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Staff Appreciation

Staff Appreciation Week - May 7-11, 2018

Each year, the Board of Education celebrates staff by designating the first week of May as Staff Appreciation Week. PDF DocumentView 2018 Board Proclamation

Additional Stories Shared

Mrs. Ross from Blair Elementary ECSE has been and continues to be so patient with my son throughout the two years he’s been in her class. I appreciate all that you’ve done, all the different techniques you’ve shared with me. You’ve definitely improved his life, and I can never thank you and all the staff that takes the time to help him enter kindergarten next fall.  - Xee Lao

I want to recognize the contributions of Kate Hansen (TCAPS West Senior High School) for her dedication to growing the Study Abroad Programming offered at West. Her work and passion for teaching the culture have touched the lives of over 100 travelers since 2012. She researched and developed a new program, a Volunteer - Alternative Learning Experience to Guanajuato, Mexico four years ago. The trip is open to any student regardless of language experience in Spanish. They will learn Spanish even if they currently study German or ASL. It's a fun immersion experience and students volunteer in the afternoons at an orphanage for girls and in a canine shelter/rescue. In the past year, she expanded the program to include a sister-school relationship that blossomed through a connection to one of our former elementary Spanish teachers. Mrs. Hansen uses Skype and pen pals to establish matches between our 30 travelers and another 30 students in León, México. It has been one of the most joyful experiences for both our students, who often leave with tears in their eyes, as well as for the students in León. She has organized numerous fundraisers with special help from the Traverse City Masonic Lodge, and her husband John Hansen, to help our students earn over $12,000 towards covering travel expenses through the annual Cinco de mayo dinner event. This story only gets better because plans are being made to offer scholarships to five students from Leon to travel to Michigan for a homestay experience in 2019.  Mrs. Hansen's modeling of the interest and compassion for stray dogs on the streets, young girls without a safe home life, and opening the hearts and minds of West students, has created memories that last a lifetime. The relationships she develops with her students last a lifetime as well. I am very proud to work with her and observe how she instills the desire to learn in her students. - Tamara Batcha

Staff Appreciation Week - Day 5:

Continued Gratitude for Our Outstanding Staff

Both my husband and I had the wonderful experience of having Mrs. Radakovich as a teacher throughout our school years, so we were pleasantly surprised to see her teaching first grade at Eastern when our daughter started kindergarten. When she was placed in Mrs. R’s class for first grade, it was a joy shared throughout our entire family as we knew our daughter would get the experience of the patient and affirming teacher we have such fond memories of. When our family suffered a personal loss this winter deeply felt by our daughter, Mrs. R’s practice of gentleness played an integral role in our daughter’s grieving process, especially on the toughest days for her to leave mom and dad and head to school. Mrs. R is the same inspiring, optimistic, and FUN teacher we grew to love as kids, and we just know our daughter will hold such a special place in her heart for Mrs. R long after she’s finished with school.  —Andy and Kim Jacobson

Thanks to Alicia Olson (TCAPS Montessori) for the amazing work she does. Both our girls 6 and 3 love her and respect her. She is constantly giving us things to help our oldest improve on her reading and keeps us up to date on how our kiddos are doing. We can tell that she really cares. Thanks again -The Haag’s

Laura Monette has been a constant in our son’s life at Westwoods since the day he started preschool.  Being in both before and aftercare on a daily basis, she has developed a great bond with him. She manages a TON of moving parts in providing the extended day services to the school – a service that our family would struggle to be without. She is always engaged with the kids and it is plain to see from seeing their interactions with her that it is not just our son that she has a bond with – she is a student favorite among many.  Just when I think she has done it all in extended day, I also often find her helping in the kindergarten classrooms when we come to events during the day! She is such a great support for these children and as a parent I am so thankful for her! - Ginny Bilacic

I would like to recognize Matt Sherwin at West Senior High School. Mr. Sherwin is filling in for the Career Internship Student Tech teacher whom we tragically lost in a car accident this spring. My son was devastated losing Mrs. Send as he had become very close with. I had never met her but she sounded like a pretty phenomenal teacher. It takes a special person to step into a role knowing that you have some pretty big shoes to fill. Mr. Sherwin stepped in with empathy and kindness. My son came home from school on Mr. Sherwin's first day and told me that he tried to find a reason not to like this teacher but he couldn't come up with anything. Coming from a kid who was hurting, that meant a lot for me to hear as I knew that this person was going to help lessen his pain. So a big THANK YOU to Mr. Sherwin for stepping up the a very tough plate. - Michell Clishe

Our daughter has had a few learning challenges through the first couple years of elementary school. Mrs. LaMott (Cherry Knoll) has been there every step of the way for our daughter. She sends me notes, emails and calls when she feels there is something that needs to be addressed. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything which I love because we all know that won’t solve a problem that could be very important in a little kids life. She has worked with our daughter in so many ways and we just want to say THANK YOU Mrs. LaMott for everything.  -The Malinao Family

We are so deeply grateful to all the staff at East Middle School!! Colleen's (Smith) leadership and dedication to the staff, students and families continue to inspire us! Every single staff from the smiling and caring women in the main office to the loving and thoughtful women in the Alpha and Omega house we feel our child is in a safe and positive environment. All of the administration pour themselves out daily right alongside the staff and teachers!! I cannot imagine working with middle schoolers every day yet they do it with encouragement and deep commitment. We thank you all so very very much- the impact you have will last throughout the lives of our child and all the teens at EMS!! - Parent at EMS

We appreciate the hard work of everyone who took their part in lives of our children. Our children were students at Glenn Loomis Elementary, Blair Elementary, West Middle School, West High School. One child is going to graduate from WSH this year, and the last one (#9 in the family) is going to move to WSH the following school year. We, the parents, and our children have many good stories and treasure fond memories. We are together with you during 20 years!  Thank you! God Bless Everyone!!! Many thanks from the Chekhovskiy family!

We would like to thank Mrs. Brzezinski (Willow Hill) for always being patient, kind, honest, understanding, considerate, and for going out of her way to investigate situations when needed. You have made my son love math reading and writing and learning. You are truly an amazing teacher and we will miss you at the end of the year! You have an easy way of teaching the children. Keep up the amazing teachings you are doing. Thank you - Jessica and Connor Hiday

I would like to recognize two people that stand out to our family at West Middle School. First, Marsha Warne goes above and beyond in the 8th grade office with all her hard work and kindness she shows daily. Her patience and kindness with both my children and myself never goes unnoticed. She always has a smile on her face as well as taking care of all the details all day long. The next staff member we want to recognize is my son's 8th grade teacher Mr. Livengood. We have great respect for him. My son enjoys his style of teaching which really identifies to the kids. He is firm, fair and kind with a great sense of humor in getting his message across. Thank you for all you both do. - Kimberly Burke

Albert Dimas (Willow Hill Lead Custodian) is always at the ready to make a student smile. In a school district where male role models are few and far between at the elementary level, it is wonderful to see Albert share his time, kindness, and humor with the kids. Thank you Albert! - Torre Boone

Alberto Dimas (Willow Hill): Equal parts Superman and Supermodel! Hard worker, humble, great attitude and sense of humor....Thank you!!! - Kaischa Smith

Thank you to Mr. Mead at Long Lake Elementary School. You get kids that have been sitting for long periods of time and all they want to do is move. Now, that may seem like an easy thing to do as a PE teacher but getting them all moving in the same direction while keeping varied skill levels interested in the same activities is true skill. Your creativity in the games that you come up with make for interesting conversation on the ride home from school. Your demeanor with the children shows the care and concern you have for each one of them. My son loves your class because of your example of leadership and your great attitude. Along with Mr. Mead, a thank you to my son’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Dzierwa. He has become a good reader and interested in many types of books largely due to you and your way of teaching. This fundamental skill is so important and has provided a strong basis for learning all subjects. Thank you Mr. Mead and Mrs. Dzierwa! - Pracilla Venhuizen

Mrs. Willis, Mr. Schweitzer, Mrs. McKellar, Mrs. Steichen, Mrs. Mansfield, Mrs. Cisneros, Mrs. Leppien,  Mrs. Gang, Ms. Metiva, Mrs. Coursen, Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. Coulter, Dr. Derks at Cherry Knoll Elementary. They say it takes a village…  I am so happy my kids get to be a part of yours! You all allow my kids to be kids, and I appreciate you so much for it. Your hard work and dedication to learning in such an amazing variety of ways does not go unnoticed in the Johansson Family and the success they beam from. Thank you for embracing their strengths and helping them learn to stretch new ones along the way. So happy to be a part of the Cherry Knoll Community, this week, this year and always. - Scott & Becky Johansson

My daughter was new to TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis this year in 4th grade moving from a non-TCAPS school. It is not easy to change schools. Everything is new... new faces, new buildings, and new routines. From the day we registered for school, and every day since, Ms. Liz has been there with a big hug for my daughter. This boosted her confidence from day one because she felt she had an adult teacher/friend there to help her adjust. Knowing Liz Yarch is there to watch out for her, and answer all of our questions, has helped us adjust as well.  Thank you Liz for all you do! - Carol Brown

Our son has had many excellent educational experiences in his time at TC West Sr. High and TC West Middle School which he entered in 8th grade. Starting in 8th grade with Brett Graham in history and Flournoy Humphreys for band, he’s had teachers who uniformly have made a positive impression on him and contributed greatly to his success in high school. In high school, we especially thank Maria Chargo (B-C calc), Aimee Cole (language), Tak Ready (government), Marek Ulicny (biology), Dan Rice (psychology), Matt Dumon (literature) and Jeremy Rintala (our son’s faculty advisor for his Advisory/freshman mentoring seminar). Also his growing appreciation of music has been greatly influenced by his time working with Rachel Linsmeier and Pat Brumbaugh. As parents, we have interacted with many of our son’s teachers and have always found them ready to engage and answer all questions. We are grateful. - Jim & Nancy Farese

We’d like to give a big THANK YOU to Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Olvey, Miss Shauna, Miss Deb and Mrs. Ruggles at Central Grade. These five teachers epitomize what it means to be a “great teacher” and our kids have soared under their guidance this year. Their continued kindness, spirit, “can do attitude” and drive to make things new and interesting has been truly awesome this year. They also consistently look out for what’s best for our kids, both emotionally and academically. We are so grateful for their support and hard work! – Harry and Andrea Burkholder

Jill Jenkins at Eastern Elementary does an amazing job of keeping that ship so well run. Thank you for all you do Jill! - M. Robinson

Thank you to Mr. Deneen and Mr. Hester for their love and dedication to the band program at East Middle School. My daughter is very shy and it's been amazing to see her confidence build through their instruction and leadership. My daughter went from breaking down in tears the first time she needed to play in front of the class to signing up for private lessons. What an amazing gift you've given my daughter.  I am truly grateful! - EMS parent

I would like to thank Mrs. Carroll from Cherry Knoll Elementary. My son has had the privilege of having her for his first grade teacher. She is a great teacher who shows compassion and kindness but also is firm when she needs to be. She truly cares about her students and wants them to succeed. I hope the rest of our experience at Cherry Knoll is as fulfilling. Thanks Mrs Carroll!! - Aprille Truszkowski

Our family would like to thank all the wonderful staff at Eastern Elementary for all the support this year during the transitional year at Bertha Vos. We would especially like to thank Ms. Heather Fak for challenging and supporting our oldest son. She brings to the table enough energy to command a busy classroom and capture our energetic son's attention. Ms. Fak, you have opened a new world of reading to him and we are just amazed at the growth we have seen. We would also like to thank Ms. Julie Brott and Mrs. Joy Brassington, together you two create a world of imagination and love where preschoolers just blossom. Thank you for being the kind, gentle souls that foster learning, love, and creativity. - Stephanie G

Mrs. Melissa Kamm is a Counselor at West Senior High and does a fantastic job for all of the kids on her caseload - including my own. She is careful and considerate of all of their needs and works with each of the students over the 4 years they are in high school so they can reach for the stars!  She works tirelessly for each of the students like they are the only one she has to take care of! Thanks for all you do Mrs. Kamm! - Charles Kolbusz

The Grebe family would like to recognize West Middle School 6th grade principal Ryan Ranger along with ELA teachers Dessie Hughes and Kathy Johnston for meeting with them several times this school year, usually before school started. Their extra time and special talents have helped this family after their son, who has several learning disabilities, made the switch from private school to WMS in mid-November.  Their compassion, communication, follow-up, and desire for all kids to succeed are very much appreciated! - The Grebe family

We wanted to extend some kind words to Mr. Tester (West Middle School) for the amazing trip to Washington DC that he facilitated for all the 8th graders. I am sure this is not an easy challenge, so we sincerely appreciate the efforts of all involved.  My daughter expresses that her favorite class this year has been with Mr. Tester. She tells me that she admires his style of teaching along with his positive attitude and firm but not harsh criticism. That is a meaningful impact! - Many thanks from The Rollert Family!  

This is our son’s first year in school. He has had three teachers come in and out of his classroom for different reasons. At first we were a little concerned that he might not be getting the proper learning experience without the consistency of having just one teacher. That fear went away as I have interacted with all three teachers and they are all a joy. This is their job and they know how to pick up right where the other has left off. Thank you Mrs. Adams, Ms. LaPrade and Ms. C. (Cherry Knoll Elementary School) - Amanda Malinao

Upon entering kindergarten (2017/18), we knew that 2 years in the same room were in our future. But that all changed at Glenn Loomis Montessori. Alicia Olsen, along with Ms. Robin and Ms. Christie, have really built a confidence in my daughter that she never would have found without them. She has come leaps and bounds from where she began and will advance to 1st grade. We are excited for this transition.  Also, a thanks to The Office Liz's for remembering all of our children's names and ailments. And to the alternative education staff, thanks for teaching our daughter some silly things that we are now subjected to trying at home.  - Alicia Richards

Where to start?! Mary Kolle, Arlen Herman, Paula Sandtveit (missed), Kathy Nester-Pohlman (will be missed), Tammy McManus, & Barb Hoffman (missed), have all been wonderful to our family. Angela Sides-McKay, Julie Phend, & Lisa Forton, you are always so kind & helpful...even w/ the silliest questions! Mr. Hysell, your ability to call each child by name is simply impressive. Mrs. Brazee, you have a way of making my kiddos so proud to come home & sing the special songs they learn in your class. They insist on a microphone....loud & proud! Also, Lisa McQueen, keeping kiddos safe at the crosswalk with pleasant conversation and a smile. Last but not least, Mr. Dimas, you are definitely a huge ray of light at Willow Hill! Always such a pleasure to see you. A big thank you to you all, for all of your hard work & dedication to the children & families of Willow Hill. - The Fountain Family

Mrs. Rousos (Central Grade School) has been an incredible blessing in my daughter’s life this year. She is incredibly kind and compassionate towards all of her students. My daughter comes home daily telling us stories which reflect how she is deeply cared about and loved. She  has helped my daughter’s confidence soar with her continued support. Most importantly my daughter LOVES to read due to the impact of this fantastic teacher. Her excitement and passion towards reading is contagious. Thank you Mrs. Rousos! - A very happy Central Grade Parent

I would like to recognize several staff members at Central High School who have made an extremely difficult road a little easier to navigate. To Joyce Battle, Brian Guiney, Hilary Strickland, Kim Fleming and Mary Aldridge - THANK YOU! Thank you for all you are doing to support my student and truly meeting them where they are at. You have done so without judgment, with professionalism, with consistency, with regard for their future and the potential they have to offer the world. The teamwork and care you have demonstrated has helped our family more than you will ever know. - CHS parent

I have four kids at Long Lake and I am happy to say love all of their teachers! Julie Cronk took over my son's 4th grade class and she really brings out the best in her students. Her level of expectation is so high but yet attainable that it shows in everything he did in school this year! My daughter has Linda Melvin in 2nd grade and she continues to show her kindness and support even though my daughter can be quite challenging. I have to also thank Ann Thaxton as my daughter's special ed teacher for her support this year. I can sometimes feel insecure when it comes to my daughter’s behavior but these ladies (and my daughter’s previous teachers at Long Lake) help me feel good about the support and redirection she gets everyday. My kindergartner son has Cassie McCall and she has been so kind and encouraging to my shy son from day one. He has excelled beyond my expectations with reading and I am excited for him to move up to first grade with what he has learned from her. My preschool son has Megan Niezgoda and I admit my youngest is a handful! She has been so helpful and supportive since I "warned" her on the first day that he may present some challenges. She figured out how to work with him and bring out his best yet still hold firm when needed. She has gone over and above to help make his first year at Long Lake a good one. Lastly, I am so proud of all the staff at Long Lake. Sandy and Dawn in the office greet me with a smile no matter how many times I call! Kate Burwinkel in a hands on, all day every day true blessing the school needed. I've been there for 5 years and have enjoyed every teacher my kiddos have had! - Rebecca Seyferth

Biz Ruskowski does an outstanding job as principal at Eastern Elementary. She is one of the many reasons we are school of choice at Eastern Elementary. Communication, working with parents and students and finding solutions are her strengths! She is always there for a friendly greeting too. Thank you Biz! - M. Robinson

My daughter is a junior at West Senior High, and I would like to give a "shout out" to Jennifer Nowak in the Sparta Office. Jen embodies the vision of the Neighborhoods and the idea of Personalization West Senior wished to create. She knows her Sparta students well and works with them and their families to help them feel safe and cared for. The Sparta office is a welcoming office, and we are fortunate not only for Principal Charles Kolbusz but also for the amazing Jennifer Nowak!! - Cathy Meyer-Looze

Miss Mary Kolle (Willow Hill Elementary School) - My daughter has never been happier! She sings all day long, and is so inspired by Miss Mary. - Maureen Michaels

I am biased as Rhonda Busch is my mother in law but even after retiring she is still active in the Traverse City Area Public Schools leading a reading program at Old Mission. She dedicated years to Interlochen Elementary and stilI remembers countless students she had in her classroom. I have met adults who still list her as their favorite teacher of all time. I am the luckiest daughter in law to have her in my life and my children's life. She has the same dedication to all the children she has supported throughout their education at Traverse City Area Public Schools. - Liz Busch

I would like to thank Mark Skodack (West Senior High) for the time and energy he spends after school with the WSH FIRST and VEX Robotics Teams. As a busy parent, I forget how much behind the scenes work goes into organizing events and practices and how much personal time mentors like Mark sacrifice to help our children find their passion. Thank you for being a mentor Mark.  - Stacey Hozak

Miss Jean (Willow Hill extended day preschool) - What an amazing person! She leads with kindness, and is an inspiration to my children and I. - Maureen Michaels

I cannot understate what a positive force Mike Lesinski (Central Grade School) has been in the life of my daughter. Through discipline and humor (and he is legitimately funny) he has helped her to find a level of engagement and confidence she simply didn't have before. He is everything a parent could hope for in a teacher - Ted Pryde

I am the teacher aide at Westwoods Elementary School, working in the 5th grade classroom with Mrs. Lillian Swan. Almost every day, I'll say to the students, "Do you know how lucky you are to have Mrs. Swan as a teacher!? Do you realize how hard she works for you!?" Mrs. Swan is incredibly intelligent, caring, down-to-earth, funny and kind. In an oversized classroom with a population of 34 students, she teaches and manages with great discipline and mutual respect. The kids pick up on the respect she bestows upon them, and in turn, they respond with respect, and with a willingness and readiness to learn. She makes learning fun, challenging, and connects with a genuineness to encourage students of variable learning levels to succeed. She goes above and beyond every day. I am proud to work in her classroom. - Nancy Schaefer

Marsha Warne (West Middle School) has been absolutely fabulous! My son missed a lot of school due to hip pain and surgery. Marsha was very helpful and courteous. Her concern genuine. Her kindness was much appreciated in a time when I was overwhelmed. All of our son’s teachers have been wonderful and helpful as he works to catch up.  Thank you! - Colleen Wylie

I would like to thank Miss Sarah Hartwig (Central Grade School) for her thorough communication, taking notice of small things before they have the possibility of turning into something bigger, and facilitating an environment of growth for our preschooler. My husband and I have had the great pleasure of seeing our daughter blossom over the past several months both socially and academically. We feel confident as our daughter starts kindergarten in the fall thanks to Miss Sarah! - K. Patz

We would like to thank Lisa Grigal at Central Grade School. Our daughter comes home every day brimming with excitement about what has happened at school and is sad to stay home when there is a snow day. Lisa Grigal exudes warmth, inclusiveness, and great care for all her students, while also overseeing tremendous academic growth. We are so grateful for how tirelessly all our children's teachers work to make school such a welcoming environment. - Ingrid Pylvainen and Robert Young

Mrs. Kim Tumey (Willow Hill), a huge thank you for all that you do. I can’t say enough how much your hard work and dedication to students including my son has meant to us. He has excelled more than I could have imagined this year and he loves coming to school. Thank you! And thank you to the whole Willow Hill staff for making everyday fun, safe, educational, and a place my child loves to attend! It means so much to so many families! - Courtney Barrett and family

There are too many TCAPS teachers who deserve a shout-out for their amazing work with my children. Here are a few that really stand out for me. WMS teacher Mrs. Rundio instilled a love of math for both of my children. She made them apply learning to the real world, and made learning a difficult topic fun and rewarding for them. Mr. Livengood has inspired my son to take an interest in politics and read more non-fiction books to learn about how history has shaped the world. My daughter's writing has transformed under the guidance of her teach, Mrs. Cole at WSH. My daughter tells me often how she is a patient teacher who helps her students to learn and grow. Her Honors Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Jenkins-Whall, always motivated her and boosted her confidence by showing she cared and believed in her. My daughter's counselor, Ashley VanLandshoot has always had her future in mind as he has guided her in her education. He really knows his students and puts their best interests first. These people (an so many more at TCAPS) have each had a profound impact on my children. They have instilled a love of learning and curiosity, and most importantly, made my children feel safe and cared for while at school. - Catherine Hansen

A big thank you to Barb Bostick and Janet Ruggles for all their help/support with our son at Central Grade School! - Thank you, Robert and Stephanie Ellul

I would like to formally recognize West Senior High. My son has been a non-traditional student over the last 3 years - the staff could not have been more amazing in their support for him academically.  Dan O’Berski, Mindy Wilkening, Tom Ford, Matt Bocian, Deb Pritchard, Joe Esper, Jennifer Nowak, Charles Kolbusz, Jason Carmien and Amber Innis are just a few of the staff members that have been integral in his achievement and success just this year.  Thank you for what you do for students. - Biz Ruskowski

We would like to thank Erin Sorenson and the entire Westwoods Staff for providing an excellent education to our son. He is now such an avid reader and enthusiastic learner thanks to Ms. Sorenson. The time the teachers spend with the students, making everyone feel valued and heard, is worthy of great rewards. Our son was a bit shy and reserved, but he is clearly comfortable with himself and has blossomed into a learner, athlete and all-around good person due to the holistic education he is receiving. Thank you for all the hard work! -The O'Brien's

Denise Ivester (West Senior High School) has been a welcome addition to WSH. She is one of those people best described as 'where the buck stops'. We appreciate her hard work, attention to detail, and ability to not only identify problems but solve them without fuss. - Andy Wares

Mr. Dimas works as hard as anyone and you just don’t see him at Willow Hill but other TCAPS schools and events throughout the year. Mrs. Kirby from Extended Day knows where my daughter is/isn’t or should be after the school dismissal bell. Front Office staff of Mrs. Forton and Mrs. Phend always go above and beyond and never hesitate to do this. Mrs. Brazee for fostering my daughter’s interest in music. And last but not least – the dynamic 4th grade duo of Mrs. Collins and Mrs. Jongekrijg for their academic guidance this year for my daughter has been beyond measure.  Thank you - Carrie Henry

I would like to recognize the amazing staff at Central Grade School and their continued joint efforts in supporting my son. He has had a rough year with multiple things against him and yet the staff at Central have worked together to assure he continues to grow and not fall into failure. Between Mr. Tisdale and Mr. Quinn with their continuous conversations with him and Ms. Keilla and her guidance he has had a more positive outlook on things. I want to especially commend Mrs. Annelin for being his rock. Without her he would definitively fail and fall into a dark place. Between her amazing compassion and constant drive she has pushed him when he has simply tried to give up. There have been so many days he has wanted to give up but Mrs. Annelin has continued to push him and strive for better things for him and this giving him hope that he does belong and he can do it. Thank you to you all for helping him belong and be in a better emotional and mental state. You will all forever be in my mind as strong influential leaders.  -a very grateful parent

There is no one nicer or kinder than Julie Flaherty at CHS. She is always ready with a smile for everyone. She has helped my children by being supportive from the get go. I send my heartfelt thanks to her for all she does! - Wynn Jones

As we anticipate one of our son's graduation next month, we reflect back on some of the decisions in life that Deanna and I have made for our sons. Hands down, one of the best parenting decisions we agreed upon was enrolling our boys at TC West (Senior High School).  The coaches, teachers, admin, and especially Mr. Erich Wangeman have influenced our boys and have helped form them into the amazing young men they are today.  Thanks for the last 7 years TC West. - Rick and Deanna Sayer

Many thanks to Mrs. Collins at Willow Hill. She is a compassionate and fun teacher who truly looks out for the best interest of her students! Mrs. Collins wants to meet the whole child's needs, including their social and emotional wellness, sense of safety, and also personal sensory needs. Mrs. Collins is beyond lovely, and truly a model teacher! Thank you to Mr. Dimas for his fun, kind, and engaging interactions with children and parents. Mr. Dimas is the model for Willow Hill, in consistently welcoming, and connecting with children and families! Mrs. Phend and Mrs. Forton are appreciated for their multitasking abilities in the office, while also taking the time to be welcoming and kind to everyone.  Many thanks, from a WH family!

