2017-08-27 / Insight

North Branch teachers, staff and students ‘all in’

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com


North Branch teachers and district staff posed for a photo on the high school bleachers. 
Photo by John Scott / Scott’s Studio North Branch teachers and district staff posed for a photo on the high school bleachers. Photo by John Scott / Scott’s Studio NORTH BRANCH — The theme of North Branch Area Schools is “All In” and Superintendent Jim Fish fully expects that to be reflected in the district’s evolution throughout the forthcoming 2017-18 school year.

From changes to the way the district communicates with parents and guardians, to improved safety procedures and investments in technology, Fish said the district is ready.

The biggest factor, however, is the way so many people involved with the district are committed to its continued excellence, he said.

“We have an amazing group of employees here at North Branch that are extremely dedicated to the success of each student,” Fish told The County Press. “There’s just a special feeling here, that we’re going to go the extra mile.”

Fish outlined several changes already made or in the works:

• Communication: The district website at www.nbbroncos. net has been updated, and the district is planning increased use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Further, the district will publish a monthly e-magazine focused on academics and a weekly version centered on athletics.

• Safety: District officials reviewed safety procedures within the last year, a process that included meetings with Lapeer County Sheriff Scott McKenna and Undersheriff Jeremy Howe. Further, other first responders have been involved and provided input. Every administrator has undergone extensive safety training.

A district-wide full scale safety exercise is planned for Oct. 20 that will simulate an active shooter situation. Students will not be in class that day, due to it being a professional development day, Fish said.

• Technology: In addition to switching to a Google-based operating system (which is free, and more ubiquitous), the district invested about $235,000 in 162 new desktop computers as part of the district’s five-year technology plan. The district also has purchased software to allow teachers to monitor Internet usage. Further, the district is spending about $250,000 to implement, review, and purchase new curriculum for students that could include new textbooks and/or more technology for students.

• Facilities: The roof of Ruth Fox Elementary has been replaced, and LED lighting has been, or will be, installed throughout the district to replace old lights (yielding energy cost savings). The most visible difference will be new safety fencing at the elementary school that directs students/ parents to use the safety crosswalk. New fencing also has been installed at the football field. A new curtain for the auditorium was purchased with a matching grant from the Lapeer County Community Foundation.

• Student achievement: Fish said the district continues to “make great strides” when it comes to improving teaching and learning. In addition to the “plethora of opportunities” for students in grade 9-12 (AP classes, dual enrollment, and a new bio-medical course), the district will continue its mentor program for students in grades 5-6 — the second year of the program. The district also plans to launch a “Gifted and Talented” program this year.

“Our goal is to meet the needs of each and every student and we are committed to making sure every child receives the very best education possible in preparation for college and/or a career,” Fish said.

Further, in a letter to parents, students, and community members leading up the start of the school year, Fish communicated that the district board of education “has been able to invest in maintaining and improving our facilities, technology, and curriculum while executing a budget that prioritizes teaching and learning.”

“Our district theme of ‘All In’ illustrates the value we place on each and every employee as vital to our goal of teaching, measuring, and improving instruction for all students,” Fish wrote.

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