs to look like. So, we do have fairly new football, soccer, lacrosse, track and field stadiums, the whole entire stadium, the bleachers, the courtyard areas, the field obviously itself, and the tracks. Most recently, it's our baseball and softball fields at both Mott and Kettering that are spectacular. So, if you haven't had a chance yet, make sure to come out and check out a baseball or softball game, or a soccer game, or a track meet this spring and really see these facilities.

- Yeah, for sure. And I can say, our athletic facilities are always a top priority when we're looking at items we can improve, with our bond dollars to keep them in that state-of-the-art condition. Allison, I think something else that is important for us to mention here is the sheer size of our programming. So, we already discussed earlier the amount of athletes and coaches, but also what about the number of competitions we have for our students?

- So from, if we take last year through this upcoming spring, we have hosted not only our dual, you know, competitions, our events where we play one other team, but when we talk large scale events, we will have hosted well over 30 within the Waterford School District, probably closer to 40 once I total 'em all up from this year, as well. Some of our larger ones being cross-country regionals at Hess-Hathaway and our Mott Invitational at Hess-Hathaway where we have thousands of spectators and hundreds of cross-country runners coming into that facility. We also, of course, bowling regionals at 300 Bowl, just recently have hosted those. That bowling venue is just packed. You cannot even walk from end to end. It is so packed in there. Of course, a football playoff game which we we're fortunate to host this past fall brings a lot of spectators into a, you know, Waterford Mott football game. So, that was fun. And, we did host boys soccer district and regionals for D2 and D1 final regional game this past fall, and it was so highly successful and we we're so complimented upon that by not only the high school athletic association, but also the teams that participated in that district and regional. Just yesterday, we were asked to host the girls soccer D2 State semi-final.

- Wow.

- At Waterford Kettering in June which is gonna be a huge event. Obviously with that point, only four teams left in the state and we were chose to host one of those games. So, pretty exciting and of course, we continue to take any opportunity we we can to give not only our kids an an opportunity to compete in these larger events, but also a lot of times when we're hosting these events, it's kids from all over our state.

- Mm-hmm, indeed, and what I love to see, too, is at these events you see grandparents, aunts and uncles, and you see the community at large. They may not even have students here, in our district, but they wanna come out and support our kids. So that's a strong, strong community. Allison, what about our elementary students? You've mentioned our high school and the middle schools, but what opportunities do the younger students have?

- Yeah, so we want our elementary school students to get in as involved as they possibly can in all athletic opportunities and any enrichment opportunities because again, anything that they can do to enrich their academic experience and their school experience will foster a sense of success for them and hold them closer to academics. So right now, we do partner with the Parks and Rec program and I know our community education department has partnered with them for a long time. So, they do offer some opportunities for our elementary age kids. We, at Waterford School District Athletics, along with our varsity coaches and middle school coaches, also offer large variety of clinics, camps, and even some leagues for our elementary kids. So our community members, our elementary parents need to make sure to continue to watch Blackboard and PeachJar, watch your emails, watch the websites, because in the next month and a half or so we'll be starting to get out all of our summer programming for our clinics and our camps that will be held at the high school and then throughout the school year, continuing to push out any other opportunities we're offering for these elementary kids through our programs.

- All right, that's great to hear that our elementary families have some really great options out there, as well. Our community partners also include our spectators, those people that attend our events. Can you talk a little bit about our community spectator, about how our community spectator attendance has grown?

- Yeah, so we, throughout year to year, we have well over 20,000 spectators that come inside our ticketed events, and that's not including baseball and softball, where we don't ticket for. So, some of these events that are not ticketed, tennis matches, golf matches, any of those types of things, that's not even included in that 20, over 20,000 number. So, we just want to make sure everybody realizes that they are welcome to come see any of our events. There is a gate fee usually, but we definitely would like our spectators and our community members, parents of younger kids to kind of come check out what we have to offer. And you know, COVID years made it a little weird because you only could have two spectators per kid, but we are trending even higher. So, I expect us to be closer to the ticketed events at about 30,000 spectators this year.

- Incredible.

- Yeah, that is incredible. All right, you heard it straight from Allison. Come out and watch our kids play and support our teams and coaches. Thank you, Allison, for being on the show. I don't know how you keep it all running, but you're doing a phenomenal job and we'll have to have you on again to continue to keep this conversation going and keep everyone updated on our athletics.

- Sounds great, thank you.

- This podcast is brought to you by Waterford School District's Department of School and Community Services and is produced by Video Production Coordinator, Jane Tekiele. I am the host of this podcast, Sarah Davis, and you can find all episodes of WSD Voice on our website at, or you can tune in to 89.5 WAHS or Radio Central Multicultural. We also invite you to subscribe to the podcast, which is now available on Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcast, and if you wanna watch this recording on our WSD YouTube channel. We so appreciate you listening today and encourage you to continue to tune in to future episodes of WSD Voice as we discuss topics geared toward inspiring, educating and empowering our students, staff, alumni and community to thrive.

Episode 3: STEM Robotics at WSD
Published: February 2023

watch on our youtube channel   Download episode 3

In our latest episode of WSD Voice, we discuss some of the amazing STEM Robotics opportunities we have at WSD for all grade levels.  

Ashley Proulx, third grade teacher at Schoolcraft
Sarah Yates, fifth grade teacher at Riverside, plus FRC Team members Gavin Wagner (11th, Mott) and Mia Schipono (10th, Kettering)
Tanya Cannon, fourth grade teacher at Cooley, and her three STEM students: Charlie Grower (3rd), Jewel Carter (4th) and Issac Lakatos (4th)

STEM Academy
Waterford Community Education

Sarah Davis, Director of Communications and Community Relations

Scott Lindberg, Superintendent

Jane Tekiele, Video Production Coordinator

- Welcome to WSD Voice, a podcast focused on positive and informative news in Waterford School District. I am your host, Sarah Davis, the Director of Communications and Community Relations. and I am here with Waterford District Superintendent, Scott Lindberg. In this episode, we're focusing on some of the amazing STEM robotics opportunities we have here in Waterford School District. In doing my research for this show, I was truly amazed at how many programs we have here. We won't have time to discuss all of them, but I hope we can give a little bit of an overview of what our STEM robotics offerings are here.

- All right, sounds like a plan Sarah. To kick off this discussion, we are first going to talk with Ashley Proulx, a 3rd grade teacher at Schoolcraft Elementary who is also a VEX Go STEM Labs Leader at the school. Ashley, thank you for being here with us today. Can you start us out by explaining what is VEX Go STEM Lab and how does it run?

- First off, thank you for having me today. And VEX Go STEM Lab is a constructive system that introduces students to concepts of STEM, which is science, technology, engineering, and math, and then we explore those topics through hands-on and collaborative activities. Currently, Waterford School District is offering VEX Go to all of 3rd through 5th grade students, and it's as an afterschool club. And I host a session of VEX Go during our Summer of STEAM camp as well.

- Yeah, that's great, after school, having fun outside the classroom, and hands-on. Can you give us an example of a recent project the group has participated in?

- So yes, a good example of this was a collaboration project that a few groups joined in on. One student began the project by designing a soccer field obstacle course. This sparked a friendly challenge for a few of the other groups to build a robot that would enter the game as a soccer player. Every robot was vastly different because each group added their own elements of creativity to a simple robot. They were designing and adding the elements to give them an edge in the soccer game because they were all attempting to design the star soccer player. The students collaborate together so well. They create their designs, test their designs, and it's incredible to see them use a growth mindset throughout the activity. Even when their design ideas fail, they're happy to try something new. Every idea they have begins as a seed, but blossoms as they make decisions to bring their ideas into fruition. It's humbling, honestly, to watch my students work together during every lab and tackle obstacles that they do not necessarily have one set solution for. I've noticed that every project involves creative problem solving to create something from their curious minds. In my opinion, these students are learning real world authentic skillsets that are going to help them be successful in whatever path they choose for their future.

- Yeah, that's great, Ashley, competition, collaboration, real world problems, and actually learning how to recover from a failure, 'cause that happens to us every day in the real world, so that's wonderful. In fact, Sarah, I think you recently visited Cooley Elementary, and you got some real time footage of what it looks like to be in the VEX Go STEM Lab Club, so let's take a look.

