Greetings to all as we are well on our way in the 2016-17 school year. Across the nine public school districts in Gratiot-Isabella RESD, approximately 13,000 students are engaged in their courses. I am happy to report that the enrollment numbers appear to have remained fairly steady across the RESD this year. This hasn’t always been the case, with declining enrollment a remnant of the recession of several years ago. These numbers also include students who will be receiving various levels of services from our Special Education Department. Our general education professional development sessions which began in late August will continue throughout the year.
What are some of the recent activities that have been occurring here at the RESD? One of my favorite activities just wrapped up last week, the annual RESD-wide Quiz Bowl competition. The competition was strong, as always, and the group of students who participated always represent themselves and their schools well. Our advisor is RESD Board Member Tom Steere and he does a great job coordinating this annual event. There is an article and picture in this issue of Winds of Change. Congratulations to all the participants and also the advisors!
We have some other projects in the works for this spring and early summer. At Forest Hill Nature Area, we are making plans to improve the bridges on the property and are also considering the feasibility of having a permanent dock installed on the small, shallow pond that is near the barn. These projects will improve accessibility for our students and also for Alma College students and professors who are involved in a large grant funded project at the site. We will also be doing a renovation on the front entrance at Winding Brook Conference Centre in Shepherd.
This fall, in October, we will welcome high school students and teachers from Northern Germany who will be visiting our Gratiot and Isabella County schools. This is part of our annual LINKS (Learning through International Networking for Knowledge and Sharing) exchange program which has been ongoing since 1998. Our students will then be traveling to Germany in the spring of 2018. We will have more information on this exchange in the next Winds of Change.
I mentioned in the last several issues of Winds of Change that it is indeed encouraging that more emphasis is finally being directed toward Career and Technical Education. Enrollment at both the GI-TEC Mt. Pleasant Campus and the GI-TEC Alma Campus is still increasing. Our superintendents and principals have been active in support of these programs and numbers reflect this effort. This fall there are 16 programs at the Mt. Pleasant campus, with 786 students enrolled. There are 12 schools that participate in Mt. Pleasant. The 12 schools include our nine public schools as well as Odyssey, which is the alternative education program in Shepherd, the WAY program, which is the alternative education program in Mt. Pleasant, and Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart High School. At the Alma Campus there are six CTE programs and a total of 298 students are enrolled. There are nine schools that participate at the Alma site.
There are a total of 20 programs that are offered between the two GI-TEC sites. The Auto Program and the Health Occupations program are offered at both campuses. There are a total of 1,084 students in the CTE program in Gratiot and Isabella counties, not including the few other Ag Science and Business classes which are held at local districts, but are not “center-based” programs. And for our Mt. Pleasant-based Building Trades Program, we have just purchased a building lot directly across from the high school! This program was discontinued due to lack of enrollment years ago but with the passage of the CTE millage, this program has been brought back and interest continues to increase!
Area business owners and managers still indicate that locally, there is a growing need for trained workers in specific career and technical areas. This shortage is not unique to the mid-Michigan Area and we are starting to see competition for workers in all regions. We can better prepare some of our students for the technical future of work by creating an awareness of the options that are available for post-secondary education…and offering them the classes right here in mid-Michigan.
As always, if you have any questions regarding our programs or operations, please don’t hesitate to contact me at your convenience.
Dr. Jan C. Amsterburg