Superintendent's Blog

  • Homecoming Week, 2022

    Posted by Adam Spina on 9/29/2022 11:10:00 AM

    September/October District Podcast

    The Podcast can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    Homecoming 2022:

    Wishing our community and alumni a Happy Homecoming! It has been a great week full of special events and school spirit. As always, we are grateful for the community's support and the many efforts made throughout the year to make WCS successful. A reminder our Homecoming Parade is Friday, September 30 at 6:00 pm in downtown Williamston. Marching Band pregame performance starts at about 6:45 pm with the Homecoming Football game beginning at 7:00 pm at Larkin Nortman Memorial Field. 

    High school students at the Homecoming Bonfire this week at WHS:

    Homecoming Bonfire, 2022

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  • Leaders in STEAM, Six Years Later

    Posted by Adam Spina on 9/16/2022 8:35:00 AM

    District Podcast, Special Edition

    This Podcast edition features District School Nurse Amanda Gailitis. The Podcast can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    Leaders in STEAM, Six Years Later:

    WCS undertook an ambitious plan six years ago to position the District as a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education. The goals included:

     

    1. Producing graduates prepared to successfully transition into a labor force that requires applicable skill sets

    2. Engaging students in authentic instruction with practical application opportunities

    3. Adding STEAM-focused classes and facilities

    4. Increasing the number of female students enrolled in STEAM-related courses at the high school

    As the District was simultaneously climbing out of a difficult financial position, making progress on these goals required aggressive grant writing, faculty support, and community involvement. Due to that support, tremendous progress has been made.

    Original student research displayed at the 2022 Math and Science Academy Showcase:

    2022 MSA Showcase

    Advanced Placement Computer Science was added at Williamston High School. This course also was recognized for achieving gender parity by the College Board, resulting in WHS winning the 2019 Computer Science Principles Female Diversity Award. WHS was also named to Newsweek Magazine’s Top STEM High Schools List in 2020.

    Extension opportunities have also been added for students seeking to advance their skill sets. The high school Innovative Vehicle Design team continues to receive recognition for STEAM application. First Robotics programs have been added at WHS and WMS. Note, we are looking for a middle school robotics coach this year, select the link here for more details. 

    The WHS First Robotics team competes during the 2022 season:

    WCS First Robotics, 2022

    This year the Automation and Robotics elective at Williamston Middle School will run four (4)  full sections, evidence that engaging students at the elementary level is driving interest in STEAM as students transition into the secondary level.

    At the elementary level, STEAM was added as an ARC class so that all elementary students could experience applying content learned in core subject areas. The STEAM lab was the recipient of the 2019 MASB/SET SEG Education Excellence Award. STEAM concepts are integrated into WCS classrooms of even our youngest learners, promoting the practical application of these integrated academic disciplines. 

    Young Fives Growing in Our Garden STEAM event, May 2022:

    Growing in Our Garden, 2022

    Facility upgrades have also been a part of the STEAM initiative. The middle school added two innovation labs and the high school a new research laboratory, all completely funded through community donations. WCS was also the recipient of a $130,000 Dart Foundation grant which was used to purchase new STEAM instructional tools, including flexible seating furniture and science equipment. 

    I am appreciative of the efforts of our educators and the backing of our community during this challenging yet rewarding journey. We look forward to further advancing our progress and assessing our impact on WCS graduates regarding STEAM education in the years to come.

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  • New District Student Support Positions

    Posted by Adam Spina on 8/31/2022 9:03:00 AM

    District Podcast, Special Edition

    This Podcast edition features elementary STEAM educator Sean Ferguson. The Podcast can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    New District Student Support Positions

    Over the last six months or so, WCS has received a number of grants which have allowed us to hire new support staff. All are specifically focused on assisting students and families to promote a safe and healthy school environment. Below are job descriptions and contact information for three of these positions.  

    • District Health Resource Advocate/Mental Health Specialist: Heather Lewis, lewish@gowcs.net

    Ms. Lewis provides direct support to students, staff, and families requiring mental health assistance, resources, and/or strategies. Examples include teaching applicable classroom lessons, providing professional development, and collaborating with school counselors and social workers for mental health-related programming and intervention. 

    Ms. Gailitis is a registered nurse responsible for developing and overseeing student medical and health plans. She also oversees training for district staff on first aid and implementing student health and medical plans/protocols.   

