2017-08-27 / Insight

At Almont change is incremental

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

ALMONT — “We’ve got a lot of good things happening here. I’m really excited,” said Almont Community School Superintendent Bill Kalmar, who’s starting his first full year leading the district.

Kalmar took over as superintendent in April after Joe Candela left to take over as superintendent in Ubly.

As with all superintendents, Kalmar said he won’t know for sure how many students he has until the Fourth Wednesday Count, but he said he’s got a good feeling the numbers will be slightly up. Last fall Almont placed fourth in the county in enrollment with 1,473 students, 13 up from the year before.

“We advertise Almont by being Almont,” Kalmar said, noting 20 percent of the student body participates in the district’s band program.

This fall, he said, will be the last of a five-year Project Lead the Way grant. Kalmar said that while the grant will run out at the end of the school year, “We’re building capacity in teachers.”

Kalmar said they’ll be able to build on the lessons they’ve learned over the course of the grant.

This year Almont will be adding a biomedical class at junior high and at the high school, which added Introduction to Engineering last will be introduce Principals of Engineering in the 2017-2018 school year.

“We want to make sure we maximize our potential for serving students,” Kalmar said. He added, “Our goal this year is to look at sustainability.”

He said a new position in the district will help with that. The district hired Barbara Potter as the district’s new business manager. Kalmar said that while Almont will share her time on an 80/20 spilt with the Lapeer County Intermediate School District, he expects she’ll spend the bulk of her time at the Almont building.

The district has also hired three new teachers. Julie Saint Onge, will teach fourth grade; Janett Lahorn, will teach eighth grand and Julie Daily will teach English and U.S. history part-time at the high school.

After a year of piloting the Wonders reading program, Almont this year will bring it to all K-4 students. Kalmar believes with a more unified reading program, teachers will be better able to build from one grade level to the next.

The district is now into its second year of one-to-one tech and students using Chromebooks.

“It’s all in the implementation,” he said, adding he thinks it’s important to not pile on too much change at once. He suggested if you implement six new programs at once, it’s too much for teachers to focus on all of it and get it right.

So far, he said, Almont seems to be getting it right. “We have a thriving AP program and thriving dual enrollment program. We are constantly looking at how we can meet the needs of all students.”

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