Email not viewing correctly? View it in your browser

Our Community

December 2013    


In This Issue

Superintendent's Message


News & Events


Classroom Focus


A Day in the Life




Community Connections


A Piece of the PIE


Global Competency


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


Subscribe to
Our Community


ISBV students at recess time

TCAPS International School at Bertha Vos students enjoying the snow.


While it feels premature with feet of snow on the ground and wind chills below zero to call this the spring edition of the newsletter, spring is very much upon us. This year’s cold, blustery weather caused school to be cancelled and created a number of difficult commutes. To help explain how snow days are determined, here are the factors we consider:

  • Road conditions
    • Condition of roads throughout the 300-square-mile district
    • Visibility


  • Weather conditions
    • Wind
    • Temperature


  • Weather Forecast
    • Short-term
    • 24-hour forecast

    TCAPS road checkers encounter snow drifts covering the left lane while testing the roads.


    A combination of these factors may lead to a snow day, while the presence of only one may not. We do our best to make the snow day decision as early as possible, while at the same time doing everything we can to get our students to school and to do so safely.


    In early April, we will review the amount of lost time due to snow days and the options to make-up any necessary time or days. We wait until April because the state superintendent has the ability to approve a waiver for any days cancelled after April 1st. We also wait to see if the state will pass legislation to offer additional guidance on how the days should be made up.


    ISBV students playing in the snow

    ISBV students enjoying outdoor recess..


    Below, you will find additional updates and important information about events and activities happening around the district.


    I wish you and your family a fun and safe spring recess.










    Steve Cousins


    Traverse City Area Public Schools


    Fall 2013 MEAP Scores Top State’s in Reading, Writing, Science, and Social Studies


    TCAPS scored above state proficiency levels on the MEAP test in reading, writing, science, and social studies, for all grade levels tested last fall, as well as in 4th grade math. The state proficiency level, which is the total number of students proficient or above, decreased overall in math achievement in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, while TCAPS showed strong improvement in 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th grade math scores. In 4th grade, the number of students achieving proficient or higher scores in math increased by 12.4 percentage points.

    Governor’s Proposed Budget


    The Governor issued a proposed budget for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years that includes school funding, which is expected to increase funding for TCAPS next school year. Proposed budget highlights include an increase in the Foundation Grant and an increase in funding for Early Childhood and preschool programming. The proposed budget also includes a significant contribution by the state to the retirement system and continued funding for best practices and student performance. TCAPS and its Board of Education continue to monitor the process as state lawmakers work to finalize the budget.

    Doris Ellery Named Interim Trustee


    Eleven strong candidates were considered for an interim seat on the Board of Education. After more than five hours of interviews, the board selected Doris Ellery to serve on the school board until the next election in November. She will sit on the Board Communications Committee and Board Curriculum Committee. Ellery is a native of Traverse City who has strong ties to the community. She is a TCAPS parent and works for the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Michigan. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. We welcome Doris to the Board and appreciate her willingness to serve our students and our community.

    Administrative Reduction and Transitional Planning


    TCAPS is continuing efforts to efficiently and effectively deliver results, while reducing the $1.2 million budget gap projected for the 2014-15 school year. As part of this effort, TCAPS will not replace associate superintendent, Dr. Jayne Mohr’s, position. Dr. Mohr retired on March 1, 2014. In the short term, the duties of the associate superintendent will be divided between the superintendent, chief of schools and the executive director of instructional technology. TCAPS will also continue to partner with the TBAISD in the areas of professional development and curriculum alignment. A team of principals, teachers and administrators is being formed that will make recommendations to the superintendent about longer term restructuring.