Mrs. Kim Prisk (leaving for another job in the community) and Mrs. Lori Dakoske (retiring) have provided wonderful leadership for our Business department at West Senior High for many years. They epitomize "Business Pro" and have been role models for students interested in the business world - including my own children. We are so sad to see them go and want them to know that they have truly had an impact! - Charles Kolbusz

My oldest son is finishing his 5th grade year at Westwoods Elementary School--the school he started attending in preschool at age 3. Every teacher he has had there has been exceptional, and I am truly grateful for the encouragement, love, and laugher they have shared with him over the years. They have all treated him with respect and honored his strong spirit. I value that. I thank them for that. In each of their own ways, Cindy McMellen (K), Izaac Kramer (1st), Renee DePlaunty (2nd and 4th), Alison Wright (3rd), and now Lillian Swan (5th) have influenced him and shaped him into the person he is today. From the kind words about his character, to the occasional reprimands, to inspiring him to love reading, to a handwritten Christmas card (great idea, Swan), they have shown him that adults care about kids. They have also prepared him for the next big social and educational step: MIDDLE SCHOOL. And while that might be slightly terrifying for his mother, he is pumped, ready to roll, and confident that "it will be great, mom." What more could I ask for? To all the moving parts that make Westwoods an amazing place for kids, and especially these fine educators: I thank you for your work and your place in that building. Keep inspiring these kids. It truly is the most important work you could do. --Larissa VanderZee

I would like to recognize Jennifer Nowak at West Senior High. She is the Adm. Asst. for the Sparta neighborhood and she is simply wonderful. My youngest is a senior this year and Jennifer has answered many phone calls and emails from me in the past 7 years. Not only does she answer the phone with a smile in her voice, she truly cares about every student and somehow remembers details about all of them.  Both of my daughters always felt comfortable going to her and enjoyed talking to her. Thank you Jen for your kindness and for the love and caring you show to all of our children! - Beckie Cairns

We are fortunate to have Mr. Simons for our daughter's fourth grade teacher this year (Courtade Elementary). She moved to Courtade and to his class in the middle of the school year. Mr. Simons was welcoming and kind from day one. He is truly an amazing teacher and she has grown so much since starting in his class. We appreciate his hard work and dedication. Thank you for all that you do! - Karrie Watkins

We would like to thank Minda Nyquist (West Senior High School) for being an instrumental part of our daughter's high school experience. We told our daughter that she had to be involved in something as she entered TC West last year, and theater was it! Thank you Minda for building her confidence and having high expectations at the same time. In addition, a special thank you to Jody Thompson for being a patient math teacher (both last year and this year). We love the weekly communication we get regarding the lessons and goals for the upcoming week. We appreciate the guidance she has provided to those who struggle with math concepts. You are truly a master teacher Jody! - Erich and Theresa Wangeman

Thank you to Amy McKean, Jen Tank, and Beth Joure at TCAPS Montessori! All of these fantastic ladies are gifts to our school community, and frequently step up to sub in other positions when needed (as teachers, noon duty, extended day assistants, or primary directors). They bring a shine to our school day every day with their kindness, easy spirits, humor, and flexibility. They show compassion and grace to our students, provide encouragement, and keep their expectations high for our kiddos - Lisa VanLoo

I was hired in March as a reading assistant at Central Grade School. I'm loving my job, working with the kids and the wonderful staff. But, for me, what makes this job even greater is having the opportunity to work alongside my sister, Lindsay Annelin. I have the incredible honor of being in her classroom for the majority of each week of work. I am in awe of seeing her "in action" as she teaches her fifth graders. She provides a safe and loving classroom, sincere advice to her kids, an outstanding learning environment, she's a role model and a bright light for so many - students and staff. She puts forth her greatest efforts every day to be a great teacher - as well as a great sister. I am lucky to be in her company. Thanks for letting me be a part of your teaching journey, Lindsay! - Abby Porter

We truly appreciate and are so very thankful for all the hard work and support put in by counselor Kim Fleming (Central High School). She works tirelessly and gets the job done. She is responsive and over our son’s high school career has been a steady contact. We are grateful for all Kim has done! She's a wonderful counselor with a heavy, fast paced job!  Thank you, Kim~ Blesh Family.

Our family appreciates the support and encouragement the Willow Hill staff - especially Mrs. Collins, Mrs. Jongekrijg, Mrs. Sides-McKay, and Mrs. Kirby and the extended day staff - they have given to our son this past school year. Your dedication and commitment to our son and the Willow Hill student body have not gone unnoticed. - The Verhage Family

I'd like to express my appreciation for Ms. JoAnn Wegrzyn (Westwoods Elementary). My son is no longer in speech therapy but he still talks fondly about "Ms. Joey".  My son’s speech improved immensely in the short time that he worked with Ms. Joey. Her positive attitude made a huge impact on my son when he was struggling with adjusting to preschool. Thank you Ms Joey for having such a positive, lasting impact on my boy. - Andrea Holczman

Thank you so much to Mrs. Sysko, Mrs. Stevenson, and Mrs. Cunningham (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) for everything you have done for our daughter. It has been such a blessing to have her in your classroom for the last three years, and we appreciate so much the creative thinking and compassion you have put into addressing our concerns when they arose. Our daughter has come so far with you all as her teachers, both academically and socially, and words can't adequately express our gratitude. - Stuart & Molly Campbell

My family cannot say enough to show our appreciation for the outstanding staff at Eastern Elementary. My son started as a new student to TCAPS as a second grader and has completed his elementary education with nothing but praise. Every teacher along his journey was special in her own way and imprinted their stamp on his impressionable heart. He grew from a timid quiet child to a confident peace maker. Every step along the way we were met with professionalism, compassion and friendship. My second child started with Eastern in preschool and is now at that second grade level. He has experienced the same comforting support and encouragement from administration to teachers to extended daycare to bus drivers. He is a different apple than his brother, but our satisfaction with the ability of the staff to adapt to the needs of each individual child is the same- we are proud to be Eastern elementary Stars! Extra special stars for us have been Mrs. Ruskowski, Mrs. Feaster, Mrs. M. Fak, Mrs. Radakovich, Mrs. Matterella, Ms. Lutes, Mrs. Kolle, Mrs. Nelson, Ms. Stremlow and all specials staff- art, library, music, administration and extended day as well as our hard working PTO!!! Thank you all for all you do everyday- we appreciate YOU! - Love the Sparks family

Gen Minor (West Senior High School) is a Head Librarian extraordinaire - on top of creating and maintaining a welcoming LMC center that serves as a social and academic hub for most of our student body, Gen has distinguished herself by taking point on our Freshman Mentoring and Conflict Mediation initiatives. it is hard to imagine what this building would be like without her leadership! - Andy Wares

I would like to express how much I have appreciated Mrs. Burkholder, my daughter's kindergarten teacher at Central Grade School. I am so impressed with her enthusiasm, patience, and remarkable ability to help my daughter learn.  - Melissa E. Whitman

I would like to give a huge thank you for all of the TCAPS Employees that work in our Extended Day Programs. Our Extended Day programs start before many of our students are out of bed and go until 6pm.   Extended Day staff get our kids when they are tired and hungry yet somehow manage to come up with fun activities, great games and really engage a wide range of age groups (3-12 at Montessori).  I have had the absolute pleasure of checking students in to our afternoon Extended Day program where the kids call it "friend club" because they get to come and play with friends. - Liz Yarch

Our daughter’s favorite classes are LA with Mr. Lantz and History with Ms. Kosch (Central High School). Both of these teachers are the true definition of what a teacher is. They both have the children’s best interest at heart. They push my daughter to try to get her to have the courage to try the advanced classes because they know she can do it and want her to see what she is capable of. We have experienced many great teachers through our 10 years and three children at TCAPS. We thank each and everyone for their hard work. -The Malinao Family

I would like to thank Mrs Hagelstein 5th grade teacher at Willow Hill for her support with my daughter. My daughter has enjoyed activities in her class. I would also like to thank Mrs. Huggard for the support, encouragement and kindness she shows my daughter during this year. I always appreciate the feedback she has given. - Laura Gougherty

My son is a preschooler at TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis. He loves going to the school library and hearing stories from Mrs. Funkhauser, who also helps him and other students to choose books to bring home and share each week.  I have had a chance to talk with Mrs Funkhauser at the Book Fairs. She is warm, kind, and enthusiastic about literacy and reading. I think the library is really at the heart of school, and Mrs Funkhauser makes hers inviting and inspiring to kids.  Thank you. - Hannah Israel

My daughter had Mrs. McGrew (Central Grade School) last year in the mixed 4th and 5th grade class and was fortunate again this year to have her solely as a 5th grade teacher. She LOVES Mrs. McGrew. Mrs. McGrew has done miracles with my daughter and her reading over the last 2 years and my husband and I are VERY APPRECIATIVE of Mrs. McGrew’s teaching style and the love she shows all of her students. Mrs. McGrew is strict and expects respect – and that is something I believe every parent wants their child to display with their elders. I wish we could take Mrs. McGrew to middle school, who knows maybe she will and she can teach our daughter in 6th grade.  No matter who teaches our daughter next year or where Mrs. McGrew teaches, one thing is for sure, Mrs. McGrew has made a stamp on my daughter’s education, learning techniques, and her heart!  We have been blessed to have such a talented teacher teach our child! Thank you, Mrs. McGrew for all that you have done and what you will do in the future, you are truly a representation of what every teacher should be like! Best Regards - Aimee Bissonette

From the moment I met Heather Fak (Eastern Elementary), I knew my daughter was in the right hands.  I feel blessed to send her to school each day knowing she is safe, she is loved, and she is learning! Heather has helped mold our daughter from an anxious and scared incoming 1st grader, to a flourishing, confident almost 2nd grader. Miss Fak's continual positive encouragement and understanding of exactly what she needs to be successful is genuinely appreciated. As our daughter would say, "Miss Fak fills my bucket every day and she believes in me. She tells me I am one smart cookie!" The growth we have seen over the course of the school year is remarkable, and for that, we thank you! - Janna Deering

I want to say thank you to Stephany Peplinski (Willow Hill)! My daughter got the pleasure of having her teach kindergarten and second grade. She is so helpful and always smiling. Thank you Stephany for being such a great teacher, we are forever grateful!  The Culbertson family

My son is a first grader at Central Grade School, but we have been a part of Central for three years now. When my son started at Central Grade he was currently undergoing many health tests. Throughout many phone calls to the school for missed days, last minute appointments, care plan follow ups, Ms. Kathy Booker Graham has been our rock and cheerleader. Recently, I came down with influenza and called to see if someone could walk my son to my car so I didn’t expose anyone else. I was so ill and embarrassed, but Ms. Kathy was, as always, so understanding, kind and willing to help. When we talk about safe people at the school to talk to if there is a problem with peers, health or emotions, Ms. Kathy is always at the top of my son’s list. As a full time single parent, navigating elementary school with a kiddo who has extra health needs, on top of balancing work, things can feel overwhelming. But, without a doubt, our family would not be doing as well as we are without the help and care of Ms. Kathy. She is truly a blessing and a genuine light in our lives. Thank you Ms. Kathy for all that you do. We would be lost without you. - The Diegel Family

Minda Nyquist (West Senior High School) has created one of the tightest senses of community in our building through her efforts to create a robust theater program that is focused on inclusion and a welcoming culture. She inherited a rich program form Kristie Bach and has not only maintained it but grown it. Her services in this building and ability to make meaningful relationships with kids, especially those kids who need those connections the most, is invaluable. We are so grateful that she is here at West! - Andy Wares

My son is moved by music, he sings and beatboxes whenever the tunes are stuck in his mind. Through the last two years he has come home singing songs from his music classes with Mr. Vipond at Central Grade School, and he frequently asks if I would like to hear him sing something he's been working on. His love of music has exploded in the last few years. When we are at home he has asked if we can listen to some of the classical pieces that they've heard in class, and we have gone to the library to pick up CDs so he can listen to the different composers. Since he was young, he was only  interested in music that's on the radio, and it has been wonderful to see him get excited about different pieces that range across genres. Watching Mr. Vipond work with the kids during the spring program was wonderful, it was great to see some of the ways that he makes music fun for everyone, and to see how the kids listen to him and respect him. Thank you Mr. Vipond for bringing all types of music into our children's lives! - Adrienne Hope

I just wanted to say that everyone at Courtade Elementary is fantastic. I know some days can be harder than others but you always see smiles on everyone’s faces. Two teachers that I would like to recognize is Kristin Schoonover and Tanya Darling. We have had Kristin for two years and what an amazing teacher she has been for our son. I put him in kindergarten just before turning 5 and I wasn’t sure if it was a right move or not, Kristin made me feel at ease about the decision. She has been a real cheerleader for our son and brought him to such a great place in his learning that I never could never imagine. We sincerely thank you for that. Tanya Darling, has been so amazing for our daughter and knows how to give the support she needs in her learning, as a teacher and a friend to her. Tanya has been that great comfort for her when I couldn’t be there. As a teacher she cares about her students and only wants the best for them and it shows through my daughter. So we thank you for all you have done in her learning this year. - Becki Massong

Our son is in kindergarten at Westwoods Elementary after having been in both preschool and pre-k at Westwoods (both fantastic experiences). I feel so blessed to have our son in such a welcoming and loving environment. Every staff member knows him and calls him by name, whether it is a “Good Morning” or “Have a great night” on a daily basis. - Ginny Bilacic

I am so thankful for Liza Brundage at Courtade Elementary. She teaches math for my son's 3rd grade class, but for my son she has done so much more. Liza has provided support and encouragement to my son and challenged him to be more and do better. I am so grateful that she is at Courtade this year and a part of my son's life. - Rachel Krueger

We feel so lucky to have found the TCAPS Montessori School.  We moved this past summer and started school a bit late. Everyone was so welcoming and Mrs. Girard and Mrs. Stocknic are amazingly kind and patient teachers. My son loves school and wakes up sad that he can't go on the weekends.  Thanks for all you do! - The Frost Family

My husband and I would like to thank Central Grade School 4th Grade teacher, Mrs. Kyser, for her dedication and commitment to not only our granddaughter but her entire class. Words alone are not enough to express our gratitude in her ability to recognize the times when our granddaughter was not herself, the wisdom to search “out of the box” for a solution, the passion to give 110% of herself towards the cause, and most important and above all else, the love she has shown without condition that she has showered upon our granddaughter and I am sure everyone she comes into contact with. This is truly a person who loves her job and all of those little people that fill her day. Rest assured that she will be one of those remembered (especially by our granddaughter) for decades to come. At the end of the day, it will always be love above all else that will make the difference in who we become as a successful society and make no mistake that Mrs. Kyser will have her place in that process. We are always amazed at how she is able to find the time with the care enough to send a quick text with updates on issues concerning progress or problems to keep us “in the loop” and engaged! - Karen and Randy Brown

My son attends Westwoods Elementary School and he is a wonderful but challenging young man. He has had a hard road, has required a lot of assistance and has needed a variety of services to help him navigate his educational experience. So many amazing people at Westwoods and beyond have worked tirelessly to help him be successful. Mrs. Walter has never given up on him. She makes him feel wanted, special, and capable every day. Mrs. Walter has never been anything but kind and respectful. She is a true miracle worker. My son has grown so much this past year and has made incredible gains. His behavior has improved and he's now genuinely happy. Mrs. Walter taught him to enjoy learning. She helped give him the confidence to be a part of the classroom and love learning. My son struggles on so many levels and because of the amazing staff on his team, he doesn't feel like he's a burden or different.  He used to come home crying and telling us how stupid he was and that no one liked him. Now he comes home sharing stories about his friends, teaching math and begging us to read. For a parent of a student who we once thought would need to be home-schooled, that's HUGE. I can't say enough about how special and dedicated Mrs. Walter is. She changed our lives, she changed his life. We are forever grateful. I must also extend a wealth of gratitude and praise to my son's entire special education team. They all have worked so hard to help him, encourage him and keep him smiling.  Mrs. Bank gives him love and support every day. He adores his time with her and I am positive sometimes he asks for breaks just so he can see her.  Mrs. Laura Parker, has been the most amazing support for me as a parent. She always makes time for my meltdowns and to explain everything to me so that I understand what my son needs.  Another huge Thank You must go to Mr. Tiesworth and the office staff at Westwoods for taking my son on walks and breaks when the classroom environment is overwhelming for him. Mr. Tiesworth has always been in my son’s corner and fights for him. I feel so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing team of educators helping and working with my children. Thank you to the entire team at Westwoods. You are changing lives and making a difference! - Tonya L.

I would like to send a HUGE thank you to Mrs. Courtney Spitzley, she is my son’s fourth grade teacher at Courtade Elementary School. She was able to loop with the kids from the previous year, and the bond that she has created with not only my son but every single student in her class is amazing. She goes above and beyond everyday for her students and for the parents. She knows the kids in and out as if they were her own, and treats them with so much love and respect. My son has always been extremely shy and reserved, but Courtney has been able to reach my son like no one else has, and has helped mold him into the amazing student that he is today. Thank you Courtney for all that you do , Day in and day out. - Sherry Ekins

On a personal note, I would like to thank Dan O’Berski (West Senior High School). As a third year admin, Dan has been an invaluable mentor and has played a critical role in helping me navigate a seemingly endless quagmire of legal obligations. At the same time, I have benefited from being able to observe his soft-handed approach to handling student issues. Thanks Dan! - Andy Wares

I would like to express my gratitude to Kim Dorgan, a dynamic co-worker at Cherry Knoll Elementary. Kim's positivity and sense of humor play a vital role in uplifting our entire staff.  We can count on Kim's quick wit to spread laughter on even the most stressful school days. Kim clearly adores her first grade students and they mirror her upbeat attitude. Working with Kim has brought joy and a true sense of belonging to our school community. - Linda Egeler

Julie Brott (Eastern Elementary School) your kindness and love for our children melts our hearts.  Monday mornings are easy at our house! On Mondays, Our son asks if it is a school day because he WANTS to go back!!  Thank you for all you do for our family and the wonderful children in your class. Love, The DeSantis family

To the teachers at TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis who have given our daughters eight happy years there: Mrs. Socks (pre-k), Ms. Bielski (kindergarten), Ms. Shelly (pre-k & kindergarten), Mrs. Girard (lower elementary), Ms. Stacy (lower elementary), Mrs. Tank (2nd grade), Mrs. Stachnik (3rd grade), Mr. Habich (upper elementary), Mr. Stewart (upper elementary), Mrs. Flynn (toddler), Ms. Kathy (pre-k), Mrs. Flaherty (pre-k), Ms. Kristi (pre-k & kindergarten), Mrs. Olson (kindergarten), Mrs. Ballmer (lower elementary), Ms. Ann (lower elementary), Mrs. Smith (music & band), Señora Rucker & Señora Keller (Spanish), Mrs. Funkhouser (library), Mr. Q, Ms. S, & Mrs. Roscher & others (P.E.), Mrs. Rusinski & others (art) and all of the other wonderful staff! THANK YOU! - The Clark Family

Our family would like to thank Mrs. Sides-McKay for cultivating an incredibly warm and welcoming environment at Willow Hill Elementary. Our daughter  has thrived in the two years that she’s been at Willow Hill. The professionalism of everyone we’ve had interactions with truly makes us proud to have her there. Mrs. Vance was our daughter’s kindergarten teacher. She demonstrated unwavering patience and love, which helped our daughter feel safe and cared for. Mrs. Vance helped to foster a truly positive, lasting impression. Mrs. Tumey has been a wonderful fit as our daughter’s first grade teacher. Mrs. Tumey has found ways to challenge her socially and academically, which has built up her confidence in so many ways. I appreciate her thoughtfulness and communication about what she’s teaching as well as how parents can enhance learning with simple efforts at home. Many thanks to the Extended Day staff for all the effort made in getting to know our family and offering support during some challenging times. You’re the best! Blessings to all!  Paul and Jessica Wiemerslage

Our daughter transferred to Eastern Elementary this past year for second grade. From the very beginning we felt connected to this community. Principal Biz Ruskowski and administrative assistants Jill Jenkins and Missy Waskiewicz went beyond measure in welcoming our daughter and helping her get used to a new school setting. I felt at ease discussing any concerns I had at the beginning of the year and each time I stepped foot in the office I couldn't help but notice how they radiated a sense of warmth for the students and parents who came and went. Also our daughter’s second grade teacher Mary Fak has been amazing. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her this year and love how our daughter felt connected to her from the beginning. Mary was a huge help in acclimating our daughter to the class and I loved how she kept the parents in the loop beyond the parent/teacher communicators. The Friday journals were particularly appreciated and I enjoyed reading her weekly emails recapping class activity. When I visited the class on a few occasions I could tell that her entire class had a great bond with her. As happy as we are to move on to the next grade we're grateful for the memories made in Mary Fak's class.  A big THANK YOU to these wonderful women and all the staff at Eastern Elementary! We are lucky to have such an awesome community. - Stacey O'Keefe

We would like to share our gratitude for Miss. Jennifer Geroux (TCAPS West Senior High School).  Over Spring Break 2018 she endured taking 11 students to France by herself with no other parental support with her on the trip.  She worked tirelessly with a fellow teacher in France to make arrangements for each of the students to participate in actually residing with families in France for a week, a once in a lifetime opportunity.  This was no small feat with the language, customs, and technology differences between both sides, and between the students and the parents. Miss Geroux planned the entire trip, provided fundraising opportunities to assist with the costs for the trip and is currently fulfilling the second half of the arrangement where we get to host 35 French students and 4 teachers in our homes next week.  This project was no small task and as with many other projects there was much adversity to overcome. Each of the students that was going to France was scheduled to host at least one student in their home during their scheduled robotics competition in reciprocation for the ability to travel, this was explained several times and no objections were voiced. Miss Geroux had to handle making all the travel arrangements, including handling last-minute schedule changes due to an Air France airline strike on the day they were scheduled to leave. There were many changes in their scheduled itinerary and she had to be able to field those changes quickly.  Our daughter was very impressed and enlightened by what she saw of Miss Geroux's resolve and determination. The story does not end there. Once back home Miss Geroux once again rallied the troops and persuaded many families to take additional students that they were not planning on but in an effort to ensure all students were able to travel here. There were even a few volunteers that did not have any part in the original trip that stepped up after being asked and agreed to take students and teachers. We have not received the students from France as they will be here after Staff Appreciation Week has concluded but we have no doubt that this entire excursion would not have been possible without Miss Geroux's diligence and compassion for her students and those students from France a swell. Her passion for teaching and her compassion for her students show every day.  Thank you Miss Geroux for all that you do! You have made all the difference and we are so happy you are a part of the West Senior High School Family! - Scott and Bobbie Hart

I just want to thank EVERYONE at Cherry Knoll Elementary. Even some of the previous teachers and principals that have moved to other schools or jobs (Chris Parker, Ryan Schrock, Tracey Westerman, and Rosalie Overheul) From the beginning we’ve open enrolled our two kids and we couldn’t of made a better choice. Everyone (the staff) knows our kids and you all feel like family. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to everyone next year, but all of you have made a big impact on not only our children’s lives but us as parents too. Thank you - Kirsten Hartung

Much appreciation to Mrs. Brazee, our beloved Willow Hill Music Teacher. She is fun loving in her teaching, sharing and inspiring our preschooler in songs, finger plays, poems and chants. He then comes home to teach his family. Music is vitally important for building self regulation, easing anxiousness, while building self esteem and school readiness skills. Everyone, thank your Music Teacher! Thank you TCAPS for providing music to all children!  We appreciate you Mrs. Brazee. With appreciation from a WH family!

Share Your Stories

Staff Appreciation Week is May 7th-11th and we would like to invite you to share your stories about how our dedicated staff make a difference in the life of your child. 

You can share your “thank yous” by emailing or by sending a private message to our External LinkTCAPS Facebook page. We will be compiling responses and sharing them throughout the week as a way to show our deepest gratitude and appreciation for our amazing staff. A little story goes a long way in brightening someone’s day. Thank you in advance for taking the time to recognize our wonderful staff. 