- We are here today at Cooley Elementary with Tanya Cannon, who is the Leader of the VEX Go STEM Labs as well as a 4th grade teacher here. So we are gonna talk to you a little bit about the VEX Go STEM. Can you talk to us about what led you to lead this team?

- Well, last year, I saw that they were bringing VEX Club to Waterford and to Cooley in particular, and I was really excited to be a part of it. My own kids have been part of Destination Imagination, my own kids, my kids are grown now, but in high school, and I've seen firsthand, all the benefits they get from problem solving and building and just learning in a fun environment, so I wanted to be a part of that here at Cooley.

- So can you talk a little bit about how often you meet? What are some of the things that you do when you meet?

- Yeah, we meet every Tuesday after school for about an hour and 15 minutes, and there's eight sessions, and there's two sessions per year. So a lot of my kids like to join both sessions. Sometimes we get new kids that join the second session, and from last year to this year even, the number of kids joining, I dunno if it's word of mouth or what, but I see more and more kids joining.

- So we wanna start out by introducing some of our Cooley students here. If all of you could say your names and what grade you're in.

- I'm Charlie Joslyn Frontier Gower, and I'm in 3rd grade.

- I'm Jewel Carter, and I'm in 4th grade.

- I'm Isaac Lakatos. I'm a fourth grade student.

- Okay, excellent. So let's see, what are some things that you have learned from being part of the VEX Go STEM Labs?

- I learned how to create cool movement structures, and I like it, because it's really really cool watching them move.

- Wonderful. What are some of your favorite things about being on the team?

- So some of my favorite things are like the building, and I also like, like I can kinda make new friends and stuff, because there's some people who I don't really know here. And it's just fun to build the stuff and actually build like stuff that you can actually move around.

- Okay, excellent, great way to meet new friends. And what led you to join the team to start with?

- I thought it would be a really fun experience to learn maybe like science things, and I wanted to learn more about how to build things and how things would work. And I am a very good planner, so I do like to do that as well.

- Okay, wonderful, so using some of the skills that you already have in a different setting. So, all right, thanks to all of you for being on the podcast and letting us know how much fun it is to be in one of these clubs.

- Looks like it was a lotta fun over there. How'd it go Sarah?

- It went really great. I had a wonderful time meeting with Tanya as well as Charlie, Jewel, and Isaac. What I really picked up from going over there was that the students have a really strong say in how the activity goes, and they're encouraged to think the projects through for themselves. Ashley, have you found that to be true doing the VEX Go STEM Lab?

- Yeah, I completely agree. They really get to control their own experience because they explore the lab in a way that's interesting to them. So every session, every group can be working on their own lab or an extension of a previous lab, but the bottom line is, they do have a lot of choice, and it helps them create their own accountability and pride in their projects with everything that they do.

- Absolutely.

- That's such an amazing opportunity for our kids, especially at the elementary level, to be asked to lead the discussion and to participate. Ashley, I know a few weeks ago, you took some members of your club to Lansing for the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning Student Technology Showcase. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

- Yeah, of course. We were obviously very fortunate to even have had that experience, and myself and four of my students and their parents joined us down in Lansing. I had four students, and they all kind of just showed a different project. I had one student, who, a team, actually a brother and sister team, who built a robot that could differentiate colors, so they built their own guessing game. I had one student that built a super car with a crash course, another student that created a logging robot, that would log a field of trees and then use robotic arms that would come out and rake them all into one specific area. So, it was really interesting to have them showcase all of the little different ideas that they had throughout our time together.

- Awesome, thank you.

- Yeah, it sounds like a great experience, and I know we got a really nice "Oakland Press" article out of that too, so made some headlines. So since VEX Go STEM Labs started here in the district about two years ago, we've had over 225 students get involved, and I recently learned that we plan to expand with an additional program that we're gonna pilot at Schoolcraft this year, called VEX 123. Can you talk about VEX 123 a little bit?

- Yeah, I'm really excited to be part of VEX 123. Our first session actually was last week, so we're still kind of in the mix of it. But VEX 123 is really aimed towards our lower elementary students, and we're offering it to 1st and 2nd graders. This program is an interactive and programmable robot that is really introducing the kids for their first step in computer science and coding. So the students begin their learning by using simple touch controls and sequencing to control their robot, but eventually, they're gonna be working on their Chromebooks to design more complex coding and using scratch coding blocks.

- Awesome, well, VEX Go STEM Labs is an amazing project, I'm sure VEX 123 will go just as well. So thank you for sharing all of that, Ashley. We're gonna take a quick commercial break, and then we will be back with the second half of the show.

- Hello, everyone, Scott Lindberg, your Superintendent of Waterford School District. Did you know that Waterford School District offers a comprehensive community education program? Community education classes provide enrichment and academic opportunities for children and adults, who want to learn a new skill, explore an interest, or enrich the personal or professional lives. You will discover year-round programming for all interests throughout the fall, winter, spring, and summer. Check out what classes we offer as well as register on our website under the community education tab at

- Okay, and we are back. Next on the show, here to talk about other STEM robotics opportunities in the district is Sarah Yates, a 5th grade teacher at Riverside by day, but also the Waterford School District's Robotics Coordinator. Sarah, welcome to the show. First, can you explain what W.I.R.E.D is?

- W.I.R.E.D is our elementary and middle school competitive robotics program, and it focuses on cooperation based skills, and they work with another team on the field to try and complete a task. We meet one to two times a week in the evenings, and they meet from August to May. And these teams are currently doing the VEX IQ challenge, and we compete on Fridays and Saturdays. If they qualify, we can earn a spot on the state, regional, or global team. And currently here in Waterford, we have somewhere between 75 and 100 students involved, and we've been around for 10 years.

- Ah, that's great. W.I.R.E.D, Waterford Initiative for Robotics Education and Development, I always like to remember that. So even more opportunities for elementary students and adding in our middle school now too. And you also oversee the programming for our FRC program, which is the first robotics competition which I believe is for our high school students. Can you talk about that a little bit?

- Our season is split into two parts. Our fall is our local season, and that's when we compete in Oakland County. It's a simpler task. We build a roughly 100 pound robot, and the kids are learning how to use the tools and how to work with one another. In the winter, we go ahead and we do our FRC season, which is global, and in our global season, we have a more difficult task, and we can build up to 125 pounds. And what's cool about our FRC teams and our high school team in general is it's a combination of both Mott and Kettering in grades nine through 12. We work on a lotta different skills. We're there over 20 hours a week building, and our skills include working as a team and communicating with others, and we also work on our engineering skills.

- Sounds awesome, but between W.I.R.E.D and FRC, that's a lot to keep afloat, how do you do it all?

- We are lucky. Both have tremendous help. Our high school team is led by our Head Mentor Spencer Pete, and he is with us for our 5th season. But both W.I.R.E.D and FRC have a lot of parent support and community members that come, and they volunteer their time. Some of them are teachers, some of them are parents, some of them come from the community, 'cause they have a background in this and would like to see students build their skills.

- That's awesome that you have such a strong backbone of volunteers. We definitely can't do this stuff without people like Spencer or the parents, and that is for absolute certain. What are some of the interesting competitions that the FRC team or W.I.R.E.D programs have participated in or maybe some awards that they've recently won?

- Our high school team this fall received the Spirit of the Competition Award, which is one that was granted to them for the way they carried themselves on the field and in competition. So that was one that we were very proud of as it's hard to coach. The W.I.R.E.D teams are close to winning awards. We're not quite there yet. Our middle school team was one point off from winning their last competition.

- Well, awesome, congratulations. I mean, that Spirit of Competition Award, I think in a lot of ways can be just as important as winning the the actual competition. That says a lot about our students, so something to be proud of for sure. In fact, I myself wanted to witness these teams in action, so I recently stopped in at Kettering to talk with a couple members of the FRC team. Let's take a look. So we are here at Kettering High School today with members of FRC Team 3098, and we're gonna start by introducing ourselves. We have.

- My name is Mia Schipono. I am a 10th grader at Kettering High School.

- I'm Gavin Wagner, and I am a junior at Mott High School.