    Ms. Evans administers the District’s COVID response protocols. This includes advising families on current COVID guidelines, distributing and accounting for COVID testing kits, and tracking school-associated COVID cases to provide appropriate notifications to parents and the health department. 

    Please reach out to these members of our team throughout the year if their areas of expertise can be of assistance to your children or family.

    Williamston High School students participate in Yoga exercises:

    Yoga at WHS, 2022

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  • First Week of School, 2022

    Posted by Adam Spina on 8/25/2022 11:00:00 AM

    District Podcast, Special Edition

    This Podcast edition features Williamston High School Educator Jonny Ellis. The Podcast can be listened to here and also be accessed at the following links:

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    After a busy summer, it is great having our students back in the buildings. The hallways are full of smiles and the classrooms have returned to places of learning. We appreciate your patience over the past week as everyone is establishing new routines. We are much further ahead this year with arrival and dismissal processes, especially at the elementary campus. Your cooperation and support are deeply appreciated. 

    Please continue to prioritize safety during your trips to and from school. The WILX story published this week is a good reminder to avoid distracted driving, especially around schools. The story can be viewed here.

    Again, thank you to our staff, parents, and community for a very successful first week of school. We are off to a strong start! 

    “Our community expects victories, they expect champions, and we love it. Let’s set the standard up there. Let’s go.” - WCS Educator/Coach Steve Kersten

    WCS Football Stadium, 2022

    A Williamston Tradition, bus drivers walk kindergarten students to their classes on the first day of school:

    First Day of School, 2022

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  • Back to School Podcast and New Staff

    Posted by Adam Spina on 8/18/2022 10:25:00 AM

    The Podcast can be listened to here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    As noted in the latest district podcast, WCS is fortunate to have an outstanding group of educators joining our team this year. The credentials of our new educators are noteworthy as this is the most competitive education job market in my memory. The reputation and culture of the District and community support have been instrumental in our efforts to attract candidates. I am pleased to introduce our new staff members, who bring extensive experience and expertise in their fields to Williamston.

    New Staff, 2022-2023

    New WCS Staff, 2022-2023:

    • Dawn Bauer, WIN Paraprofessional

    • Samantha Boggs, School Psychologist

    • Theresa Cadieux, Bus Driver

    • Chase Colligan, Technician

    • Rachel DeBrincat, School Social Worker, Discovery

    • Gretta Delaney, RTC Paraprofessional, WMS

    • Anne Feldpausch, Teacher, WHS

    • Amanda Gailitis, District School Nurse

    • Aubree Grimes, RTC Paraprofessional, Explorer

    • Lisa Harwood, Secretary, WHS

    • Jessica Hitchcock, Teacher, WMS

    • Abby Jean Charles, Teacher, Discovery

    • Robert Keith, Bus Driver

    • Margo King, Custodian

    • Cindy Krueger, WIN Paraprofessional

    • Mercedes Krueger, Sp Ed Paraprofessional

    • Khonnor Longendyke, Teacher, WMS

    • Erynn Merchant, Long-Term Guest Teacher, Explorer

    • Sonya Pake, Teacher, Explorer

    • Katie Reilly, Teacher, WHS

    • Amy Rhines, Teacher, Discovery

    • Jodi Rockstad, Office Manager, KCLH

    • Terri Spoors, Custodian

    • Tom Spoors, Custodian

    • Madi Stewart, Teacher, WMS

    • Ryan Spain, Teacher, WHS

    • Katrina Sturock, Sp Ed Paraprofessional

    • Todd Walter, Bus Driver

    • Kirsten Watkins, Sp Ed Paraprofessional

    • Leslie Whittaker, WIN Paraprofessional

    • Zaharren Wilhelm, Technician

    We are looking forward to the first day of school on Monday. Please, remember to be patient the first few days, especially during arrival and dismissal. This is particularly true at our elementary schools. It is essential that school staff ensure students are dismissed properly from the buildings. This can be time intensive with younger children who are not familiar with routines. As students and staff become accustomed to these processes, the pace will improve. Set aside additional time next week if you plan to pick your child up from school and anticipate some delays as we all adjust to new routines. Student safety is the priority for everyone.

