Alex Mattison, a learner at Tecumseh East STEAM Center spoke at the Board of Education meeting about why he likes the new style of learning at his school.
Great things are happening at Tecumseh Public Schools and excitement is building for the work we are doing to transform education and provide opportunities for learners to explore their passions and reach their full potential.
We value feedback from our stakeholders, as it further helps us to meet the needs of our learners. We invite you to share your experiences with us. Email us at email@example.com.
"Thank you for hosting us. I was very impressed, in fact, I’m pretty sure I saw the future during our visit. Stay strong and committed to the program. I appreciate the amount of vision, courage and work that was required to so transform our educational model.
I did share my thoughts directly with the Governor, and he was equally impressed.
Please let me know if I can be of any assistance."
State Budget Representative
"I have volunteered at TPS since my son transferred here in the middle of 1st grade. I volunteered at West in October and as a parent I was very impressed in what I witnessed. I couldn't have been more excited when I was offered the position as security at West. I am a parent first and a employee second.
The changes I have noticed in our learners is amazing to me. I have known a lot of these kids since 1st and 2nd grade. I have a 13-year-old son that forgets to brush his teeth sometimes, but I am amazed on how he and the other learners get to class on time and how much he has grown in the last year.
If we give our kids the opportunity to do things that are different than when we went to school they can do it.
I believe in what we are doing because I see it. I am not reading about it, I am not listening to what someone heard. I am witnessing it every day at school.
My why is the kids. My why is our wonderful staff at West. We can do it. This isn't easy - if it were everyone would be doing it.
Thank you for everything you are doing. I appreciate all of your hard work."
TPS Parent and Security Personnel at West STEAM Center
"This year all the schools came together which lets have different ways we can learn. We are able to divide into different groups to make our learning at our level.
MAPS is my favorite. We get to be with kids that are not in our classroom and meet new people. In Art, we get to be unique and use new materials. In Music, we get to use instruments, which I love. P.E. gives us exercise and we get to play games which makes learning fun."
4th Grade Learner
"One of the most difficult challenges that humans have faced is change. To put it simply, change is not easy nor is it graceful. Though the outcomes of change can never be exactly predicted, change is still necessary.
Think back to our ancestors who cultivated the land by hand. Yes, they were able to produce enough to feed their families, but through time, they realized that the land could yield so much more with advancements in technology and techniques.
Over the past few years, our district came to a similar realization. We realized that our learners could do and be so much more if we incorporated more technology into the classrooms and changed some of our instructional techniques.
Dr. Kelly Coffin had a vision for what things could be if we made these necessary changes. Every conversation we had with her centered around the learners. She challenged us to make decisions based upon what was best for kids, not what was comfortable for us adults. In the end, we were able to create an environment where our learners felt safe to take on new challenges that would help them be successful in life.
We cannot thank Dr. Coffin and the Tecumseh Board of Education enough for their support in this implementation, their determination to do what is best for kids, and their love for this forward thinking district."
Chelsey Anastasoff, Kim Schmidt, Rochelle Johnson, Deidre Wagoner, Brian McDowell, Scott McCarley, David Gibson, Chelsea Tinney
West STEAM Center Staff Members
"I feel like being a learner is an opportunity. How you act is how someone will see you. Everyone at school sees us as a learner and we always get second chances with learning.
In P.E. we get out our energy and run around. Art is an important part of my day because it allows me to create in ways we don't get to in our classroom. Music allows you to make your own sounds and do different types of music."
3rd Grade Learner
"Being a learner is exciting! We pay new games every day in P.E. We sing different songs by different composers who we may not have known before. Art always has interesting projects. Some of the learning I like best is connected."
3rd Grade Learner
"It is a unique experience to learn with other kids. We have more opportunities for friends and I like that some of our classes are co-taught so we get to learn from more people. I love that in Art we get to express ourselves and have a lot of choice in what we get to do. The gym teachers make it a lot of fun and we play different games. In music, we have choices too. They bring in instruments and allow us to experience things we normally wouldn't get to."
4th Grade Learner
"I like that we do projects/experiments instead of notes or homework to show our learning. The reason this is such a big deal to me is because of the hands-on experience we are receiving. Instead of doing a 3-page science packet on space, we are building an alien that has to eat, breathe, and live just like a human. Which means we have to research and study how our alien will live. We also have to research what celestial body it will live on, and why this is the best celestial body for our alien. While also creating a cool alien model to present to an audience."
