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Our Community

December 2013    


In This Issue

Superintendent's Message




A Day in the Life


A Piece of the PIE


News & Events


Your Input Requested

Partners in Education

Click here to learn how you can support TCAPS through The Larkin Group
Click here to learn about youth savings programs


Click here to learn more about becoming a host family
Click here to view current community events and opportunities


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Our Community



There has been a flurry of activity at TCAPS since the winter months set in. Students and schools have been leading holiday fundraisers for families in need, concerts and events celebrating the “most wonderful time of the year” are in full swing, winter athletics are reaching their stride, and, as always, exciting learning is going on in classrooms across the district.


On top of all of the activity of the season, there are a number of important pieces of information I want to share with you; our parents, staff and community.



Coat Drive at TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis



Open Board of Education Seat


After 6 years of dedicated service, Marjorie Rich, Board of Education Trustee will resign effective January 1, 2014. In Marjie’s own words, “My intent upon running for a second term was to continue the challenging and rewarding work we were doing with full anticipation of completing my term. A year ago I changed employment, and I have found the demands of this new job, combined with the time it takes to diligently perform the work of the Board, more than I anticipated. I fully support (the Board), Superintendent Cousins, and the direction the district is headed with our strategic plan. I am proud to witness our innovative and data-informed efforts come to fruition, as we continually strive to meet the needs of all 10,000 students in the TCAPS district.”


Her departure leaves a seat on the school board that will be filled on an interim basis until the next school board election in November 2014. The seat is expected to be filled by February 1, 2014.


Interested candidates should submit a written letter of interest including a short statement regarding the qualities and experience the candidate brings to the position. Letters should also provide contact information, including street address, telephone number and email address. Letters of interest must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on January 3, 2014 and sent to:

Megan Crandall, Secretary, TCAPS Board of Education

c/o Keena Tibbetts

412 Webster Street

Traverse City, MI 49686

More information about the TCAPS Board of Education:


We thank Marjie for her service and commitment to ensuring that many perspectives were considered as the Board deliberated complex issues. We wish her the best and know that she will continue to be a committed advocate for our public schools.

Capital Planning Post-Bond Election


With the defeat of the 2013 school bond proposals in November, the Board of Education is exploring options to revise the district’s capital plan. The capital plan outlines the projects and timelines for maintaining the district’s infrastructure, including school buildings, technology and buses. Over the coming weeks, the district will identify the most immediate and critical issues for the Board of Education to consider, for example, Interlochen Community School. It is important to note that we are at the beginning of this process, so all options are on the table for discussion, but no decisions have been made. Our families, students, staff and the community will have multiple opportunities to make their voices heard before the school board moves forward with any changes to the capital plan.

Discussion of Hybrid Quarter Schedule in High Schools


Based on data collected since moving to a trimester schedule in our high schools in 2008, the district is proposing a change to a 4-quarter system beginning in the 2014-15 school year. The proposal was discussed at the December 9th Board of Education meeting and is expected to be voted on at the next school board meeting on January 13, 2014.


The quarter scheduling structure is expected to provide a number of benefits to help increase student achievement, including:


  • Extending learning time for students who need additional time in a subject.


  • Maintaining continuity and personalized instruction for students by assigning one teacher per course, whenever possible.


  • Better aligning TCAPS course schedules with Early College and Dual-Enrollment programs offered through NMC and Ferris State, and the offerings at the TBAISD Career Tech Center.


This is more than a move back to semesters; it is the best of the old semester system, with the range of elective options of the trimester system, and increased flexibility through the addition of zero and 7th hour courses. The goal is to allow students to maximize their courses where they need them most and at the times that work best with their schedules. We are holding meetings with parents, teachers, students, and other stakeholders to discuss the plan and to get feedback about any concerns or issues. If the change is approved, we will continue to collect data to verify that schedule is having the intended, positive affect on our students and will propose future adjustments or improvements to the system, as necessary.