Staff Appreciation Week - Day 4:

Our Educators Make a Difference

My son had the same, wonderful teacher for his first and second grades at Central Grade School, he adored her and blossomed in her classroom. When third grade started, he had a bit of worry that his new teacher wouldn't be as awesome. He had nothing to fear! Mrs. VanStratt has been an incredible teacher for him, she is kind and firm, creative and fun, she's given him good guidance and he has grown significantly in her classroom, socially and academically. She is a delight to work with, from a parent's perspective, and our son regularly comments on how much he likes her. Thank you, Mrs. VanStratt, for everything that you do for our children, their lives are much better for having you as a part of them! - Adrienne Hope

Mrs. Radakovich (Eastern Elementary School) is a teacher who we will never forget. She is one of the kindest and most uplifting people I have ever met. We paused a movie recently to discuss this quote: “extraordinary things only happen to extraordinary people.” My daughter (who had Mrs R. last year) and I agreed that she is one of our “extraordinary people.” Every time we see her we want to become better people. - Sarah Gano

Mrs. Spitzley (Courtade Elementary) has shown our son kindness, nurturing, and support each day.  She truly cares for each of her students and supports them educationally and emotionally. My son calls me Mrs. Spitzley at least 3 times a week, which tells me that their bond is one that will stay in his heart for years to come. We lucked out because she was his teacher last year in third grade. We are so grateful and fortunate to have had her for the last two years. Her dedication to her students shows everyday, and we are so very thankful for that. - Aprille Sutton

My daughter is in Mr. May’s 4th grade class at Blair Elementary School! I can’t stress enough what a great teacher he is. My daughter has always been shy and not very outgoing in school. This year is a whole different story. She loved school this year, she said it’s because of her teacher that she has come out of her shell. I’m so thankful she had him this year. Thank you so much for being an amazing teacher Mr. May! - Erin Stewart

A big shout out goes to Kelly BeVier, Jessi Hoard, and Kelly Clark at Oak Park Preschool.  They are calm, patient, and professional.  My little lady can be challenging at times.  All three teachers have embraced this little, little girl with a big, big voice.  Thank you so much for being so positive! - Katherine Nugent

Jenny Walter (Westwoods Elementary) has been an incredible blessing in my son, and our family’s, life. She has an infectious and sincere love for these children that is awe-inspiring. Not only has she had such an incredible impact on his educational growth, but also on his social and emotional growth as well. She connects with him in a way that I had only prayed my child’s teachers would since the day I started thinking about him going to school. The encouragement and affirmation she provides, as well as the incredible energy, is quite simply amazing. Until you’re a parent you don’t stop to realize the profound impact one person will make on your child’s life, at least I never did, and I can’t explain how incredibly fortunate I feel that Jenny is one of the ones that, without a doubt, will have that impact on our son’s. Thank you so much Jenny for your tireless energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and love that you give to these children every day. - Ginny Bilacic

We would like to acknowledge Peter Deneen at East Middle School for all the attention he has given to our son who is in his third year of learning to play the oboe. Peter’s enthusiasm and dedication are apparent and contagious. You can tell he loves what he does. Mr. Deneen has gone above and beyond to introduce our son to guest oboists and also invited him to play oboe in the jazz band. Along with Mr. Hester, Mr. Deneen has created a noteworthy music program. In addition we’d like to thank Tami Williams at Central High School for encouraging our older son to join choir after hearing him audition for the fall play. Thank you for your guidance, as we didn’t know he could sing as well as he does. Tami has taught and inspired him so well that he joined Men of Note this year and will be in Choral-Aires next year. We are so grateful. TCAPS—your music programs and educators rock!! - Kate and Andrew Parvel

My daughter has been in Mrs. Dorgan’s (Cherry Knoll Elementary School) class for kindergarten and first grade. This woman has made such an impact on my daughter in so many positive ways. So much so, that my other two daughters want Dorgan for a teacher! She laughs with them, reinforces positive behavior and kindness in the classroom. We just love Mrs. Dorgan and truly appreciate her hard work and love she puts into her students. Thank you! - Michelle Keene

We all know teachers do more than just teach. I see this every day as a parent and a TCAPS employee.  But over the years, there are those that truly stand out because of how they mentor our children. This year, my daughter has the honor of having Jenn Campbell (West Senior High School) for ASL III. She is a wonderful teacher, but her compassion and true concern for her students is remarkable. She ignites a passion in them to learn and not only better themselves, but their outside community. She is a fun spirit and has the knack for connecting with teens. Thank you Ms. Campbell for your dedication & support of my daughter and all your students! - Julie Phend

Mandy LaBarre (Eastern Elementary School) has fostered a wonderful sense of learning in our daughter this year. (5+ Star Teacher!!) She is so kind and supportive. Mrs. LaBarre is amazing at helping kids find their talents, strengthen their weaknesses and believe in themselves; without realizing that they are being guided to new levels of success by this incredible teacher. Mandy see things in my daughter that help me to know her better. We couldn’t be happier. Thank you Mandy for giving so much of yourself to help our children learn and grow. - Sarah Gano

I just want to say how much we appreciate Sara Bageris, my child’s 3rd grade teacher at Central Grade School. Her patience and dedication give us peace of mind knowing our child is cared for and guided into the future by a teacher with so much care and compassion. We love Mrs. Bageris! - Rosie Vreeland-Flickinger

My little one started Kindergarten this school year, 2017/2018... I could not have asked for a better teacher than Ms. Hull! She is patient and my daughter enjoys being in her classroom! She’s always answered any and all of my questions & concerns I’ve had regarding my daughters education. The entire staff at Silver Lake Elementary have made this a great school year- Thank you to them all for all they do and continue to do for all students! - Nancy Santiago

Ben Lantz (Central High School) has been an amazing influence on my son. He definitely “goes the extra mile” and keeps me well informed as I try to help my son develop much needed better study habits. He will email me in advance so that I know there are important assignments which he needs to complete. I have been very impressed with Mr. Lantz! He works with the student and the parent so that there is a team of support! - From a Mom of a Central High Freshman

A very special Thank You to our very dear, talented, and extraordinary teacher, Jana DuGuay (Willow Hill Elementary School). Thank you for always being there during the unimaginable. You are our angel on Earth, we are beyond blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you for seamlessly teaching our son’s classroom and going above and beyond to be there for homebound, and making everything ok. We do not know how you do it, but we will be forever grateful. You are gifted teacher, a talented administrator, a true friend and an amazing advocate for children!  I also wish we could express in this note how much our Willow Hill, West Middle School, and West Senior High teachers and staff (present and retired) have meant to us over the years - I will try with these few words of gratitude and appreciation. Thank you and we love you not only for all the amazing and outstanding things you do for everyone and for our schools, but always going above and beyond and becoming part of our family. What you do is so important - you inspire spirits, and give the gift of love and joy for learning and for life! Thank you! - The Snowday Family

Tricia Schneider (Old Mission Peninsula School) has made our final year of elementary school for our oldest son flawless. She has created such a safe, trusting, loving, engaging and fun learning environment. She has really prepared our son for his middle school years ahead. He has grown in his confidence and independence with her guidance. We feel so grateful and thankful to have had the experience with Ms. Schneider this school year. Thank you, Ms. Schneider for your devotion to teaching! Love, The Banton Family

We are so grateful to Mrs Rosenburg (TC West Senior High School)!! Thank you for taking the time to truly understand our daughter and provide her with encouragement. Your humor, patience and compassion have really made a difference for her this year. Your positive attitude and ability to encourage rather than discourage is truly a gift. (I only wish my Geometry teacher had been more like you!) Heartfelt thanks, Amy L.

I could not be happier with the dedication of the teachers at East Middle School. My girls have been challenged, cared for, and led to greater education this year. Thank you!! - Amy Routzahn  

While Mary Preston began working at TCAPS 24 years ago, we at Traverse City High School were fortunate enough to discover and hire her as a language arts teacher 12 years ago. Ms. Preston plans to retire at the conclusion of this school year. The "hole" that will be felt will be deep and vast as we'll struggle to fill the caring and compassion void that she'll leave with her departure. Ms. Preston lives and breathes the at-risk, alternative high school students at TCHS, with everything from total dedication to managing and maintaining the on-site food pantry, to doing her utmost best to be sure that they grasp, appreciate, and are proficient with the English language. Moreover, she fully demonstrates, and strives to promote, humanitarianism, goodness and kindness with her every word and action. Along with being sure that the students' physical and emotional needs are met, she is also a talented and accomplished artist, which makes the unique lens and perspective that she shines on projects, thoughts and situations, ever enlightening and fresh. She takes our students home with her in her mind, and considers how best to attack solving difficult situations for the next day. To say that Ms. Preston's shoes will be difficult to fill is an understatement. The staff and students of Traverse City High School are so fortunate to have had this gentle and humble soul in our presence; we'll never forget the impact of Mary Preston, who just gives and gives and gives for others.  - Donna Novak

Our family is fortunate to be part of the Westwoods School Community and we have two sons who are in Mrs. McNitt's classroom and Mrs. DePlaunty's classroom. We would like to share our sincerest appreciation, gratitude and respect for Mrs. McNitt and Mrs. DePlaunty for creating an engaging and fun learning environment for our two children. Their enthusiasm and passion for helping students strive to reach their highest potential is evident in everything they do. Our children have grown as learners and as human beings. They have learned to challenge themselves, embrace who they are and care for those around them. Thank you Mrs. McNitt and Mrs. DePlaunty for creating a safe and positive school culture that supports our children at Westwoods Elementary School. - The Laurent Family

Mrs. Stevenson (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis), This was a big year for our daughter. She was going to a real school. We remember meeting you for the first time and how excited she was that your name was Michelle (her previous teacher was Michelle as well)! Immediately, we knew she was going to be in great hands. Your warm smile and peaceful demeanor showed us that. When we asked our daughter what her favorite thing about you is…..she immediately said, “her hugs. She gives great hugs! And she helps me learn everyday.”  Thank you. Thank you for helping our daughter grow this year. The changes we have seen are incredible. Thank you for showing her what she is capable of. Thank you for making such an impression on a such a young person. These years are so important in our young one’s lives and we want you to know that you have truly helped shape our little girl into the person she is today! You will be greatly missed next year! - Gretchen and Curt MacArthur

I would like to recognize Mrs. Sue Vance (Willow Hill Elementary School). Sue is a remarkable teacher who turns her kindergarten classroom into a magical place to learn. She seeks out opportunities to reach each and every student that walks through her doors and inspires them to love learning. Sue's actions and creativity also impact our entire school community through her drive to create school-wide moments that foster community and moments for students to put the needs of others before their own. I am forever grateful for the impact she has made on my own children. They will forever be inspired to learn due to her impact! I celebrate her retirement but will miss her greatly "up on the hill."   - Erin Jongekrijg

I can’t say too many good things about John Failor! He is an amazingly talented math teacher at Central High School who inspires and guides all of his students towards success. He is respected and liked by our family and all the students and parents I know whose lives he has touched. He also manages and fundraises for both the FIRST Robotics team and the FIRST Robotics District Competition (held at CHS annually for over 10 years). TCAPS is lucky to have such a dedicated educator and I only wish he could be cloned so that every school in the district could have a Mr. Failor! - Sincerely, Deeply Appreciative CHS Parent

I’d like to thank Mrs. Hancock (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) for believing in my daughter. I know it can be a struggle for her to finish up projects but Mrs. Hancock is always able to encourage her. With a teacher that has shown how much she cares, I know my daughter can accomplish her goals. Her calm determination and leadership is a gift and I am so happy she is her teacher. - Miranda Grant

We want to thank all at WMS who have helped our daughter, transition to middle school life. From meetings last spring, to open house, to accommodating our daughter's academic needs, keeping us ultra informed weekly on what she is working on - to wrapping up this year having her move to seventh grade a confident, well adjusted, happy, contributing WMS Titan, we couldn't be more thankful! Mr. Scrotenboer, Mrs. Walter, Mrs. Page, Mrs. Hughes, Mr. Vance, Mr. Deyo, Mr. Dee, and Mrs. Brisbois ~ We don't have words to tell you how much our daughter has enjoyed all of you this year. There hasn't been one day she hasn't come home and mentioned one, if not many, of you and your caring approach with her and the subjects you teach. Mr. Crowley, Mr. Ranger and Mr. Smith, the support you provide colleagues, students and parents is second to none and we are looking so very forward to the next two years at WMS. Green Team, you are simply the best and for that we are ever grateful. - Jeff and Allyson Culver

Mrs. Zipser (Courtade Elementary School) has been absolutely awesome and our family is going to miss her greatly as this is my daughter's last year in elementary. We were lucky to get Kathy two years in a row. Mr. Goodwin is also an excellent teacher and has a great demeanor that greatly complements his teaching strategies that helped our daughter excel in all areas of math. - Laurie Bailey

On behalf of our family including two Central High School students, I would like to thank Kellie Spencer for her many years of dedication and service to her biology students. She has been a highly effective teacher year after year, while also showing genuine care, empathy and concern for the lives of her many students. Central will be losing a true friend and teaching professional when Kelli retires at the end of the school year! With much gratitude and appreciation - The Minster Family

Mrs. Steele (East Middle School) challenges and engages with her middle school science students in a way that motivates them to work hard and deliver their best work. Thank you! - EMS Parent

My son is in his second year of preschool at Willow Hill, and I am so impressed by the loving, patient teachers that he has had. Ms. Kathy and Ms. Arlen this year, and Ms. Mary last year. He was loved and supported the whole time, and I couldn't ask for more. Thank you to those teachers for providing such a good start to his school career. Sincerely - Katie Fain

Mrs. Allison Hall (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis), thank you for your patience and compassion. What more could a parent ask in a teacher? The whole Nash family appreciates you, and we’re grateful to have you as our teacher for the next couple of years!  To the PTO, thank you for your hard work and dedication. Not all parents can do what you do. I see you and appreciate you! - Marian Nash and family

I would like to thank the office staff at Traverse Heights Elementary. I didn't really ever know the office staff at my own school because I never went to the office. Somehow my child is a bit like Dennis the Menace so I know the office staff at Traverse Heights a little too well. Mr. Shrock always greets me with a smile though and points out my child's good qualities. Mrs. Ford is so kind and caring and has comforted my son when he is sick or injured. Sam is always cheerful and helpful. It's clear how much the staff here cares about the kids! - Kody Kline

We want to thank Mrs. Girard (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) for being such a positive influence and role model for our children. You are a wonderful teacher. The three years my son has been with you, you have become an inspiration to him, family to him, and a friend. He has already told me how much he will miss you! I am extremely happy that my daughter will grow and has the opportunity to be under your leadership. Both of my children have excelled in their studies and subjects thanks to a great teacher. I can only hope my other two children will have her as a teacher when they get to elementary. - Lori Baja

I want to take a moment to thank the quiet dedication of Mrs. Wilcoxen (Eastern Elementary School). Her patience, encouragement & belief in her students helps them grow. She understands that each child is as unique as their learning speed and her focus on each of them helps them achieve milestones. - Eastern parents

I don't have enough words to express my gratitude for Kristen Schoonover at Courtade Elementary School. She has been my son’s teacher for two years now, last year for kindergarten and now in first grade. Kristen is consistently my son’s biggest academic cheerleader, encouraging his education and expressing her passion for his success. I am always amazed at the way that she inspires the group of awesome students in her classroom with patience and excitement. She truly is the definition of an excellent and passionate educator. To you, Kristen - I feel so incredibly grateful that we got to start our TCAPS journey with you! - Brittanie Stevens-Baker

Sue Thomas (Willow Hill) is a steady, kind, and caring teacher. Her willingness to take the time and make certain that her students are truly understanding what they are learning shows a lot of strength and perseverance in a world where percentiles and testing seem to be taking over. Thank you Sue Thomas for being true! - Torre Boone

We would like to give a huge THANK YOU to Mrs. Angove and Mrs. Keyser at Central Grade School! Our son loves his class and classmates. We have witnessed so much growth this year. Thank you so much, we can never say that enough! - Thank you, Robert and Stephanie Ellul

Becky McGillivary (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) has been a wonderful teacher for both of our kids in lower el. After the 2018/19 school year, we will have had her in our kids' lives for five consecutive years. Our kids both love her kindness & compassion. She has helped work with our youngest, who has anxiety, and he has blossomed. Becky has challenged both of our kids academically to keep reaching further. We thank Becky for all she has done & for what she means to our family! Thank you - Tricia & Stan K.

Special thanks to Cindy McMellen at Cherry Knoll Elementary School for epitomizing the role of outstanding kindergarten teacher! She is patient, kind, and nurturing while still creating boundaries and expectations for her little learners. We were so fortunate to have her teach two of our sons.  You are a treasure and will certainly be missed! - Kendra Worden

I'd like to thank Miss Deb and Miss Shawna from the Central Grade School Preschool program for their personal investment in each child, and their willingness to offer a hand whenever my daughter feels a bit clingy in the mornings. They've never hesitated to share their own parenting stories when I worry. This year was a great year for both my kids, and I attribute that to the talents of the teachers at CGS. - Faye Spinniken

Both of our kids have had Mrs. Wyatt (Silver Lake Elementary School) as a teacher (my daughter was fortunate enough to have her twice, when she switched from 2nd to 3rd grade, and to also have her as a coach for Girls on the Run). She is just like a ray of sunshine, she is so positive and upbeat and you can tell she really loves what she does. Both of our kids just absolutely love her. - Sam Charnes

Thanks to Alicia Olson at TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis. She is a wonderful, calming influence for our junior kindergartner. She is also very intuitive when it comes to behavior and emotions of a 5-year-old. We really appreciate her willingness and ability to communicate on a timely basis when there are questions or concerns. - Heather Swanker

Thank you Mrs. Olson (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) for your gentle kindness, for loving our children like your own and for helping them reach their fullest potential.  We are grateful that our daughter has spent the last two years learning and growing with you - she loves you to pieces.  Our school is incredibly lucky to have you. - The Fri Family

Staff Appreciation Week - Day 3:

The School Day and Beyond

I would like to bring to your attention what an amazing teacher and mentor that Kathryn Zipser has been for my daughter. This has been her first year at Courtade Elementary School however this is the year that has changed her life, thanks to Kathryn. My daughter started the year out as an average student, not thriving in academics or having the motivation and confidence to do so.  Kathryn has gone above and beyond her duties as a teacher taking the extra time to give my daughter the necessary tools to succeed. This is an emotional letter to write because words cannot express the gratitude I have for Kathryn and the ongoing efforts she puts forth with my daughter.  We all have that “one” teacher that we remember as being the most influential in our lives and Kathryn is that for her. The one that believed in our abilities and forever changed the path of our lives. Kathryn, thank you for changing my daughter’s path. I am forever grateful. - Nicole Belyea

We haven’t had Mrs. Brott (Eastern Elementary School) for preschool yet, but we see Mrs. Brott around Eastern and she always makes a point to say hello to my son and has him eager to start. Thank you for adding one more thing to your busy plate and taking the time to get to know us. We sure hope to be in your classroom next year! - Sarah Gano

Julie Edwardson (Old Mission Peninsula School) is an exceptional kindergarten teacher. We have had the honor of having Ms. Edwardson as the kindergarten teacher for two of our sons. She creates a loving, supportive, and compassionate learning environment for all of her students. She goes above and beyond to ensure she meets the needs of her students both emotionally and academically. Thank you, Ms. Edwardson for providing our sons such an amazing Kindergarten experience. You will always hold a special place in our hearts. Love, The Banton Family

I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Ashley VanLandschoot (West Senior High School) for his help and assistance with both my children's scheduling and post-secondary planning needs.  I appreciate all his efforts and help in navigating the various options. - Justin Gluesing

Miss Mary Kolle (Willow Hill Elementary School) - My daughter has never been happier! She sings all day long, and is so inspired by Miss Mary. - Maureen Michaels

It can be said great teachers love with all their hearts and they have the biggest desires to make the happiest and most successful students. They guide, encourage and allow them to dream big. They want to make the world a better place, one student at a time. We know this to be true, because this has been the effect Ms. Stremlow (Long Lake Elementary) has had on our daughter this year. She has made such a difference in our daughter's life in so many ways and maybe the biggest of them is she helped her learn to read! Now, everyday she is excited to tell us about the books she read or when she passes her sight words and gets new ones sent home. We have seen her grow right from the beginning of the school year. She was a little apprehensive about some subjects in the beginning of the year, but we could see her gaining more and more confidence each week as the year progressed. It is amazing to see a kindergarten student enjoying her math homework and smiling when she shows you she has it done! We want to thank Ms. Stremlow for taking the time to help bring out the best in our daughter and for giving all her students the chance to dream big dreams! - Chris and Marissa Milliron

I wanted to send a big THANK YOU to Miss Walters at West Middle School. Your energy and enthusiasm is infectious. You’ve been such a great encouragement to my son to be a part of the yearbook team. He’s developed such a love of photography and I’m excited he’s signed on for another year. I also want to appreciate Miss Walters for sharing in her action to shave her head in honor of her mother’s cancer journey. That showed great strength and vulnerability and in turn made an impression on your students to be bold and stand up for a cause that is important. I appreciate your courage and sharing it with your students! - Amy Crosslin

Miss Peck (Willow Hill Elementary School) went above and beyond to support my son when he was participating in St. Baldrick's Day. She took time on a Saturday to be there to cheer him on, and it was his favorite part of the event. He spent the morning with his nose pressed to the glass watching for her, and still talks about how meaningful it was to him to have her there. - Maureen Michaels

We moved back to Traverse City in 1974, after both growing up here and having left for college and military duty, to the Eastern Elementary School district. When our oldest started kindergarten, we were thrilled that she was placed at Eastern School in Barb Good’s class!  What an amazing beginning, instilling in her an excitement for education. Every day was filled with learning, music, play and friends. Three years later, our middle daughter was in Mrs. Good’s class and she loved going to school, loved the experience offered in her classroom and loved the friends she made. And in 1986, our youngest daughter was privileged to attend Mrs. Good’s last year of teaching before retiring and planted the seeds for our daughter’s interest in, and pursuing her own career in, teaching - in fact, is now teaching 5th grade at Central Grade School (Lindsay Annelin). Mrs. Good instilled the basics of the three R’s, but beyond that, the importance of respect, listening skills, responsibility, a love of learning and exploration, a joy of music and performance, encouraged making new friends, and stressed the importance of being organized. ‘All (Our Girls) Really Need to Know (They) Learned in Kindergarten‘ Thank you Mrs. Good!! - From Kent and Nancy Walton

Jen Hisem (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) has taught two of my children for a total of four years with our family. I was able to confidently send my oldest child off to middle school due to the amazing things she did to prepare him for the many challenges he would face. He left her classroom with an internal drive to learn, an ability to organize his time and work and many other skills that will help him be not only successful now but later in life as well. Jen has a way of knowing what each child needs and ensuring that they get what is needed for them to grow. She has a gentle but firm way that makes the children feel loved while motivated to be the best they can be. - Bonnie Thomas Wagner

Our daughter had another remarkable year at Eastern Elementary School due to the tremendous teaching of Mrs. Radakovich. We couldn't have asked for a more exemplary teacher! Her communication is fabulous - the student communicators are are such a fun learning tool and will be kept and treasured for years to come! Mrs. R creates a kindhearted backdrop for learning which enables her students to collaborate as a team - they care for one another and build each other up. Mrs. R exudes joy and positivity; her excitement and enthusiasm towards learning are contagious. Furthermore, she is exceptional at affirming each student as an individual and acknowledging their personal growth as a celebration (she brought my daughter down to the office to call home when she finished her first chapter book!) Thank you, Mrs. R, for uplifting and teaching our kids so well each day - I know the lessons you've taught them will not soon be forgotten. - Becky Reynolds

Special thanks to Katie LaMott (Cherry Knoll Elementary School) for going above and beyond to offer extra challenges for our son! Her creativity, enthusiasm, and dedication have not gone unnoticed. You are a wonderful teacher- keep it up! - Kendra Worden

I have been thoroughly impressed with Colleen Smith's leadership, dedication, and tireless efforts as Principal of East Middle School. She has contributed greatly to the development and education of our middle schoolers in preparing them for the future. I wish her well in retirement. She will be greatly missed. - EMS Parent

I'd like to thank Annette Cole and the rest of the TAG staff (Central Grade School) for their intuitive teaching style, as they teach my son in a way that brings out the best in him! He comes home happy and his growth in self motivation and personal responsibility is a delight to behold. - Faye Spinniken

I am sending this because I find Mr. Ben Lantz (Central High School) to be an extraordinary teacher. I asked at the beginning of the school year if he would let me know if my daughter missed any assignments or had turned anything in late. He was always sure to make sure and email me and make sure that I knew what was going on with my daughter and her homework, even though she was getting an A in his class. He has a genuine love for teaching and enthusiasm. His students like him and I believe that many students appreciate him. Every parent I have talked to that has had a student in Mr. Lantz’s class agrees that he is an extraordinary teacher. If I had a question about what my daughter was learning, or about her grade, or an assignment, Mr. Lantz replied in a timely manner. I believe he makes every parent feel how important their child is. A big thank you to Mr. Lantz for teacher appreciation week. - Carrie Charron

I would like to profess gratitude for Ms. Debbie McMaster, at Blair Elementary. She has always been very patient with my daughter, and has looked for ways to help my daughter feel better about school and education. I believe Ms. McMaster's unfailing positivity and adaptive learning techniques have helped my daughter to advance and to stay positive herself. I have enjoyed Ms. McMaster's genial disposition throughout our many colloquies. As my daughter now moves on to a different school, I send my thanks to Ms. McMaster for being such an important stepping stone in my daughter's future. - Justin Cascagnett

I would like to give appreciation to Liz Vogel (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis). I do not have a child in her class, but I am with her working together every day in the classroom watching the wonder that she is, accomplishing more than I ever thought humanly possible. She spends many hours before school, after school and at home creating new work, honing things to perfection. Every day she is coming up with ways to challenge the children and the best approach for each lesson, grade level and child. In the two years we have been together, I have seen countless former students come to visit her and the pride they have in telling her how much she has helped to prepare them for what they encounter in middle school, high school and college is such an amazing thing to see. She loves the children fiercely and wants only the very best for each and every one of them and I can see that they feel the love and care that she gives to them. She is never too busy to give a hug and a pep talk to any student who needs it. I learn something new from working with her every single day. She is a wealth of knowledge, grace and beauty and I’m absolutely blessed to have been paired up with her. - Bonnie Thomas Wagner