- Okay, wonderful. Thank you, both of you, for joining us on the podcast. What led you, Mia, to join the team and be interested in robotics?

- I just have a big interest in like building and working with mechanical things, like the robots that we build.

- Okay, awesome, Gavin?

- I just like messing around with mechanical things and tinkering with all the little bits and parts.

- Okay, perfect. Can both of you share what maybe your favorite project that you've done over the course of your robotics career has been?

- I'd say the intakes. It was a big challenge for me, learning how to build it and fixing the things that didn't work the first time.

- Probably this year's chassis design that we're building, 'cause using skills from last year for building the chassis, I think we've got it pretty set on what we're doing. And also, I just like building the chassis and making the robot move. It's really fun to do.

- Okay, awesome. And how do you think that participating in robotics programs here at Waterford has helped you for the future?

- I'm pretty dead set on going to college for mechanical engineering, so this has helped a lot, and also made a lot of friends here, and it's actually pretty fun here.

- Okay.

- And it's further helped me learn how to work with a team and how to like plan and like talk to people about specific designs.

- Wonderful, so giving you additional skills that you can use inside, but also outside of the classroom. It sounds like it'll help you out in the future, so good luck to both of you.

- Thank you too.

- Again, another great time getting out and visiting our schools here and getting to see what the students have to say about these programs and how they think they are personally impactful to them. Scott, any last words about our STEM robotics offerings here at Waterford School District?

- Well, I'm just proud that we're able to offer all of these opportunities. Robotics and STEM, we're looking at opportunities that offer our students real world problem solving opportunities. They're complex, lifelong applications. What I like that's been mentioned, a growth mindset, and really, it's relationships with other students after school, which we're talking about today, and other than the school hours. So you're building those relationships, building a growth mindset. We're really setting up kids to be successful in the future.

- Absolutely, so that is about it for our podcast for today. Thank you, Sarah, for being here, but also for letting me come to Kettering and interview Mia and Gavin. Thank you Ashley for representing the VEX Go STEM Labs piece of this conversation, and good luck with the VEX 123 program. And last but not least, thank you to Tanya, Charlie, Jewel, and Isaac for also letting us visit Cooley. I want our listeners to be aware that VEX Go STEM Labs, W.I.R.E.D, and FRC are only some of the STEM robotics programming we have here at WSD. We also have a STEM Academy, a very comprehensive Girls Who Code program, and a Summer of STEAM offering during the summer. Information for each of these programs is shared under the community education tab on our district's website. This podcast is brought to you by Waterford School District's Department of School and Community Services and is produced by Video Production Coordinator Jane Tekiele. I am the host of this podcast, Sarah Davis, and you can find all episodes of WSD Voice on our website at Or you can tune in to 89.5 WAHS or Radio Central Multicultural. We also invite you to subscribe to the podcast, which is now available on Apple Podcast, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcast, and if you wanna watch the recording on our WSD YouTube channel. We so appreciate you listening today and encourage you to continue to tune in to future episodes of WSD Voice, as we discuss topics geared toward inspiring, educating, and empowering our students, staff, alumni, and community to thrive.

Episode 2: All About Our English Language Development Department
Published: December 2022


In this episode, we discuss the recent changes our English Language Development Department has undergone, as well as explore the amazing academic opportunities this department offers our students. 

Guests: Jessica Ristich, English Language Development Consultant
Migdalia Rodriguez, Parent Resource Assistant
Laurie Runk, 4th grade Teacher at Grayson Elementary
Clarys Harwood, English Language Development Specialist  

Hosts: Sarah Davis, Director of Communications and Community Relations
Scott Lindberg, Superintendent

Producer: Jane Tekiele, Video Production Coordinator

- [Sarah] Welcome to WSD Voice, a podcast focused on positive and informative news in Waterford School District. I am your host, Sarah Davis, the Director of Communications and Community Relations. And I am here with Waterford School District Superintendent, Scott Lindberg. Today we will be discussing our English Language Development Department, which will also be referred to in this podcast as our ELD department. This ELD Department is actually an updated name from our longstanding English as a Second Language or ESL Department here at WSD. And we will talk about why we have decided to do that name change in a minute. But first, let's introduce our guests.

- [Scott] Ah, yes. On the show today we have Jessica Ristich, English Language Development Consultant for WSD and Migdalia Rodriguez, Parent Resource Assistant for WSD. Both Jessica and Migdalia play a crucial role in our ELD Department. And so they agreed to be our guests on WSD Voice to discuss the types of ELD curriculum we offer here at Waterford School District, as well as to explain some recent updates to the ELD Department that we think would be of interest for our audience.

- [Sarah] Okay, great. Welcome to both of you. First, let's start with the name change. Jessica, can you talk about what your department formally was called and what it was recently changed to?

- [Jessica] Sure. So, our department used to be called the ESL Department which stands for English as a Second Language. And just this fall we updated our department name to ELD, as you mentioned, which stands for English Language Development. And just to be really clear, that is the name of our department, our program, and our titles but we still refer to our students as English learners or ELs.

- [Sarah] Okay. And why did you decide to change the name?

- [Jessica] So there are a few reasons actually. And one of the most important has to do with our standards. So people may not know this, but just like there are standards for Math and Science and Social Studies, we have ELD standards as well. And in Michigan, those standards are the WIDA ELD standards. So it makes sense that instruction of those standards would be carried out by an ELD department. The names should match. Even when you think about our new curriculum, our new HMH Inter Reading Curriculum, the supplemental materials for English learners are called ELD Tabletop Mini Lessons. So again, we're gonna start to see that match across our district and with our materials. Another reason is English as a Second Language is a term that doesn't completely capture what our students know and do. ELD focuses on helping students develop English whether they're fully proficient in their first language or not. And the term ESL can have the connotation that students have already mastered their first language where that isn't always the case. Sometimes students are working to develop both at the same time. It also implies that a student is learning a second language whereas English for some of our students, is their third or even their fourth. So English language development really helps us force an asset based view too.

- [Sarah] Okay, that makes sense. In addition to the name change, you mentioned to me that you've added some new positions to your department to provide even greater ELD opportunities to our students. What are a few of those new roles and why were they needed?

- [Jessica] So, this year we added four English Language Development Specialists to our elementary team. And with the study population of English learners enrolling in our district and a really significant increase in the number of newcomers that we've had enter our district, it feels like this is just the right time to add staff. We have a legal obligation to make sure that we provide the right resources and enough resources to ensure that our students are receiving an effective ELD support program. And that means that we need to make sure that we have both highly qualified teachers, and by that I mean teachers that are endorsed that have the endorsement to teach ELD and also trained professional support staff. We've had endorsed ELD teachers and designated ELD classes in our middle schools and high schools for a very long time but we didn't have that same representation at the elementary level. It feels good to know that that piece is a bit more aligned. And when you think about our new specialist, their work really closely mirrors that of their counterparts in secondary. So, they are responsible for making sure that our students receive instruction related to our ELD standards. You'll also find our specialists creating materials for Gen Ed teachers to use in the classroom to help their students access the content. You'll find them serving on MTSS teams. You'll find them sometimes co-planning or co-teaching with Gen Ed teachers. And they really are just available to be thinking partners to any of our WSD colleagues who have English learners on their caseloads. I will mention that every ELD program has two main goals. And the first is to make sure that we speed up the rate at which our students acquire English. And the second is that we make sure that we are helping provide access to the general education content. And both of those goals are stemmed in civil rights issues. And so, it's important that we have the right size team to meet those goals. And that, again, like I mentioned, we have representation on the teaching staff as well as the support staff. And just like our ELD teachers and ELD specialists, our support staff colleagues have always had a very heavy load to lift with all of the requirements of our program. Our support staff is made up of three roles. We have ELD paraprofessionals, parent resource assistance and a newcomer student liaison. And they all do incredible work every day. And as Migdalia is sitting here next to me, one of our amazing parent resource assistants, I can't help but think of another reason that I'm happy we've added more staff. And that is that I'm hoping it will help give Migdalia and her colleagues a little bit more time to connect with families during the school day. And I say that because they are working around the clock. They never clock out. They have families reaching out to them at all hours into the evening and they never don't answer their phones. So, they are the face of our program. They build really long lasting, deep relationships with our families and their role is just so vital. So, hopefully they'll have a little more time too.

