BACK TO SCHOOL: Local districts offering new programs this year

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:14 am on Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Montabella teacher Michelle Huguelet hangs up a poster to welcome students back to class. Huguelet is a graduate of Montabella High School, taught at the junior high last year and will teach first grade this year. — Daily News/Robin Miller


This extended Labor Day weekend will be over in the blink of an eye and students will head back to school bright and early Tuesday morning.

Local school district officials are excited about a number of new programs being offered this year — from early college opportunities to partnering with parents to special education knowledge to … new saxophones!


Early College at MCC

Early College is excited new feature at Montcalm Community College this year.

The program provides area students with the opportunity to graduate with their high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time.

According to program coordinator Shannon Tripp, students will attend MCC’s campus in Sidney for classes and begin transitioning from high school classes taught by high school teachers to college classes taught by MCC faculty. Students will be treated like college students and will even be given college IDs, allowing them access to all of the services provided to regular MCC students.

A total of 20 students have enrolled in the inaugural semester, including nine from Greenville, four from Central Montcalm, four from Montabella and three from Vestaburg. Tripp said these students will be exposed to hands-on learning, leading edge technology, real world instructors and a variety of culture events, including studying abroad, art exhibits, book discussions, musical performances and drama productions.

“This program will surely change their lives,” noted Montcalm Area Intermediate School District Superintendent Dr. Scott Koenigsknecht.


Parent partnerships in Greenville

Greenville Public Schools is expanding its Chinese immersion program this year. Another kindergarten class will begin, while last year’s kindergarteners will continue learning Chinese as they enter the first grade.

Greenville is also expanding its Mobile 1:1 program to allow some clusters of students to bring their own device to school and access the school network, which is filtered and free.

Superintendent Pete Haines said the biggest change this year stems from a discussion about goals at the recent school board retreat.

“We are going to put a new emphasis on partnering with parents for even greater student achievement,” Haines said. “This isn’t about delegating teaching to parents, but working more deliberately as cooperating partners with them. We also see a major need and are counting on this new parent-school dynamic duo to improve student drive for academic excellence. We need our students to push for their best, demand the best from us and show what they can do.”

Haines said the Greenville district will have an estimated student count of 3,750 for a 0.5 percent increase in students this fall. This includes almost 300 kindergarteners, which is one of the largest kindergarten classes the district has ever had.


A new song in Lakeview

Fresh off the news of Lakeview High School being named a state “Reward School,” the district also has multiple bond projects taking place as autumn arrives.

Five new buses are being prepared for the road, the roof and exterior siding have been replaced at the bus garage, roof work is being done at the middle school and high school, six pilot classrooms will experiment with the use of one-to-one technology and new band equipment is being made ready.

According to Superintendent Kyle Hamlin, some of the saxophones being replaced at the high school are approximately 70 years old.

Additionally, construction work will begin on the Bright Start Elementary School building in October. All improvements and purchases were made possible by a voter-approved bond last February.

Hamlin said the Lakeview district will have an estimated count of 1,200 students this fall.


Special peer program in Montabella

Montabella is introducing a new class at the junior and senior high school this year. “Peer To Peer” will focus on teaching general education students strategies to support special education students in academic and social situations.

“The class begins with classwork learning about different disabilities and accommodations available, but then the students will get the opportunity to practice their techniques in classrooms,” said Superintendent Shelly Millis. “Research shows these types of programs to be incredibly beneficial to both the general education and special education students. We are excited to pilot this program at Montabella.”

The “Peer To Peer” class will be taught by Roger Champion, who won the Make A Difference Award for special education teacher in the Montcalm Area Intermediate School District.

Millis said the Montabella district will have an estimated count of 815 students this fall.

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