Our son is in Ms. Kyser's 4th grade class (Central Grade School). We'd like to say thank you to Ms. Kyser for being a great influence on him, and for the ongoing communication that she provides. We also greatly appreciate the photos she shares and the ongoing reminders, as well as the creative way that she's allowed our son to be involved and actually lead the parent/teacher conferences. Our other son is in Ms. Odette's / Ms. Walston's 1st grade class. We'd like to say thank you to Ms. Odette's / Ms. Walston for also being a very positive influence on our son. We appreciate their communication with us regarding classroom activities and the curriculum, as well as things we should focus on to help his progress. We also appreciate how they reward our son and the entire class when they accomplish their goals. We also want to say thank you to all of the staff at Central Grade School and the way they help to support our children, make sure they're getting extra help if and where needed, and also the extracurricular activities, including Math Night and other events. - The Burger Family

A big thank you to Ms. Terri Lutes at Eastern Elementary School 4th Grade. She has a very large class which is challenging for a teacher. She continues to teach her students the importance of things outside of the day to day academics. She teaches the students about honesty, self-discipline, respect for others and integrity. I really appreciate that she incorporates these virtues in her classroom. I think it says a lot about her as a professional, teacher AND as a person. Keep up the good work Ms. Lutes! - M. Robinson

Shout out to Erin Kosch (Central High School)! My son has loved his freshman year and his favorite class (besides gym...) is U.S. History. Erin creates an engaging and rigorous class with lessons and discussions that follow students home to the dinner table. I want her to know that all her behind-the-scenes work is appreciated; I know how much effort she has put into prepping units, conducting lessons, and assessing learning. Thank you, Erin! - Alison Sullivan

I would like to share my gratitude for Mrs. Olson (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis). Her insight into my daughter helped us transition through a challenging drop off time that was becoming stressful and full of tears. She brainstormed ideas with us and was able to come up with a solution which helped her feel more comfortable and successful to start her day. Because she can relate to my daughter she has provided me with a better understanding of her particular quirks and personality and given me tools to help support her. I appreciate her insight, empathy and thoughtful approach to working with my daughter. I’m very grateful to have her in such caring, capable and nurturing hands! Thank you Mrs. Olson! Warmly - Seraphina Vajda

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous to have learned that my son was getting the new teacher for his first grade year. Those fears were immediately put to rest upon meeting Sarah Winterman (Central Grade School). Her willingness to communicate openly, honestly and give constructive feedback has been so helpful this year. My son’s intellect and peer to peer relations have flourished while being educated by Mrs. Winterman. She has been above and beyond what any parent could hope for in an educator for their child. Her passion for teaching and her compassion for the little (but quickly growing!) people in her care show in every facet. Thank you Mrs. Winterman for all that you do! You have made all the difference and we are so happy you are a part of the Central Grade Family!  - Danielle Diegel

Mrs. Kyser (Central Grade School) has been amazing to my child that has had some struggles in and out of the classroom this year, She has gone out of her way and above and beyond to accommodate and be available to help. Her warmth, care and concern has been a comfort to our child and us and helped make it a much better 4th grade year than we expected. Many thanks! - Central Grade Parent

Staff Appreciation Week - Day 2:

Stellar Staff Ensure Safe, Healthy, and Happy Schools

Alberto Dimas (Willow Hill Elementary School), your welcoming, kind and generous spirit is one that just shines through the hallways and lights up the faces of all those who visit Willow Hill. I soooo appreciate all you do. You help make Willow Hill special! - Christie Shore

I am so thankful for Julie Flaherty (Central High School) over the past couple of years with her kind heart and understanding during some of my child's most difficult times in his life. She has been a life safer and very compassionate for our child. Thank you so much Julie! I love you to pieces and appreciate you so very much! I will miss talking with you next fall as he was our last and will graduate in June! Keep smiling and you were an angel when I needed it most!  Thank you thank you! - Chimene Harrison

John Brazaski has kept a watchful eye on West Senior High for over two decades. As the school's lead security officer, John has seen many changes in students and in school security over the years. John has a calm, confident presence and quietly works behind the scenes to make sure students and staff are safe. - Joe Esper

We wanted to send a huge thank you to Jean DuCheney (Courtade Elementary School) for always being there for our family.  We moved from South Carolina a year ago and Jean was my first friend here.  My husband was here with our boys while I was finishing up in South Carolina, and we could not have made this transition without her. She helped coordinate the bus for not only our elementary school son, but also for our middle school son during this time, ensuring my husband could pick them both up in one place. She has been wonderful to both my boys and we will miss her as my youngest moves up to middle school next year. She is a treasure!! - The Snover Family

Ashley VanLandschoot has gone above and beyond his job description at West Senior High School since 2008, which is when I started having my children attend TC west. Nine years and 6 children later he is still going above and beyond what is required. As I sit and watch him with the students I see genuine care and concern for ALL of the kids with which he comes into contact. Even when difficulties have occurred in the events of the school year he does all in his power to help with class adjustments and my kids know that they have him to go to and that makes a difference to them! To have a definite friend in the high school environment adds a confidence to kids, and is immeasurable in its significance. At graduation time he puts so much time into the seniors, to make sure that all goes well. For instance, last year my daughter had forgotten her robe for the graduation award assembly and was worried about what to do. Without even a word to the counselors, they came up to her and asked if she needed a robe and then gave her one. This was quite a relief to her. Those small acts are probably performed everyday by Mr. Vanlandschoot, without hesitation or acknowledgement. Traverse City West has a huge asset with Mr. Vanlandschoot and I wanted him to know that our family will forever remember all he has personally done for our family. Thank you. - Teresa Howse

My daughter started at West Middle School in March, and coming from Pathfinder, West was a HUGE change! But all the staff made her feel so welcome and she is thrilled with the move. Thank-you for helping what could have been a tough situation so wonderful!  - Rachel James

My family and I moved here the last week of August last year, hoping to leave the culture of Southern California behind us, and to enjoy what Traverse City had to offer. After just a few weeks of being here and a short time into the school year (I believe it was 3 weeks into it), we had a very devastating diagnosis happen to our eldest daughter who is in kindergarten at Old Mission Peninsula School. After being in the hospital a week long to literally save her life, we found out that she was a Type 1 diabetic. As a mother my head was spinning, so when the thought finally occurred to me to call the school and let them know what was happening, I was given more love and support than I could have ever imagined. Going through this without any family to lean on was very difficult, but Betsy Wells, Beth Still, Julie Edwardson, and Ms. Sam (lunch lady), have all helped to support us through all of this. Not only did they help at that time, but they have been pillars of strength, and accommodations for my daughter. They have provided the utmost care for my daughter, and have become a team that we trust implicitly. They totally deserve the recognition that they have earned! Thank you ladies! You truly are a blessing to the children and families you serve. Forever thankful parent - Jessica Kieng

Sharon Fleis is a classroom assistant at Willow Hill Elementary School working with all students, but specifically those with learning challenges. She is the kindest, most considerable, and humorous, student centered aide. Yet, she is steadfast in her ability to motivate students to meet and exceed their abilities when completing classroom assignments. Students love working with Mrs. Fleis and they know that she cares deeply about them as a person first. She has been a pillar of excellence at Willow Hill for the past fifteen years. Teachers and other staff always count on her to help them with little or no guidance. Sharon just knows exactly what to do and she does it all with a huge smile on her face and joy in her heart.  She is a very valuable and treasured staff member at Willow Hill. - Debby Regiani

Mrs. Heather Mathie is a Security Guard at West Senior High and prior to that, an aide at Long Lake Elementary. She has been a treasured part of the West Senior High staff for many years. Students are constantly seeking Mrs. Mathie out to help them with a million things and she has earned their trust throughout all these years. She is always happy to share candy she keeps at her desk and is on the frontline on helping kids in need.  Thanks Heather! - Charles Kolbusz

TCAPS Montessori is so lucky to have Angela Barnes (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) as our building sub. Today Mrs. Barnes substituted in one of our Primary rooms. She brought in a paper making project for our kids to do because she knew that the class had been focusing on recycling this week. Having Mrs. Barnes has been a gift for our staff and our students this school year. - Liz Yarch

Tammy Brunan is the lead Administrative Assistant at West Senior High School and while you can often see her at the front desk in the main office, she is the one behind the scenes that makes West tick. Tammy is the point person for staff, parents and community members for almost everything they need. She makes sure the bells ring, doors open, that the right student gets the right diploma, and that the guest teachers get to the right spots. Despite her long list of job duties, Tammy always has time to take on a few extras like fundraising for student scholarships or taking a student under her wing. - Joe Esper

I would like to send a note of appreciation to the two wonderful ladies in the Westwoods Elementary School office. Erika Swartz and Jennifer Maniaci do a wonderful job of organizing the entire school from the beginning of the day to the end of the day. I cannot imagine the amount of tasks and problems they tackle and solve each day. They accomplish this with grace and patience. Each family and child has unique circumstances and issues that they bring to school with them and this staff always handles each one with care and understanding. Please provide praise and respect to this duo and keep up the great work!! - Mackenzie Hall Weston

Staff appreciation for Dawn Smith (Boardman Administration Building) - Anytime I have called for help regarding payment for extended day, or needing clarification, Ms. Dawn has always been willing to go above and beyond. She even went so far as to follow up with me after the schools switched payment systems. Ms. Dawn sometimes fills in at Central Grade School, when she does she always has a smile on her face and is engaging with the kids and families. She is a true joy and a huge asset to the TCAPS admin team. Thank you Ms. Dawn for all that you do! You are appreciated! - Danielle Diegel

My son is in first grade and attends Eastern Elementary School.  I'd like to thank the entire staff at Eastern as any interaction I have with any staff is positive. I'd especially like to thank Biz Ruzowski, Jill Jenkins, Sarah Marek and Kathy Radakovich. These four individuals specifically have fostered an environment where my son is flourishing, learning, and feeling part of a truly positive community. They have all gone out of their way for him as an educator, in one way or another and it has meant the world to our family. Thank you for all you do and have done!  -Jessica Willis-O'Berski

Mrs. DuCheney (Courtade Elementary School) is a wonderful person with a big heart and it shows every day. Jean has been so kind and caring with my daughter and I see her care about all the students this way. I could go on and on but instead I will say that we appreciate ALL the staff working at Courtade and we THANK YOU!! - Laurie Bailey

A big thank you to Sherri VanDyke for her dedication to West Senior High School. She has been a familiar face providing support to parents, students and staff for 20 years. Her sense of humor and has brightened many a day; Thanks -- Jason Carmien

We love all the staff at Central Grade School. The office staff is always so welcoming and caring, the lunch ladies do an excellent job with helping all the kids. This year my son has Mrs. Oleson and we absolutely love her, she has been so sweet and always so helpful, he has learned so much this year. - Jann Cook

I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to Ms. Brenda Schwind (East Middle School counselor). She always goes above and beyond to help me and my family, especially as we navigate the world of special education. She is knowledgeable, kind, considerate and thoughtful, and we couldn't imagine travelling on this academic journey without her! - Cathy R

Danelle Brostrom (Technology) has been so supportive in our building!  She comes over and tutors one of our teachers every Tuesday morning before school starts. She has assisted many of our staff with Google Doc questions, Gmail questions and of course always with a HUGE smile on her face. She also supplied our Extended Day program with used computers that she picked up from a local recycling program, for the kids to play office with! Thank you for all you do not only for Montessori but for our entire district!  - Liz Yarch

I would like to give a big shout out to all the staff at Cherry Knoll Elementary School for making it an awesome environment for our kids to learn in! From the front office staff (Laurie and Amy do an outstanding job!) to the custodial staff, aides, and teachers, you guys rock. I am so grateful to be able to send my kiddos to school in an environment where I feel good about them learning and being cared for everyday. We moved last year and have made the decision to keep our kids at CK because it is so outstanding. Keep up the good work Cherry Knoll! - Kendra Worden

Have you met my amazing co-worker Dawn Smith? She is in the background at the Boardman Administration Building jumping in to help the buildings with questions on our new billing software (well new this year). She always has an amazing can do attitude whenever I call for help. When she isn’t busy at Boardman you can find her at Central Grade covering the office for their lunches or assisting in the cafeteria. She does all of this with grace and a smile!  - Liz Yarch

Missy Waskiewicz and Jill Jenkins (Eastern Elementary School) have gone above and beyond welcoming our daughter to a new school. They’ve also helped handle MANY emails, forms and questions so that the 3rd-5th grade girls at Eastern could have Girls on the Run this year. We appreciate them! - The Bozung family

Thank you to Mrs. Sides-McKay, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. Jongekrijg, Mrs. Hoffman, Mrs. Pina, Mrs. Kirby and the staff in extended day (Willow Hill Elementary School). We are so thankful for the wonderful care and academic rigor you have given our son over the years. We will miss the WH staff next year!  - The Pomaville Family

As we approach the end of the school year our staff is scrambling to get certificates and programs printed for the families of our children. At Montessori we will have programs for our Stepping Up ceremony.... we do our best to get all of the information to copy command correctly but there is always some kind of last minute change that needs to be done. We are so lucky to have Christine Matthews and her team at Copy Command (Boardman Administration Building)! They somehow manage to pull off all of our last minute changes, print our programs and have them ready for families with no complaints!  Thank you Copy Command for all you do for us! - Liz Yarch

Kathy, Jen, Dawn (when she's filling in) and Michelle (dearly missed) in Central Grade School's front office are multitaskers of epic proportions. In addition to handling all of their typical administrative duties, they take on the roles of dispatchers, nurses, security guards, friends, disciplinarians, and traffic controllers. It's an organized chaos that is impressive to watch and not only do they make it look easy, they do it with warm smiles. - Central Grade Parent

I cannot begin to say enough good things about the staff at Traverse Heights. Everyone we encounter is devoted, caring, and loves kids. There are just too many special people that we consider family there to list. From the administrative staff, office staff, extended day staff, teaching staff, counselors, and custodians they are top notch. Thank you to our TH family. We love you. You know who you are! - Michelle Brockie

Multitasker Extraordinaire should be Julie Phend’s title (Willow Hill Elementary School). Julie multitasks with the best of them. She seamlessly has the ability to draft a school wide email, while taking five students’ temperatures, while she has phones ringing, and people waiting to ask her questions. All the while still smiling a lovely smile. Thank you Julie! Lisa Forton (Willow Hill Elementary School) - This lady is rock solid in her ability to organize and keep the ship afloat at Willow Hill. I cannot image how many questions she is asked daily! She takes everything in stride and is truly amazing. Thank you for all you do Lisa! - Torre Boone

I appreciate all of the staff members at Silver Lake, especially their leader, Angie Camp. They have had two years of transition with a crowded building last year and construction this year but they have been so positive and friendly. While I know they have been stressed, you would never it from their wonderful attitudes! They work as an amazing team to help meet the needs of all of their families. I love being part of the Seahawk family! - Jackie Stremlow

Staff Appreciation Week - Day 1:

A Passion for Teaching, Leads to a Love of Learning

Mrs. Mackey (East Middle School) has the uncanny ability to light a fire in her students and motivate them to work above and beyond their capabilities. In her Digital Media and Communications class, she acts as a mentor and a guide as students produce work well above their grade level and garner impressive honors at the state level. However, her greatest achievement was working with her students to investigate and report on how the opioid epidemic has affected TCAPS graduates and their families. The award winning short documentary, Predator & Prey: Opioids' Savage Effect on Our Community,  has helped further the discussion on the extent of the problem, brought community leaders and those affected together and focused on what steps need to be taken to resolve it. Not only have students learned the dangers and trauma caused by opiod use, they also have had the opportunity to interview and interact with leaders in the public safety, medical, justice, and mental health fields, and school and city leaders.  They have organized and run public screening events and assisted with a fundraiser and learned the meaning of community in their hometown. - EMS Parent

David Kirby (West Senior High School) is a WSH legend. We are grateful that he continues to provide students with some of the most exciting learning experiences in the building. On top of that, he takes the lead in reaching out to other staff to ensure they feel connected to the culture at West. Thanks Dave! - Andy Wares

My son took weights this year for the first time. Mr. Doug Gle (Central High School) has guided him through learning more about his own strengths - both physical and mental. My son has not only become more aware of his health, but is happier and stronger than ever before. (And hungrier!) Thank you to Mr. Gle for creating a thoughtful class and treating each student with respect and patience. - Alison Sullivan

My daughter had Mr. Culver (Silver Lake Elementary School) for 5th grade and I can't believe how much she has changed for the better under his teaching - she is much stronger in math, and just overall more confident in her abilities in the classroom, which I attribute directly to Mr. Culver's teaching style. She admires him so much, he does such a great job relating to the kids. - Sam Charnes

Tracy Rucker (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) has taught two of my children, for a total of five years with our family. She has met every challenge with grace and has always been able to help them overcome any obstacle they faced. Not only is she kind with a huge heart, she is a brilliant educator who I owe a debt I could never repay due to how far above and beyond she has gone for both of my children. We adore her sense of humor and willingness to be flexible and meet the child where they’re at. I have no doubt that when my child is in her classroom, they are loved and that is the most important thing to any parent. - Bonnie Thomas Wagner

Mrs. Marek (Eastern Elementary School) was my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and we continue to adore her. You can see the love for her students shine wherever she is in Eastern. Thank you “Mama Marek” for starting my daughter’s school years off with confidence. What you do with a classroom of kindergarten kiddos is truly amazing and we need a month (or two!), not a week, to celebrate you!! - Sarah Gano

This year, my husband and I, together with our twin daughters, made the decision to enroll the twins in separate kindergarten rooms. We struggled with this decision because our daughter can struggle to navigate life skills. We knew that it would take someone truly special to help her finesse these skills.  What we found in Ms. Stremlow (Long Lake Elementary School) surpassed our every hope, and calmed every worry.  She instills confidence in children, she sees their good even on their bad days, she celebrates their success in a manner that is real and tangible to them. Because she believes in our daughter, we find that she can believe in herself. Our little girl is a great reader, has a strong grasp of math and science concepts, and more importantly is growing into a confident and kind human being. We are so very grateful life gave our little girl, Ms Stremlow when she needed her most. Thank you Jackie for all you do!  We are so infinitely grateful for you! - Alisha Ann Baker

Huge thank you to Pat Brumbaugh (West Senior High School) for coming out of retirement to lead the band program this year. Marching band was ten games strong plus the always busy music schedule during the year. Her stamina and leadership deserves recognition. - Marcy Lindberg

Our son is in Ms. Michele and Ms. Tiffany’s room at Silver Lake Elementary School. They are both such wonderful teachers and people! They make it easy to let our lil guy go each day. We know he will be loved, safe and educated. They create such a fun learning environment that we can say enough about. We appreciate them so much! - Tara Pickard

A big shout out to Mrs. Simons at Central Grade School. Our daughter has excelled in so many areas during her first grade year with Mrs. Simons. We appreciate your dedication and hard work to help our daughter! - Thank you, Robert & Stephanie Ellul

Thank you Mrs. Larrea (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis) for nurturing our littles, helping them grow and become self-sufficient and being a resource for us, as parents. Our daughter adores you and so do we.  Our school is so lucky for your leadership. - The Fri Family

When I see Mrs. Parvel (Eastern Elementary School) working with kids in the library not only do I want to join a class but she makes me want to read every book that she recommends. Kate is amazing at knowing each student’s interest and suggesting appropriate (and increasingly challenging) books for them. She’s constantly guiding them to new levels and selecting books to share that the whole class wants to borrow immediately. I can’t imagine how long the wait list is for some of the titles in Eastern’s library after Mrs. Parvel vouches that a student would enjoy the book. Thank you for fostering a love of reading in our school. - Sarah Gano

One of my daughters was lucky enough to have Ms. Kristi Brunink (Central High School) as a softball coach and now as her AP Psych teacher. My daughter tends to be quieter in class, but Ms. Brunink has always "seen" my daughter and been vocal in acknowledging her strengths. As a parent I appreciate her taking the time to make sure my daughter felt noticed. - Jill Jenkins

My family and I would like to thank Mrs. Brittany Kay, a TCAPS Literacy Coach (Blair Elementary School)! She has been working with our daughter in private tutoring sessions over the last couple of months. The difference in our daughter’s self esteem for her academics and her sheer excitement for night time reading is nothing short of incredible!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for helping our daughter to discover her potential and love for learning! You are the BEST!! - Sara Dennis-Parker

Mr. Habich (TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis), you have helped my young man of ten years continue to grow as a good citizen and a productive student. Your kindness, caring, positive attitude, and upbeat influence will not be forgotten, nor is it taken for granted. I know working with young ones can be a challenge, but you give your all every day and my son is benefiting from your experience and vast knowledge. Thank you so much for sharing all your expertise and kindness to all your students. Blessings - Tracey Tull

Dear TAG Staff (Central Grade School), thank you for your continuous teaching capabilities, love of furthering our children's lives and pure unconditional care you put into our children to want to succeed. My daughter has seen her struggles when it has came to learning at a young age (was found to be 85% deaf at 1 1/2 years old). She had surgery and received gestational tubes in her ears. It was a slow go but she got here with having fabulous teaches and TCAPS staff. After taking the TAG testing we were elated to find out she was on the wait list and to know she could be with other children that would understand her more academically. Thank you once again for loving your job and to know you are the people that make our children into having fabulous futures. Sincere Thanks - Danielle I Wegrecki

Our daughter attends West Middle School and loves going to school!  She is excited about learning and shares stories about her day.  Mrs. Medler, Ms. Donahue, Mrs. Rundio and Mrs. Slaggert motivate and inspire their students not only to learn, but to enjoy learning. They are the sort of teachers that impact students for a lifetime. They are dedicated to their students. They care about individual children and show kindness to those that need it most. They provide a safe learning environment for all students. Their dedication and willingness to go beyond what's required of them is a testament to the quality of teachers at TCAPS. Thank you, Mrs. Medler, Ms. Donahue, Mrs. Rundio and Mrs. Slaggert for all that you do! - Deyar Jamil

We would like to acknowledge the impact that Mrs. Stephanie Jackson (Central Grade School) has had on our daughter, both educationally and personally. Our daughter has had the privilege of having Mrs. Jackson for both 1st and 3rd grade. She was beyond excited at the beginning of this year when she found out that she was going to be able to spend another year in Mrs. Jackson’s classroom. Mrs. Jackson inspires and challenges her students, while at the same time, building their confidence and self esteem.  She clearly communicates expectations, but does so with compassion and reassurance that her students have the capabilities to achieve them. She has connected with our daughter on her love of animals and has cultivated a love of reading and books. Recently our daughter was experiencing some anxiety surrounding some upcoming standardized testing. Both myself (her mom) and her older brother spoke with her extensively to calm her fears. But the person who was able to most effectively put her at ease was her teacher, Mrs. Jackson. She spent a recent lunch hour doing so, taking the time to alleviate her fear and reassure our daughter. When it comes to school, there is no one she trusts more than Mrs. Jackson. On several occasions this school year, Mrs. Jackson has quickly responded to messages from me regarding questions or concerns. She offered ideas and solutions that have resulted in a happy and thriving 3rd grader. We will greatly miss Mrs. Jackson next year! She, in addition to Mrs. Erika Olvey and Mrs. DDK, have laid the groundwork for a bright academic future for our daughter. Thank you for your passion and commitment! It does not go unnoticed. We appreciate all of you more than words can express! - Chris and Kristine Roush

Thank you to Mrs. McGrew (Central Grade School) for overseeing the Student Council. Your leadership has enabled 4th and 5th graders the opportunity to be learn to be leaders and contribute to the school in numerous ways. - Central Grade Parent

I would like to thank Mrs. Gallagher at (East Middle School). She is extremely dedicated, and my child has greatly appreciated her support for the past two years. As a parent, I can't thank her enough. I am at ease knowing my child is safe, and she always has a trusted adult on her side. THANK YOU Mrs. Gallagher! - EMS Parent   

Staff Appreciation Week 2017

Staff Appreciation Week

Each year, the Board of Education celebrates staff by designating the first week of May as Staff Appreciation Week. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

“We wanted to send a little note of appreciation for our daughter's kindergarten teacher, Deb DeKuiper. DDK is a generous and passionate teacher, exactly the kind of person anyone would love to be their child's kindergarten teacher. She helps students feel confident about their work, and creates a positive environment for children. It is impressive to think about all of the students she taught to read and write over the course of her career, and what an impact she has made on our community and beyond. Mrs. DeKuiper has such a warm way about her but also manages to keep the respect of the kids. It's always amazing to me to walk in her classroom and see 20 kindergarteners sitting quietly and working diligently on their schoolwork. She has made her classroom a very safe place where the kids can take risks and continue to encourage and push each other in a positive way. Our daughter comes home happy from school, and proud of her own accomplishments. She is excited about learning and wants to share what she has learned. We couldn't be happier with the growth we have seen in our daughter this year. We feel so fortunate to be part of the Central Grade community and feel like our children have all had wonderful teachers.  Mrs. DeKuiper is certainly one of the shining "Superstars" there and she will be greatly missed at Central Grade when she retires.” With gratitude, Heidi S.

“I would like to thank Brenda Meindertsma at Central High School.  She encourages and challenges her students. English is not my boys’ favorite subject because writing is difficult for them, but Mrs. Meindertsma is one of their favorite teachers!  They know that she cares and so are willing to put in the hard work and enjoy going to her class.” –Stacey R.

