2013 Education Excellence Award Winners

MASB, with the generous support of SET SEG School Insurance Specialists, is proud to honor 26 innovative programs with the 2013 Education Excellence Award. These districts have found unique solutions to complex educational challenges, and haven’t let financial challenges and limited resources stand in the way of attaining excellence. 

The Education Excellence Awards honor the top local school districts in each of eight categories as well as the top intermediate school district programs. Winning programs receive a trophy and metal street sign to display in their community proclaiming their district an “Education Excellence Winner.” Each winner also receives an unrestricted cash donation from the SET SEG Educational Foundation and are entered into round two judging to determine “Michigan’s Best,” where they receive more cash, recognition and bragging rights. 

Community Engagement

Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics
Dollar Bay High School
Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Schools

The Isle Royale National Park has been trying to determine the magnitude of the progression of the invasive zebra mussel species has advanced at the park. The Dollar Bay High School Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics designed, built and programed two remotely operated vehicles to be used by the park rangers to gather data on the zebra mussels. Students also provided park rangers with training on how to use the equipment. This project provided students with real world application of math, science and engineering. Students gained invaluable insight into the value of giving back to their community by volunteering their knowledge, expertise and time to the park. The Dollar Bay High School Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics’ contribution to the zebra mussel project at Isle Royal National Park may have a major impact on how the park, and other areas experiencing zebra mussel invasions, deal with their population in the near future.

Project Citizen Community Service
Velma Matson Upper Elementary
Newaygo Public Schools

The problem that Project Citizen addresses is the fact that students lacked the awareness that they are all members of one community; furthermore, students did not hold the belief that as participating members of the community they could work together to identify needs, develop plans to address those needs and follow through with those plans to make a positive difference in the community. Project Citizen increased student understanding of becoming responsible citizens of the United States. Fifth graders learned the importance of working with other citizens to make communities better. Project Citizen built awareness of community responsibility in our students, moving them from awareness into action; therefore, students are mastering the Social Studies Common Core Standards relating to community issues, policy and putting a plan into action. This project has bridged the gap between school and community.

Community Nights
Wayne Memorial High School
Wayne Westland Community Schools

Facing decreased parental and community involvement and declining student achievement, Wayne Memorial High School established three annual Community Nights designed to remove the stigma often associated with high schools for many parents and community members. Community Nights are designed to build relationships and establish partnerships among parents, students, staff, district personnel, community members and business partners in a warm and inviting environment that allows people to get to know one another on a personal level, thus increasing comfort. This innovative program aims to build relationships and establish trust and comfort with parents and community members through games and other fun activities in order to allow both to play an active role in Wayne Memorial High School students’ educations.

Creativity & the Arts

Collage Concert
Allendale High School
Allendale Public Schools

Showcasing student work and achievement in Allendale Public Schools has reached an all time high with the redeveloped Spring Fine, Industrial, and Culinary Arts Show that we call Collage Concert. In the excited words of special guest award winning composer Brian Siewert, “it’s not a talent show, its not a concert­—it’s a mind-blowing sensory-overloading three hour spectacular! I have never seen anything like it.” Walking into the community-built auditorium lobby, you are greeted with high level art from a wide variety of genres and smells of freshly cut wood and stain from the finely crafted student-made furniture and crafts. As you make your way through the crowded lobby and long lines you can enjoy one of the creative and tasteful culinary delights the students have prepared. Teachers from other departments in the school greet visitors with professionally printed programs and a smile as you enter the Auditorium. All of the Arts programs come together to celebrate each others’ accomplishments and show off to the community the high caliber work Allendale High School students can do.

Singing Christmas Tree
Mona Shores High School
Mona Shores Public Schools

America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree is a project presented annually by the Mona Shores High School Choir and involves more than 350 music students and hundreds of parent volunteers. The concerts are enjoyed each holiday season by over 5,000 enthusiastic audience members coming from near and far hoping to kick off their holiday season. This ongoing project—just celebrating its 28th year—is one of a kind in high schools across the country. Choir and orchestral musicians in the 9th through 12th grades come together to learn a challenging, varied repertoire that both inspires and challenges all students. Concerts are presented in Muskegon’s historic, majestic Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts.

Stop Motion Animation Club
Kreeger Elementary School
Fowlerville Community Schools

The Kreeger After School Animation Club addresses the need for technology literacy: the ability to communicate, solve problems, and create information to improve learning in all subject areas. Students in animation club use technology in a new artistic manner, rather than simply teaching keyboarding, Microsoft Word or Excel. Along with the need for more technology in our students’ education, our 2011-12 MEAP scores showed that just  45 percent of the school’s 4th and 5th grade students were proficient in math. By creating a stop motion animation movie about fractions in an after school club, students are covering the Michigan technology standards and the Common Core standards in math and writing.