East STEAM Center Learner
"We are thrilled with the way this school year has gone! Every challenge has brought upon a new opportunity to find a solution that not only fine tunes the Project-Based Learning implementation to the curriculum, but creates a better learning environment for every student. Between PBL at West STEAM and the flex learning opportunities at Compass, both our children are able to excel past their current grade level and progress without being held back - or even step back, as needed and receive extra help in the areas where they struggle without holding others back - by the traditional way of teaching. We are so grateful for this opportunity that Schools of Choice and TPS has afforded our children."
I wanted to thank you, and your entire team, for taking time to show us the great things going on at the STEAM center on Friday. This is a fantastic example of innovation in education that is truly student centered.
Change is never easy and I am certain there are some pressures to go back to “business as usual”, but I commend you all for being forward thinking and utilizing an idea that will prepare your students for life after their K-12 experience.
I appreciate your openness on the hurdles you face as you look to continue this program and I am excited to talk with folks around Lansing about some solutions to make operations easier for schools like yours, and others that are looking to become more student centered and innovative.
Best wishes for continued success,
Beth DeShon, Advocacy Director
Great Lakes Education Project
They both have come home every single day excited about their day and looking forward to the next day. Already talking about the STEAM activities that they have done in class. Charlie has been excited about the new playground and says that it's great. Overall, both of my kids have had great weeks and have come home happy.
I support Tecumseh Public Schools and its shift to individualized, project-based, competency-measured learning. I am the parent to both a 10th grader and 8th grader in Tecumseh Public Schools. My daughter’s class was one of the very first grades to transition to this style of learning in one of the two STEAM centers. Even with the anticipated bumps of moving buildings and implementing new teaching strategies she had an exceptional year.
MANY learners at West and East did. However, many of those supporting the recall--including their candidates--have made it sound as if the majority of learners at TPS and their families are failing and unhappy. One of the ways in which they are attempting to marginalize the voices of those in support of district progress is to discredit the opinions of school of choice families.
During the 2017/18 school year there were 486 SOC children in the district. This is not an insignificant number of learners for a relatively small community to attract. To devalue the parental opinions of said learners simply because they are not taxpayers or voters is obtuse at best. One new candidate, John Benzing, asked me “do you think 10, 20, or even 50 SOC students outweigh the thousands of Tecumseh resident students?” My response was that I believe they are all equal. Once a child is accepted via school of choice they become a student at TPS with the same rights as any other child there…The property tax dollars from their home district follow them and they absolutely still contribute financially to the district. The insensitivities do not end there with this group of learners being referred to as “thugs” and uninformed generalizations about learners with disabilities often thrown around. My fear is that with little to no background in education that the seven “recall candidates” will not only reverse the recent progress made within the district, but undo the recent successes of and protections for our most vulnerable learners.
I urge all Tecumseh voters to actually visit the buildings for themselves to see the wonderful learning happening within our schools. You will not witness “free for alls” and you will not see students “only learning on their computers.” We have the same brilliant, committed facilitators that the district has always employed and they are doing a phenomenal job implementing the strategic plan and increasing learner buy-in. My daughter, since the implementation, has had the opportunity to be truly challenged for the first time. And my son, who is a learner with an IEP, has greatly benefited from the flexibility of learning styles and increased options for "showing what he knows.” I hope that armed with some truthful, first-hand information voters will again have faith in the system and support the forward progress of TPS.
Please support the Tecumseh School Board’s unwavering commitment to this new way of learning, the dedicated work of our learning facilitators and administrators, and their promise to stay “uncompromisingly learner centered.” These men and women of the board have dedicated hours of their own time in thoughtful research and consideration, and in conversation and planning with administration, staff, parents, community members, and learners to determine the best path for the education for ALL children in our district. This attack on their character and civic service is unacceptable and must stop. I truly believe they have the best interests of our children at heart and we must continue moving forward with this style of learning to best prepare the learners at Tecumseh Public Schools for the future.
Thank you for your support and service to our community.
We would like to extend our appreciation to the following Tecumseh 8th grade students: Payton Simmons, Hayden Green, Ambrose Cattall, Cameron Suydam, Brennan Elizardo, Adam Norden, and Hunter Creger. They were joined by Tracy Hedrick and Heather Perez from Community Learning Connections.