Mrs. Jane Porath (East Middle School) is someone who teaches us to learn on our own. What we mean by that is that she will let you figure something out on your own. However, if you have a question or don't know what you're doing she will help you with everything and anything you need. By having us think on our own prepares us immensely for high school. As this being her first year teaching geometry we have to say she's done amazingly.” –Isabel A. and Amelia S., EMS students

Kathryn Phillips (East Middle School) has been our teacher for two years. Her kind heart and caring smile has made both seventh and eighth grade a whole lot easier. Her class last year made us much more aware of what was going on around the world. Her class this year has taught us to become better writers and hone our skills of interviewing and being interviewed. We are very thankful to have had her for these two years.” – Isabel A. and Amelia S., EMS students

Mr. Peter Deneen's (East Middle School) want for us to do well has taught me to strive for my very best. Keeping the band room on task for a whole hour is not a small task. Yet Mr. Deneen does it day after day and week after week. His love for music has also taught me so much over the two years I have had as his student. He also is kind to everyone band student or not. I have many reasons to thank Mr. Deneen for being a great band teacher.” –Isabel A., EMS student

“We have had the privilege of having Mrs. Michele Zebell (East Middle School) as our teacher for three years! Each year we have learned more and more about music and have grown immensely as musicians. Aside from inspiring our musicality, Mrs. Zebell supports all of us for who we are. Her smiling face and eagerness to help makes the choir room a safe place for her students. Her motherly personality and love of her job and students makes her choir a family.” –Isabel A. and Amelia S., EMS students

Mrs. Jody Mackey (East Middle School) is a teacher who has truly prepared us for high school. Having her two hours a day, we are always sure to learn something new in her class. She pushes us to work harder and think critically. She helps us develop opinions as well as understand the other views of a situation. Not one of Mackey students can say they didn't grow as a learner this year and we are very grateful to have had such a dedicated teacher.” – Isabel A. and Amelia S., EMS students

Mr. Leo Hagedorn (East Middle School) lets us be as creative as we want with projects. He feeds the inner kid inside us by always keeping activities fun and not stressful. He always makes sure we have enough time to finish projects and tests. Giving us bonus time to study if need be. He provides an environment where kids are not afraid to try new things.” –Isabel A. and Amelia S., EMS students

Minda Nyquist (West Senior High School): Teachers are immortal because the knowledge and skill they pass on stays in the minds of their students for generations to come. We have seen an extraordinary student (even if he is mine) rise to the stage because he was trained by an extraordinary teacher like you. Thank you for passing on priceless knowledge and wisdom to my son. Because you are his teacher I know that there will be a brighter future. Women like you don't always have fancy degrees, drive big cars are living big houses but they're the ones with the big hearts and the burning desires. Thank you for giving my son much needed advice. For shaping not just his acting skills. For showing lost kids the way. Thank you for making countless hours of sacrifice. For taking up a profession so selfless. For helping me breathe easy and for being you. You make the world a better place –one kid at a time and I thank you.  –Joelle M.

Friday, May 5, 2017


A dedicated team

“We would like to say how impressed we are with the leadership we experienced throughout the transition from Eastern Elementary School to our new temporary home at Bertha Vos. Coming back from spring break to have everything in place to make kids and parents feel comfortable and get right back into learning was the result of a lot of forethought and effort. Thank you to teachers, staff, and support from the upper administration for all the hard work and proactive thinking. It would have been easy to get bogged down in negativity and details in the face of such an enormous task, but that never happened. Positivity ruled every conversation. I was especially happy to hear that teachers were given time and assistance to make the move. Teachers, we know you still put forth a lot of extra effort to make it all come together and we are extremely grateful for your efforts. I have spoken with many parents who feel the same way. TCAPS, you did an outstanding job.” – Dan and Nikki S.

“I'm in East Middle School. All my 7th grade teachers have been really nice and didn't give up on me when I was having trouble this year really talking in class. I felt really shy to talk but when I finally talked to my teachers they were all really nice. They made me feel it was okay to talk in class and to them. Though I still feel uncomfortable sometimes, I feel like I got over being nervous all the time and it's okay to participate in class.” – G. D., EMS student

“I would like to share my most heartfelt appreciation for the staff at Traverse Heights Elementary. Year after year I continue to be amazed at the professionalism, compassion, and dedication of this staff. They have helped my children grow and learn in so many ways. Thank you Jen Rickert, Cindy Andersen-Schwartz, Jen Rubinas, Carrie and Cindy, Mrs. Steele, Sue Chapman, Marie Dituri, Mr. Keith, Ms. Sam, Ms. Amber, Mrs. Dunlap, Ms. Joanne, Mrs. Jill, Mr. Arvo and so many others. Thank you for being there for our children!” – M. B.

“We are a Willow Hill family, and we express gratitude to a fantastic bus driver, Mark Walters.  As a bus driver, "Mr. Mark" is the first positive experience of our daughter's school day. Mark connects with children through greeting them by name, having fun and sharing his great sense of humor. Fridays are a bonus as he gives suckers, even for a younger sibling hoping to ride the bus. For the kids in the back of the bus, you are missing fun with Mr. Mark in the front of the bus! Mr. Mark, as our daughter and other children grow, they will reflect upon you fondly! We are also want to recognize our Willow Hill Principal, Mrs. Sides-McKay.  She leads her school by smiling as she greets children by name, giving every child a Valentine card, and being a trooper in the dunk tank at the WH carnival! Also, a special thank you to Ms. Weston & Ms. Smith for being compassionate teachers, embracing the needs and uniqueness of all children, and providing a fun and caring classroom. Gratitude also to Ms. Forton and Ms. Phend for handling sickness and individual needs with kindness and empathy. We also appreciate Ms. Kirby & Ms. Laura for their attentiveness and kindness at extended day. Thank you Mr. Dimas for smiling and being playful with the children as you keep the school functional and clean!” – A Willow Hill parent

“I would like to Thank Coach Kelly of the girls’ swim team and the head of the athletic department for their help last fall. My daughter and I had just moved here from Italy. She is a swimmer and wanted to join the team; she didn't know anyone, is very shy and this was the one way for her to fit in to a new school environment. Unfortunately, the Michigan High School Athletic Association does not allow transfer students to participate fully in sports their first year. Coach Kelly and the Athletic Director Mark Mattson appealed this decision, fought for allowing our daughter to compete and won! They both are exemplary individuals who helped a new teenager's difficult transition into a new country and school. I thank them both along with Central High School's entire staff for making my daughter's transition a bit easier.”– Janene S.

The dedication and commitment of the entire staff at Blair Elementary School continues to shine as they make great strides in the service of their students. Today’s Ticker article “Blair Elementary Tackling Touch Issues, Finding Progress” highlights their efforts. We think our Blair staff is amazing and plenty of Ticker readers agreed:

  • “I'm so grateful for the incredible work being done at Blair Elementary. Thank you for having the courage to see the difficult realities of our community and for taking action.” – Sue B.
  • “Thank you Kirsten Morgan and the rest of the gang at Blair Elementary for your special efforts to make our community a better place. Heartwarming.” – Dan S.
  • “I am a ‘Big Sister’ to a student at Blair and this article is so appreciated. I've seen firsthand the hard work each staff/faculty member at Blair does, every single day. Thanks for bringing light to a community of people who go above and beyond to improve not just their education, but the lives of these children. This school is in dire need of volunteerism and more "Bigs". 40 minutes a week is all it takes to be a big brother/sister! I have 2 small children of my own and becoming a big has been one of the best decisions I've made!” – Sandra M.

“I hope that MR. GOODWIN, Courtade Elementary knows what a great impact he has made on our daughter this year. His genuinely kind and caring, yet stern method of teaching is just what she needed this year. She has faced challenges with all she has. Mr. Goodwin has encouraged and help her persevere. Her grades have improved over the course of the year, as well as her organizational and time management. Thank you for all you do Mr. Goodwin!”  – Jim and Angie G.

“I'm grateful for the way the TCAPS Montessori staff has supported my young son as he gets familiar with a school routine...from potty training patience to getting dressed for recess...Mrs. Sysko, Ms. Anne and all others have been lovely. I want to give a special shout out to Ms. Barb in the library. She's created a routine and space that is the highlight of my boy's time at school. We are grateful and a proud TCAPS family.” – Leah M.

“The staff members I work with at Eastern Elementary are so much more than co-workers. They have been there for me to celebrate the good times, provide love and support during difficult times, and have taught me the true meaning of friendship. Each and every one of my colleagues have made a positive impact on my life and continue to inspire me on a daily basis. The Eastern staff is made up of people who genuinely care for the well-being of their students, their families, as well as each other. The office staff, principal, custodians, support staff, teachers, extended day program, aides, and noon duty all go out of their way to make sure anyone who enters the school feels safe, important, and cared for. Eastern stars shine bright and I am so thankful for the amazing people at our school!” –Mandy L.

“My daughter has participated in the musicals at Traverse City West Senior High School for four years. Every year I am amazed at the intense amount of time spent at the school the last two weeks before opening night. As a parent volunteer, I have spent many of those hours at the school. There are no adequate words to express my gratitude for the effort and time given by Erich Wangeman, Minda Nyquist, and Eric Ranke. Furthermore, the custodial staff are nothing short of magicians. We leave the school at 10pm and the staff has it in tip top shape by morning! I think Thank You is not enough but it's all I have, Thank You for giving my child memories to last a lifetime.” – Lori P.

Mr. Soma (Superintendent):  Thank you for being the conscientious leader of TCAPS that you are!  All of the appreciation and kind words towards members of your staff begin with the leader at the top. Thank you for all you do on a daily basis for all of the students at TCAPS.” – Cathy L.

Ms. Candiss Brewer (Willow Hill Elementary School) has been an incredible asset at Willow Hill for her entire teaching career. My experience with Miss B started as a student in her classroom and since then I have had the privilege of being her colleague. She brings an enthusiasm for learning that has ignited a passion within her students each and every year. Miss B. has always worked to develop an incredible relationship with each and every one of her students and they adore her in return!” – Erin J.

“My son has an incredible Middle School experience due to Ms. O'Neil and Mrs. Robbins. They have gone above and beyond for my son and I couldn't be more grateful. With all the students they come into contact with on a daily basis, I feel they know each individual child and help them through their situation. Also, Ms. Humphreys has shown my child a love for music that would never have happened had it not been for her. Our music department is superior due to her hard work and determination and love for the kids. Our family loves being a part of West Middle School.” – Kelly H.

“The staff at Old Mission Peninsula School is always cooperative, collaborative and friendly. They are always happy and willing to do whatever is needed to support student learning and achievement. They ROCK!!!” – Beth Still, Principal

“Thank you, Thank you! Our son is in his first years of school (Central Grade School). He is a proud student of Mrs. Karen Byrne and Ms. Bree (Breanne Schlosser). Our son has blossomed in so many ways - we can never thank you both enough. In the beginning, we were both very nervous letting our 3 year old go, but what a wonderful journey it has been to watch him grow, socialize and learn. Kudos to Mrs. Karen and Ms. Bree!” – Stephanie and Robert E.

“From the moment our 4-year-old stepped onto the school bus last September for her first day of preschool we have been blessed with caring, nurturing, attentive, dedicated TCAPS staff. We could not be happier with Miss Vig and Miss Gail at Westwoods Elementary School for the amazing work they do. Our daughter always comes home happy and excited to share what she has learned. We can't thank them enough for their energy and enthusiasm, for keeping us up-to-date with pictures and stories, and for fostering a love of learning and exploration. Mr. John, our daughter's bus driver, is fantastic! He is kind and patient, especially when she has fallen asleep (or just pretends to). So many others at Westwoods have also made an impact on our daughter. She sings us every song she learns, randomly uses Spanish words in every day conversation, and loves to show off her brand new balance bike skills. To everyone who has touched our lives this past year - THANK YOU! We are so grateful.” – Carrie and Gene S.

“I would like to thank Mrs. Chargo, Mr. Griesinger, Mr. Hofstra, Miss Linsmeier, Mr. McDonald, and Mr. Ranke for teaching my daughter this school year (West Senior High School). Every one of you inspire her daily in more ways than one. There is not a single day I don't hear about her learning experience and your names from her without a smile on her face. Thank you for making a difference!” – Candan S.

“I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to all of the support staff at Traverse Heights. They continually provide support to our teachers and students in numerous ways. One Friday a month, they take on the enormous responsibility of managing students during Enrichment Day activities. Their commitment and flexibility has not gone unnoticed. We couldn't do it without you!  Rock stars!” – Alicia Rowney, IB Coordinator

“I'm so grateful for the great team at TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis and all they do to help our kids become better citizens and excited learners. Special thanks to Mrs. Olson, Mrs. Stricker and Mrs. Hall and Miss Kristi and Miss Barbi!” – Whitney W.

“We would like to thank the staff at Cherry Knoll Elementary. Each day, there are friendly, smiling faces to welcome and care for our children at school. The nurturing environment and outstanding teachers and staff are nothing less than impressive. This is our sixth year with a child at CK. The preschool class teachers opened their arms to our youngest this year and he has grown by leaps and bounds. Our second grader has nothing but good words to say about his teachers and experiences. Our fifth grader has enjoyed the hands on learning to apply their lessons to real situations this year. Thanks to ALL at Cherry Knoll for making it such a wonderful place. We certainly don't say it often enough -Teachers, we appreciate you!” – Shawn and Kendra W.

“I have had the opportunity to teach in 9 TCAPS school during the past 36 years. Each has been unique. But, the one that stands out the most has been Willow Hill Elementary School. Our principal Angela Sides-McKay is a talented, smart, and positive leader. She adds fun to our day while keeping learning at the forefront and encouraging us to 'not sweat the small stuff". The teachers never say no. Their 'can-do' attitudes enhance the learning of all students, giving up their planning time, their after school time, sometimes even before their own family time to prepare and make sure everyone is successful. With big smiles on their faces they do such things as hold fundraisers, participate with the PTO, organize Battle of the Books, run Fun and Funky Field Day, coordinate outstanding musical performances, buy clothing for needy students, and work effortlessly with outside agencies to benefit our students. Our staff fills the gaps without being asked.  Their extra attention is instrumental in making sure all students reach their full potential. How fortunate I have been to be a member of such a caring, nurturing, and outstanding environment as a parent and teacher.  Thank you Willow Hill.”  – Debby R.

“A story to share, and experience to share? How about one big “Thank You!” My kids are very fortunate to be in your system, they have no idea how good they have it. Whatever you’re doing keep it up……..Thank you, thank you, and thank you. It takes a village, and some awesome teachers, and some more awesome Coaches – Thank you Mr. Vance (West Middle School)!!!” – Mark F.

“Anna DeMarsh, GSRP teacher at Traverse Heights, and her co-teacher Ms. Walters have been an incredible blessing to my son during a difficult year of transition for him. Anna has taken time out of her busy day to answer my e-mails regarding his behaviors and providing me with updates. She has offered helpful suggestions, provided valuable feedback and has demonstrated a genuine concern for my son. She has gone as far as to create a photo book for him to keep handy for when he is feeling sad. Her patience, compassion and professionalism has provided me with great comfort during a difficult time. I truly feel that my son has a team of supporters and care givers at Traverse Heights who have gone above and beyond. This program and staff has far exceeded my expectations. Anna--thank you for all you've done to care for my son and to offer support to me!” – Sara B.

“A big thank you to Mrs. DeKuiper at Central Grade School for all your guidance, compassionate and education to our kindergartner! She went into to school as a shy kindergartner and has blossomed into an avid reader and has a passion for school- well most days! Mrs. DeKuiper not only made our daughter feel secure but taught her to reach for the stars! Thank you for making our daughter’s first full year in school the best! Wishing you the very best! Thank you.” – Stephanie and Rob E.

Ms. DuCheny (Courtade Elementary School) has just been awesome and deserves secretary of the year award, seriously. Jean has always been so helpful whenever I call with questions. She is a master multitasker and at the same time she knows what is going on with each student. She is a very special and kind person. We just love Jean! I could go on and on with every staff member of the Courtade team but instead of writing forty pages, let me just say that each and every single one of you are extremely appreciated and admired! Thank you so much for all you do!” – Laurie B.

“I want to thank Mrs Jana DuGuay and Mrs. Lisa Forton for helping my daughter make a great transition to Willow Hill Elementary. It's not easy for a child to move to another town and go to a new school. Thank you for making it a positive one for my daughter!” –Laura G.

Liz Sievers is the Lead Administrative Assistant for TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis. She handles bloody noses, sick children, sick staff (finding subs for everyone), time cards, the building budget, count day and the phones. She assists guest into the building, makes deliveries all day and still manages to treat everyone with grace and courtesy. I say all the time that I have the best job EVER because I get to work with Liz. She is an amazing co-worker; she gives praise when deserved and also knows how to correct me when I have made a mistake.” – Liz Y.

“I would like to show appreciation for Principal Ben Berger (Central High School). Mr. Berger has shown astounding support for my son during the events of his evolving seizure disorder. He has gone above and beyond to make sure my son is safe, and has devoted several hours at his side with good humor and a laid back demeanor. Mr. Berger, thank you, thank you for your devotion, understanding, patience, and communication during this difficult time!” – Jeni N.

“Our family appreciates the staff at Courtade Elementary School, especially Mrs. Darling and Mrs. Rossan for helping our children grow and learn. The staff goes above and beyond and truly seems to care about students. Thank you for all you do!” – Elizabeth B.

“Our daughter is in Ms. Michele Conway & Ms. Tiffany Bright's preschool classroom 3 days a week at Silver Lake Elementary School. She was in a different preschool classroom, at a different school last year and had a rough time. Michele and Tiffany have made this year the most amazing experience for us and our daughter. We are so thankful to have them and to help our daughter transition to Kindergarten next year. Thank you ladies!” – Sarah H.

“I would like to thank Liz Yarch for being an important part of our office team (TCAPS Montessori). These past 4 years have been an amazing journey with her and I couldn't do my office job without her. She is always willing to step in when needed and is always saying that she has the best job ever! I have the best job ever because I work with her. Here's to many more years together!” – Liz S.

“As our family ventures on to new beginnings, we would like to thank each and every one of you at Courtade Elementary School for all of your selfless support over the last 5 years. Moving to Traverse City in 2012 was a scary move for our daughters. Choosing Courtade as our school was the best decision we made for them at that time! It breaks my heart our son won't be a Cougar, but I am certain we will gain a similar experience at Cherry Knoll.” – Lauren T.

“Our son has had a great three years at Long Lake Elementary and the staff are the reason. From their forward-thinking principal, Kate Burwinkel, to the sweet and attentive Kelly Kochanny (TBAISD) to our son’s current encouraging teacher Linda Melvin, they have all been open minded, willing to try new things and adore him as much as we do. It's an overwhelmingly tough job to be a leader to so many different kids! I give them a lot of credit for taking extra time with us and with our son to help him succeed.” – Kristy P.

“I want to give a big thanks and shout-out to the staff at Cherry Knoll Elementary. My kids have moved on now but I see how the solid fundamentals taught by the best Elementary school teachers have given my two kids a great advantage. The first and largest impression that hinted at the quality instruction was when Kelley Carroll and Barb Corbett recognized my daughter's inability to read at grade level in Grade 1. In a short 2-week period my daughter was in a Reading Recovery program and 6-weeks later she was reading at grade level. To this day it brings tears to my eyes. My daughter now reads well above grade level - and it all started at Cherry Knoll. They instilled a love of books and reading in a child who was floundering and frustrated. I wish I could name all the great teachers and staff who influenced my kids over the years but I'd run out of space. Cherry Knoll holds a special place in our hearts and everyone from the Principal, front desk, custodians, teachers, and support staff are wonderful!”  – Cheryl O.

“TCAPS is blessed to have dedicated teachers who are reflective of best teaching and learning practices.  We have a large number of K-11 ELA teachers who have been piloting programs to research programs that are aligned to the Common Core Standards, the five components of reading, and comprehensive in scope and sequence. Piloting programs takes extra time and effort to learn the various components of the program and how to effectively teach the lessons. I am so grateful to have teachers who are willing to do this work for the ultimate benefit for our students and their achievement. Many thanks to all of our ELA pilot teachers!!”  – Caroline Wacker, TCAPS K-12 ELA Leader 

“We would like to take a minute to recognize the administration and staff at West Senior High. They have been nothing short of AWESOME in supporting our son. Thank you for the environment you create for learning. We appreciate you.”  – Jerry and Biz R. 

“I am writing to give a huge shout-out to all the staff at Long Lake!  I moved here in August from California and joined TCAPS as the ESL/ELL Coach for the district. I am housed at Long Lake, as Kate Burwinkel is my supervisor. I couldn't be happier to be a Long Lake Panther! The staff has an unbelievable spirit. They are dedicated, thoughtful, reflective, hardworking, caring, and FUN, just to mention a few attributes. They welcomed me into the mix and made me feel comfortable from the get go. I am so appreciative to be in a place that is so positive and upbeat. Kate leads the staff with a vision that I have seldom seen in all my years of teaching. She wants the best for all her students and staff and continually introduces ideas that encourage and guide us along this path. She puts in an extraordinary amount of time and effort into her job because she sees it more than just a job. It is a passion and calling. All the Long Lake Panthers (staff, students and families) are lucky to have Kate Burwinkel as their fearless leader. Thank you, Kate, and all the LL staff for all you do to make Long Lake School a success and a happy place to work!” – Kathleen S.

“I would to thank our principal, Lisa VanLoo (TCAPS Montessori), for always being a fair, kind, considerate, mindful principal. Not a day goes by that I don't appreciate her knowledge and striving to make our students think for themselves but also making peace in our building. She has been a blessing to us these past 4 years and I feel we are the luckiest elementary school in TCAPS. Thank you Lisa VanLoo, and here's to many more years together.” – Liz S.

“I would like to recognize the amazing effort that went toward the 2nd annual Willow Hill Elementary School Battle of the Books event. Staff members Mary Jane Collins, Erin Jongekrijg, Jennifer Glynn, and Martha Topol (along with support from many others) planned the event, coordinated the volunteer coaches, and held a good-spirited competition for 95 4th and 5th grade students on 15 teams at Willow Hill Elementary.” – Angela Sides-McKay, Principal 

Willow Hill Battle of the Books Teams

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Going above and beyond

“I hope to thank all of my teachers (West Senior High School) for their incredible patience and faith with me when I was beyond such things. Despite the turmoil in my life that results in a lack of motivation in school, they were committed to helping me in any way they could, and that is something truly special. I was difficult. I hope that they come to realize that though I may have seemed rude or simply disinterested, they made an impact on my life every time they encouraged me or talked to me about my lack of attention and my work ethic. Some have even gone above and beyond their job requirements to help me and guide me towards a more successful path. They will likely know who they are, because I know I am not the only student they have shown exemplary commitment to and this is due to the fact that they possess such passion in their work and connections to their students. Not one of the teachers or staff member gave up on me-even when I'm sure they really wanted to. They are not merely meeting a quota; they want to see students learn and grow and prepare them for the outside world. I know that being a teacher, principal or counselor is already a very frustrating job and students like me are a nuisance, but even if they do not see their own investments reflected back, I will always hold the knowledge that they made a difference for me. I could not ask for anything better from the WHS staff who were concerned about my future and my own success even though I didn't believe in myself. I am going to college at Texas State University and I know I need to change the way I study, prepare and organize. Thank you to the teachers who care and who believe in students even when they themselves do not. – Madison R. (Senior at WHS)

“I am so lucky to have Mrs. Annelin (Central Grade School) as my fifth grade teacher! She is always nice, thoughtful, and caring. She also has a great sense of humor. Even when my peers aren't being very thoughtful and are being disrespectful she makes sure she stays calm and figures out how to deal with different situations. She honestly is probably the best fifth grade teacher a girl could ask for. Everyday I say goodbye at the end of the day and I hug her and she always says the nicest things like "You did a great job today sweetie! I hope you have a great night!" Or "Thank you so much for helping me out today! You are such a big helper!" As you can see she is a great role model and anybody who is in her class adores her, she is the best! Thanks” –Amelia L., 5th grade student

“I am so grateful that I get to work with Carrie Sattler (Boardman Administration Building). She handles the credit card payment processing for TCAPS! She also does ACH for all of the tuition based programs, handles all of the returned checks and posts all of the charges and prints the statements for all of our tuition based programs.....  I don't know how many people she helps throughout our District but I can tell you that without her I wouldn't be able to do my job at TCAPS Montessori. Whenever I call Carrie with a question she is friendly, she finds the answers and gets back to me very quickly! I appreciate Carrie so much!!” – Liz Y.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff at Courtade Elementary School, the staff makes everyone feel like family. Both of my children have attended this school. One is currently a 3rd grade student. Mrs. Spitzley has gone above and beyond for her students and had made such a huge impact on my son. It takes a very special person to teach with such love and empathy. Thank you for all that you do.”  – Sherry E.

“I would like to take this opportunity to give Mr. Lance Morgan, of Traverse City High School, the appreciation and accolades that he deserves for doing not only "his job", but for going above and beyond his job title of principal. The amount of care and concern that he places on each and every one of his students has absolutely blown my mind. From Thanksgiving Dinner for the students, knowing that it may be the only one they get, to piling on Christmas gifts, individually chosen, for each and every child....beyond what most will ever get at home.  Family picnics and barbecue luncheons...I cannot think of one school employee that has ever impressed me the way this man does! If there is such a thing as the principal of the year award, he definitely deserves the title! Thank you Mr. Morgan for everything you do!!” – Kristine M.