Extracurricular Activities

Marion ROAR Program
Marion Elementary School
Marion Public Schools

After evaluating the math scores at Marion Elementary School, the staff noticed a group of students that were just below proficiency. ROAR (Raising Our Academic Results) is a before and after school program that has been six years in the making, intended to bring those students up to the expectation set for success. The first year of this program focused on math skills only. After positive results and positive response from parents, the program was expanded to include other subject areas. Since then, the program has evolved into a personalized tutor system, providing support for students when and how they need it to give them the chance to master specific skills.

Camp Learn-A-Lot
Elementary Summer School
Romulus Community Schools

Camp Learn-A-Lot is a learning opportunity for students in 2nd through 5th grades who are at risk of not successfully attaining high academic standards. Various assessments show that students have experienced challenges in being successful in attaining high order thinking skills in science, math, and in understanding informational text. Brain research says that active learning and automaticity of core information is key in promoting deep understanding. In an effort to cover the vast amount of material assessed on state tests, educators sometimes fail to implement strategies that best support the way students learn. Hands-on immersion into the standards give the brain the opportunity to make the connections to the content students need to retain, process, and apply critical information. Camp Learn-A-Lot gives students this vital learning opportunity.

Lunchtime Gardening Club
Clintondale Middle School
Clintondale Community Schools

Originally started to address poor behavior of attention-deficit students during unstructured times (lunch) the garden class maintains school grounds, provides school-wide instruction in botany, and has become a magnet for all different kinds of students who love growing things. Although there is no measured proof, behavior does seem to have improved, and several students have remarked that they come to school on days they would normally skip school because they’re afraid no one would water their plants. Staff and parents join the students in raising fruits and vegetables. Some produce goes home (we are a 70 percent free lunch school) but we have also donated food to a local food pantry. The Lunchtime Gardening Club was recently featured on TV, and expanded into a summer gardening program as well.

Health, Wellness & Safety

Saline Alive
Saline Schools
Saline Area Schools

A staggering 21 percent of Washtenaw County children ages 9-17 years are estimated to have mental health disorders, and 12 percent of 6th  to 8th graders have actually attempted suicide. Studies have shown that mental health issues can directly affect school attendance and suicidality, and is correlated with GPA. Moreover, without mental heath support a child or adolescent may decide to take his or her own life. Saline Alive is a community group that focuses on increasing awareness of suicide and mental illness. The group consists of community members, parents, school personnel, mental health professionals, and students. Saline Alive uses a public health approach for awareness and prevention of suicide. Saline Alive has facilitated seminars and film screenings, provided skills training, and actively gathered information and made recommendations about school climate and culture.

Clinton Middle School
Clinton Community Schools

Clinton Middle School had a changing dynamic: the environment had become increasingly unproductive from the observations of students and staff. The staff set out to develop an initiative that encouraged students to emulate behaviors that would develop their characters at school and in life. In the Spring of 2010, the PRIDE program was unveiled as a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support system. The PRIDE program focused on five character traits: Preparation, Respect, Integrity, Discipline and Excellence. This program has created a school environment that is safe, nurturing and supportive of students and their learning. The program has dramatically decreased discipline issues, tardiness, absences and referrals, creating a supportive learning environment as demonstrated by increasing MEAP scores.

9th Grade Academy
Beecher Middle High School
Beecher Community Schools

At nearly 20 percent, Beecher’s high school dropout rate is highest among all public schools in Genesee County. Beecher High School has been given “Priority” status by the State of Michigan as a bottom five percent performing school. Ninth grade is a threshold grade—a time when success or failure is critical for students and their likelihood of securing a high school diploma four years later. A good start will significantly enhance the prospects for high school graduation, whereas a poor start will have the opposite effect. Beecher High School finds itself in the second year of a 3-year Transformation Plan. Its self-contained 9th Grade Academy has shown significant gains in student attendance, achievement, and retention with an array of social, technological, and programmatic reforms.

Innovation in Language Arts

Fifth Core World Language & Culture Program
Oxford Community Schools

Cognizant of the ever-growing global achievement gap in our country, Oxford Community Schools set out in 2007 to close that gap. Oakland County is home to over 800 international businesses, so it’s imperative that students are prepared for the diverse global market in which they will compete. Considering the U.S.’s largest trading partners are Mexico and China, it becomes clear the teaching of Mandarin Chinese and Spanish is both relevant and necessary. Oxford’s Fifth Core World Language & Culture program, aptly titled to denote the importance it plays in the curriculum, is required of all students. The program addresses the need for all students to be fluent in another world language to be able to compete in a global market that is constantly changing.