- [Sarah] Yeah, it absolutely sounds like a vital role there. So, you've kind of already introduced Migdalia, but Migdalia in addition to what Jessica just explained, what else would you like to talk about your role here at WSD and what led you to this position?

- [Migdalia] Thank you for allowing me to share, and thank you Jess for inviting me to come with you. I could think of many other ones that could have came with you. But as a parent resource, our job entails a number of different responsibility from supporting teachers and staff members, advocating for our parents, accommodating our English learners academically and with language support. And something new this year, like Jessica already mentioned, is ELD teachers being able to collaborate with them, you know, and work together with them, which for me at Donaldson has been a big help, that extra layer of support that we have. As part of the support staff at our schools, we have also learned throughout the years that building relationships is such an important part of our jobs in order to be able to be that bridge that unites the English language, excuse me, language learners with the community and the district which is so essential for our jobs. I can tell you about a typical day in the workload of parent resource.

- [Sarah] Yeah, please do.

- [Migdalia] It consists of receiving phone calls all day, visits from parents in and out of the schools, text messaging, like Jess already mentioned, sometimes they call us at night, they call us on the weekends, whenever they're thinking of something, they give us a call. When COVID hit and we went home, we were using our cell phones for communication with them. So, that hasn't stopped. They still have our numbers. So, they call us continuously. But also besides the calls and the visits, we also do translations for them. We fill out forms, we translate at conferences, we assist with any kind of behavior issues, whether it's good or bad. We also help them with homework, newsletters, school activities. So there's just a variety of things that we do. But I also noticed that the teachers are so grateful to us you know, being able to translate, you know, communications, all kind of communications with the parents, you know because it keeps the parents involved in their student's school. The second part of the question, what led me to this position was, I've always loved working with kids. And in the church that I assist, I have been working with kids for a long time. So when I heard of the opening, I thought this would be a great place for me to be at. So, I'm so thankful that I'm here and I enjoy investing time in the kids. I enjoy listening to their success stories, you know. So yeah, I, I I really enjoy working with kids.

- [Sarah] Yeah. Sounds like a perfect fit. And you just listed a lot of things there, but what would you say is your favorite part of the job?

- [Migdalia] My favorite part of the job is being able to get to know the families and the students. I think throughout the years, I have been able to assist families from so many different countries. Not that I know how to speak all those languages, but I feel that even if we don't know how to speak all those languages just the understanding, smile or getting the right resources from Jess to be able to help them, you know, helps us to be able to assist all of these English language learners to learn the language. So, I have to say that, I hear the most amazing stories sometimes from the families. Some are good, some are not so good, struggling stories you know, but I just love just being able to be there for them and being compassionate towards them. I believe that at, excuse me, at Donaldson we have a great parent community. I love the way the parents can just come in and go out and feel comfortable, you know. We also do parent meetings with them to be able to show them, give them resources, how to help their kids at home, you know. And they enjoy that, you know, because we keep them connected to what the kids are doing at school. In this year or the beginning of this year we were able to celebrate at Donaldson, Hispanic Heritage Month. We had a good turnout, we had a good time we had lots of food. We had the whole school come out and meet with us, you know. So we had a good celebration. So in addition to all of that, I think as a parent resource, I love for our parents to know that they have a voice in the community, you know, that we are there to advocate for them and their kids, and you know, we are here, you know, to help you, you know, whichever way we can. So I love knowing that at the end of the day, I can go home, feeling satisfied that I help the child or I help the parent. So, that's my favorite part of being a parent resource.

- [Sarah] Well, sounds like we're lucky to have you.

- Thank you.

- Jessica, you mentioned the importance of language access. I hear we also have a new resource called Language Line that will compliment the work that Migdalia and the nine other Spanish speaking parent resource assistance are already doing. Can you talk about Language Line and what it is?

- [Jessica] I would love to talk about Language Line. Language Line is amazing and like Migdalia said, about her role, it helps us give a voice to the parents that don't speak English or Spanish or the languages that we have on staff. So, you know, we have about 40 languages spoken in our district across, you know, across all of our buildings. And at any time of the day, any WSD staff member can pick up the phone, use our Language Line hotline, reach an interpreter in 240 different languages, and the Connect time, the average connect time is six seconds. So, it's that quick to say have someone on the other end. And already, we've used it for parent teacher conferences, central enrollment has used it when new students were enrolling and we even had one of our parent resource assistants use it last week, I think it was last week when there was a lockdown drill and we had a new refugee student. And he wanted to make sure that the refugee student understood that this was practice so that there were no feelings of stress or anxiety. So we have already used it quite a bit. It's really amazing. I'm so proud and so excited that we have this to offer.

- [Sarah] Yeah, sounds like an amazing resource and in ways that maybe you wouldn't have even thought of you know, such as something like the drill like you were talking about. You wouldn't think about that, but that's a great time to have that resource available for sure. Scott, I know Language Line was something that you also supported.

- Yes.

- Can you talk about why?

- [Scott] Well, we talk about, we wanna make sure that we're connecting with all of our parents. And Jessica, as you mentioned, we have over 40 languages spoken here in our district. So we have to be able to communicate with our parents, communicate with our students so they feel connected. And so, we can really help the teaching and learning go forward much better. We wanna make sure we have the standards in place and make sure that all kids, all kids can be successful. And in order to do that, you've gotta be able to communicate and this certainly adds to that.

- [Sarah] Absolutely that connection is paramount. Jessica, you also mentioned earlier, that we've hired four new ELD specialists who are providing crucial learning reinforcements in the classroom. So to check out what our new ELD specialists were up to, Scott decided to visit Grayson Elementary specifically fourth grade teacher, Laurie Runk's classroom, to see how things are going for one of our new ELD specialists, Clarys Harwood.

- [Scott] So, hi. We are here at Grayson Elementary with Clarys Harwood and also also with Laurie Runk fourth grade classroom. And what I saw going on in that classroom was really outstanding. I saw you working after the main lesson was given, working with a small group of kids. Can you tell us a little bit about why should we have two certified teachers and why were you working with those kids and what were you doing?

- [Clarys] Sure. The reason why we should have two certified teachers is because I was working with a group of English learners who are at the developing, late developing stage, who need more scaffolds and supports to produce what everyone else is producing. The idea is to provide those scaffolds and then over time those scaffolds won't be needed anymore. We will get them up a level and proficient enough so that those scaffolds will go away and they'll be up to the level that everybody else is at. As far as the reason why I was working on comparing and contrasting, it's the skill that we're focusing on, not so much the content. It's, can they take that skill and apply it to any content area that they're in that they have to compare and contrast which happens on a daily basis? And so, I believe that with both of us working together, it provides, you know, the opportunities that weren't always available before.

- [Scott] Well, that's great Clarys. And so tell me, Laurie, how does this help you move the classroom forward together?

- [Laurie] Well, in a fourth grade classroom, as in any classroom, we've got kids of all reading and writing abilities and levels, and our English learners need more support with their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. So having a three layer staff approach, with Clarys as our English Language Development Specialist and Karen Walker as our Bilingual Parent Teacher Resource, both of them work with kids and both of them work with me to do the planning for the students that are in the program. And we use the WIDA Scores that they receive from their spring testing to drive what we know and also my notes and records from what I've been seeing with work produced in the classroom. And together, we were able to create a comprehensive plan to meet the specific literacy needs of each English Language Learner. So with three adults, the kids get more time with the resources available, they get more tailored instruction with the all the data that's collected and the collaborative planning that's done. And they get a huge boost to their confidence as readers, writers, speakers and listeners because they have the opportunity to work in a small group to be heard and to clear up confusion, and they have the opportunity to participate in the whole group as well as part of the learning environment. So it's a wonderful, wonderful approach.

- [Scott] Yeah, indeed. Tailored instruction, data driven, aligning their curriculum and moving everyone forward. Just awesome. Thank you so much for both of what you're doing.

- [Clarys] Thank you.

- [Sarah] Okay. I love that interview, Scott. How did you enjoy being a reporter out at Grayson that day?