“This fall, we found ourselves as parents entering kindergarten with our first child. I recognize this is an emotional and trying time for all families, but our daughter seemed to have an exceptionally tough time with the transition. We made significant efforts to remain enthusiastic and affirming at home, but felt ill-equipped in knowing how to help her acclimate at school. Thankfully, at Eastern Elementary School, she was in very kind and capable hands! Ms. Ruskowski graciously joined her for a walk and breakfast the first few mornings to calm her nerves. Not a bad way to get to know your new principal! While juggling the many needs of 25 other newbies, her teacher, Jackie Stremlow found special ways to connect with my daughter and helped ease her into the routine that she so LOVEs today!  We are grateful for Ms. Stremlow's warmth and patience as she has taught our daughter so much this year- not simply to read and write (which are vital, too!), but confidence in herself and a desire to learn. I know we'll always remember her success story, and I have a feeling we'll always love Dr. Seuss, too. Thank you, Ms. Stremlow!”  –Becky R.

Shelagh Fehrenbach has done amazing things for our daughter. She moved to Westwoods Elementary School from Interlochen in 3rd grade and that transition was very smooth and she has come out of her shell more each year. She is in 5th grade this year and is in Shelagh's blend. Shelagh does such an amazing job of nurturing the whole child and really allowing the students to take on leadership and guide things in class. The excitement and love of learning that she grows in her students is palpable. She has been the perfect fit for our girl. She has nurtured our shy girl to come out of her shell even more and has increased her confidence and she has shown through her conversations with us that she really knows and understands our daughter. On top of being amazing for our family, Shelagh goes above and beyond for the school. She attends most PTO meetings and is always willing to help out with anything the PTO asks of her. Thank you, Shelagh!” – Stefanie B.

Mrs. Gosney (Willow Hill Elementary): What an amazing Kindergarten teacher! She got married, had a baby, and never skipped a beat in the education of our son. She not only helped our son acclimate to a school setting, but also helped us as the nervous parents of our one and only. She also took extra care to make sure our son was on the right path in reading even a year later.  Thank you Mrs. Gosney!” – Torre B.

“I'd like to say THANK YOU so much to Kristen Nolan (Traverse City West Senior High School)!!!! She has helped us at Off-Campus sooooooo Much!!! She always goes above and beyond for the kids with a positive attitude!! I really appreciate all the help she has provided during this time.” — Malissa G.

“We had an amazing experience with Sarah Marek as a teacher at Eastern Elementary.  She was so kind and patient with the kids and helped them learn so much while realizing they are kids and school has so much more to teach than academics. Thank you Mrs. Marek!” – Sarah G.

“Jason Carmien and Joe Esper (Traverse City West Senior High School):  Many thanks for your professionalism and compassion during a very difficult time for our varsity girls' basketball players. This was a season many would wish to forget, but your guidance and leadership helped to offer the players life skills and resilience to move forward in a sport they love. They will be better and stronger - not only because of Coach Wilde and all he left them, but also because you both provided much needed support. Coach Doug Baumann and Coach Amy:  Thank you, thank you, thank you - for agreeing to coach varsity girls' basketball at West Senior High. You have all of our support - players and parents!!” – Cathy M.

“I want to let you know how important all of you are to me and my daughter. This year she has had the pleasure of being in Ms. Kroupa's class (Courtade Elementary School). Kathy has helped my daughter in so many ways and has gone above and beyond helping her with not only educational challenges but also how to handle her high levels of anxiety in class. Kathy has always set aside time to meet with me whenever I have had concerns. I know this is not an easy task when doing this for all students in her class and also having to attend so many mandatory meetings that the state has forced upon all of our educational work staff.” –Laurie B.

“Both my children attend Westwoods. We have been very lucky with amazing teachers each year. It hasn't changed a bit since I've been there! The Westwoods staff in general is awesome. This year we have Mrs. Lauters for our daughter’s kindergarten teacher. When my daughter first started school she recognized ONE letter (this is also her first year of anything, she never had day care or preschool) barely got through the alphabet and really didn’t have that urge to learn. Mrs. Lauters is amazing! Our kindergartener is now reading, writing, and doing math problems. Her teacher went above and beyond not only is she teaching these children but she loves what she does and you can just see her compassion. She made a basket for our daughter to help get her on the right track and help her be able to be where she needed to be. I cannot say enough good things about this woman. She is always finding ways to help her learn better and enjoy it in the process! We are so thankful that our daughter has her for her first year. Thank you Mrs. Lauters, keep being amazing. (my daughter also loves the hugs and her encouragement on a daily basis, and now loves to learn and can't get enough reading).” –Ashlee and Ben K.

“Our family moved to TC in October. Moving from the U.P. to the L.P. was a huge transition for all of us. Our daughter was placed at Central Grade School with Ms. Kendall Cox and Ms. Deb Lautner. I think we were all a little nervous about this big change. Kendall and Deb have been so inviting and kind not only to my daughter but to my husband and myself. They care so deeply for all their kid it really helped reassure us that we made the right decision. Our daughter is thriving, loving school, and LOVES everyone at Central Grade!” –Amanda C.

“My daughter attends first grade at Silver Lake Elementary School. Her teacher is Mrs. Sanford. My daughter has had a wonderful year due to Mrs. Sanford's dedication and appreciation of her students and their strengths. She goes above and beyond and is truly a gifted and special teacher. My husband and I are so grateful for Mrs. Sanford and all she has given her students over the course of the year. We feel blessed that our daughter had her as a teacher and we know she is better off because of it. Many thanks to you, Mrs. Sanford. You are the best.” – Eric and Elizabeth C.

Mrs. Topol makes the library and books come alive for the students in an amazingly thoughtful way. From book fairs, to castle building, to activities, to reading month, to guest authors, she always finds ways to create a space for the students to thrive and grow. She is definitely a huge part of the soul of Willow Hill Elementary School.  Thanks Mrs. Topol!” –Torre B.

“Jenny Walter (Westwoods Elementary School) has been very helpful with a few of our PTO things this year. She just took on a huge task of running our last fundraiser of a read-a-thon. She also shows her passion as a teacher each time she presents anything at our PTO meetings. (My children have never had her as a teacher, but as the PTO president we appreciate it when teachers are involved)” – Stefanie B.

“I would like to thank all my son's teachers at Central High School for their dedication and extra efforts last fall when my son had a concussion and could not come to school consistently or for an entire day for a week. All of his teachers checked in on him and showed compassion and understanding during this difficult time. Teaching is about the curriculum, but also about showing the students you care about them as a person. My son and my family felt that all of the teachers went above and beyond to make sure that my son was ok academically, physically and mentally. Big thank you to Paige Paul, Emily Moore, Joel Dorgan, Lisa Johnson, Theresa Hunt, and Doug Gle at Central High School. Also, big thank you to Amy Ream, the trainer at CHS, for all of her extra time and hard work to make sure my son was safe to play again.” – Stacey R.

“I just want to give a huge thank you and a show of appreciation for the staff at Traverse Heights. You have gone above and beyond to help this foster mom and her "child" to adjust, support, and help when needed. A special thanks to Heidi Kay, Sue Chapman, Mandy (Ford) and Sam (Zanoni), and Ms. Nelson. You all rock!!!!”–Karen B.

“I would like to thank the entire Eastern Elementary staff for working so diligently to make the recent transition from Eastern to the new temporary home at Betha Vos school so smooth for our students. Moving an entire school is a gigantic undertaking. The staff made it appear seamless. Kudos to you all. Our family is truly blessed to have such an outstanding ‘school family’.” –Anne S.

“We could not be happier with our daughter's experiences at WSH. She talks about her teachers more like they are close family friends. Erich Wangeman, Tak Ready, Maria Chargo, Darren Frechette, Marek Ulicny, and Kelly Rintala teach the curriculum, but they go above and beyond and are more like mentors. They really get to know her, respect her thoughts, challenge her, and she knows they are giving her all they can to help her achieve her goals. What more can a parent ask for than to have your child LOVE school? We thoroughly enjoy the dinner conversations about what happens in each of your classes...the meeting Jimmy Carter story, cat dissection descriptions, using her math skills to tutor other students, Senate responsibilities and fun, the gleam in her eye about singing the selections from Hair because you felt this was the choir to do it, her LOVE of essay writing and the challenging, thought provoking topics given to her. This is all because of you and we thank you for that. We also cannot forget our extreme gratefulness for her neighborhood office leadership in Principal Dan Oberski and Administrative Assistant Mindy Wilkening. You are two very special people and your kindness and support through the years will never be forgotten. Go Titans!!!”  Karyn & Bob H. 

"Ms. Kathy Nester-Pohlman at Long Lake Elementary is our daughter’s preschool teacher. She has been so supportive, thoughtful and creative throughout this entire year. As parents, this is our first child going into preschool and it was very scary to send your little girl to a big school with all these people and things she didn't know, but Ms. Kathy made sure she felt safe. Ms. Kathy makes sure all her students feel safe, confident and have a lot of fun along the way. She is amazing and our daughter loves her!  We want to thank Ms. Kathy for her patience day to day and helping our daughter learn and grow. The stories she has told us, her thoughtful words and her communication throughout the year with us has been truly fantastic. We will never forget the parent teacher conference where Ms. Kathy told us about our daughter writing her name for the first time and how excited our daughter was. Beyond our daughter’s excitement though, was the fact that the very first person our daughter wanted to share her excitement with was Ms. Kathy. It is such a touching moment to know a teacher like her can make such a huge difference in our child's life. Memories like this will last a lifetime. We are forever grateful our daughter has been able to have Ms. Kathy as her very first teacher."  –Chris & Marissa M.

My "Thank You". On behalf of the Westwoods Elementary School community, I would like to publicly thank Jenny Walter for her unwavering support to our children and school community, as a whole. I have had the privilege of working with Jenny for four consecutive years, as the teacher of one of my kindergarten or 1st grade children.  I have always felt that she puts the best interest of all her kids first. It is always a pleasure to sit at a conference with her. As a parent, it is so reassuring to have a teacher that "gets" your kid... and to know that she really "gets" them all, as different as they are. I see her at work in the classroom catering flawlessly to every young child's educational needs, barriers and goals- whether it is academically, emotional or physical. She has always responded professionally and fast to any of my concerns-often, as many teachers do-this takes place on her personal time too. She is so creative with resources and is an advocate for our children at Westwoods. She has given so much personal time and energy raising extra funds for our school. So many children have and will benefit from her undying support for literacy! Over the last four years of being one of her classroom parents-she has raised "extra" funds through Donor Choose projects, Evening of Art at Black Star Farms, Incredible MO's Family night and most recently Whoosreading read-a-thon. She has done this all while raising her own two little children, with a husband that works nights and is currently in Nursing School. I personally know how hard those roles alone can be. I've mentioned many things that I am forever grateful for Jenny for. However, I am most thankful for her classroom motto that she, not only instills in all of her children- but also lives by herself... "Always Choose To Be Kind." She has so many teaching accomplishments, but this is truly, one of her greatest. As evidence of all the thankful parents in her classroom this year- on her birthday all the kids wore a t-shirt with her favorite saying "Choose to be kind." She tirelessly gives to our school community and is helping raise good humans. No matter what personal struggles or difficulties she has going on- I've never seen her anything but enthusiastic and smiling- every morning. It means so much to me as a parent- to know- my child will no doubt be greeted with a smiling, kind face, enthusiasm for learning and an expectation to be kind. Thank you for all you do Jenny Walter!” – Miguel S.

“Our daughter is in Mrs. McGrew’s (Central Grade School) 4th/5th-grade class. When we first learned that she would be in a split class, we had some concerns but decided that we would move forward with it and see how it went. We are certainly jubilant that we didn’t question the choice and allowed our daughter to remain in the class. There are several reasons, but the number one is that we believe Mrs. McGrew’s method of teaching impacted our daughter’s growth this year. In other words, this year we have seen her grow and blossom extensively in her reading and writing. We contribute it not only to what we do at home as her parents but the guidance and direction she receives from her teacher at the school. Mrs. McGrew reminds me much of my kindergarten teacher when I was young, very kind when the student is following directions and listening, but also stern and holds the child accountable if not. This method of teaching is very much appreciated and certainly valuable in young children’s lives. My daughter holds much respect for Mrs. McGrew as do we. She exhibits a high ethical standard in her classroom, and it certainly comes across to her students. I can only hope that my daughter's future teachers will display as much love, compassion, accountability, and enthusiasm to teach as Mrs. McGrew.” – Aimee B.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


Inspiring Student Learning

“For the past 12 years, I have always know that I work with a wonderful staff. But, more so than ever, I have to acknowledge the incredible staff at Westwoods this year. Last summer I was diagnosed with cancer and this school year meant I had to be out for several months due to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Westwoods staff rallied around me and took care of me, my family and my students. T-shirts were made and worn proudly with the logo "No one fights alone" in support of me. They contributed to a fund when they wore them which I used to have my house cleaned during treatment. They made meals for me for almost four months which they also delivered to my family! They sat in on meetings for my students and reported back to me. They were understanding with my own children, who attend Westwoods, as they dealt with their mom being gone and sick. They sent me notes of encouraging words, gifts and gift certificates all to make my life a little better and easier during the most difficult time of my like. I want everyone to know that we are not just an amazing school system but we are an amazing community who takes care of our own. I am proud to be a TCAPS employee and thankful I have the BEST staff to work with every day! I love you WESTWOODS!” –Jennifer J.

“Mrs. Berkshire is amazing. Not only was she my husband's ski coach back in the day, but both of our sons have loved being in her math class. She is witty and kind and knows how to make kids feel confident about themselves. They love her sense of humor and how she can do anything at any moment to keep them on their toes. Thank you, Mrs. Berkshire, for giving our kids an amazing experience in at East Middle School.”  –Chris and Ali S.

“I would like to take the opportunity to recognize an outstanding teacher at Willow HillBarbara Hoffman. Barb has been an important part of Willow Hill and will be greatly missed by the students, parents, and staff as she ventures off into the new chapter of her life. She has been a true hero in my eyes. I see her great respect for her students, parents, and coworker every day. Her clear dedication to this profession stands out with her many hours of time spent at school preparing lessons to meet the needs of every child in her classroom and creating an environment that is safe, productive and fun. My children were blessed with Barb as their second grade teacher, and I personally, have been blessed, with having her in my life as a coworker and friend for the past ten years. She has a heart made of gold and it shows everyday when she interacts with everyone around her. I will miss her warm smile, her calm and friendly mannerisms, and her wonderful sense of humor, and most of all, her kind words of encouragement. I will always remember Barb as one of the best teachers I have ever encountered and I know that when she walks out on that last day, I will be saying goodbye to a great woman that I greatly respect. Good luck, Barb!  You will be greatly missed and your ‘shoes’ will be hard to fill.” –Tricia W.

“We would like to express our appreciation of Mrs. Mandy LaBarre. Mrs. LaBarre is our son's second grade teacher at Eastern Elementary School. Mandy has a very special way of teaching the whole child. She prepares the children in her classroom, not only with a strong academic foundation, but also the very important social and emotional skills needed to navigate life. Each day the class creates a kindness act. These acts are great reminders of ways we can make the world a better place for all. Thank you to Mrs. LaBarre.” –Paul M. and Family

Ms. Richard (Willow Hill Elementary School): One the best things that could have happened to our son was Ms. Richard. She made sure he got on track and stuck with him right to the end to make sure he made it to the appropriate reading level by the end of the school year. Her kindness and structure supported him in a manner that went above and beyond. Thank you Ms. Richard!” – Torre B.

“Laine Kyser (Central Grade School) is a one of those teachers that leaves a lasting impression on her students. She has an amazing way of building a personal relationship with all of her students, even when she has over 30! Our daughter feels that Mrs. Kyser not only cares about her academics but also her social and emotional well-being. Mrs. Kyser went out of her way this year to help our daughter after she had major knee surgery to make her feel safe and cared for when at school. Mrs. Kyser takes a personal interest in her students and welcomes them daily into her classroom with a smile and hug. She inspires them as readers, writers, mathematicians but most of encourages them to be good people. Thank you Mrs. Kyser! –Stephanie & Chris J.

“I just want the staff at Traverse City Central High School to know that my son LOVES his teachers and high school so much, he wants to be a high school science teacher! He “liked” school OK before coming to CHS, but is over the top about school since coming in as a freshman, he is a senior now. He likes to arrive 30-45 EARLY to school every day now that he can drive himself. I would name all his teachers here and now, but I’m afraid I might leave one out and that would be devastating to both of us. He is planning on attending NMU in Marquette next fall with a Major in Physics, minor in Chemistry and an Education Degree. I would like to thank you all, because I know that it “takes a village” to raise a child and you have made a huge difference in this one.” –Kathy S.

“I want to make sure to thank Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Schrotenboer (West Middle School) for their excellent class management and support they give their students. My son says Mrs. Hughes is the best teacher because he can tell she cares about him. She is always willing to communicate with me as a parent and gives her whole heart to her students. Mr. Schrotenboer has proved to challenge my son in a fun atmosphere with his teaching style. My son wasn't a very successful, confident student in math. But after this year under Mr. Schrotenboer, it's his favorite subject. It is definitely the teachers who matter. I cannot thank you two enough! ‘Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning.’" –Amy C.

“Big "THANK YOU's" to be sent out to three amazing upcoming retiring teachers at Willow Hill Elementary...Mrs. Debby Regiani, Miss. Candiss Brewer and Mrs. Barbara Hoffman. These teachers have played a significant role in my children's elementary experience and they will be missed. They are compassionate and so driven to ensure your child's best potential. I've had a flashback recently, as I watch my own daughter that is senior getting ready to graduate from TCWHS. And, she still talks about these teachers today and how they encouraged her to be the best she could be. Wishing you the very best and a very happy long retirement. You deserve it!!” –Anne G.

“I just wanted to say Kirsten Morgan’s (Blair Elementary School) a great caring boss and that I am so glad I got to be part of your amazing team. To see all the work and caring you all do just makes me happy to be part of all of it. You can't stop everything before it happens but you take care of it with so much love and understanding. I wish more families could see how hard you and your staff work to make a day run. I am grateful I get to see it. How you guys make it easy to talk to you and ask for help. Because of your hard work and my son’s amazing team he is doing so well and I just can't thank you enough.”  –Melissa H.

“I would also like to recognize Alicia Archer-Vanderford (Silver Lake Elementary School) for all of her hard work to build a classroom of learners who not only engage with the academics as well as focus on building her students socially, emotionally and behaviorally. My son has really blossomed as a learner and continues to amaze me every day with all that he is able to do independently. I love listening to him read to me in the evenings and to read his stories that come home. She surrounds my son with love and opportunities to continue to grow. Thank you for all that you do for not only my sweet one but all those other kinders who come into your room each day ready for another adventure at school!” – Jackie S.

“My son has been so fortunate to have Katy Simons as his first grade teacher at Central Grade School! She has instilled a passion of literacy in him that has helped him grow immensely as a reader this year. She is extremely kind and fair to her students and treats each one as an individual. I am in awe at the calm and organized atmosphere of her classroom every time I visit. She has definitely created a great learning environment for her students!” –Kim L.

Mrs. Brzezinski (Willow Hill Elementary School): This year has had some up and down emotions and growing pains for our son. I cannot thank Mrs. Brzezinski enough for sticking with us, understanding the uniqueness of each child, and communicating with us so wonderfully. The past month alone, our son is making leaps in his self-direction and I know it has a lot to do with the support of Mrs. Brzezinski. She creates a safe place for her students and they flourish from her enthusiasm and beautifully presented teachings. We are forever grateful Mrs. Brzezinski!” – Torre B.

“My oldest son is now in Mrs. Carpenter's class at Silver Lake Elementary School. He is the type of kid who can be stubborn and hardheaded when he's unsure or doesn't want to do something. But Mrs. Carpenter has been amazing at grooming that to be confidence in his answers and abilities, instead of unsure, embarrassment. She's found a way to make him love the parts of school he really doesn't want to and he enjoys her classroom very much! I am very thankful that my son found someone who can get through to him in a special way!” - Hillary B.

“Two SUPER staff persons come to mind, Mrs. Serby and Mrs. Stepka both in the Special Ed field at Traverse City West Senior High School. My grandson, a 5th year student, is grinding his way to a diploma but without these two exceptional teachers to light a 'fire' under his feet on an almost daily basis, I would doubt that grandson would graduate by the time he is 20 years old! These two teachers understand his personality and they truly like him even when they have to push him forward to the goal of a high school diploma. My grandson and his family really appreciate and respect these two dedicated professional educators and all the extra that they give of themselves every day. Thanks ladies for being there for this family.”   – Barbara W.

“We would like to thank Barb Corbett at Cherry Knoll.  Our son Thomas moved to CK from a very close community at ISBV, and his transition couldn't have gone any better. Mrs. Corbett has sparked his interest in reading, supported his social and emotional development, and continued his love of learning with his new school family. She shows everyday how much she really cares for her students.” –David and Alicia R.

“Ms. Barb Hoffman (Willow Hill Elementary School) has been an incredible teacher for my curious 2nd grader! She challenges her students to think more deeply and to develop a love of learning. Her gentle manner meets embraces students where they are and provides a safe and loving environment where all students can grow and thrive. I am forever thankful the loving care she has poured into my child.”  – Erin J.

“I would like to thank Mrs. Ivester (Traverse Heights Elementary School) for all her hard work. Thank you so much! My child has grown a lot the last year!” –Erin O.

“I just have to say we are so thankful we have Mrs. Cronk (Long Lake Elementary School) as our son’s kindergarten teacher for the last half of the school year. She is a great teacher in our opinion and is working hard to get the class up to speed! She communicates with us as parents and keeps us informed of areas to work on and what areas he is excelling. It is evident to me she cares about the students, their successes, and the struggles.” – Heather L.

“Huge thank you to Mrs. Dorgan at Cherry Knoll Elementary School! She is so very patient and kind to her students! Her passion for teaching has ignited a love for school in my kindergartener! I'm so grateful he is having a great experience for his first year of school as this will no doubt shape how he views education in the future. He already talking about missing Mrs. Dorgan!!!” –Alicia M.

“Diane Dillon (Courtade Elementary School) -You, my dear, are amazing. There aren't enough thank yous in the world for you. We just love you! My kids love you! Oh, I am going to miss you all so much!” –Lauren T.

Paige Paul at Traverse City Central High School is amazing! She is a great teacher who has opened students’ eyes to the substance and nuance of our system of government. She’s also given her limited free time to help support Students for Environmental Advocacy, a new student club. Even though she has a young child of her own (and she is an amazing Mom!), she is willing to work to inspire, mentor and guide these young adults. We are lucky to have her!”  –Woody S.

“I want to thank Mr. Blake Pynnonen for making a hard subject exciting for my daughter. When a child gets excited to talk about their teacher and math combined that is awesome. This is such a big deal as my daughter started at Willow Hill mid school year from another district. I appreciate his support and encouragement since she started here.”—Laura G.

“To the Third Grade Staff at Central Grade School; Steve Balcom, Sara Bageris, Stephanie Jackson and Heather VanStratt. This team worked together to create a third grade that met all the needs of their students. Their outside of the box thinking with "mixed up math" and "mixed up reading" days provided students to work on skills they needed. Whether they were pushing students to think deeper or providing review for students this team opened their classrooms to all abilities. We are so thankful our child had a chance to have all these teachers at some point in his year.” –Chris and Michelle C.

“Mrs. Brenda Meindertsma (Traverse City Central High School) taught both of my children freshman year and it was a favorite, kept them reading and writing with enthusiasm and I still share book lists with her! She inspires and infuses passion for learning into the students... their freshman year!!! Perfect way to start off study habits to reach their developing hopes and dreams!” – Amy R.

“Thank you Cathy Rossan (Courtade Elementary School) for keeping my son on lock down this year...LOL we ALL know how difficult that was and I hope this "story" makes you smile for years to come, Cathy. He was a pistol. We did it though! Through your experience and knowledge, you accomplished what I once thought was impossible - our boy has become so independent this year and has grown mentally so much! Thank you, Cathy and Mrs. Pietek and anyone else who has worked one on one with my son on his good days and not so good days. It means so much to me!” – Lauren T.

“My son is at Central Grade School in pre-k and his amazing teacher is Mrs. Walton, she has helped him with his letters and writing his name, we just appreciate everything that she does.” –Jann C.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Safe and welcoming schools

“My family would like to thank the staff at Cherry Knoll.  My two girls, 1st grade and preschool, are in their second year at Cherry Knoll. Every time I walk through the doors, whether it be to pick up or drop off my girls at extended care or at pick up time at the end of the day, the staff is always positive and greets me with a smile on their face and often by first name. The smiles on the staff and positive atmosphere in the school help me feel confident my children are having fun, safe and learning. Thank you everyone at Cherry Knoll for all you have done and continue to do, we greatly appreciate each and every one of you.” –Pete & Julie C.

“Countless hours and gratitude goes out to our Custodial/Maintenance organization. Every day they go in to do their work to ensure that our schools look immaculate to visitors, staff and students. It's not an easy job and we appreciate all that you do to make everything look so beautiful. THANK YOU!!!!” – Anne G.