Freshmen Transition
Swan Valley High School
Swan Valley School District

Research has shown that one of the most effective programs that a high school can implement focuses on support for students as freshmen. The ninth grade year is a critical time. Students’ initial months in high school will often determine whether they will succeed and proceed to 10th grade prepared to meet the demands of high school and work toward academic and career goals. Nationally, approximately one out of every four 9th grade classes is failed. If we want to change this statistic, schools need to provide support for our incoming high school students, addressing both students’ academic and affective needs. We need to help students to develop good study habits, to organize their time, and to see themselves as learners. The Freshmen Transition program epitomizes the role of the educator as a leader, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher and program administrator. The Transition program utilizes teachers, the school librarian, and high school student aides as a team that works in collaboration to integrate literacy and technology into the curriculum in order to facilitate successful student learning and achievement. These educators serve as instructional partners throughout the delivery of the class, providing follow-up for students at the conclusion of the 12-week program, and throughout the remainder of students’ high school career.

Literacy Block Intervention Program
Round Elementary School
Hartland Consolidated Schools

The Round School community has always had concerns about having the resources and means to get all students the appropriate interventions/remediation for their academic deficiencies. There have always been programs and interventions for our lowest achieving students, but not for the middle or high excelling students. Three years ago, Round Elementary created the “Literacy Block” program to provide an intervention system for all students in the building. It’s unique because it provides data-driven, collaborative, and specific interventions for all students in reading and writing, rather than focusing on the lowest achieving students. The Literacy Block program is a key component in the school’s educational philosophy that identifies and improves academic weaknesses of all students within a professional learning community culture.

Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

Mason Intervention Program
Mason Middle School
Mason Consolidated Schools

Five years ago, MMS identified three trends that were negatively impacting student achievement results. The staff recognized they had to find ways to close the equity gap between high achieving and low achieving students, identify and remediate the appropriate skill sets, and implement the proper intervention programs to deal with an increasing number of apathetic students. The challenge delivered to the staff was simple: How do we hold students more accountable for their learning? As a collaborative PLC, MMS utilized numerous amounts of data to devise a plan. As a result, they developed an efficient intervention process—the Mason Intervention Program (MIP)—within the school day. The program has increased student accountability for learning and raised math MEAP scores to soaring heights.

Arduino: A Great Approach to STEM Learning
Yale High School
Yale Public Schools

Yale High School’s science department wanted to challenge and motivate high school physics students. As a way to foster self-directed learning in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics environment, we created a program centered on the Arduino microcontroller. Arduino is a low-cost, open-source microcontroller—a miniature computer-on-a-chip—that students can use to sense the physical world and to respond to changing conditions. This program offers high school students a great platform for project-based learning in STEM in a fun, flexible, easy and affordable manner.

College Prep Algebra & Geometry
Crestwood High School
Crestwood School District

Crestwood High School has developed an innovative math class that looks at student results from the PLAN test and through structural differentiation according to PLAN results. Each class is taught a different curriculum according to their needs. For example, in first hour, slope intercept may be a high need, but multiple variable equations may not be. Second hour may be different; it just depends on the actual students in the classroom. The course uses a “smart curriculum” changing based on the needs of the kids in the class. More time is spent on high need areas and less time on areas that the students in the room showed as a strength.

Innovation in Social Science & Humanities

Promoting Academic Social Success
Algonac High School
Algonac Community Schools

Research shows successful transitional years (elementary to middle school and middle to high school) are vital to educational success and stability. It’s been found that most dropouts occur as a result of poor performance during the freshman year of high school. The Promoting Academic and Social Success (PASS) Mentoring Program at Algonac High School, developed in 2006, was designed to address this problem. The goal of the program was to identify at-risk 8th grade students and to mentor them throughout their 9th grade year. Students are paired with specially selected senior mentors for the school year in order to show what it is like to be a successful high school student. The program is uniquely tied to student achievement because its goal was to act as a “safety net” for those at-risk freshmen students.

CLICS: Taking Back the Senior Year
Croswell-Lexington High School
Croswell-Lexington Schools

Traditionally, Croswell Lexington’s students and their families have not been successful at—and in many cases do not even attempt—college. A postsecondary education is thus not commonplace in the school district. The Croswell-Lexington Increasing College Success (CLICS) program is changing this paradigm by taking back the senior year and making it more meaningful. By using incentives, focusing course offerings and introducing an Early College, the program is helping increase students’ college entry and success (many for the first time in their family histories). Where just four years ago no students graduated the high school with college credit, it’s now become common. This year, it’s estimated that more than 35 percent of seniors will leave with at least one successful college class on their transcripts, and  be well on their way to college success.

