Category Archives: Ann Arbor Public Schools

Tamber Woodworth to replace Cindy Leaman as Pioneer HS Principal

This letter went out Friday night, but there was no discussion or announcement on the a2schools.org official school website as late as early Monday morning. I first saw the full text of this letter on the excellent Ann Arbor Schools Musings weblog where there’s a good discussion.

Dear Pioneer Families,
I have notified the Pioneer community today that Ms. Cindy Leaman has agreed
to serve as Principal of Ann Arbor's A2 Virtual+ Academy beginning
January 6, 2014.
Ms. Tamber Woodworth will serve as Principal for the remainder of the
school year. Ms. Woodworth has agreed to return to Pioneer where
she served previously as both a class principal and principal prior
to her retirement.
I know we will all work together to support our students at Pioneer.
Thank you,
Jeanice Swift
Superintendent.
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Former Ann Arbor Public Schools principal accused of plagiarism

I’ll start with a confession: I don’t think that plagiarism is as big a deal as some people do, especially when you are recycling your own words. (“Self-plagiarism is style.”) The best writers have a set of phrases that they love to use, and it’s not unusual for them to pull something they’ve done before and rework it a bit to suit the new occasion. This is especially true when you’re writing formulaic work that’s short. How many different very short birthday greetings can you send?

That said, educators are usually held to higher standards of writing than their students, and writing is expected to be something that they are good enough at that they don’t need to crib from someone else’s words.

With that as a preface, here’s someone else’s words about someone else using someone else’s words, in this case a former AAPS principal (Sulura Jackson) who is now in Chapel Hill, NC. The reporting is from Indy Week.

What they found is startling: Multiple documents obtained by the INDY that show Jackson—before and after her arrival at Chapel Hill High—lifted entire passages and letters from books, online articles and teaching resource guides. She used those passages without citation in staff memos, letters to students and even recommendation letters for colleagues, frequently passing them off as her words.

Of course, the world of education is full of web sites that are full of reusable forms and letters for communicating with students and teachers, like this Education World page

Communicate with parents by snail mail or e-mail with these editable and/or printable forms and letters.

Or the business world in general, with this set of 662 business letters – catchy titles like “Apology to receiver of NSF check” –

When I received your letter of (date) with my check
attached marked “insufficient funds”, I called my bank
immediately.

The gentleman I spoke with, (name) , discovered
that the bank had failed to credit my account with a
substantial deposit I had made several days prior.

The bank has assured me that they will be sending you a
formal letter of apology for their error. Attached is my
check in the amount of $ to replace the dishonored
one you have returned.

Communications from authorities are often ritualistic, formulaic, and repetitious. Hopefully, though, they are not careless. Jackson was tripped up by this mistake:

Looking back, the alleged plagiarism might have gone unnoticed were it not for one careless sentence the Chapel Hill High School principal wrote in an October condolence letter to a teacher.

“Everyone at Skyline is saddened to learn of the death of your mother,” the letter said.

It seemed Sulura Jackson, who arrived in Chapel Hill this summer with a sparkling, lengthy résumé, had failed to remove the name of her former school, Skyline High, in Ann Arbor, Mich., from the text.

Teachers who spoke to the INDY on the condition that their names not be used for fear of retribution say the incident prompted them to dig deeper.

If you’re going to use a form letter, for goodness sake read the whole form and fill in all the blanks before sending it !

UPDATE: Again from Indy Week: “More evidence of Chapel Hill High plagiarism?”

Members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education were already scheduled to meet tonight at the Lincoln Center in Chapel Hill. The board’s agenda says members will discuss a personnel matter in closed session starting at 6 p.m. The public portion of the meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools superintendent Patricia Green resigns

Patricia Green, superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, has resigned effective 90 days from April 10, 2013. Her letter of resignation, which was distributed by electronic mail to AAPS parents, follows.

Ruth from A2 Schools Muse has insightful commentary.


April 11, 2013

Dear Colleagues and AAPS Families:

Last evening, I gave President Deb Mexicotte a letter in which I asked her to
accept my resignation as Superintendent of Schools of the Ann Arbor Public
Schools, effective 90 days from yesterday. I shared with her that I plan to
retire during the summer after 43 years as a professional educator in public
education. I have been blessed to have truly enjoyed my 43-year career and I
thanked her and the Board for the opportunity to serve the Ann Arbor
community during these past two years.

To all my colleagues in Ann Arbor Public Schools, it has been a privilege to
work with you and I wish you well as you continue to maintain the highest
of standards for all of our children in the future. Ann Arbor is truly an
outstanding school district with so many dedicated staff members who care
enormously about children. Your commitment and dedication are beyond
compare!