“My son transferred this school year to Central Grade School, it was a last minute decision the week before school started. When we attended the open house we met Mrs. Olvey and my son met her as well. He happens to have Down Syndrome. Needless to say, Erika Olvey welcomed him to her class with open arms. She embraces the challenges that he faces and he has THRIVED in her classroom. But what we've really noticed this year is how his classmates treat him. Never before had he been invited to a birthday party or a play date. But the children in Mrs. Olvey's class treat him like they would treat any other student. He is respected, encouraged and loved. These children have learned what inclusion is by a teacher who doesn't give it a second thought. All children should be so fortunate to have a teacher like Erika Olvey, our family could not be more grateful for the wonderful school year we've had so far.” –Carly C.

“As a new family to the area this school year I first wanted to thank the whole staff at West Middle School! I was so impressed with new student orientation last year. It eased the mind of my concerned student who was moving to a new area and school with a lot of worry (we'd lived in Indiana his whole school life). My son, going into 6th grade met his first WMS friend at that orientation and felt very loved by the staff who took the time to invest in his transition - so THANK YOU! Miss Perthes, especially thank you for your leadership that day!” – Amy C.

“I'd personally like to thank Jean DuCheney (Courtade Elementary School). She may not know it, but she's been a great support for our family! What an asset she is! Her heart is always in the right place. It shows. She is the first person I had met upon entering Courtade those years ago. Thank you, Jean, for all of your heart.” – Lauren T.

“We would like to thank Shauna Phillips (Cherry Knoll Elementary School) for opening not only her classroom but her heart to our son. Having to transfer preschool programs made us feel very nervous and as parents we worry so much, yet she made us feel welcome and took our son into the class with open arms. Ms. Shauna has taken the time to see our son for who he is and will assist him and support his growth. Thank you Ms. Shauna for all the care and patience who have provided our son and his classmates!” – Michelle R.

“My son attends Eastern Elementary School. He is severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. The staff at Eastern helps my son stay safe and feel safe with a nut-free classroom, nut-free lunch table, hand-washing, table washing and lots of love and support. We are so grateful to all of them!  Thank you!” – Debbie D.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Westwoods Elementary School Staff in honor of my family. We moved to Traverse City and selected the Westwoods neighborhood as our home school because we knew our children would receive an excellent education. Our expectations have been met and we couldn't be more pleased with the education our son has received. We look forward to our daughter attending in a few years. Mr. Kramer gave our son a love of reading and instilled core basic values regarding school that will stick with him forever. He is a wonderful male role model. Mrs. McNitt has further helped develop our son's passion for learning and has given him valuable tools to forward his understanding of the foundations of math, reading and writing. The entire school staff works together to make everyone feel welcome and heard. Thank you to the custodians, office staff, teachers, assistants, paraprofessionals, ancillary staff, parent volunteers, and everyone else - I am grateful and deeply satisfied with entrusting my children to you. Thank you for all you do.” - Natalie O. and Family

“My son is currently in Ms. Conway's (aka Ms Michelle) (Silver Lake Elementary School), we have been lucky enough to have our older son go through her class as well. Michelle and Tiffany are truly blessings to the TCAPS family! They've been amazing and welcoming to us as parents who aren't ready to let their BIG boys go, and have always been great about our family situation-when mom and step dad were transferred for work downstate for a year, Michelle was great about keeping me in the loop! We've never had an issues about the family make up (having 3 involved parents!) and it's been amazing to see our boys come out of their shells in their classroom. I credit Michelle and Tiffany with both my kids’ love of school time and their confidence and kindness there as well! We are so lucky they are there! With a little one on the way we hope they are still at Silver Lake when she's ready for school!!” Hillary B.

“My daughters have two different teachers at Cherry Knoll Elementary School. And they both have the sweetest things to say about their teachers. The oldest is in kindergarten with Mrs. Dorgan. She tells me how special her teacher makes her and the rest of her classmates feel every day. She loves that she is always singing to the class and helping students if they are having a hard day. I, as her mother, second that! Mrs. Dorgan has helped my daughter grow leaps and bounds. She started the school year off as a timid and shy little girl. We have seen a world of difference in her while around her peers. She speaks up and has gained confidence in reading and math. Mrs. Dorgan truly cares for her students and puts her heart and soul into teaching kindergarten. She is always coming up with new ideas to make the classroom better. She isn't scared to ask parents for help and I love being involved with the class as much as I'm allowed. We are blessed to have her! Ms. Varnum and Mrs. Carolyn have also helped my younger daughter grow exponentially this year. She started preschool with a lack of social and emotional skills. With Ms. Varnum and Mrs. Carolyn's help and support we have seen her grow more than we ever thought possible. And she has learned to spell and write her name along with numbers. The secretaries, Amy and Laurie are beyond amazing and understanding and supportive. We are ridiculously blessed to have such great staff at Cherry Knoll supporting our children and parents. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!” – Michelle K.

“We would like to take a moment to recognize Mr. Mead, the PE Teacher at Long Lake Elementary School, for his actions very early in the year. We are new to TCAPS this year, and the first set of parent-teacher conferences indicated we could also consult with the specials teachers if we wanted. Our daughter has asthma that is controlled with at-home medication, but when it flares or she gets sick, it can sometimes impact her physical performance. We were a little early for our 3rd grade conference, and our daughter also just happened to have a cold at this time. We ran into Mr. Mead in the hall, so we stopped to ask if he had noticed anything different or had any concerns about her PE performance. Thinking back, I believe he might have been on his way out the door for the night, but he very graciously took the time to speak with us and reassure us that he did not see anything that concerned him. He was also incredibly knowledgeable about asthma and its effects on kids, and that greatly eased our concerns. We have not seen a PE teacher at other schools with as much physical or medical knowledge as he seemed to have, so we would like to recognize him for that as well as thank him for taking the time to speak to us on a very busy evening. Thank you!” – Laura A.

“I would like to take a moment to say thank you to a super nova among a truly super-star staff at Central Grade School, Stephanie Jackson. Stephanie has taught both of our sons. She is the most overtly caring person, yet she maintains a tight ship in the classroom!  Stephanie’s almost daily communication with parents is exceptional.  And her love of reading is infectious!  She recognizes the potential in every one of her students and works very hard to provide the right level of instruction to every child.  For example, she collaborated with other teachers to break the third grade students into work groups tailored to meet their needs. Thank you, Stephanie!” –Jim S.

“I would like to recognize Kristin Sulecki at Silver Lake Elementary School for all of the love she has given my son this year during his first year of kindergarten. He was very nervous to start school away from all of his preschool friends whom he had known for years. She involved him in her "Peace Kids" program which helped small bodies deal with big feelings. He has grown so confident this year and has been able to develop great coping skills. He loves this group time so much that one day when he was home sick, he asked if I could just take him for peace kids and then back home to rest. A big thank you to Kristin for helping my son adjust to a new building, new friends and big feelings.”  –Jackie S.

“Our family would like to thank Jennifer Johnson, K/1 looping teacher at Westwoods Elementary School. Our daughter has had the privilege of being in Jennifer Johnson's K/1 looping classroom. Jennifer has a true passion for teaching and makes learning exciting. She makes connections with her students, creating a safe and positive school climate. Jennifer encourages students to reach their highest learning potential and differentiates instruction to fit the needs of each student. She has helped build a solid foundation for our daughter's school career. We are so thankful for Jennifer and feel blessed that our daughter could learn from such an outstanding TCAPS teacher.” – Alison L.

“My daughter has had a little bit of a rough time in her one and a half years at Eastern Elementary School. The wonderful people that fill her day have had a HUGE impact on her. I can see the changes in her both socially and academically. As a single parent, I am forever grateful for each and every kind thing that has been bestowed upon her (and me!). Mrs. Radakovich is so kind as to invite my daughter to spend time with her family outside of school, Mr. Stremlow graciously puts up with her “messes”, Mrs. Jenkins shares her lovely daughter with mine. Mrs. Allen makes us laugh at extended day. I could go on and on. We will never forget each and every kindness. THANK YOU for being such wonderful, kind, giving people.” – Amy R.

“On behalf of the Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center, I would like to thank ALL TCAPS Staff and Administration for their dedication to protecting children in our community. TCAPS' commitment to providing child sexual abuse prevention education to all staff through our Darkness to Light training program is truly admirable. We take great comfort and pride in knowing that all those who care for TCAPS students are equipped with the facts, tools, and resources necessary to protect children. Through this partnership, we are creating communities where children are safe from child sexual abuse and have every opportunity to live happy, healthy lives. Thank you for speaking up to end child sexual abuse in our region!” – Hannah Rodriguez

“Mrs. Forton and Mrs. Phend (Willow Hill Elementary School): It is totally acknowledged that this dynamic duo cannot be deterred. From the smiles they provide when you walk in the door, to the never ending stream of temperature readings, to the frustrated parents, to the never ending phone calls, to the bloodied playground "ouchies"- there is nothing these two haven't had to do for the students. They handle their jobs professionally and they handle the students and families with incredible, nurturing kindness. Thank you Mrs. Forton and Mrs. Phend!” – Torre B.

“Mrs. Swan, 5th grade teacher at Westwoods Elementary School, has been a wonderfully supportive, thoughtful, creative, and engaging teacher. She's been a constant source of support both to Westwoods and our son's classroom. We are thankful for all that she does, each day, to bring smiles to the students and learning to the community.” – Emily U.

“We have felt so welcome at Long Lake Elementary School this year; all the staff have been so kind, especially our daughter’s teacher Mrs. Gorenflo, and we are very glad that we switched to TCAPS! Thank you.” – Laura A.

“Sara Bageris, a third grade teacher at Central Grade School, is a wonderful person and an amazing teacher. She treats each of her students as individuals and it is obvious that they are all special to her. She is always understanding and patient with our son, even when he is a bit challenging. She exudes patience and always handles trying situations with a sense of humor! Our children have been very lucky to have her in their lives!” – Kim L.

“Just thought I would share this poem my daughter, a 5th grade student at Westwoods Elementary School, wrote about her TCAPS bus driver, Mr. Joe Tannis. This is her first year having Mr. Joe as a bus driver and she truly enjoys his friendly personality and sincere concern for the students’ well-being. The bus can be an overwhelming experience for kids. As my daughter demonstrates in her poem, there are lots of sensory emotions evoked on the bus...not all necessarily good. But as a parent, my mind is at ease every morning when I wave to Mr. Joe knowing that Hannah is in good hands. Thanks Mr. Joe for starting so many TCAPS students and parents days with a smile! We appreciate you!”

The School Bus by Hannah W.

Dirty floors
dirty, dusty walls
dirty yellow bus.

Yellow like a banana,
stinky as a stink bug.

The bus where kids come
out of their good shell
and are mean, naughty
and extremely loud.

But I like the bus where
smiling Mr. Joe is each
morning and afternoon.

“My daughter attends preschool 3 days a week at Silver Lake Elementary SchoolMichele Conway and Tiffany Bright have made our first year at a TCAPS school a great experience. I can only hope my daughter will have other teachers as amazing as them. My daughter has life threatening food allergies. Ms. Michele and Ms. Tiffany do everything they can to keep her safe and included in all classroom activities. Ms. Michele does the best job of communicating with me about my daughter and her allergies. I feel completely comfortable with speaking to her about anything. I don't know how they do it. They both have a positive attitude day after day and make me feel like they care about my child and my family. Thank you to all the teachers!!!!” –Angie M.

Monday, May 1, 2017

I want to take this time to say “thank you” on behalf of the Board of Education, myself, and the entire school system for all of the work you do. As you may know, the Board has designated this week as Staff Appreciation Week. One of the ways we celebrate this week is by sharing messages of appreciation from students, families, colleagues, and community members.

Throughout the week we will be sharing these messages, but before we do, here is my personal message of appreciation for each of you. Please enjoy and thank you for all that you do! - Paul Soma


Creating lasting impressions

“My daughter is in Mrs. Oleson's first grade classroom (Central Grade School). She wrote this note to share with her. Thanks!!  ‘Mrs. Oleson made a difference in my life by teaching me strategies that I use when I don't know an answer. This helped me a lot in school. Her hugs make me feel really good and if I have a hard day, she gives me a hug and makes me feel really special. I love Mrs. Oleson and I am so glad she is my teacher.  She makes us all feel important and smart.’” - Meghan B.

Tak Ready (Traverse City West Senior High School): I'm just graduating college and there aren't a whole lot of memories I still have in high school. One vivid memory however is the speech Mr. Ready gave us on the last day of AP gov. He emphasized the value of strong character, community involvement and civic participation and how those traits outlast our academic knowledge. I know many students have benefited from his wisdom (and his engaging AP gov class).” – Former TC West student

“I really value the way Kathy Radakovich at Eastern Elementary School treats each student as an individual and celebrates EVERY success with them- whether it's in the classroom, at home or in some other avenue of their lives. Mrs. Radakovich has my daughter begging for school all summer long. You can tell Mrs. R has a passion and a love for these kids which is setting them on a great and successful path!” – Sarah G.

“My daughter transitioned from the TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis to West Middle School last fall. Every day I hear how amazing Mrs. Medler is, how inspiring she is and how cool the Science that she taught today was. My daughter would like to be in more of Mrs. Medler's classes and is sad that the year is coming to an end. Thank you Mrs. Medler from the bottom of my heart for inspiring my daughter, for challenging her and for being an amazing role model!” – Liz Y.

Mrs. Wiliford, Westwoods Elementary School music teacher, has been one of our son's favorite teachers ever since kindergarten. He loves music because of what she has instilled in him! What a special gift that is to give a child the love of music. Thank you for a wonderful K-5 experience, Mrs. Wiliford! We will miss you next year!” – Emily U.

Ms. Rowney (Courtade Elementary School) has been able to help our daughter excel in math by teaching several different ways to learn the material and I think this is an exceptional strategy on her part. Alicia is always willing to set aside time to help Adel in areas she is struggling to comprehend and this deserves special recognition in itself. I love it when Adel comes home and is eager to show me how she can work new math problems well.” – Laurie B.

“Shout out to Miss Brewer (Willow Hill Elementary School)! Thank you for inspiring so many lives over the years! You are a brilliant woman that has a heart and white! Thank you for teaching me, and our future! You will be greatly missed.” – Andrea H.

Mr. Wangeman (Traverse City West Senior High School), great men are not born they are nurtured, not just by parents, because let's face it they're at school more hours in the day then at home. So, they are nurtured by teachers! Because of you our son is not only a better student but a better person. Your words are the catalyst to his dreams. Thank you for lighting the spark, we are thankful our son chose west and along with that choice we got you! Your love and patience will never be forgotten-no one ever forgets the mentorship of a teacher/ friend like you. When the world sees our son succeed they will see his Erich Wangeman in him. Thank you for helping us shape the future of not just our son but the next generation. We brought him into the world but you taught him about it. To most West kids you are a teacher but to us you are a HERO. Thank you for instilling in our son the love of learning and a passion for greatness! It wasn't in your job description but you did it unselfishly. I've said this to you over and over the last 4 years - leadership is hard work - but you continue guiding generations you touch gracefully and passionately - you've been an inspiration not just to the kids but to me as well. We will be forever grateful.” – Joelle M. and family

“I wanted to write to express my appreciation to staff members at Willow Hill Elementary School. My son attends third grade there. It is our first year as a TCAPS family, and my husband and I believe we made the right choice to transferring our son to Willow Hill. First, our gratitude to his teacher, Mrs. Jana DuGuay. She has challenged him and encouraged him to do better and to apply himself. Next, thank you to Ms. Jacqueline Glikman, school social worker, for helping my son become acclimated to his new school. Also, thanks go out to Mrs. Laura Kirby and the staff at Willow Hill's extended care program. Thanks for all you do to provide a safe, fun place for the kids to spend time at before and after school.” –Kris V.

“I would like to thank Marcie King (Traverse City Central High School) for making chemistry so interesting and fun that my son was inspired to major in chemistry in college and my daughter is strongly considering chemistry as a career as well!” – Elizabeth S.

Mr. Goodwin (Courtade Elementary School) -Thank you! You know why, Sir. You are our daughter's favorite. I know you have left a FOREVER impression on her. Thank you, David!” – Lauren T.

Maria Chargo (Traverse City West Senior High School): This past year, I've thought a lot about the skills of perseverance, critical thinking and self-advocacy that I learned from Ms. Chargo and BC calc. I'm now a math teacher myself and wanting to teach those same lessons to my students. Ms. Chargo has a knack for coaching students along through difficult coursework and making what first seems impossible accessible. She's a wonderful person and one reason I wanted to become an educator myself!” – Former TC West student

“I would like to send a note of appreciation to Mrs. Lauters at Westwoods Elementary School. She is a kindergarten teacher and has made a tremendous impact on my son. My son had a difficult time transitioning from a preschool where he had known his classmates from the time they were babies until they finished preschool to kindergarten where he did not know anyone. There were many tears shed by him and us the first few weeks of kindergarten as we were not use to seeing him struggle. Mrs. Lauters was our saving grace. She knew what to say to him and to us to. She somehow knew exactly how to talk to him and interact with him with such love and attention. It would make my day to get her random emails middle of the day to tell me how well my son was doing that day. It was only a few weeks and he felt completely comfortable as a kindergartner. She has continued to impress us throughout the school year. Our son absolutely loves Mrs. Lauters and it has been fun to watch him grow through both challenging and fun times. Thank you Mrs. Lauters for your kindness, hard work, and your love for teaching!” – Kelley and Steve N.

“Ms. Debby Regiani (Willow Hill Elementary School) has worked tirelessly for TCAPS and the students within. I have personally witnessed how she has dedicated incredible time and effort into each and every student. Our students have benefited from her dedication and love each and every year. I am thankful they have had such an incredible advocate and educator working for them for 30+ years!” – Erin J.

Staff Appreciation Week 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

It’s Day 1 of Staff Appreciation Week! To celebrate, we are sharing videos of why people within our school community think TCAPS staff are the best!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

It’s Day 2 of Staff Appreciation Week! Watch today’s video to hear a some pretty persuasive reasons that our students think TCAPS staff are the best!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It’s Day 3 of Staff Appreciation Week! Here is the third installment of our week-long video tribute that shares what our students and teachers love most about TCAPS staff!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

It’s Day 4 of Staff Appreciation Week! We have some of the BEST teachers and staff. But don’t just take our word for it. Listen to what our students have to say.


Staff Appreciation Week 2015

May 4-8, 2015

Throughout the week, we will be sharing the many stories TCAPS families have shared about our staff and how they are making a difference in the lives of students. If you have a story you would like to share, please send it to:

Friday, May 8, 2015

A profession with a purpose

On the last day of TCAPS staff appreciation week, we honor every person on our team who has committed themselves to a profession with a purpose. As the saying goes, “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.” We are so thankful that you chose to work on behalf of our region’s youth. You make our community proud!

Some comments from Old Mission Peninsula School 5th grade students when teacher, Tricia Schneider, was giving a new family a tour…

“When you are like the leaders, everybody looks up to you” – Lauren

“What I like about 5th grade is that you get to do lots of fun projects and fun challenges” – Colton

“What I love is that the whole school comes to our graduation and looks up to us and thinking of what we have done for Old Mission and being role models” – Ryan

“I love the amazing teacher!” – Emma

“I love being able to work on google docs for Science” – Mallory

“I love our principal and teacher” – Abby

“I love doing Science in 5th grade, I have so much fun with Ms. Schneider and she is the best teacher” – Luke

“I love our teacher” – Sophie

“I love all the jobs and friends we have” – Parker

“I love how everyone is like a family” – Emma M.

“I love 5th grade because I like doing Science and learning new stuff, and I like our teacher” – Billy

“One thing that I like about 5th grade is that it is so much fun I enjoy every day of 5th grade” – Lauren

“Everything I’ve done in 5th grade with our teacher has made me feel so much stronger” – Gloria

“I love all the opportunities we get like little buddies! I am so thankful that we get all of this and I love Science! – Abby

“I love 5th grade because….little buddies, fun field trips, being the role models, and an AWESOME teacher!” – Samantha

“What I love about 5th grade is that I get to have a lot of opportunities and I get to hang out with my friends and my teacher.” – Gabby

“Thanking a single member of the Cherry Knoll staff would be missing the others that have helped every day. I have two children and they both started in the Cherry Knoll preschool program. This year our youngest will leave elementary school. From the moment we stepped into Cherry Knoll we’ve been treated with warmth, welcomed, assisted, encouraged, and helped to understand our child’s particular needs, and educational style. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times every member of the CK staff has helped us in one way or another. Being able to volunteer in the school I watch the teachers and staff deal with children – in what I can only liken to trying to ‘herd cats.’ I don’t know how they do it and am amazed at the results. I’ve been at school when it seemed like everything was going wrong and yet the staff kept helping the children, working through the crazy moment, all the while keeping a sense of humor. It has been our very great pleasure to share so many memories with so many wonderful people. When our son leaves that last day I know the tear’s that fall will in part be for the loss of our leaving such a wonderful staff.” – Cheryl O. Cherry Knoll Elementary

“Thank you to all the staff at Eastern Elementary. Nancy Korbel who is retiring this year…..outstanding service to all of our kids. Also Thank you to Karen Smith, 3rd grade teacher who helped my grandson, Braden Anslow to excel.” – Kathy A., Eastern Elementary School parent

“We are so lucky for the amazing staff at Westwoods Elementary School. Mrs. Houghton, Mrs. Heitsch and Kubesh, all extended day staff, Mrs. Walter, Mrs. Connie and Ms. Faulkner are all the best. The Beers family loves our Westwoods family!” – Beers family

Mrs. Linda (Gilson) helped our son work through one of his biggest transitions so far in his life: starting school. At just under two years old, he was one of the youngest members of his toddler class. And it was his first time surrounded by several other kiddos and teachers on a regular basis. Mrs. Linda, Miss Annette, and Miss Margi did a wonderful job of helping him feel comfortable and welcome in their classroom. I knew it would take just the right person to get him through that time, and Mrs. Linda was that person. We can’t thank her enough for the confidence, encouragement, and patience she provided (to him and us!). We will always be grateful!” – Polly C., Glenn Loomis Montessori parent

“Thank you Matt Medler. You stimulated my daughter’s interest in math last year (6thgrade at WMS), and her highest priority when scheduling for 7th grade was to take the next level class with you. Her interest in math and her skills development continue to amaze me. I was also extremely gratified listening to my daughter discussing school with a friend while driving to sports practice the other day. Although the two girls are following different streams, they both concurred that math was their favorite subject. Common denominators? The subject, obviously, but also the teacher, Matt Medler. Thanks again for your teaching and for providing that extra spark that motivates my daughter around this important subject!” – Mike F., WMS parent

“I would like to give a personal “Thanks” to West Senior High Math Teacher Jodi Thompson. She sends weekly communication to parents regarding the math schedule and she hand writes birthday cards and “way to go” notes to her students. She goes above and beyond to let her students know they are important.” – Biz Ruskowski, WSH parent

“I can’t begin to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone at Westwoods Elementary School, from the principal down to the recess teachers, they are hands down the best educators and all around good people. They see children as what they are, children who are individuals and treat them accordingly with respect. Ms. Houghton accepted my son into the school with open arms and helped him to understand mistakes happen and how to learn from them. Mrs. Maxbauer is an exceptional teacher with extreme patience that only comes from experience. The leaps and bounds my son has achieved in her class is amazing. Mrs. Wiliford, the music teacher is such fun and one of my son’s favorites. She had him as a student at another school and mentioned the difference in him is phenomenal, from angry to happy in such a short time just goes to show that the environment is a major part of successful learning. Lastly, I cannot say enough about Mrs. McPherson. Her undeniable love of teaching and recognizing the greatness in students is unbelievable. She treats her students with the respect they deserve and expects the same back. Her input and belief that my son is worth it has changed our lives. She is one teacher that I know we will never forget. Thank you Westwoods Elementary!” – Margaret M., Westwoods parent

“I would like to thank TCAPS for providing a wonderful preschool experience for my daughter, Hope. She is enrolled in the preschool program at Oak Park that was developed for TCAPS and TBAISD staff children. Mary Kolle, her teacher for the past two years has been such a nurturing, caring, and dedicated teacher for my daughter. Her assistants, Kathy Nester-Pohlman and Damien Boyer are also very attentive and have gone above and beyond in caring for my daughter as well. I wanted to thank them all for giving my daughter a wonderful first school experience!” – Karrie G., Oak Park preschool parent

Don Roth, bus driver for TCAPS is “second to none.” Don does a splendid job transporting students safely to and from school. By all means, Don Roth should be TCAPS employee of the year.” – Mr. Mike Kramer

“Our family is so grateful to have Mr. Tony Quinn at Central Grade School. We are amazed at his natural ability to connect with kids, families, and his staff. When talking to kids he makes each one feel special and important. On any given day, it’s not unusual to spot Mr. Quinn reading with kids, stopping by classes to celebrate learning, or working to help kids to make better choices. Mr. Quinn has brought a lot of joy and leadership to our school community. We are so happy he is a Central Grade Super Star!”
- The Jackson Family

“Thanks to Toby Tisdale and Tom Passinault for all of their help with our child at TCC! Your many kindnesses were appreciated very much.”
- Dave and Toni F., CHS parents

Ms. Tarrant at Courtade Elementary has been so wonderful to our son Ethan this year! She is so kind and caring, and my son loves going to school because of her! She is always giving suggestions of how we can help our son succeed. Ms. Tarrant is fantastic and we are so grateful she has taught our son this year!”
- Heather G., Courtade Elementary School parent