- Yeah. Well you asked me to do it. I said, "Sure, I'll do it." But I love, I always talk about this, I love being in the classroom because as we're leading the district, we have to see what's going on in the classroom? What's working? How are the kids responding to these supports? And so then, we can certainly use our resources well to provide those supports. And it's just good to see kids being successful and connecting to what's going on in the classroom. And it's the best part of the job.

- [Sarah] So I think that pretty much brings us up to speed on the changes for the ELD Department. But we did wanna give an update on one more item. I'm not sure how many people are aware that last fall we did a partnership between the ELD Department and Wayne State University to provide crucial English as Second Language or ESL endorsements to our teachers who are interested. So Jessica, why don't you talk about this program and what has resulted from our teachers participating?

- [Jessica] Sure. So, almost about the same time last year we started our application process. We had partnered with Wayne State University so that we can provide a cohort for some of our Waterford teachers to take their classes to get that ESL endorsement. And I will say it's still called ESL, at the college level. So, you know, it's been really great. We prioritized using some state and federal EL related budgets, so that we are taking care of 100% of the tuition for all five of our teachers who were selected after the application. Even the cost of their books have has been included. It's been amazing. They started their classes actually over the summer. So they're just wrapping up their second semester now. I hear great things so far. And by December next year we will have five more Waterford teachers with their endorsements. So, it's really great. We're able to grow our expertise right within our own staff. I'm very excited about that for our students. And I'm also very excited. I hope that it shows our WSD staff members that we honor them and we value them by investing in them and giving them this opportunity.

- [Sarah] Yeah, absolutely. Nice to see that investment in our teachers as well. Scott, what do you think about this partnership with Wayne State?

- [Scott] Well, I think the partnership is exceptional. We need partnerships both in this community and outside to build our capacity to best meet the needs of all of our students. And I love the fact that we are growing our own with our talent that we have here in the district. Those teachers that have been here, they know our students, they know our families, and we're investing in them because we're investing in our families and our kids and that is just a remarkable process that we're doing.

- [Sarah] Yep. I very much a agree with all of that, Scott. Thank you to all of our guests on the show, Jessica and Migdalia, you are doing incredible work. Thank you to Clarys Harwood and Laurie Runk for allowing us to interview them in the classroom and witness the amazing learning that's taking place in real time. It's so exciting to see the ELD team expand in such a way that provides additional resources to our teachers and parents and students. And I wish you all the best as you continue to grow this invaluable department.

- Thank you.

- Thank you.

- [Sarah] This podcast is brought to you by Waterford School District's Department of School and Community Services and is produced by Video Production Coordinator Jane Tekiele. I'm the host of this podcast, Sarah Davis, and you can find all episodes of WSD Voice on our website at, or you can tune in to 89.5 WAHS or Radio Central Multicultural. We also invite you to subscribe to the podcast which is now available on Apple Podcast, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts. And if you want to watch the recording, you can check out our WSD YouTube channel. We so appreciate you listening today and encourage you to continue to tune in to future episodes of WSD Voice as we discuss topics geared toward inspiring, educating and empowering our students, staff, alumni and community to thrive.

- [Scott] Hello everyone. This is Waterford School District Superintendent, Scott Lindberg. The results of the November 8th, 2022 election are in and voters in this community approved our non-homestead millage renewal and restoration ballot measure. I cannot begin to thank you enough for your support of this incredibly important proposal. This funding equals 10% or approximately 12 million in annual revenue for our district. The passage of this millage guarantees the Waterford School District will continue to receive funding from the state for 10 years. The millage will pay for operational costs related to educating our students such as textbooks, staff, classroom materials and technology. We are so grateful to be part of a strong community that supports its schools. I'm excited to continue to work together with you to ensure. Waterford School District is a place where our students and staff feel inspired, educated and empowered to thrive.

Episode 1: Safety and Security/Social Emotional Learning
Published: October 2022

Watch on our YouTube Channel Download episode 1

Tune in to the first episode of Season 2 to learn how Waterford School District rated in the top 10% of school districts nationwide for developing and executing a comprehensive safety and security plan. This episode also features discussion surrounding an innovative Social Emotional Learning program started by the principal at Donelson Hills Elementary.

Jim Beaver, WSD Director of Operations and Security
Anne Kruse, Donelson Hills Elementary Principal 

Sarah Davis, Director of Communications and Community Relations
Scott Lindberg, Superintendent
Jane Tekiele, Video Production Coordinator

- Welcome to "WSD Voice," a podcast focused on positive and informative news in Waterford School District. I am your host, Sarah Davis, the Director of Communications and Community Relations, and I'm here with Waterford School District Superintendent Scott Lindberg. We are back in studio for our second season of "WSD Voice," and we're trying something new. We have decided to move the podcast to video format as well, so that all of our listeners can listen to either the audio version or check us out live in the studio on YouTube. Access to both of these formats will be available on our website at But being back in the studio also means something else. School is back in session. So Scott, how has this school year been going so far?

- Well, it's been a great start, Sarah, thank you again for having me. I want to talk about three things, three takeaways. The school year's going great because we have invested over $3 million in our teaching and learning, our curriculum enhancements, we have initiated our one-to-one, which means every student gets a device for their studies, for both in the classroom and at home. And we continue from our groundbreaking of our construction of our early childhood building, that is going very, very well.

- Happy to hear that. And let's hope the rest of the school year continues to go well. Today, we're gonna be talking about safety and security at WSD, and on the program to discuss this topic is Jim Beaver, our Director of Operations and Security for the past 14 years. Jim, thank you for being here.

- No, thank you Sarah and Scott, I appreciate you having me.

- Of course, and we also have Anne Kruse, veteran Principal here at Donelson Hills Elementary for the past 23 years. And we will be talking with her later about the social-emotional piece related to this topic. So welcome, Anne.

- Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

- Absolutely. So Jim, we wanted to have an episode dedicated to this topic because it's so important that our students and families are on the same page when it comes to what policies and procedures we have in place here at WSD to ensure our students' safety. Our family should know that Waterford School District has been on the forefront of school security for a number of years and continues to take proactive steps to protect the safety of all students and staff members. But Jim, can you kind of talk about some of those steps that we've taken over the years?

- Sure, certainly. We're very proud that we feel that we've been very proactive here in Waterford with our safety and security protocols. And this goes back to like 2004 when we reward grants from that period. It really allowed us to bring a lot of resources into the district. Some things that we brought in over the years, our school safety coordinator personnel at each of our secondary schools, we have cameras in all of our buildings and secured entries were added to make sure that our buildings are safe and secure. More recently, we've added some additional things such as interior ready locks or thumb locks, they may be referred to. We do volunteer background checks on folks that work with our kids. We've upgraded our card access system, which doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but really the technology in that is always progressing. So we were able to upgrade that. So we have all that in place to ensure that our students are safe and secure and we initiate ALICE protocols throughout our schools also, which offers our students and staff just another layer of protection.

- Okay, and for those who don't know what ALICE stands for, can you kind of expand on that a little bit more?

- Sure, sure, ALICE is an acronym, but the letters stand for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. And even though it's an acronym, it's not a linear strategy. So these different tools that our staff is enabled to use, really, evacuate might be really usually your first option of what you wanna do. If it's safe for you to get out of a situation, then that's really what you want to do. But it's a strategy that was really developed in the wake of Sandy Hook. Law enforcement at the national level and local levels, everybody got together and said, you know, the protocol for a long time was to shelter in place. Essentially, you would go into a lockdown mode, you would shelter under desks and lock the doors. But after these incidents continued to happen, they really looked at different strategies to actually help save lives. The shooting at Virginia Tech was pretty instrumental. They got a lot of data out of that that really helped kind of push the ALICE protocol along. And what they found when they studied Virginia Tech was that in cases where classrooms closed the door and barricaded the door and actually had an exit, that the number of lives that were saved from that was very significant. So this group got together, put the ALICE protocol out, we found out about it here in Waterford through our association with our police liaison officers. Every summer, we go to a conference with our police liaison officers. And this was back, I believe, 2014. The Michigan State Police did a presentation at that conference, introducing ALICE to everybody. We brought it back here to Waterford, talked to our administration about it, brought the Michigan State Police in, actually, did a training with our administration, and everybody was instantly on board. They were excited to bring this protocol into the district. And then in 2015, actually, after we decided to move forward, we immediately had a huge training sessions with all of our staff and trained everybody on the ALICE protocols. And we continue to do that every year. We do refresher trainings every year with our staff. And it's really, we're really proud to be on the forefront in the county, if not the state, with really bringing ALICE protocols in. So that's really kinda where we're at.

- Yeah, excellent work. And you mentioned those resource officers. Can you talk a little bit more about them, what they do, their names, what schools they cover, that sort of thing?

- Sure, sure, well, we have four police liaison officers in our schools. They're at all of our secondary schools, one at each high school and one at each middle school. We have Officer Matt Reid over at Mott High School. We've got Officer Tim Gielow over at Kettering, Officer Andy Teragos at Pierce, and new this year is Officer Kelly Johnson over at Mason Middle School. So they do a great job. They're there to build relationships with kids. Really, the goal of the police liaison officer, it serves many, many goals, obviously, but, when I talk to them, they really want to break that stigma down for our kids of what a police officer is. You know, a lot of our kids don't see police in a positive light. So they wanna build those relationships with kids and kind of have a different perspective. Our kids come from all different kinds of backgrounds. They're there to be a resource for them. Their offices are right in the schools. Kids regularly come to them just to talk about things that are going on in their lives. And they ask for help, quite honestly, you know? So having them in our schools is invaluable. It's a great resource. It's a great partnership with Waterford PD. They work in concert with our staff. If there are incidents that come up and they can be of assistance, they're certainly right there. The two liaison officers at the middle schools actually help support our elementary schools also. So that is a real benefit. It's something that we've tried to supplement with our school safety coordinators in the past, but the liaison officers, especially with that age of student, it makes a real impact when a uniformed officer goes in and gets involved in the situation. So, obviously, I think, for all of our staff in our community, having those officers in our buildings is another layer of security that just makes everybody feel much more safe and secure.

- Yeah, absolutely. Anne, I know you're here more for the social-emotional piece, but can you talk a little bit about your experience with our school resource officers?

- Yes, so Officer Kelly Johnson is new to Donelson Hills this year and he has been assigned, he came in our building right away, walked the hallways, talked to kids, we visited classrooms, really answering questions that kids may have about safety and security, as well as building those relationships. And as we were walking around, kids wanted to know about the tools on their belt, was a great opportunity to talk about careers. They had lots of questions. They asked about the police dogs, just interesting facts. And he spent a lot of time with them, talking to them. Out of that couple of visits that he's had with our school, there was a student that was really interested and wanted to meet with him one-on-one, went home to their parent and said, "The police officer was at school today, talked about different things, Mom. I'd really like to sit down with him and talk one-on-one." That mom contacted him and he came over the next day and had a really great 20-minute conversation with the boy who had questions and concerns just about things and really spending that time and building those relationships. So it's great to have the community come together to make that a safe and secure community for sure.

- Yeah, absolutely. And the next question is still kind of related to the relationship piece, like Anne just demonstrated, but like you said, Jim, we have a great relationship with Waterford Police Department. How does that sort of facilitate their involvement in our schools?

- Well, we have had a long partnership with them, proceeded me stepping into this position. But they're just extremely supportive of our students and our staff. We know that they're a great partner for us and they help support school safety. Whenever we have an incident, if it's an elementary school, for example, if a call goes out, we're a priority call, they're coming right away. They're gonna be right on the scene and they're gonna bring resources. So we partnered with them on grants in the past. So we've done initiatives together. All Waterford police officers have keys to our buildings and card access to our building. So they are able to immediately get in if anything happens. They have access to our camera systems. Actually, their police dispatch is outfitted with a wall of TVs and our cameras are dialed into that so they can, if they have an incident, they can just immediately get into our cameras to help them try to mitigate the situation. And they provide training for our folks with ALICE too, again, mentioning the conference that we partner with, they were all on board with that immediately. They sent a lot of their, not only officers, but their administration to get ALICE trained, certified. And they continue to do that to provide training to our staff. So they've got a PowerPoint that they present and they're the ones that actually conduct our annual ALICE training.

- Yeah, I was in that this year. It was really good.

- Yeah, good.

- So, like Jim and Anne just referenced, Scott, we have great safety and security protocols already here, yet last spring, you still had us undergo a security site assessment. Why did you decide to do that?

- Well, we do have a strong program right now and strong support, but in the spirit of continuous improvement, we wanna make sure we're doing everything we can. So we wanted to bring in an expert to review our processes, our procedures, our partnerships. And what I was real pleased in, we were able to bring in SEC, who, the CEO is Jason Russell. Jason Russell used to be with the Secret Service. So if he's good enough to protect the president, I believe he's good enough to come in and help us protect our kids.

- I'd say so.

- And so he also was involved in the aftermath of Oxford, and I know he has worked with that superintendent, but Jason is an expert in the field. I just came from a conference this week where he spoke to hundreds of superintendents. And this morning, on the front page of the paper, there he is again working with another school district. So we brought in the best because we wanna make sure we have the best processes and systems in place to protect our kids.

- And what were the results of the study?

- Well, the results were very good. We found that we were in the top 10% of districts nationwide. I was gonna say statewide, but nationwide, top 10%.

- Wow.

- So it's no question that we've done a good job, but we always have to be looking at how do we get better and make sure that we learn new things and the new processes and systems that are out there so we can make sure that we're updating where we need to.

- For sure, thanks, Scott. Jim, can you name a couple of those recommendations that SEC did provide in the report?

- Sure, yeah, some things that we were able to accomplish immediately this summer, we added, we've got a bid in out for extra cameras. I don't think you can ever have enough cameras. We have updated our exterior door numbers, and that's important because if the police have to respond, it really helps them if we can indicate, give them a visual as to where an incident might be taking place. They have copies of all of our maps with which we're updating our safety maps throughout the district too. Those are being, I've just got a few of the latest buildings that received updates to finalize. And we're going get those up shortly. We just finished the proof, actually. So I'm really happy to get that moving forward. Things like emergency bins in our schools. Each school is equipped with an emergency bin in case there is any type of emergency where we need to evacuate the building. There are emergency supplies in there. The old bins were kind of a large, heavy, cumbersome type of tote. Out of that recommendation, you know, Jason recommended maybe something a little more portable. So we actually ordered some rolling duffels so we're hoping that that'll help. First aid kits throughout the schools, Stop The Bleed kits. We received some free Stop The Bleed kits in a partnership with McLaren Hospital a few years back, but we only got a couple per school. So all the safety experts say you can never have enough of those, especially if you have a critical incident. So we acquired some more of those. Again, more resources to conduct ALICE training with all of our folks. And one big thing that came out of it, which I think we'll be hearing a lot more about, not only statewide but probably throughout the nation, is a behavioral threat assessments. And behavioral threat assessments is a process where really it's a proactive strategy to where if we've got kids that are struggling and staff start seeing signs that a child might need some help or an intervention, then this process really gets the whole team together. And it's a very defined process. It's, again, a national standard. It's been developed in cooperation with the Secret Service. But it's really in place to, like I said, kind of help identify kids who are struggling and then it brings a whole team together, which could include school administration, social workers, teachers, but bus drivers, custodians, whoever that child might have interaction with, to help understand what might be going on to try to help get them the resources that they need. So we're really excited at that opportunity to bring that into the district. And we're moving forward with training of all of our staff.

- Yeah, a lot of moving parts to keeping a district safe and secure.

- Yes.

- You do a great job of keeping it all together. A common question that we also got more before the assessment, but was if we could install the highly publicized Nightlocks on our classroom doors. What were the findings from the study that directly relate to that?