As I retire, I hope to do some reflective writing about my many experiences
in education, do some traveling, and reconnect with family and friends who I
have neglected over the years!

Thank you to you all!

Patricia P. Green, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Ann Arbor Public Schools

Second day of school (no photos)

My Facebook stream is full of pictures of kids on their first day of school. (That's great!) Sorry that I don't have a first day, or even a second day, photo to share.

The second day at our house featured a last-minute lunch prep (mac and cheese) and then two bicycle rides, one each for the 7th grader and for the 2d grader. The Burns Park school grounds were busy with a stream of parents and kids coming for dropoff; I haven't seen the new Summers-Knoll morning rush yet.

By all guesses it's going to be a good year.

Burns Park Elementary school closed December 7, 2011 due to power outage

We got word via telephone this morning before school started that a power outage at Burns Park Elementary School (see map below, from the DTE outage map) has cancelled school for the day. The outage affects over 1400 customers in Burns Park, Lower Burns Park, and along South State Street. I can’t tell from the map whether University of Michigan facilities are also affected, but the report from the dotcom is that traffic signals are also affected along Packard and on East Stadium near the Stadium Bridges project.

Details from the DTE outage information page:

Job ID: W11120700007
Estimated Restoration: Wed Dec 07 2011, 12 00 – Wed Dec 07 2011, 14 00
Off Since: Wed Dec 07 2011, 06 00
Last Update: Wed Dec 07 2011, 07 50
Cause: Area outage.

Picture 24

From: Liz Margolis, Ann Arbor Public Schools
To: Burns Park Staff and Families

Burns Park is closed today. There is no power to the building and in the area. DTE is unable to give us an accurate time when the power will be restored. No school for staff or students, today, Wednesday, December 7.

We apologize for this late notice. The power went down at 6:40 this morning.

Thank you

Liz Margolis, Director of Communications, AAPS

Lightning damage closes Ann Arbor Northside Elementary School on May 26, no one injured

Lightning hit a brick chimney at Ann Arbor's Northside Elementary School on Wednesday at about 4:15 p.m., sending bricks flying 100 feet through the school pickup area. Fortunately, no one was hurt, as the area was vacant except for a staff member's vehicle which was damaged by flying brick.

I was aware of this when it happened because the lightning strike was powerful enough to cause the power grid to bounce, prompting comments on Twitter and speculating on the exact location. Phil Proefrock's photo published to Facebook tells the story.

Northside will be closed on Thursday for building repairs.

Media: Ann Arbor Public Schools news release.  AnnArbor.com. Ann Arbor Chronicle, reporting on the civic news ticker that the chimney "crumbled" based on the school board report.

Lightning information: 24 hour lightning summary from Strikestar.

Photo from Phil Proefrock pending permission to include here.

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On knowing about more public meetings than you possibly could attend

Here's an overly simplified description of the process by which you can learn about, and participate in, more public meetings on more topics of public interest than you could possibly attend in person – without ever relying on someone else's account of what transpired at that meeting.

 

Identify the public body which has oversight or jurisdiction over the issue in question. There may be multiples of these, at the local, county, state and federal levels, plus occasionally a treaty organization or two that gets involved.

Identify the governing board of the body, and the individual members of the board. Your direct questions about agenda items will go to them.

Identify the staff member who is board secretary. They are your best contact for details like board minutes and notices of upcoming meetings.

Ask the board secretary that you be notified of upcoming board events, per the Open Meetings Act. Put any future dates on your calendar. Note that meeting times can change on short notice.

Ask for copies of board packets for upcoming board events, per the Freedom of Information Act, and probably because it's as easy as cc'ing you on an existing email list.

Determine if there are audio and video recordings of board meetings, and if they are streamed live online. Ask for details about access.

Identify a member of the public whose affairs are affected by the public body who needs assistive technology to participate in meetings, and work on their behalf to gain access to meeting materials in machine-readable formats.

Read minutes of past meetings. If those minutes are not online, request of the board secretary that copies be put online. Note that in most cases draft copies of meeting minutes should be available before they are approved at the next meeting.

Read agendas of upcoming meetings. In some cases, detailed agendas will be available, complete with supporting records which are intended to to help the board members make decisions. Ask the board secretary for information about any details which are not obvious from the published agenda. Note that agendas can change on short notice.

Contact individual board members in private regarding items on current and future agendas. If you are brief, concise, and narrowly focused, you can provide them with assistance in their work in upcoming meetings.

Contact the board as a whole in public to make a public statement about a topic. Note that although I leave this at the very end, this is what most people think about when they go to public meetings – standing up, all shaky, in front of a microphone and giving their opinion. By the time you have gotten to the mike, it's always best that your message (however popular or unpopular) is at the very least not a surprise.