On two consecutive Fridays a team of these youth and an adult volunteered to pack Weekend Snack Sacks at the Lenawee Community Foundation office. Their excitement in helping others was evident in the results. In 20 ‘person-hours’ they packed more than 800 bags for other kids!
We applaud the efforts of Tecumseh Public Schools, and Mary Tommelein, who coordinated several activities to engage youth in volunteering. Data documents that individuals, who do not volunteer before the age of 14, especially males, may never volunteer in their lifetimes. Creating this spirit of helping others will build a better community now and for the future.
Weekend Snack Sacks was founded by a middle school student with a big heart to meet the needs of kids around him. His mom and he subsequently got others involved, starting with Adrian Morning Rotary, which continues to fund the initiative that serves Adrian and Madison students. Currently, the food is stored at Lenawee Community Foundation, where groups of volunteers gather to pack Weekend Snack Sacks. For the last few years, the LISD Adult Transition Support Services class and teachers have taken care of the delivery of tubs of snacks to the four Adrian Public Schools elementary buildings and the middle school. Madison High School Interact (Rotary) Club members pack the snacks for Madison Elementary children.
The Lenawee Community Foundation Board of Trustees and staff are continually amazed by the young people of our community, who volunteer through initiatives such as the Tecumseh volunteer days, our Lenawee YOUTH Council program, and service on our board. Thanks to our community youth for sharing the positive power of young people who care!
Suann D. Hammersmith, President & CEO
Lenawee Community Foundation
As a resident of Tecumseh I have watched with interest the evolution of the Tecumseh School System. As a professor of educational leadership and Executive Director of the International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership, I am a keen observer of educational change at the K-12 level.
Not only am I a resident, I have been involved in facilitating a collaborative program between Tecumseh Public Schools and Carey School in China for the past five years. Thus, I do have a familiarity with the community and school system.
Dr. Coffin, the Tecumseh school administrators, teachers, and the Tecumseh School Board have positioned the Tecumseh educational system for the future.
In my travels nationally and internationally I can attest to the fact that other nations (and schools in the U.S.) are making dramatic changes in teaching and learning. "More of the same" in our schools will fall far short of technology infused instruction and hands on problem-based individualized instruction that is displacing the traditional face-to-face classroom.
A K-12 curriculum of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) has shifted the focus of the traditional curriculum to a personalized learning and performance-based curriculum.
Dr. Coffin has brought the future to Tecumseh by implementing well thought out educational programs and practices. STEAM isn't just an acronym in Tecumseh, it is a commitment to learning outcomes that focus on university and career ready skills. In fact, the residents of Tecumseh should be asking how better to support the present school board and administration so that it will continue its forward-looking approach to educating the citizens of tomorrow.
If one thing is clear in reading the landscape of educational change, there is a competition emerging for students with the college and career ready skills companies and corporations seek in a global economy.
The Tecumseh school system is at the leading edge of K-12 educational change in Michigan. It is a school system that should be celebrated for aligning its curriculum to the future. I trust this letter serves as a reminder that it is often difficult to see and appreciate the changes taking place as needed and necessary.
James E. Berry
Professor of Educational Leadership
Eastern Michigan University
International Councils of Professors of Educational Leadership
Mike Root, Activities Director
I am writing to share my excitement for what I have seen happening throughout the Tecumseh Public School District (TPS) over the past several years in preparation for the district’s innovative move toward customized learning. As a School of Choice parent with two Tecumseh High School learners and through my involvement with TPS over the past eight years, first as a substitute teacher and now as the Executive Director of Community Learning Connections, I have witnessed an amazing transformation in our educational system.
Over the past four years, I have met with our community and business owners to learn what they feel are important skills to bring into the workforce. These discussions always included suggestions for how changes needed to happen in the classroom to better prepare children for the workplace. Employers are looking for people who can work well with others, problem-solve, adapt, and think critically. They also seek employees who are conscientious and socially responsible and who are self-motivated to learn and to achieve and exceed their goals.
Having participated in the TPS Strategic Design meetings, I joined other community members as we looked at how children received instruction and the world they will face when they graduate. I learned that it’s predicted that our children could hold 13 or more careers during their lifetime – not just different jobs. Our children need skills that will be transferrable across different fields.