    TCAPS Early College Information Sessions


    Traverse City Area Public Schools is planning to launch a new Early College Program in fall 2014 to provide high school students with greater 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. Interested parents and students are invited to attend an information session:

  • Monday, March 24, 6:00 p.m.
       Central High School Cafeteria
       1150 Milliken Drive
  • Learn more:


    Technology Brings Staff from The Atlantic to West Senior High School


    It was just after 11 a.m. on Monday, March 10th, and a projector beamed the smiling face of Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, and Lindsey Emanuel, executive director of marketing, onto a screen in Kelly Rintala’s Language Arts classroom at West Senior High School. The goal of this “Google Hangout” was to allow students to ask questions and be inspired by young, talented professionals working for a magazine that students read in class.


    Derek Thompson speaks to West Senior High School students.

    Derek Thompson speaks to West Senior High School students in Kelly Rintala's classroom..


    Technology-based tools, like Google Hangouts, are gaining popularity in schools as a way to connect to people and places beyond the walls of the classroom. From becoming video pen pals with schools across the globe to bringing experts into schools to enrich student learning, virtual hangouts are bringing the world a little bit closer to Traverse City.


    “The experiences shared and inspiration our students gain from talking to professionals in the field reinforces and enhances the lessons we are learning in the classroom,” said Rintala of the hangout. “To be able to make opportunities like today’s available to my students and to see their engagement is one of the great rewards of teaching.”


    XXX, a technology curriculum specialist for the district, cites student interest, teacher commitment and the greater accessibility of technology as reasons for an increase in the use technology-based tools in schools. “We are seeing more and more classrooms take full advantage of the technology tools we have available,” XXX stated. “Some of the most innovative classes are XXX…”


    Back in Rintala’s classroom, the conversation began to pick up. At first, the students were timid about asking questions, but soon, Thompson had the students actively listening as he answered a question about his writing process and explained that he writes at least once or twice each day.


    Student, Katie Carmichael, took away the lesson that “writing isn’t about using big words to make yourself appear smart; instead, it’s about knowing what you know and being able to explain it in a way that others can understand as well.”


    In a thank you letter to Thompson and Emanuel from the class, Rintala summed up the experience, writing, “It may seem like a small thing you did, but believe me, it was huge.”


    Alumni Profile of Lindsey Emanuel


    For ‘XX TCAPS graduate Lindsey Emanuel, who now calls New York City home, the lessons she learned in school in Traverse City continue to make an impression on her today.


    Q: What do you remember most from your time as a TCAPS student?



    Q: How did your experiences in high school help you as you have advanced in your career?



    Q: Why was it important for you to give back to your alma mater by coordinating a Google Hangout for students?



    Q: What advice do you have for TCAPS students looking forward to graduating this year?







    About the author:

    Katie Bonn


    Technology Department Changes Mean Less Time Waiting in Line


    At [XX school], it wasn’t uncommon to see a line forming at [XXX time]. At the highest traffic times, it might even begin wrapping into the adjacent hallway, but no more says Todd Neibauer, TCAPS director of technology.


    With more than XXX computers assigned to students and staff in the district, on top of the projectors, phones and other pieces of equipment in classrooms, ensuring that everything is up and running smoothly is no small task.


    “We typically handle XXX requests per week,” said Neibauer. “Now wait times to fix computers and other pieces of equipment have been greatly reduced.”


    Using planning and efficiency tools developed by Toyota called “lean,” TCAPS was able to identify bumps in the system that would ultimately lead to wait times. The technology department was able to turn those problems into opportunities to greatly improve the system.


    “Today, we are offering a better service and keeping students and staff in the classroom instead of waiting in line,” Neibauer added. “Not only that, our use of lean tools helped us identify and build a program where students are gaining hands-on technical experience and helping their school respond quickly to technology support requests.”

    TC High Students Mentor Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder


    Students at Traverse City High School are gaining hands-on experience and learning new ways to communicate by mentoring students who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. The program, now in its 4th year, is a collaboration between teachers at TC High School (TCHS) and the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD). TC High School students work with students who are 11-13 years old and are non-verbal or have limited communication skills.


