Below you will find a summary of our “Coffee Hour” discussion that took place on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.
Introductions & Share Out – Question of the Day: How do you make winter fun in Michigan?
Brett shared that he wants snow for winter activities, there were a few parents that agreed. Some shared they enjoy snowshoeing, building snowmen with the kids, skiing, and walks outside. There were a few others that said they prefer to be inside, but enjoy looking at the snow outside from their cozy spot by the fireplace. Rob Grams said he’s happy that we don’t have snow, and Jami said Florida is always a great place to go in the winter.
After School Bussing for Sports
One parent asked, “How do they decide who gets bussed after school for practices and who does not?” Brett said that the sports that get bussed are those going to the high school. On days of extreme cold the buses do shuttle the basketball teams to Creekside. Coaches, parents, and athletes have indicated that they lose a lot practice time if the girl’s basketball team takes a bus to Creekside instead of walking. A coach meets athletes at Baker Rd to cross as a team. One of the parents shared that there was always a coach at Baker Road to cross the volleyball team.
“At What Cost” Discussion
A parent was curious about what conversations staff is having about the district book study “At What Cost.” Jami shared that counselors & admin will be discussing the book specifically with the author this afternoon. Administration has been talking for a long time about the change in our community. All of the changes have come with good intentions, but a competitive culture is becoming more pervasive in districts like ours and it is having an impact on kids. The community and district want to be mindful of this and keep an appropriate balance.
“What is Success?”
A discussion took place around “How do you measure success?” Success is different for each person and often communities like Dexter, Saline, and Chelsea focus on what grades students are getting, where they are going to college…and so on as measures of success. Too much focus on this mindset has begun to create anxiety and worry amongst kids and created a competitive environment.
Decades ago it used to be that an accomplishment for one family in a community was a win for the whole community, but now it is sometimes about people measuring up to others and score keeping. This can lead to a great deal of anxiety and stress for students and families. In most cases it is not an apples to apples comparison when looking at success.
Skilled trades were brought up in the discussion. Sometimes skilled trades carry a stigma in highly competitive academic school districts. Brett shared that this is unfortunate because in many instances skilled trades are a better fit for what students enjoy and sometimes even pay more and have more job security than some careers that require a college degree (minus the ever growing expense that college graduates are saddled with). In addition, people in skilled trades often have a high sense of fulfillment because their work is tangible and they can see a finished product that benefits people. This is in no way saying that having four year degrees shouldn’t be pursued and are not beneficial. Rather it’s highlighting that students should be able to pursue their passion and interests without the worry of being judged and that if aligned to their interests it may be a great fit for them.
David Gleason – Community Event Tonight, January 15, 2019 @ 6 pm in the Mill Creek Cafeteria.
Brett shared, “Having David Gleason come here is good for our community and may help people reflect on what’s important.” More discussion followed with one parent explaining she is waiting for the interactive piece this evening, and another parent shared that she is proud of Dexter for bringing this program to our community.
Brett shared how it is important in finding the right balance between mental health and academic achievement. Rob Grams questioned if the answer is about changing the metrics. One parent shared, “As adults our work and home life are overlapping, and I am finding it’s happening with our kids and how they are anxious to see grades etc. Everything is so immediate and there isn’t that waiting piece that there used to be.” Jami shared that parents are finding out grades before kids and kids don’t have a chance to prepare and problem solve before parents confront them.
Brett shared that when he asks parents, “What do you really want for your kid?” The response the majority of the time is, “Good college, good job that can sustain my child….” Often parents leave out that they just want their kids to be happy.
Someone asked if they can still receive a copy of the “At What Cost” book. Hope Vestergaard is person to contact for a copy of the book. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scheduling Conflict between DREAD Scholars and David Gleason “At What Cost”
A parent said that there is a Dread Scholar meeting tonight at the high school that overlaps with the presentation by David Gleason. Another parent said that the Dread Scholar meetings repeat themselves. Jami told parents that they can reach out to Deb Marsh if they have questions or concerns. Here you can find a link to the DREAD Scholar Information
MATH Scheduling at DHS
One parent inquired about DHS math scheduling. She shared, “When kids are in the advanced math track, it may be helpful to have a teacher tell you that you are no longer at grade level and what options look like up to the senior year. When it’s time to schedule for HS it confuses parents as to what math track they are on for future years. If they finish Advanced Algebra 2 in ninth grade what are their options senior year?”
Jami suggested talking to HS counselors to find out best option for Math in their senior year. A parent suggested that they can take financial management in senior year for their math credit, while another parent asked if it will look like an easy class for colleges looking at transcript.
Jami also said Melanie Dever is a good resource for this information (The student being discussed is in Dever’s math class). Jami said sometimes kids will also dual enroll with EMU their senior year for math. Jami shared that high school will be changing things in math as far as having parents signing off on kids wanting to take higher math than what is recommended by teachers. The DHS will not allow a student to drop a class until the end of the semester if they had signed a waiver to put their child in a course not recommended by their current teacher.
What Do You Want To Be?
A parent wondered what the statistics are of how many kids in middle school know what they want to be and actually become that? Jami said that we have fought very hard not to lose our elective program. This is the last time kids get a choice and can explore other classes/options that are out there for kids. Exploratory is very important for kids. Jami & Brett schedule a time each week to have reflective conversations on how to best support kids and the direction of the school as a whole while making sure that kids can be kids.
Rob Grams said, “When kids ask – what do I want to be? we should encourage kids to ask themselves, “Not what do you want to be?” but instead, “What are your interests? Where do my interests fit?” He shared the jobs of today may not be jobs for students in the future. Instead, ask, “WHO do you want to be?” One parent said her son asked her, “Do I have to know what I want to be?” She sat down together with her son and they explored college websites and he was amazed at what degree options there are, and how many choices he will have.
Another parent shared she caught a glimpse of her high schooler’s computer screen and he had searched, “What job can make the most amount of money and do the least amount of work?” To this the entire group burst into laughter and shared how resourceful and what a creative thinker the young man is!
Brett said some kids are so driven and want to take higher level classes as it energizes them, and some kids struggle with school and excel in outside interests. Brett shared a story about a student that doesn’t always perform the best academically but is really gifted in working with cars. One example was when he bought used car tires for $50 that he knew were very valuable and worth a lot more. He turned around and sold the tires for over $600!
One parent said her son ordered a lot of items on cyber Monday that he could turn around and sell to make a profit. The group commended both of the children for their great entrepreneurial skills and the willingness to try something out of the box and take a safe risk.
Personal Story – MC Secretary Hallie Dunham
Mill Creek secretary, Hallie, shared that she has two grown sons that are complete opposites. She shared, “The older one struggled in school because he didn’t like school, didn’t want to be there, in fact that’s how I first met Jami as he was in her office frequently for silly, impulsive things!” He didn’t know what he wanted to do, and many of his peers felt they knew what they wanted to do after high school and he felt pressure. For him, taking welding in consortium was very helpful, because he found something he excelled at which gave him confidence, but he also realized that as much as he enjoyed it, he didn’t feel he could do it all day, every day, for a living. He ended up finding great success once he found something (firefighting) that he was passionate about. He did well in college because he was passionate about the path he was on. He’s now married, loves his job, and earned firefighter of the year. Academically it was still a struggle at times, but he pushed through, and was able to be successful.
Mental Health Matters Event
Parents inquired about Mill Creek’s Mental Health Matters Day. Jami shared Mental Health Matters is a school wide event that Mill Creek is hosting on January 31. Jami shared, “Our social worker, Molly Kalick, is spearheading the event, and man she is a dynamo in making this happen! There has been a great outpouring of support for this program. So far we have 29 outside professionals coming in, most all day, some half day. We are hoping to offer 25 classes each session, with 24 students in each session. We could still use additional professionals for more sessions.”
Jami shared that the Ed Foundation has been a great support for this program and has graciously donated money to help support the event. The program will begin in the cafeteria with a keynote speaker and will then break out into different sessions. Mill Creek will be serving lunch to all kids at one time. Students will each receive a box lunch, paid for by Mill Creek. After lunch, two more sessions take place, followed by panel for discussion with kids. Molly Kalick, is putting together a list of courses that will allow kids to request the sessions they are most interested in. The kids don’t really know about it yet, but should hear more about it in the next week as they begin to register for the classes.
One parent asked for examples of some of the courses. Staff shared some classes being offered are Mindfulness, yoga, depression, thera paws, StrengthsFinder, just to name a few. Jami feels fortunate to have the community we have because immediately there was so much support of people wanting to help.
A parent asked if there will be art therapy session. Jami shared we do not have anyone doing art therapy at this time, but Jami said if you know of someone that does art therapy, we would love to offer it as one of our sessions. Some parents shared after the 2015 Dexter tornado, there was a person who worked with kids on art therapy…*(They were going to see if they can find a contact for that person.)
Rob Grams would like to have referrals for someone that does art therapy. Jami shared that we are also looking for someone that works on journaling as a form of therapy. One parent has a contact at EMU and will get contact information to Jami. Anyone who would like to volunteer to help serve lunches, set up and so on reach out to Jami. If anyone has suggestions for presenters, please reach out to Molly Kalick at email@example.com
Parents shared they are so grateful that Mill Creek is doing this. Parents shared they want it to keep going each year. Jami talked about a program Mill Creek offered years ago every two years called, BABY (Building a Better You). Mental Health Matters focuses on Social and Emotional Learning and developing coping skills. We are hoping students will walk away with some new skills/ideas to work through fears and anxiety, and an appreciation for who they are!
One parent shared how important this event is with the recent death by suicides in our own community and neighboring communities.
Quiz Bowl Format – SEMMLAA
A parent inquired about a possible quiz bowl format change? Neighboring districts bring 5 or 6 kids to Saline to participate in a Quiz Bowl on March 2. When kids arrive, teams are created with members from each school. Some parents have requested to have a competition between schools. Jami & Brett brought it up at SEMMLAA meeting and it was decided not to change the format. Some parents want to see it more of a competitive nature, but at middle school level it has been decided it’s not the direction we want to go.
Honors Night – SEMMLAA
Each year SEMMLAA schools are asked to bring the top 15 academic students to be honored at a ceremony in Pinckney. Jami & Brett have suggested at their meetings that schools make selections more on the “whole child” and not just about the highest gpa. Mill Creek admin selects students on a combinations of factors; leadership, how they treat others, academics, and so on.
Loving Mill Creek
One parent said that her daughter loves MC. She doesn’t like school necessarily, but she does love MC.
Jami said that when talking about scheduling, parents get worked up about what platform they are going to choose, but kids are more interested in where their friends are. Some kids tried to choose a platform based on what teachers were teaching in the current year, however, Brett made mention that the teams do change each year.
One parent said that Mr. Fry has been very helpful by giving kids a list of dates to go by in class and it helped so much with anxiety. She shared that her child preferred the list of dates vs. the “blue line” in Summit classes. She said that even though it’s the same thing, seeing it in date format is so much better than the line. Jami & Brett have shared this with Summit many times and will continue to talk to them about the line and the anxiety it creates for kids and parents.
Jami shared that her and Brett appreciate parents’ suggestions and feedback. “We greatly appreciate the supportive nature we have in Dexter.” Jami encouraged parents to reach us with questions, feedback, and / or suggestions at anytime.
Next Coffee Hour – February 12, 2019 – 6:30 – 7:30 pm