- Sure, sure, well, in regard to the Nightlocks, door securement, obviously, is really critical in these types of situations. So when Jason came in, that was one of the things that we really did ask him to focus on. And when he did, he visited all of our schools, he met with staff at every school, not only had a discussion with the security teams at each school, but he walked each facility. And again, we asked him to really focus on our doors and give us his thoughts on that. I also had our township emergency manager, Brendan Brosnan, I met with him, he came in, we walked a couple schools, and he looked at the Nightlocks, well not the Nightlocks, but at our door, what we currently have in place. Showed him a couple examples of supplemental securement systems that we were considering, which, Nightlock, you know, was one of them. And they were both in agreement that what we have in place, those thumb locks, those quick turn locks that I mentioned earlier, are really more than adequate. And really, the thumb locks that we have are probably, are definitely better. Not every school district has these thumb locks in place. The district, again, made it a big commitment on resources. You know, these lock sets aren't cheap. But what it does is it allows our staff to quickly secure their classroom without fumbling with keys and everything. And it's a piece where the door is immediately secured, a staff member could do it, it's simple enough where a child could do it if need be, and it secures the door from the corridor so nobody can get into the classroom. But along that ALICE protocol, if conditions are right where you can escape, again, there's no fumbling with keys. The handset is set up to where it will allow you just to open the door from the inside of the classroom to get out without having to have to reset any locks or anything. So that's a really, a good device. And they were very supportive of that. With the supplemental locks, there are concerns, especially with the Nightlock and the other ones we were looking at. It's kind of a piece where it mounts on the wall and you have to make a hole in the floor for it to recess into to secure it. There are some concerns about access. We know things end up missing mysteriously sometimes. So if we're counting on that to be our measure to secure that classroom, and at the moment of truth, somehow that piece is missing or somehow some dirt or debris have gotten into that hole, it really could compromise having that strategy in place. So we didn't really think that that was, we know what we have is excellent. We really didn't feel that we need to supplement it with another product. So that's really kind of how we came to the conclusion with that. We shared with our board of education, had Jason actually come in, talk to them about that piece too. And they were in agreement. So it's really, the thumb turns that we have in place are an outstanding solution.

- Good to know. So that's just one of the many questions we received from parents about safety and security. So I'm gonna ask you a couple more, put you in the hot seat a little bit.

- Sure.

- So a question a parent may ask is, "Why do I need to sign in every time I go to my child's school?"

- Well, obviously, we've spent a lot of resources on securing our schools and we need to know who's in our schools. You know, as mentioned, we do volunteer, we do full background checks on all of our volunteers. So anybody coming in, we really want to be sure that we account for them. Signing in is important so we know who's in our buildings. But if something critical happens in the school and then public safety comes, it's nice to have those sign-in lists to also kind of do just a second check of who may or be in the school.

- Okay, a parent may ask, "I need to bring several materials into the building. Can I prop the door open?"

- Never want to prop the door open. No, you can't. That's just a vulnerability again, you know? We are really vigilant with our staff about making sure that doors stay secured, especially exterior doors and windows. So no, no propping of doors.

- "What should I do if someone is asking me to let them into the building or is right behind me, but hasn't been granted access?" I know I personally encountered this not too long ago, and it's awkward, but I did have to say to the person, you know, "I can't let you."

- Certainly, yep, yeah. And that is a challenge and we continually work with it and talk to our students and our staff about that. But no, we absolutely do not want to do that. You may hear the term tailgating, that's kind of what that is. But really, they need to go through the secured entry and they need to be vetted through. We shouldn't not let them in to, you know, that's the purpose of our secured entries is to funnel everybody through one entrance. So they come into a secured area, they sign in, we know who they are, and they don't get into our corridors and have access to our students and staff.

- Okay, "Why can't we just get metal detectors?"

- Well, yeah, metal detectors, that's come up. And as I recall, watching some of the press conferences post-Oxford, Sheriff Bouchard addressed this. He mentioned that really, metal detectors can be defeated. They can be defeated and they're not 100% effective. And as he pointed out, really, it's very rare, especially in Oakland County, for any schools, really, throughout the state, I think is what he mentioned, that actually do have metal detectors. So I know, folks seem 'em, it seems like it's been integrated more into our lives at airports and things like that. But for a school solution, the logistics of it and everything, it's really, doesn't rise to the level of necessity.

- Okay, thanks Jim. Anything else that you wanna add? I know you've been talking a lot already, but if there's anything more, now would be the time.

- Well, what we tell everybody is school safety is everybody's responsibility. And we wanna make sure that if information comes forward, that we're aware of it. There have been several campaigns, "See something, say something." I think that's easy to remember and we always remind our kids of that. But a big thing that the state adopted several years back was the Okay to Say program. And Okay to Say just becomes more and more valuable, unfortunately, you know, as we continue to have these issues, and obviously with the incident that happened in Oxford last year, it was huge across the state. But Okay to Say is a great mechanism for our kids to report anything that they see. I know, often, I know with my kids, you talk to them about if something happens to them, well, make sure you go tell administrator. They don't want to get the retribution. So Okay to Say was put in place as a confidential resource for kids to call, text, email anything that they might have heard out there that would be of concern. And it's vetted through the Michigan State Police. When those calls come in, those folks get the report, they look at it, and they have direct contact to myself, our school administration, and the Waterford PD to immediately contact one of us to begin immediate investigations on any of these cases that are reported to them. So Okay to Say is huge, but we really wanna impress on everybody that security is everybody's responsibility. So if you talk to your kids, if they see something, reach out. If you don't wanna reach out to school administrator, Okay to Say is definitely a confidential portal that they can do that. It'll help us keep everybody safe.

- All right, good to know. Scott, same for you. Anything else that you wanna add in the area of safety and security in our schools?

- Yeah, I think we've just do a great job and we wanna assure parents in our community that we're working very hard to make sure that all of our processes and procedures are up to date. That's why we brought in SEC with Jason Russell. We're gonna continue to do that. But I think a very good point that Jim, you point out, it's everyone's responsibility. We work together, we have places where they can let us know information, and sometimes the information we find out really doesn't go anywhere, but we'd rather know it, even if it's a question, so we can investigate and get in front of that. So I'm just real pleased with what we continue to do here in Waterford.

- Okay, great. Now we move on over to Anne, who is going to offer another perspective on the safety and security discussion, and that is the social-emotional impacts that these various situations can have on our students.

- Yeah, that's right, here in Waterford, we are very proactive with our social-emotional learning resources. We have an incredible safe team who has been on this podcast before. And you may have also noticed that we have a couple of golden retriever dogs that are now in various levels of training and being implemented in our schools. There is currently one at Cooley, the first one, her name is Rosie. And then we have one at Mott whose name is Charlie. And the rumor out there is that there'll soon be one at Kettering as well. But those are just two of the examples of many social-emotional resources that we provide for our students here at Waterford.

- Yes and we have to get those dogs on the show too.

- Yes.

- Especially now that we have the visual piece on YouTube.

- I think I need to get one in my school as well.

- But today we're gonna learn about some of the awesome social-emotional learning program items going on over at Donelson Hills. So Anne, first can you talk to us about social-emotional learning, which is commonly referred to as SEL, what it is, and why it's important for us to address it in the classroom along with academics.

- Thank you, this is definitely a passion of mine. And SEL are really specific life skills and daily lessons that promote student voice and independence. As an educator for 23 years and an educator K through 12, in all the different buildings I have traveled in, what I noticed, a common theme amongst staff, students, and parents, is that everyone wants a voice. Everyone wants to be heard, felt like they belong. And do I really matter? And why do I need to be here? So as I started to travel down this road of education, I started to notice that as adults, we don't allow time for student voice. And I'm just gonna give you an example. If you ever have a young child and you ask that child a question, who answers it? The parent. "How was your day? Where did you go?" You know, "What did you learn in school today? What did you do over the weekend?" Often, an adult nearby will answer that question, thus stifling a child's voice. So I started to really pay attention to that. And when I noticed kids have a voice, they have opinions, they have feelings, they know what to do with them, they know what they want, they know what they need, and I started to just change a mind shift and how we allow kids to have voices. So with SEL, no matter if you're 5, 15, 55, no matter who you are, really creating an environment where everybody has a voice. So through the social-emotional learning, students really learn to understand their emotions, identify their emotions, communicate their emotions, and really take responsibility for those emotions and the actions that, or the repercussions or the consequences of their voice. Everything has a consequence. So understanding that and relating to themselves really gives them a positive self image through school.

- Okay. And how is it that you have implemented SEL at Donelson Hills?