    “Both the students from TCHS and TBAISD face a unique challenge in creating ways to communicate,” said XXX. “We have the TCHS student mentors plan activities and educational lessons designed specifically for the student they are mentoring, providing rewarding, real world learning experiences for everyone involved.”


    TCHS students learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder and meet with a TBAISD school psychologist as they plan their mentoring goals. The first challenge for the students is to create ways to learn names and discover shared interests. Student-planned activities and educational lessons span from reading to art projects to bowling. The students work with each other on a weekly basis, creating a consistent, comfortable environment for students to build their skills.


    TCHS student, XXXX, says, “The experience makes me feel like I’m really helping another student learn new communication skills in a fun environment.”


    April is Autism Awareness Month. Learn more


    Service Learning through West Middle School’s Project Greenager


    Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.


    We’re sure you have noticed the great community partners we have been highlighting in our schools and in online communications. Our Partner In Education program has only just begun as we work to connect all community members with a genuine and dynamic relationship with TCAPS.


    Longtime supporters TBA Credit Union and Larkin Insurance’s Score 20 for TCAPS helped us kick-off the program with leadership gifts to support our Learning, Enrichment and Athletic Program (LEAP). In the 2013-14 school year, their leadership gifts and support from many other companies allowed nearly 4,000 students to participate in LEAP. Almost 50% of those participants received reduced enrollment fees or full scholarships. No child was turned away because they could not afford to participate.


    Another great Partner In Education is Up North Media owned by Brian and Enid Hagerty. Their children attend TCAPS and they wanted to find a meaningful way to connect with our schools to give back for all of the great things that TCAPS offers their girls. What started as TCAPS being named a beneficiary of their Turkey Trot (which has generated over $20,000 for TCAPS) has now grown to include a give back partnership via their EverywhereUGo signs in select district locations and coming soon, a spring event made just for kids to benefit kids! We are incredibly grateful for their support!


    Just before the holiday Partner In Education Grand Traverse Pie Company held a Power of Pie campaign to raise funds for TCAPS' Students in Transition Empowerment Program (STEP). STEP Coordinator Abby Jordan was grateful to receive the gift of $901. These funds are used for student assistance across the district. Funds donated to STEP help make learning easier for our students who lack regular and adequate overnight housing: “STEP is always there when the world feels like it is collapsing on my shoulders. I was ready to give up on high school…it was just too much to be an adult and a child while maintaining a social life. Then STEP came and now school is a breeze.”--Student Testimonial (Read More)


    Schools and communities must work together for our children. Take a look at the ways you can support and get involved with TCAPS by donating your time, talent, resources or treasure. It’s the perfect way to support education in a way that is meaningful to you.

    • Give Back – Design a give back program that works
      for your business!


    • Donate – Adopt a school or find a program that
      you’re passionate about and give an annual gift!


    • Gifts in Kind – Donate your time, talent, or resources!


    • Purchase Sponsorships – Capture the attention of
      school audiences via many sponsorship options!

    Learn more: 231.933.5654 |



    Thank you to our 2013-2014 Partners In Education!



    Weiming Student Recruitment


    TCAPS will make a second trip to China at the end of March to interview students interested in attending one of our high schools in next fall. TCAPS will send one administrator to China at the end of March as part of a larger delegation of officials representing other school districts. This is the second trip to China to recruit and interview students for the 2014/15 school year and the third trip since the beginning of the school year. Visits will be made to Weiming schools that were not visited during the December 2013 trip. TCAPS will cover the cost of the plane ticket and Weiming Education Group will pay for in-country travel and other accommodations.




    TCAPS Social Media Interest Survey



    Hickory Hills Master Plan Task Force Survey


    The purpose of the survey is to analyze the importance of certain aspects of the Hickory Hills property as it is now and to prioritize the community's support of possible projects for the future. Take the survey now.




    Copyright (c) 2013
    Traverse City Area Public Schools

    Contact Us: