2008-09-06 / Top News

Island School Aligns Language Arts Curriculum With State

Finkel Resigns as Art Teacher
By Ryan Schlehuber

Pam Finkel Pam Finkel The Michigan Merit English language and arts curriculum will be implemented at Mackinac Island High School this year, aligning the school with most Michigan schools and complying with testing requirements recognized by the Michigan Department of Education. The board of education approved the new curriculum at its meeting Monday, August 25, after Island high school language and arts teacher Lance Greenlee explained the new curriculum will allow teachers to compare results of tests, quizzes, and assignments with most schools in the state.

The implementation means teachers must "start from scratch," said Mr. Greenlee, during an interview with the Town Crier Tuesday, August 26.

"It brings more equality to all the schools and students and makes transfers and testing easier for both teachers and state analysts," said Mr. Greenlee. "It'll be a big adjustment for us teachers because we have to get a whole new set of books, tests, quizzes, and assignments."

Mr. Greenlee added that he hopes aligning with the state's desired curriculum will allow Island students to have better results in the American College Test (ACT) and Michigan Merit Exams.

Last year's freshman class was introduced to the state's new Michigan Merit Exam, which assesses soon-to-be graduates based on Michigan high school standards. It replaced the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) tests. The new examination will be a requirement for all classes beyond this year's sophomore class.

Students must be able to pass the new test before they are graduated from high school. They can take the tests as many times as they need.

The Island high school has had its current curriculum, modeled after Kent County's, for more than eight years. The new curriculum is modeled after Macomb County's curriculum, which is recognized as a model for Michigan Merit.

High school mathematics teacher and teachers union representative Susan Bennett told the board that the school's elementary education program is working to be aligned with the new curriculum, as well.

The board received a letter of resignation from the school's art teacher, Pam Finkel, who announced she is moving to the mainland. She has taught art at the school for nearly 15 years. The board said it will not fill the vacant position at this time.

Ms. Finkel's departure leaves the school with six positions to fill, including that of physical education teacher, filled last year by Mary Patay, who is keeping the position on an interim basis this year while another teacher is sought. Other programs that the school would like to add are music, foreign language, industrial arts, and business.

Mary Patay, who taught business to juniors and seniors and both high school and elementary physical education last year, must complete 2.5 years of schooling and participate in a semester's worth of student teaching to become a certified Michigan teacher, a require- ment of the federal Leave No Child Behind Act, even though she has a doctorate in secondary physical education from the University of Northern Colorado two years ago.

The board posted the physical education teacher position, but received no applications.

Ms. Patay will also will teach a life skills course to juniors and seniors and coach the school's co-educational soccer team, replacing Ken Straight.

High school social studies teacher Seth Baker is offering a wood shop class to students this year.

At the school board meeting, parent and British Landing resident Jack Armstrong asked the board if it would be possible to implement a student transportation system, at least during early spring and early winter, but trustee Sara Chambers said it would be financially impossible.

"The liability coverage would be phenomenal with horses involved in picking kids up," she said.

Karen Allen, elementary language and arts and social studies teacher, suggested the board create a plan for goals the board would like to reach, such as trying to fill the business teacher position, which has not been filled on a fulltime basis since 2000, when Sharon Reese retired after 16 years.

Board President Ben Mosley said he is trying to restart the School Improvement Com- mittee, which was created a few years ago brainstorm improvements to education and the building and grounds.

A total of $55,000 will be paid to Michael Gamble's construction company for replacing rotted trim around the school building, a project that was recently completed. The board approved its last payment of $30,000.

Mr. Gamble made additional repairs to the building's bell tower, solving a leak from the area, and glazing and painting the windows on the structure, Superintendent Roger Schrock told the board. He also encapsulated the building's two front pillars, all within the project's budget.

Dr. Schrock received a letter from the Michigan High School Athletics Association (MHSAA) congratulating the school on its impeccable sportsmanship record. MHSAA's Jack Roberts wrote that Mackinac Island did not have a single incident of bad sportsmanship with any of its teams in the past year.

Also, with the state concerned that a fourth of Michigan's high school students are not being graduated on time, Dr. Schrock told the board that Mackinac Island has graduated 100% of its students since 2003.

The board approved committee assignments for this year. Committees include building and grounds, budget, curriculum, evaluations and personnel, negotiations, policy, public relations, and scholarships (see information box).

Mackinac Island Public School 2008-09 Committee Assignments

Building and Grounds: Chair Larry Rickley, Leanne
Brodeur, Kelly Bean
Budget: Chair Jason St. Onge, Terri Andress
Curriculum: Chair Andress, Ben Mosley, Rickley
Evaluations and Personnel: Chair Andress, Sara
Chambers, Rickley
Negotiations: Chair St. Onge, Mosley, Brodeur
Policy: Chair Mosley, St. Onge, Brodeur
Public Relations: Chair Bean, Rickley, Brodeur
Scholarships: Chair Chambers, Rickley, St. Onge

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