Upcoming Meetings


  • December 18, 2013 – Student Voice Meeting
  • January 7 (WSH) & 8 (CHS), 2014 – Parent Meetings
  • January 13, 2014 – Board of Education Meeting – Discussion/Motion


On a personal note, I would also like to take a moment to thank the Board of Education for their continued trust in my leadership. I remain committed to working hard to build a strong TCAPS team and to guide the district as we advance our strategic plan. It is an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to continue to serve this great school district and this great community.


Wishing you and your family a joyous holiday season.


Steve Cousins, Superintendent

Traverse City Area Public Schools

SPOTLIGHT: WSH in Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

4…3…2…1, on December 17th, TC West Senior High School students will see their experiment, Antibiotic Efficiency in Space, launched from Houston to the International Space Station (ISS) where astronauts will conduct the experiments before the package returns to Earth sometime in March 2014. While the astronauts are testing the experiment in space, the students will be performing the control ground experiment in their classroom at West. When the ISS experiment returns, the results of both experiments will be analyzed and compared.


TC West students Paxton Ellul, Ashley Miller, and Haley Dole prepare their

mini lab to be sent to the International Space Station for experimentation.

A DAY IN THE LIFE: International Baccalaureate Programme Director

What is the International Baccalaureate Programme?


The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme is designed for students to learn and promote international mindedness. It provides an alternate framework of learning to promote students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers.


What is different about teaching in an IB vs. in a traditional classroom setting?


From day one, IB students learn to be inquirers, thinkers, and effective communicators and they put that learning into action. It doesn’t mean that those traits aren’t developed in other classrooms, but in IB it is a focus that is repeated daily. The global focus is also different. Again, in a traditional classroom, students learn about the world. But, in an IB program, students are constantly challenged to think about what perspectives people throughout the world may have on a subject, even if it is very different from their own. Teaching the IB method helps students express themselves, feel proud of their work, and enjoy learning.


IB teaches students to be reflective thinkers.



Can you give an example of students putting learning into practice?


This week, our students were treated to a visit from the Traverse City Police Department’s Canine Unit. After learning about the Canine Unit and asking questions, the students went back to the classroom. The lesson didn’t end there, though. The students are currently learning about the types of goods and services that make up a community. What the students realized was that, while they had considered many of the pieces of a community, they were missing something…a police canine unit! Their excitement to learn and to look for ways to apply that learning in everything they do it is nothing short of inspiring.


Students participating in an activity at TCAPS International School at Bertha Vos.



Why IB?


A recent study showed that overall, IB students outperformed non-IB students in math, reading and writing. Students also demonstrate greater open-mindedness and become engaged and eager to try new things. IB raises the stakes of what we expect for children and our belief in what they can do. It really builds their confidence and self-esteem.


Any advice for teachers or parents new to the IB model?


Remember that IB teaches learning for life. Change may be difficult, but the ability to understand and embrace change is the type of resiliency that we aim to develop in our students through curriculum like IB. It’s a type of education that helps students learn how to find answers to questions and think for themselves. If they can do that, then they are going to be successful in whatever they do. And, as parents and teachers, it’s our job to help them do just that.


Click here for a schedule of upcoming enrollment and information sessions.




About the author:

Katie Bonne is the director of the International School at Bertha Vos, which is in its second year and is seeking its candidacy as an International Baccalaureate Programme.


Shop Your Community Day Results


This year, as eager shoppers descended upon downtown Traverse City to take part in the annual “Shop Your Community Day,” many chose to shop for TCAPS. The result was nearly $1,400 in donations to the Partners in Education Program. The money will go to support Early Education and will allow TCAPS to provide one child in need 2 days of preschool per week for a year, completely free of charge. Thank you to the Downtown Traverse City Association, local merchants and everyone who shopped for TCAPS!

Last Days for GT Pie Company Give Back Offer


Still searching for that perfect gift? For all pie gift orders or gift certificate purchases made through December 31st, Grand Traverse Pie Company will donate $1 back to TCAPS.


There are so many great ways that area businesses support our schools. Through TCAPS' Partner In Education Give Back program, area businesses choose a percentage of their sales to give back to our schools. View current give backs

About PIE


Our community is always looking for ways to support its schools. Through the Partner In Education program—or PIE—area businesses, families and organizations become a piece of the PIE by giving their time, talents or treasures to help make our community and our schools great! Learn more:


TCAPS Makes AP District Honor Roll


Traverse City Area Public Schools was honored by the College Board as one of the 477 school districts in the U.S. and Canada to make the 4th Annual AP District Honor Roll. Twenty-eight school districts in Michigan made the list. The AP District Honor Roll recognizes school districts for increasing access to Advanced Placement (AP) course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP exams. Reaching these goals indicates that a district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit from rigorous AP course work. It is the third time TCAPS has received this honor from the College Board.

Traverse City Central High School Participates in Cardiac Arrest Drill


Central High School staff participates in cardiac arrest drill.


Staff at Central High School participated in a cardiac arrest drill, which was organized after an incident last spring when a student went into cardiac arrest and an automated external defibrillator (AED) was used to help save the student’s life. Since that time, the Student Senate at Central High School has been raising funds for additional AEDs for the building.


The drill was intended to train staff on how to use the AEDs in the event of the emergency. The drill is part of Central High School’s effort to become a MI HEARTSafe School.


More information:

TCAPS Schools Kickoff “Acts of Kindness” Community Project


From December 15th to January 5th TCAPS high school and middle school students are competing in “Acts of Kindness.” The friendly competition is designed to encourage students to make a difference in our community through acts of compassion and kindness. Acts can include anything from helping a senior citizen with their groceries to showing appreciation for a teacher to getting a group of friends together to volunteer.


West Senior High School students dropping off gifts for the Toys for Tots program.

Host Families Wanted for Two Week Exchange

January 26-February 9, 2014


Explore the globe without leaving home! Open the door to the world by hosting a student from Dalian, China. The students will be visiting for two weeks to attend our high schools and experience life in Traverse City. This short-term stay is the perfect way to try the host family experience. Call Karyn Hertel for more information today at 231-933-5654, or email


2013 Winter Camp - Traverse City host family enjoying time with their exchange student from Dalian, China.

Weiming MOU and Student Selection


Since a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between TCAPS and the Weiming Education Group in October, representatives from TCAPS have made two trips to China to continue to develop the student exchange program. Both trips were paid for by Weiming. The first visit, by Dr. Jayne Mohr, Associate Superintendent for Quality School Development, was to visit Weiming’s schools with Weiming officials. The second visit, by Dr. Rick Vandermolen, principal of Central High School, was to present information about TCAPS to parents and prospective students interested in studying in Traverse City.

12th Annual Teacher & Parent Education Series


On February 11th, Dr. Sander Weckstein, M.D., FAAPA, FAACAP, will discuss "Anxiety in Children/Adolescents (Should you be worried?)" as part of the annual Teacher & Parent Education Series. This free lecture will be held in the Central High School Library, from 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM. On March 11th, Dr. Weckstein will provide an "Update on Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children/Adolescents" at the same time and location. Contact Northern Michigan Psychiatric Services PC at 231-935-0355 for more information.


Recreation Program Interest Survey

Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation


In recent years, several studies and planning processes regarding additional recreational offerings for our community have taken place. The results suggest that our community would like more recreational program offerings. In response to that suggestion, Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation has developed a survey to learn what specific types of programs our community members want. Please take approximately ten minutes to complete the survey to indicate what types of recreational programs you would like to see offered in the community. Answers to the questions are anonymous. Thank you for participating! Click here to begin the survey now.

Early College Survey

Northwestern Michigan College



TCAPS is planning for a Fall 2014 launch of a new “Early College” program to provide high school students with an increased opportunity to complete transferable college credits while still in high school. Different than dual enrollment, Early College provides students with a defined pathway towards both high school graduation and earning up to two years of college credit or an associate degree at Northwestern Michigan College. Please take 3 minutes to complete this survey if you or your student are interested in FREE college classes! Click here to begin the survey now.


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Traverse City Area Public Schools

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