    Faculty welcome the freshman class to Williamston High School during the Freshman Connect kickoff event. Freshman Connect is a new program that matches new students with upper class mentors who assist with navigating the transition to high school:

    Freshman Connect Kickoff Assembly, 2022-2023

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  • Back to School, 2022-2023

    Posted by Adam Spina on 8/12/2022 11:25:00 AM

    On behalf of all our staff, we are eager to welcome back our students and families for the 2022-2023 school year. As previously noted, the summer has been extremely busy with upgrades to facilities, security, and technology. New curricular resources will also be utilized for the first time this fall including a new K-5 core literacy program and numerous additions to our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) intervention resources.

    Watch the Fox 47 story on WCS summer projects here.

    Another achievement of note is the Secondary 1:1 initiative. For the first time, all middle and high school students will have access to a school-provided Chromebook including a carrying case and charging cable. The Chromebooks will serve as digital textbooks while enhancing blended instruction and learning. They will also be a resource students can use at home to assist with their academic studies. Chromebooks will stay with the student they are assigned to until the device license expires. When this occurs, a new Chromebook will be issued. The most challenging phase of the 1:1 initiative is the assignment of the Chromebooks to all secondary students for the first time this month. After that, roughly one-fifth of the devices will need to be swapped out annually to ensure all are properly licensed and receiving updates. Please reference emails sent by the technology department for more information. 

    WCS enters the school year with energy and momentum. Our tradition of excellence continued over the summer with our girls soccer team capturing the District’s third state championship of 2022. I am also pleased to announce that Williamston High School has been named one of the nation’s best for the fourth consecutive year by U.S. News and World Report.

    Best High Schools, 2022

     

    Every school year brings with it tremendous opportunities and unique challenges. As we move forward I encourage community members to maintain an open dialogue with district staff and stay informed regarding new developments. Because accurate information is so important, when a question or concern arises, reach out to your child’s school for assistance. While social media can be useful for a variety of purposes, know that inaccurate or even harmful rumors can circulate there. As recently as last weekend a misleading post intended to “trash” one of our schools (pun intended) circulated on some social media. As always, we appreciate community members who reach out to get the real story. We are a learning organization and are happy to have open conversations and collaboratively problem solve. Educators are standing by to help when needed to ensure all Williamston students are safe and successful.

    Lastly, we are still seeking help with a number of support staff roles. These include positions such as:

    • Substitute teachers (New Rates)

      • Building Sub (same building, every day, all school year) = $150/day

      • Daily Sub (various buildings, when needed) = $125/day

    • Substitute bus drivers - $20/hour and up to a $3,000 bonus

    • Noon (recess) Supervisors - Up to a $1,000 bonus

    • Afterschool childcare - Up to a $1,000 bonus

    If you or someone you know might be interested in one of these positions or any other open job at WCS, please visit our human resources webpage here

    I look forward to seeing students, staff, and families at our open houses next week (please note the dates and times listed later in this update). Let’s make this another great year for our schools and community!

    Window graphics and security film installed at the STEAM lab in Explorer Elementary:

    Elementary STEAM Lab

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  • Late-Summer Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 8/4/2022 4:05:00 PM

    The buildings are busy with activity as final preparations are made for the return of instructional staff and students in a couple of weeks. The majority of the larger summer projects are still scheduled to be completed either just before or soon after the start of classes. These include new boilers at the middle school, secure entrances at the preschool and Discovery Elementary, parking lot and driveway repairs, and new HVAC in the Explorer Elementary gymnasium. Unfortunately, the Discovery Elementary roof replacement is only half complete due to a materials shortage. More information about the remainder of the roof installation will be shared when it is available. 

    A number of other smaller-scale projects have been completed or will be in the near future. These include painting at the fitness center, new bottle filler installation, additional security cameras and door locks, classroom door barriers, new carpet and furniture in select locations, additional picnic tables/outdoor seating, and new food service equipment. 

    I am immensely proud of our custodial and maintenance teams for their dedication and attention to detail over the summer. Their accomplishments are sometimes overlooked during the excitement of returning to school. They deserve recognition for their commitment and hard work. Our community can be proud of the condition of the buildings and grounds; our educators and students are set up for a very successful 2022-2023 school year. 

    There are several employment opportunities available throughout the District. If you or someone you know is looking for full-time or part-time employment, please visit our human resources webpage for more information.