- So an important component of SEL in our curriculum is called restorative practices. Or in some areas, they're called circles. So it's that creating that classroom community, again, where everyone has a voice, everyone can be heard. As we know, as a society, in everyday life, problems arise, things happen, people don't know how to communicate well with each other. And creating that environment that allows students to develop that. So we call them circles and we get together in these community circles daily, each teacher in our classroom. And the circle represents something very positive because if you think about a circle, there's no beginning, there's no end, there's no leader, there's, I mean, everybody has equal ability within this circle. You can see everyone's face, you can look at them, nobody's hiding behind someone else, you can't really leave the circle. If you think about campfires, everyone gathers around a campfire, right? And it creates this community. So we wanted to create that within our school. And when that happens, and when a situation happens, now we've created this community as how we talk to each other, we get to know each other, maybe our favorite likes, what we don't like, what we do like, a little bit about our families, so that when a problem arises, we gather in a circle and we talk about things. The hardest part, particularly dealing with elementary kids, is I was trying to figure out how everybody was not talking all at once.

- Yeah, right?

- Because that is a very difficult thing, especially when people are excited about something or maybe they're upset about something, they really don't know how to be good listeners. So as I was trying this practice, I was looking for some kind of a talking piece that would allow someone to talk while others listened. And I was looking around my office, I really didn't see anything, so I was thinking, thinking. I was up north one weekend enjoying the beautiful Northern Michigan, and I walked into a Bargain Barn and I looked at a huge barrel of misfit toys that no one wanted. Introduce, if you can see here now, introduce Stinky. And then boom, it hit me. What a novel idea to use as a talking piece with younger students, right? Skunks are stinky, we have stinky problems, we have to figure it out. So I bought them all up, very cheap, brought them home and started to use this in my office when I was working with kids. And I introduced Stinky, said, "Do you know my stinky friend? Here he is." They would look around the room like who is she talking about? And then Stinky came with some rules so that if you were holding Stinky, you were the only person talking. And then everybody else just had to be listening. Also, creating a life skill. We all know that if we've gotten a heated argument with someone, it's hard to like not not talk outta turn. And then I just laid some funny rules down that said, "If you're talking outta turn, you're gonna hear like, eh, eh," some like weird noise, which again, makes kids laugh, brings their cortisol level down, and really creating this environment where it's okay to have a strong emotion, it's okay to talk about it, and let's figure it out together. Well, as this started working in my office, and then I would look around and be like, "Oh my gosh, that worked. I can't even believe that worked. Did somebody see that?" You know, other than me. I really started to think about what if we did this school-wide? What if we took this novel idea with our social-emotional learning and our restorative practices and our circle, and we introduced that. I trained my staff how to use these pieces and then all of a sudden our kids had a voice. They knew what to do with their strong emotions. And then Pinky came along, just random, because as we were using this talking piece in our restorative circles and creating our social-emotional learning space, a teacher came to me and said, "Anne, Stinky needs a friend." And I was like, and she said, "This is Pinky." Because a student noticed she had a stuffed pig in her room. And because Stinky saw stinky problems, Pinky will create positive solutions. Thus, the friendship formed. So I found all these online, created these friends. And so after we solve our problem in our circle and students have their voice and they voice their opinion, then Pinky comes in and students start to give advice, how to problem solve. What are some solutions to the problem we have present? The teacher is not giving her opinion or his opinion or his advice. It's coming from kids, allowing kids to voice what the solution is. It's a beautiful scenario. It allows kids to have a voice. The most interesting thing is kids seek these items out now on their own in the classroom and they work out problems independently, not in a whole classroom, on the playground, in the gym. Sometimes when things get really heated, kids will ask, "Will you have Mrs. Kruse come in and run our circle?" And if I am walking down the hallway with these two things, there is not a student in our classroom, "Mrs. Kruse, where are you going?" "We have stinky problem." And they say, "Well, you'll work it out. You guys will work it out." And it really allows, it gives teachers a tool because problems arise in school. You can't have 25 kids in a classroom when there's not a problem or a situation every day that needs a solution, so.

- Right, so what was it that made you decide that this would be a good method to utilize in the classroom?

- As I became an administrator and I had to investigate and deal with more serious situations that required suspensions, it didn't feel good here. It didn't feel good to remove a child from our community and expect them to come back a different person the next day.

- Sure.

- So as I started to think about that, I really started to think about restorative practices. As we are teaching students, whether they're five, 15 or 18, a skill that they have to have is they have to understand what my actions have consequences, but how they have affected the greater community. So by sending somebody home and expecting them to come back without really having a conversation about what happened, what were you thinking at the time? Who did this affect? How can we repair the harm?

- Yeah.

- Then the behavior, the negative behavior that caused the suspension, will not change. They will not understand how it connects bigger to the greater school community. So as I started to do these restorative practices and really build self confidence within students to take responsibility for their actions, then we had less problems and increased awareness of how these affect the greater community.

- Yeah, I was going to ask you. What were some of the results that you've seen since you first implemented them? They've been around for, I think you told me about five years now?

- Yes, yes.

- And they've made their way to some other district buildings as well, correct?

- Yes, so as a, yes, as a district this year, we have, so here was my basis. This is a book called "Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom and Management." But this really builds into our social-emotional learning. So really, this was my bible when I started this work because I knew we needed to make a change, a mind shift. And as a district, we have adopted this book this year and it was given to every staff member at professional development. As you can see, it's thin. It's great for parents, students. We did a book study at our school. And then as things started to improve in our school, not only academically, but students started to come to school, our attendance was up, our safety and security and our community was building, I started to share these ideas with my colleagues. Stinky and Pinky have made their way into multiple, multiple buildings. I did have a teacher that had moved away to a different state 'cause her family relocated. She texted me a couple years ago and said, "Stinky and Pinky are in full action at our school," because she had a tool that she could take with her. This is a lifelong skill to really be able to communicate.

- Absolutely, you can't argue with those results.

- No.

- No, and if I could say, I mean, when I participated in the professional development, we did a big security piece with all of our staff. This presentation that you did along with the safe team, getting to meet the safe team and what they do for our kids is just phenomenal. It really does just helps with the overall safety and security of everybody. But just phenomenal work on that. I'm really impressed.

- Yeah, thank you, thank you. Yeah, I'm impressed that it works, you know? It is not a magic pill. It is really a change in a mindset, how we approach, we're teaching children to understand their strong emotions.

- But it sounds like it's good for the children as well as the adults involved too, so it's for all ages, like you referenced a couple times.

- For sure.

- Scott, what are your thoughts on what Anne is doing over there at Donelson, and overall, why this type of learning is so important in the district?

- Well, to highlight three things, why it's so important. Relationships, student voice, and skills, teaching skills to resolve conflict. If you think about just in our world today, we could use those three things, but skills to resolve conflict. And so we're teaching our kids and we have some props to do that, but that's what we're doing here in Waterford. And I think it's a great example what Anne brings to us today at Donelson Hills and across the district.

- Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Scott, and to all of our guests for being on the show. Jim, you're doing a great job of ensuring our students and staff stay safe during the school day. And Anne, kudos to you for implementing a program that reaches our students, not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well. This podcast is brought to you by Waterford School District's Department of School and Community Services, and is produced by Video Production Coordinator, Jane Tekiele. I am the host of this podcast, Sarah Davis, and you can find all episodes of WSD Voice on our website at, or you can tune into 89.5 WAHS or Radio Central Multicultural. We so appreciate you listening today and encourage you to continue to tune into future episodes of "WSD Voice" as we discuss topics geared toward inspiring, educating, and empowering our students, staff, alumni, and community to thrive.

- Hello, this is Scott Lindberg, Superintendent of Waterford School District. Right now is a very exciting but also challenging time in education. More than ever, our staff and students need support. That is why this November 8th, Election Day, Waterford School District will place a non-homestead millage renewal and restoration on the ballot. This is something we are required to do every 10 years to maintain current funding. It is not a new tax and is a zero tax increase for homeowners. This millage would maintain $12 million annually for Waterford School District and would guarantee that the district continues to receive funding from the state each year for general operating costs, such as textbooks, staff, classroom materials, and technology. To learn more information about this millage and how it impacts Waterford School District, visit As always, thank you for supporting this district, and most importantly, our staff and students. This ad has been paid for by the Waterford School District, 501 North Cass Lake Road, Waterford, Michigan, 48328.