We are setting our kids up for failure if we do not adapt the way we teach and challenge the structures holding us back. It takes bold moves on the part of a school and community to prepare the next generation for success in life and I am thrilled to be part of the changes currently happening at TPS.
I’ve worked directly with middle school learners in the STEAM Centers, and I have seen an enthusiasm and excitement for school that is unmatched. They have demonstrated teamwork and innovation – with learners designing, securing funding, and building an outdoor learning space complete with solar power. They are thoughtful – learners filled snack packs for children in need, and showed their ability to problem solve and collaborate throughout the process.
I want to thank the Tecumseh Public School Board, Dr. Kelly Coffin, and TPS staff for making this commitment to our youth and for leading transformational change in education. I have seen the time and energy you have put into making these positive changes for Tecumseh learners and I am in awe of your dedication and perseverance. I am proud to be able to help support this work.
Heather Perez, Executive Director
Community Learning Connections
and TPS Parent
I’ve been employed at Tecumseh Public Schools for 11 years as both a high school and middle school teacher, and currently as a facilitator at West STEAM Center. I fully support the changes taking place in our district. The skills our children will need to succeed are different from the skills we needed. Our children will need to be not only skilled as problem solvers but also as researchers, collaborators, and communicators. They will need to be able to communicate verbally and with various forms of media and technology. We want learners to leave our district confident and ready to participate in a rapidly changing world.
While Tecumseh has always been a great district, producing students who were ready to participate in a paper and pencil world, the next generation deserves the skills they will require to succeed. I believe the vision of our Board of Education and leadership team will better suit the needs of our children than the traditional model.
I have two children in the district. My daughter, who will be a junior this year, has received a top-notch traditional education here in Tecumseh. My son, who is entering 7th grade at East STEAM Center has also, to this date, received a top-notch traditional education. While I know my daughter will continue to receive an outstanding education from a dedicated, professional, and forward-thinking team at the high school, I also wish she could have had the opportunity to participate in the new model. This is not to say that my daughter won’t get an amazing education her junior and senior years at THS. She will. The staff at THS is second to none. The difference is in the structure of the curriculum. We’re shifting from an industrialized, top-down educational system, to a more organic, learner-centered system. This system will allow exploration of ideas that are relevant to each learner helping them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through real events rather than abstract, and often uninteresting events found in a textbook.
Having worked in one of the STEAM buildings, I feel that I have a better understanding of the curriculum than many others in the community. While we struggled early on last year, mostly with the scheduling software, by mid-year learners in both buildings were doing amazing things. They worked as individuals, and in teams to research issues both real and imaginary, then designed and created solutions to those problems. The staff members in both STEAM buildings ensured that these projects covered all of our required benchmarks and Common Core Standards. Our learners then communicated this design process to members of the community. Think about this… think about how terrified you were when you gave your first speech to your peers in 7th grade. Our learners not only presented to their peers, they presented to the entire community. They even presented to, and received feedback from, high school students, and our learners were amazing. They became experts in whatever they were working on. They researched, collaborated, problem solved, and then intelligently and confidently communicated the process of their learning to the community. These collaborative and individual projects were not worked on at the expense of traditional core classes like math and English, but alongside them. Learners in both buildings worked in all core areas daily with support from highly qualified learning facilitators.
Again, I believe both of my children will be in the best schools in Lenawee County this year. My daughter will continue to get a slightly more traditional education, with some exposure to these new ideas, but my son will be fully immersed in the new system. This doesn’t scare me. I’m excited for him. My hope is that by continuing along this path my son will become a confident, critical thinking, lifelong learner who remembers school as a time of exploration and personal growth. Some reading this may have that memory of their school years, but my guess is that most of us do not. I believe that the vision held by Dr. Coffin, the school board, and our leadership team is the right way forward. I support the direction the district is taking and I hope the community comes to the same conclusion. I would never presume to tell any other parent what is best for their child, but I know that this system is best for mine.
West STEAM Center Social Studies Facilitator and TPS Parent
Changes at TPS have changed JJ's life for the better. By being fully immersed in classroom activities at East STEAM Center, JJ has increased confidence and daily growth. JJ's growth is a daily reminder of why this transition was so necessary. He is experiencing learning on a pathway developed specifically for him and has found new ways to connect with his peers.