    NIESA supports a Kids’ Camp summer water party:

    Kids' Camp, 2022

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  • Mid-Summer Update

    Posted by Adam Spina on 7/15/2022 8:25:00 AM

    It is a busy summer throughout all district campuses as expected. Below are updates on select projects:

    Technology:

    In a pleasant surprise, all ordered technology arrived on time. New document cameras have been connected throughout all schools and appropriately one-fifth of all desktop computers have been replaced as planned. The technology department is also in the process of assigning a unique Chromebook and case to every secondary student for the fall. Details will be forthcoming next month about the process to check out a device. Lastly, the department is working closely with local law enforcement, our IT security consultant, and the vendor to install the upgraded panic alarm system. This is a complicated initiative but significant progress has been made to date. Additional security cameras and programmable door locks for select locations are also in the process of being installed.

    HVAC:

    New boilers at the middle school have been installed and are being connected. Due to supply chain issues, the new middle school chiller is now anticipated to arrive in October and will be a fall project. Work has started to add air conditioning and a new heating system to the Explorer Elementary gymnasium.

    Roofing: 

    The shingles portion of the Discovery Elementary roof replacement project is complete. Materials are delayed for the rubber section of the roof. If materials arrive in the next week or two, there is still an opportunity to have the entire roof finished before school begins. 

    Secure Entrances:

    The entrances for Kids’ Corner and Little Hornets and Discovery Elementary are on pace to be completed by the start of the school year. This past week, drywall was installed and masons have built the new walls for the vestibules in both spaces. 

    Secure entrance construction at Discovery Elementary:

    Discovery Elementary Secure Entrance Construction

    Miscellaneous:

    Parking lot and driveway repairs are underway and will be completed in the next week. The Williamston Community Pool will be repainted by the end of the month, as well as sections of the Community Fitness Center.

    Fireworks over Williamston’s Larkin Nortman Memorial Field during the 2022 Red Cedar Jubilee:

    Jubilee Fireworks 2022

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  • State Soccer Champions!

    Posted by Adam Spina on 6/23/2022 1:16:00 PM

    Listen to the District Podcast here. This edition features Head Soccer Coach Steve Horn and members of the 2022 Girls Soccer State Championship team. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    WCS earned another incredible achievement when the girls soccer team won the 2022 State Championship. The victory concluded an exceptionally successful spring athletics season in which the boys golf team and girls tennis team also competed at the state finals. 

    The soccer team was supported at the championship game by a huge crowd on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Michigan State University’s DeMartin Soccer Stadium.

    State Champs, 2022

    Following the dramatic victory, the team was welcomed back downtown by community members before arriving at Williamston’s soccer complex. 

    I am grateful to Head Coach Steve Horn for his leadership and our student-athletes, parents, and community who supported the soccer team throughout the season. It was a hard-earned, successful run through the state tournament. The championship was an exclamation point on another banner year for Williamston Community Schools. Congratulations to all. Go Hornets!

    Your 2022 State Champion Girls Soccer Team:

    2022 Girls State Soccer Champions!

    Title Town:

    Title Town

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  • Year in Review, 2021-2022

    Posted by Adam Spina on 6/10/2022 12:02:00 PM

    District Podcast Special Edition Featuring Williamston High School Visual Arts Educator, Meagan Kubu. The Podcast can be listened to here. The Podcast can also be accessed at the following links:

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    Year in Review:

    We have reached the end of another school year, though this one was certainly unlike any other. As always, I remain grateful for the backing of our community, even when addressing difficult issues or circumstances. Williamston Community Schools has continued to distinguish itself as a leading educational institution. Our success is due to a combination of tremendous educators, committed parents, and a supportive community. Educating the children of Williamston is a team effort. Together we continue to provide a world-class educational experience in a safe and supportive setting. I wish our students and instructional staff a peaceful and relaxing summer break. 

    A review of highlights from the 2021-2022 school year can be accessed here.

    If you did not receive a copy of the Community Newsletter that was mailed last weekend, it can be read here.

    Important summer work will commence immediately across all our campuses. Upgrades to security and HVAC, new technology enhancements, and additional planning for the fall will continue throughout the next several months. I encourage you to review the periodic updates which will be sent during the summer months to stay informed with the latest WCS news. 

    Thank you for your ongoing contributions to our schools and for entrusting us with the education of your children.

    Last day of school, 2022:

    Last Day of School, 2022

    Last Day of School, 2022

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Executive Assistant

Phone: (517) 655-4361

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mrs. Betsy Rueckert