“As the 2015 school year comes to a close, we want to express our gratitude for extra time and attention Michelle Anderson has given our daughter this year. Our daughter is a very shy and anxious little girl. But we knew, after the 1st day of school that she was going to be okay. Mrs. Anderson’s positivity and upbeat attitude continue to rub off on our daughter. She continues to improve in every way we could hope for. The whole class seems to love Mrs. “A”! In a time when all that seems important in education is standardized testing, it is refreshing to know that there are teachers that continue to teach with kindness and love in their hearts. Thank you Mrs. “A”!”
- Some Very Proud Courtade Parents

“I want to extend a big thank you to Andrew Habich at Glenn Loomis for all of the help he provided in transitioning my son from 6th grade Montessori to 7th grade in the AT program at West Middle School. Mr. Habich told us early on in (my son’s) 6th grade year that he felt (my son) would be best challenged in the AT programs provided at the middle schools. We knew little about this option and Mr. Habich helped educate us on how the program worked, how to apply, when the required testing was offered, who to talk to at the middle schools and so forth. He also put us in touch with families of some of his former students that were already in the AT program and they were very helpful in navigating the process and schooling us about things that weren’t published anywhere but needed to be considered. (My son) tested into all 4 sections of AT, and as his 7th grade year is starting to wrap up, he has declared this to be the best school year he’s ever had. I couldn’t be more proud of the work he’s done and I can’t thank Mr. Habich enough for all the work he did with Andy in 6th grade and in steering him toward a program he enjoys so much. So thank you Mr. Habich!”
- John Z., Montessori / WMS parent

“My daughter absolutely adored each teacher. First, Mrs. Oleson was amazing. She showed complete control over her classroom and pure confidence and extreme love for the children she had in her classroom. I cried at the end of the year when I knew that first grade was next. First grade came along and Mrs. Budd was absolutely amazing as well. She was uplifting with my child, she heard and listened to my concerns about my child and held true to her word. Mrs. Budd has an absolutely beautiful soul and I can feel the love she has for the children she educates. Mrs. Anderson brought a laid back atmosphere to our lives. Though she kept her children on task and learning, she was so very encouraging. She gave her children direction and love. She brought out the best in my child and my little one always came home with a huge smile on her face. Mrs. Dungjen, oh where do I begin? What a gentle soul, who’s love shined through each and every day. Mrs. Dungjen was similar to the above teachers mentioned. Mrs. Dungjen continues to go out of her way to make each student feel confident, and loved. I owe so much to Mrs. Oleson, Mrs. Budd and Mrs. Dungjen, probably something I will never be able to repay them. After all our children spend most their time at school than at home at times.”
- Traverse Heights parent

Mrs. (Jenny) Walters is an absolutely amazing teacher. One can tell that she loves to teach as much as she has created students that love to learn. She teaches some levels of subjects that I didn’t expect to see come home with my child for a few years yet: opinion writing and fractions, just to name a few–and the kids love them and excel at them! My child has had her for two years now, as Mrs. Walters loops with her students from Kindergarten to First Grade. My child has grown and blossomed under her…Any chance of Mrs. Walter looping to second grade?”
– Westwoods parent

Mr. Wangeman is a gift to the choir students!! My son has learned so much this year as a 7th grader in the tenor bass men’s choir. He has become a confident singer with a true love for choir. Thank you Mr. Wangeman!”
- Jennifer S., WMS parent

“Hi would like to say A Big Thanks to all of the Titan team Teacher’s and the staff of the South wing! You’re all so great in helping my son in his new experience in being a middle school student!! Thanks again from”
- Janell C., WMS parent

“A huge thank you to WSH mathematics teacher, Jody Thompson. She is the ONLY teacher that gives me a weekly email update on what’s going on in her classroom. At the beginning of the year, she sent us an email, sharing with us how much she enjoyed having our son in her classroom and today my son got a birthday wish in the mail from this teacher. My son has not had much success in math in the past, but this year for the first time, he is excelling! I can’t tell you how excited we are about this. We have had 3 other children go through TCAPS and graduate, and I can say in all of the years that we have had children in the school system, we have never had a teacher like Jody Thompson. She obviously loves her job and it shows. TCAPS needs more teachers like her.”
– Michell C., a thankful WSH mom

Renae DePlaunty entered her 2nd grade class room part way into the school year. The changes she made not only helped my daughter, but I feel the classroom as a whole. I feel truly blessed to have her in the Westwoods community. She has had a successful academic impact on her students, (my daughter) is always eager to learn and eager to please Mrs. DePlaunty. I feel it took a special person to do what she did, to step in making a huge difference in our school year. I am forever grateful for her. It would only benefit TCAPS to hold onto a teacher as hardworking, dedicated and motivational as she is. Her love of teaching shows in everything she has done this school year. Thank you, Renae.”
- Jill B., Grateful Mom, Westwoods Elementary School

“ Mrs. (Heather) Heitsch always has a smile on her face and time to help and answer any questions, though I know she must have a list 10 miles long of things that must be done by the end of the school day, all while caring for sick children, fielding parent phone calls, and general everything else-ness. Props also to Mrs. Kubesh, as I know she also has a big hand in making sure things run smoothly.”

- Westwoods parent

“We will be forever grateful to Mrs. Brewer, fourth grade teacher at Willow Hill, for building our daughter’s confidence and interest in math. Mrs. B’s commitment and passion are unparalleled!”
- Willow Hill Parents

“This an extra SHOUT OUT to David Rowney and Autumn Slawter at International School at Bertha Vos. Teachers like you make it easier on parents! The growth in our boys this year has been amazing and we owe it to the two of you, along with the amazing staff at ISBV! Thank you always!”
- The Anderson family

We would like to give a great big hug to Jenny Bishop! She has been the best counselor ever through these last four years and puts her heart and soul into her students and their future! Mrs. Bishop has been there for us every step of the way no matter what the situation, even on a moments notice. She has been much more than an academic counselor for us and we will always be grateful for her positive attitude and reassurance! If we could take her to college with us in the fall we would! A million thank yous (and hugs) to you Mrs. Bishop!
- M & M, West Senior High School family

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Qualified and experienced

Did you know that TCAPS is the area’s second largest employer? Did you also know that more than 70% of our teaching staff holds a Master’s Degree or higher, our bus technicians consistently receive 100% passing on bus inspections, or that our maintenance staff works to ensure that building needs are met with urgency and expertise? In every area of our district, TCAPS qualified and experienced staff makes the grade. From a recently retired staff member who continues to leave a lasting impression to a new staff member who is already having a positive impact, we are grateful for the people who make a difference in the lives of our students, families and our community every day.

[Mr. Czarny retired from TCAPS last year.] “My tribute is to Mr. Czarny. He was my physics teacher twenty years ago. What seemed small at the time have become words I live by. He pulled me aside and told me that while I thought I was being smart by putting in just enough effort to pass, that he believed in me and knew I was smarter than that. He told me that he wanted me to be proud of my work; that I deserved more from myself. He said I was smarter than the average kid and to ‘get by’ was wasting a gift. Those words have propelled me many times, professionally and personally. I push myself to be the best I can be, to recognize my strengths, and be honest about my weaknesses. Because of the effect he had on me, I try to tell others when they are doing wonderful things, but I also do my best to push people around me to be the best of who they are. His statement, believing in me, gave me courage. And for that I cannot thank him enough. I have had various managers through the years and none of them had the grace and leadership skills that he possesses. He is a gift to students. And a clear gift to me.” – Carey G., CHS alum

Luan Ross has been my son’s teacher for the past two years in the Early Childhood program. Through Luan’s patience, teaching, and support we have seen huge improvements in our son’s development and growth. I could not have picked a better teacher for our son. It’s Luan’s dedication and love for her students that make her a wonderful fit for our little guy.” – Stephanie P., Blair Elementary School parent

“I would like to recognize my daughter’s speech therapist Donna High. My daughter is thrilled to attend speech therapy and her speech has improved immensely since Mrs. High started working with her this past year at Westwoods Elementary. Mrs. High’s positive and enthusiastic approach to speech has been a blessing. It is clear that you love your work! My daughter and I greatly appreciate everything! Thank you! I would also like to thank the entire staff of Westwoods Elementary for making my daughter’s transition to their school a great experience. She was very nervous but quickly grew to love Westwoods. My daughter has made lots of friends and adores all of her teachers. Thank you for providing such a wonderful, positive learning environment.” – Andrea H., Westwoods Elementary School Parent

“I’d like to thank Tony Quinn, Assistant Principal at Central Grade! In just a few short months, Tony has made a difference in the lives of children at Central Grade. He has been visible in the halls, cafeteria, and recess. My son constantly comes home and talks about how Mr. Quinn said “Hi” to him, or how Mr. Quinn asked him how soccer was going or how his reading is coming along. When having a discussion with my child about the great teachers at Central Grade, he said “Mr. Quinn is the best teacher! He has a lot of kids to teach and know!” Thank you Tony Quinn for becoming a part of Central Grade!” – Central Grade Parent

“I would like to give a huge SHOUT OUT to all of the staff at ISBV. Our little and growing community has been blessed with these wonderful teachers and staff. They take our children in daily and treat them like their own. We’ve also had the chance to work with a wonderful temporary principal. Judy Bonne has old school value, in a new school world and her addition and support has been above and beyond a temporary principal. We should have known this, since her daughter, Katie Bonne is an AWESOME principal and person!! The apple doesn’t fall far! What you do for my family alone shows me that you truly LOVE your job! Thank you, from our family to yours!” – The Anderson Family

“Thank you Traverse City Central High School for everything you have done for my son. Words aren’t enough. He did schools for choice hoping to find a school with a broader outlook. He found it in TC Central–but he also found big wonderful arms of support. Thank you Coach Lober for being a true coach–one who cares more about what his athletes need to succeed in life than he does winning; thank you Coach Ludka for going above and beyond in helping him find his way in his new business; Thank you Toby Tisdale, Rick Vandermolen and the rest of the faculty who have encouraged a young entrepreneur at every start. (I hope you wear your black and gold bow ties with pride at the prom!) And are there words for what “Miz” Harper did for my son? Without so much of an art class under his belt he suddenly wanted to switch from applying to U of M engineering to U of M Art & Design … Wait! What? He needed a portfolio?! Eek! But “Miz” Harper, who had never had him in class, met him so many mornings last fall before school started–we are talking 7 a.m.–to lead him through the U of M portfolio process. She didn’t need to do it. And she didn’t need to do it so willingly. But she did. And U of M loved his portfolio! Thank you, thank you TC Central for being way more than just a public school. You are real people, real educators who understand that every child is different. Three years ago my son was the last child left at home in a family that was torn by divorce, enrolled in a school that in his words: “You are nothing if you aren’t in football.” There is no doubt that he was at an at risk kid. He prodded me to go for schools of choice. I thought, “What do we have to lose?” But, oh, what we gained! Three wonderful years later he is bound for U of M, filled with confidence and purpose, I think largely because of a school that intuits its pupils needs and creates an atmosphere for them to flourish. I cannot say enough for what this school has meant for my son–and me. Thank you. Thank you each and every one of you. Thank you!” – Lissa E., CHS parent

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Excellence everywhere

Everywhere in our schools and buildings, you find excellence. From a bus driver to a music teacher to a counselor, staff appreciation week shines a light on the amazing people in every area of our district who truly make a difference.

Mr. Martin has been my child’s bus driver for two years, and he always has a smile and a kind word for her, and a wave and a ‘have a good day!’ for me. I hope he will be her bus driver through the rest of her time in elementary school, and for my other children too, so they can enjoy such a pleasant man as their first and last contact for their school day.” – Westwoods parent

Stephanie Schall-Brazee has been instrumental in my children’s school experience. Music can bring so much more to a child than song and dance. It can bring confidence, public speaking skills, and inspiration! Willow Hill is so lucky to have her. She has always gone above and beyond for the students. She’s a ray of sunshine and puts forth so much of herself for the good of the kids. We love you Mrs. Brazee and we thank you!” – Love the Kane Family, Willow Hill Elementary School

Sean Jones – [Our daughter’s] advisor. Sean I want to say thank you so much for being there throughout these years for Rosemary. Thank you for always taking the time at parent teacher conferences to talk about Rose and how she is progressing. Thank you especially this year, for explaining to me all the details that the seniors have to do in order to graduate and the project that Rosemary is working on. You are such a wonderful teacher to the children, and it shows.” – Doug and Amy C., CHS parents

“I am so happy to have the opportunity to share my appreciation for one of your very talented math instructors. Peggy Schuba has made a huge difference in my son’s math education. This has always been a subject he has struggled with and never enjoyed. I have seen him grow so much in math this year and he says this is now one of his favorite classes. He is able to understand what she is explaining to him and really is able to grasp the concept of the problems they are working on. She truly has made a difference in his education and gave him so much confidence in his math skills. She is a great example of someone who loves teaching and helping children. Thank You So Much!!” – Teresa Smith, WMS parent

“Our family would like to thank Mrs. Jessica Unger for being an outstanding 7th grade language arts teacher. Our daughter has enjoyed her class immensely this year. Mrs. Unger’s expertise and passion for literacy are felt by her students. She has high expectations for her students and gives them the confidence to take risks. I strongly support her reading and writing workshop approach to teaching. Using this framework, she has been able to meet the needs of all her students and our daughter was given personalized instruction. We have appreciated how Mrs. Unger has increased our daughter’s confidence as a learner and also how she has taken the time to give book recommendations to our daughter. Our daughter has come home several times this year asking to go to the bookstore to find a book that Mrs. Unger has told her about. Thank you Mrs. Unger!” – The Jackson Family, EMS

“Just wanted to say what a wonderful job Bryan Burns does in communicating with parents. I recently contacted him regarding questions involving dual enrollment and NMC classes. He was friendly and professional and responded quickly and with a lot of helpful information. I KNOW this guy has got to be busy, yet he took the time to help us figure out our situation! So, a big thank you to Mr. Burns for taking the time to help us out.” – Amy D., CHS parent

“Wanting to say thanks to Erich Wangeman for all of his hard work and dedication to the TCWHS musical and theater program. He has a special rapport with the kids and helps them grow well beyond what they assumed they could or couldn’t do – our son was chosen for a lead role in this year’s musical, and Erich tutored him for weeks at 7:00 a.m. (in the dead of winter!) to make sure he had the confidence and ability to take the stage in the spring. Excellent mentor, teacher and a credit to the TCAPS staff.”

- Mark V., WSH parent

Michelle Brown is my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher at Long Lake Elementary School. My daughter started out the year struggling with her reading and writing. Mrs. Brown has gone out of her way to help us find ways to help her. She introduced us to an excellent tutor. She has spent time with us to figure out where the problems were coming from so we could work through them and found ways to make things work better for her in the classroom. She keeps in contact with us and lets us know what is happening and doesn’t hesitate to call with good news not just when there is a problem. My daughters reading has improved dramatically, way more than any of us could have hoped for. Her writing still has a ways to go but she is improving. It is obvious Mrs. Brown loves to teach and genuinely cares about her students. We will forever be grateful for all she has done at this very important stage of our daughter’s education.”

- Penny Z., Long Lake parent

“I would like to recognize Barb Hobson from Silver Lake Elementary School. Barb has been in our building for 15 years, wearing many hats, one of which is teaching assistant. Over that time as we took on NWEA testing Barb has been irreplaceable support, not only to teachers but the kids as well.

With all of the moving parts that go along with testing, let alone testing when temperamental technology is involved, Barb handles bumps along the way in stride. There hasn’t been a technology problem she couldn’t solve on the spot, and in the event she thinks there might be a more efficient solution, she is determined to figure it out then pack that knowledge into her trouble shooting tool box for later. I never worry about testing when I know Barb is there to assist (and by assist I mean run the show like a boss!) She is one of the many whose special talents and commitment to kids, community, families, and education continue to make TCAPS, and Silver Lake Elementary, a great place to be!”

- Allyson McBride-Culver, Silver Lake staff

Mr. Medler has restored my son’s love of mathematics this year in 7th Grade AT. He is a phenomenal instructor as well as mentor for the kids in his class and his wing. My son has grown in his knowledge, skill set and confidence in mathematics this year. Thank you Mr. Medler!!” – Jennifer S., WMS parent

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Supportive staff

TCAPS staff works hard to ensure that students have the support they need to achieve daily successes and work through life’s struggles and transitions. From taking the time to cheer students on to helping students adjust in a new school, TCAPS staff provides caring support for our students.

Mrs. Hughes has gone above and beyond!! It is evident how she loves her students and inspires them to go the extra mile. We appreciate her communication, dedication and hard work. This weekend, we traveled to Lansing to be a part of the State Finals for National History Day and Mrs. Hughes took the time to drive and cheer her students on. What a great role model and support! Thank you for all you do, Mrs. Hughes!” – Jennifer R., West Middle School parent

“As an employee of TCAPS, I have the pleasure of working with so many wonderful teachers. However, I have to say that a teacher that can pull my 17-year-old son out of bed before school to get some help before his math test is a miracle worker. Thank you for caring about our kids, Mrs. Lyon-Schumacher. You’re the best!” – Pam A., WSH parent

“This school year has been one of the most challenging years for my daughter… In July 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My surgeries started in August with a major one the day after the school year started, followed by several months of chemotherapy, more surgeries and two months of radiation. As a single parent I was scared and had no idea how (she) was going to succeed in her 7th grade year. I knew she was going to miss more school than normal. I reached out to the teachers via email. The response from (my daughter’s) teachers was more than I had expected. She was offered extra help during lunch time and after school as well as finding a way to keep her instrument at home and using a school instrument during class time. This spring I was able to finally meet the teachers who I believe are responsible for the successfulness of (my daughter’s) school year. Clair Taglauer, Ellen Boyer, Ivanka Berkshire, Lauren Justin and Jon Moore—I don’t think I will ever find the words to express how grateful I am. You have made a loving and lasting impression within my daughter. The kindness and compassion given (her) is something I will cherish. And with that I thank you!! – Jamie K., EMS parent

Karen Hartel is a true gem for West Middle School! She multi-tasks through the students’ long list of needs throughout the day and during every class break, lunch hour, before and after school rush. Her commitment to taking care of kids with medical needs goes far above her ‘job.’ She cares about every child in her wing, knows all of their names and their individual personalities and needs. We are so incredibly fortunate to have her at West. Thank you Karen!” – Jennifer S., WMS parent

“My daughters are in preschool and first grade at Central Grade School. Kristin Sulecki has been instrumental in helping my 7 year old overcome some personal struggles she was dealing with for much of the year. Kristin worked with our daughter to come up with great tools for her to use, not only in school situations, rather life skills in general. Kristin was consistently committed to helping our daughter and always took the time to do so (even if that meant 5 mornings a week!). Kristin communicated with me as a parent regularly to give me updates and provide feedback. She is truly an asset to the TCAPS family. I honestly do not know what we would have done without her this year. I cannot say thank you enough. While I have never met ‘Mr. Dave,’ my 4 year old preschooler talks about him ALL the time. She loves music time with ‘Mr. Dave.’ I also want to thanks Mrs. O’Hearn (LLI – reading specialty teacher) who is dedicated to helping children become more confident readers. Our youngest daughter started preschool in January 2015 and Miss Hanson welcomed her into the classroom with open arms. She made sure that our daughter made the mid-year transition smoothly. She truly cares about each and every one of her students and communicates openly with the parents. Thanks for everything.” – Beth D., Central Grade School parent

“As new students to Traverse City Central High School, my children have transitioned well and that is due to the support of teachers and staff! Thank you!” – CHS parent

“Where do I start? The TCAPS family at Traverse Heights Elementary has been outstanding. My children have been through a lot these past few years and the staff at Traverse Heights has shown compassion, caring and genuine interest in their well-being. I cannot say enough about the “school family” my children have at Traverse Heights. I would not even begin to know all of the names of the wonderful staff that interact with my children on a daily basis but I would like to make special mention of Erin Oleson, Lisa Wyzgoski, Jenny Rubinas and her wonderful staff, Marie Dituri and the awesome extended day staff, Ms. Katie and Mr. Greg in the kitchen and Sherry Chandler. Thanks for all you do!” – Michelle B., Traverse Heights Elementary School parent

“…my son is a sixth grade student. (He) came back to school after being in the online school for two years so there was much to readjust to people, many classes making friends etc. The staff has been wonderful in helping (him). Mrs. Robbins, who has been the kind, reassuring teacher that makes Sam feel so safe. To Ms. O’ Neil, who adjusted her rules to help a sweet kid who suffers from anxiety. So she had him do his class presentation in front only her and when (he) no longer had Ms. O’Neil she still helped him when he realized his new teacher did not know of his anxiety. To Mr. Ranger, for seeing the true (person he is) and helping me teach (him) things he will need in the world. To Mrs. Gagnon, for listening to a distraught mom and was willing to help put in motion to support him. To Mrs. Wilson for helping (him) and encouraging him. To Ms. Kitchens, for picking up the slack and making a calm environment. So this is how (his) story goes—he came in lost, scared, overwhelmed, struggling with math and begging to stay home—to a kid (that was given the love and support he needed) that loves school, is understanding math for the first time, to a smile on his face and is striving hard to be on the honor roll . As a parent, I can never thank all of you enough for giving him a future. p.s. If I forgot anyone, I’m sorry you’re all awesome.” – Julie C., WMS parent

“Our daughter is so fortunate to have Mrs. Lisa Myers for a second grade teacher this year. Mrs. Myers is a hardworking and dedicated teacher. She has worked closely with our daughter this year and has gotten to know her both as a student and as a person. Mrs. Myers aims to teach the “whole child” and embraces each student’s strengths. She has high expectations and encourages her students to do their best both in the classroom and in life. We are also so impressed with the way she implements best practices in her classroom. She is a passionate literacy teacher and has continued to encourage our daughter’s love for reading and writing. Her classroom library should serve as a model for all teachers. Our daughter has blossomed this year in second grade. Thank you Mrs. Myers!” – Chris and Stephanie J., Central Grade School parents

Monday, May 4, 2015

May the 4th be with you! Is it any coincidence that the first day of TCAPS Staff Appreciation Week this year also falls on Star Wars Day?! We are so grateful for all of the Jedi Masters in our district who bring stories to life every day in our schools! You are teachers, scientists and diplomats who help our young Padawans learn about the value of giving of themselves through citizenship, volunteerism and good deeds. Keep reaching for the stars!

Great programs, great people

It’s Staff Appreciation Week! Join us in celebrating the programs and, more importantly, the people who really make a difference in the lives of our students and families every day. Testimonials from parents and community members show that TCAPS offers great programs, led by great people. Thank you to the people who help make our organization great!

Kim Fleming in the counseling office has been wonderful to work with. My son is dual enrolled at NMC, and since we began getting involved with the process, have had many questions. Kim has always been patient, informative and has responded to us in a timely manner. She has taken the time to call me with questions about my son’s future plans for college, as well as answered my (numerous!) calls and emails. I so appreciate her patient and calm approach to scheduling—at times I know her work load has got to be off the charts crazy, but she is just as professional as ever and gets it done. Thank you to Kim for all she does.” – Amy D., CHS parent

Mrs. Larrea and Mrs. T (Kristy Tomlinson) at Glenn Loomis Montessori have been absolutely wonderful! They are such kind and caring teachers; my son loves going to school every day because of them. They’ve helped him learn and grow so much in his first year of school I’m in awe of how great they are with the entire class!” – Kristen F., TCAPS Montessori at Glenn Loomis parent

“…when we first heard about the pilot program…the entire team made the transition smooth and effortless…Our son has blossomed so much in the past 2 years that I find myself constantly overwhelmed with the new opportunities he has in life, all because of this program. Being in a smaller classroom with his peers, he’s been able to study at his own pace and has learned and understood more than he has in his entire education plan. It works; I cannot stress it enough it works. He finally feels like he belongs somewhere and for the first time, he has friends, he text messages, he’s currently receiving an A in his creative writing class, which just so happens to be the first English class he’s taken beyond read 180 and I believe that Erin [RYAN] gave him the ground work to achieve this back in junior high. He has astounded us this year alone. [HE] sang in the talent show, helped run the school store during basketball games (shout out to Heather Simpson), co-anchored the student news in his broadcasting class, will be going to the prom and finally he will be attending MCTI in the fall pursuing Graphic Publishing. Many, many times my husband and I would almost lose hope. You have so many dreams and when you have a special needs child those dreams change, forever. Now, we simply don’t know what the future holds but we are very optimistic. We hope that you will expand the program, even to junior high. Erin has had a wonderful team, Jay Larner,Heather Simpson, and the social workers that keep everything moving so smoothly and I know I am forgetting people. An amazing team for the school system and I hope that you model more classrooms after this pilot program…” – Marla W., CHS parent

The International Baccalaureate teachers at West Middle School are an amazing team. It is evident that they are expert teachers who care deeply about their students. Like many students, our son is counting down to summer break, but he confessed that he will genuinely miss his teachers when school is not in session.” – WMS IB Parents

Mr. Sagan made a huge difference in our lives. At a conference he advised us that he saw great potential in Alex. And he recommended that she enroll in SCI-MA-TECH. We never heard of the program and would not have known about it otherwise. From that recommendation, she enrolled in SCI-MA-TECH and also joined the robotics team. Today as I write this, Alex is the design lead and driver of the TC Central robot that is at the world championships in St Louis; and she is moving on to the U of M School of Engineering. Many teachers and TCAPS leaders have helped. Mr. Sagan stands out for putting us on this path of success and helping us realize her potential.” – Cindy A., EMS/CHS parent