Armada Health Occupation Program
Armada High School
Armada Area Schools

The adoption of the Michigan Merit Curriculum and the national Common Core State Standards implemented rigorous math and science expectations in order to better prepare students for the growing shortage of qualified people in STEM related careers, especially in health fields. Subsequently, it is important to develop a program that integrates high level science concepts into a career-oriented health occupations program that teaches students both content and application in a real-world setting. The Health Occupations program at Armada High School addresses this problem by developing a comprehensive program that enables students to take high-level, rigorous courses while also having the opportunity to gain valuable experience in career internships and participate in competitions judged by current healthcare workers. Students have opportunities to intern at Crittenton Hospital, whose partnership allows students to work with actual patients and refine the concepts taught in class through their work as a practitioner. Similar partnerships exists with other local medical facilities including the Armada Fire Department and Emergency Medical Technicians, Krause Veterinary Hospital and the Village and Rehab Care Center.

Intermediate School District Programs

Project PRIME (Promoting Reform in Mathematics Education)
Wayne RESA

Promoting Reform in Mathematics Education (PRIME) is a statewide, two-year, secondary professional development program coordinated by Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency with the Michigan Mathematics and Science Center Network (MMSCN), Educational Service Agencies, and UM-Dearborn’s Center for Mathematics Education. PRIME is unique in that it:

  • uses a variety of technologies (video conferencing, integrated instruction) to train more than 600 secondary teachers statewide;
  • includes all 33 Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers, (3) provides site-based facilitators and coaches to encourage instructional reform;  
  • prepares teachers to incorporate into their practice the Common Core State Standards, the Standards for Mathematical Practice, and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment System (SBAC), and
  • allows teachers to meet after school to discuss new strategies which focus directly on student achievement.

Virtual Summer School
Genesee ISD

The Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) Board of Education provided leadership and support to create its Virtual Summer School in response to a basic question: “How can we offer summer opportunities for students to earn credits without increasing costs?” High school principals from around Genesee County worked to answer this question for their Superintendents and crafted recommendations for a Virtual Summer School that required less administration during the summer, decreased cost for students, and resulted in increased course offerings. Virtual Summer School used existing highly qualified teachers from within the local constituent districts to provide on-line instruction with the support of Florida Virtual online course content. This creative solution was able to be implemented because of the existing partnership among all 21 constituent district boards of education and administration to provide online program development and delivery. Thus, Virtual Summer School (VSS) was born.

Creative Pulp
Eaton RESA

In Central Michigan, there is no other center-based student program similar to Eaton Transition Center’s Creative Pulp! They create cards from recycled paper. Transition students—ages 18-26 with multiple spectrums of disabilities—learn to take direction and work to create a product, while learning valuable social and employability skills. The program empowers students to embrace their disabilities and discover their own unique strengths. Students build on post-secondary skills to help transition them into adult life. This may mean a more functional life at home, life on their own, college or a job. As many as 300 students have been successful in finding employment after participating in this program over the years.

Student-Created Initiatives

Legacy Team
Lakeville Elementary
Oxford Community Schools

As a school, Lakeville Elementary works hard to help its students understand how they can “take action” to make the world a better place. This process started with global initiatives, from doing community service to raise money for water in Africa, grade levels hosting blood drives, and more. The staff identified that by focusing only on global issues, students were missing the opportunity to take action in the school community. Through thoughtful discussion with students and staff, the Lakeville Legacy Team was created—a group of 5th grade students the are charged with the task of leaving their legacy. The team researches a school problem, develops a plan to influence change, and implements the plan to “leave their legacy” in the community.

Go Green Club
Krause Later Elementary
Armada Area Schools

Prior to the development of their third grade “Go Green” club after school club, Krause Elementary school did little in regard to environmental education. The school of over 850 students didn’t recycle paper, water bottles, batteries, or many other items.  In addition, students knew little about how the natural habitats of animals in their area could be impacted by environmental issues such as water pollution, and the negative impact these pollutants can have on a food chain. A group of conscientious students and dedicated teachers have worked to increase awareness in the school community by bringing in speakers, creating a school garden, and encouraging a “waste-free” lunch. Students have led recycling efforts that are now widely used by the school and the community use on a regular basis.  


MASB's Education Excellence Awards are generously sponsored by
SET SEG School Insurance Specialists.

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