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Monroe County is making Michigan a great place to raise a young family, apply to explore Panama with Education First, spread the word about our aspiring supts webinar, and more in this month's edition of eLeader.

When Collaboration Works:
The Monroe County Superintendent’s Association Early Childhood Plan

By Edward Manuszak, Ed.S, Superintendent, Dundee Community Schools and AASA Early Learning Cohort Co-Chair

In December of 2018, the ten local superintendents gathered at the Dundee High School Media Center to learn more about the Buffett Early Childhood Institute’s Superintendent’s Early Childhood Plan there was a sense of purpose. It was to not allow a child’s zip code to determine the quality of education that they would receive in Monroe County. Monroe County already had a very collaborative working environment within Monroe County due to our county’s handling of the Schools of Choice program mandated by the state of Michigan. We had many years ago agreed to an alternative plan that allows our students to request to leave and request to attend, but we limited (deliberately) the number of students who could participate on a yearly basis. This helped our districts in Monroe County work closer together and communicate. This meeting was another chance for us to work together on something much larger!

As the founding co-chair of the AASA Early Learning Cohort, it opened me up to a network of other districts, programs, and relationships around the nation. One such relationship was that with Kim Bodensteiner, Program Director within the Buffett Early Childhood Institute. She has since retired and been replaced by Cris Anderson Lopez, but the work continued. Eleven metro school districts in the greater Omaha, Nebraska area banded together in 2016 to form the Superintendent’s Early Childhood Plan. This plan allowed each district to use the levied money dedicated toward early childhood to how they saw fit in their own communities, but they learned very early that if they grew this initiative together that they could close equity gaps in academics, socialization, and exposure gaps due to low socioeconomic status, and make strong connections to families who were not officially kindergartners. They absorbed the mindset of creating the school as the “hub” and the services that each school provided as the spokes of the wheel that made the community a better, richer place.

So, I brought my county together to explore their interest level in a similar model. Not only did we have school leaders at the meeting, but we had our elected officials present, other governmental agencies, and health-based organizations too. The meeting turned out to be a smashing success!

At our Monroe County Superintendents Association Leadership Conference in August of 2019, we put the plan into motion. We reviewed data from the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) and the Early Learning Program Assessment Tool (ELPAT)© to determine how ready our districts were in helping our children and families. The age span that we focused on was Birth through Age Three. The ELPAT © is now a web-based resource sourced by Standards for Success. That resource can be found here for those that are interested in pursuing this as a tool to assist your district to understand your early childhood program readiness. 

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Three SNEL Hanover Reports Available

You heard it during the EdTalks at MASA’s Midwinter conference, and now it's all available online. The findings and support from our Strategy for the New Education Landscape (SNEL) workgroups about SEL, trends in K-12 education, and extended learning are all available now.

These reports were created in conjunction with Hanover Research.

Ease your planning for summer school and the 2022-23 school year with these reports that highlight lessons learned and promising practices on SEL, instructional practices, and educator effectiveness.

Celebrate National School Nurse Day

This Wednesday, May 11, 2022, please take a moment to acknowledge your school nurses for the amazing work they do. National School Nurse Day was established in 1972 to foster a better understanding across systems of the role of the school nurse in the educational setting, and to recognize the important contributions school nurses make to overall student and community success.  
It is appropriate that the National School Nurse Day logo for 2022 is ‘Bridging Healthcare and Education!’ In many states across the country, school nurse numbers are decreasing. Michigan has seen a great increase in the number of school nurses across the state. To the districts that have school nurses, thank you for recognizing the importance of supporting students with a school nurse. 

D2L Brightspace: Michigan’s Partner
in Modern Education

The K-12 education landscape is changing, and D2L Brightspace can help. Brightspace is an innovative learning management system (LMS) built to help you create highly personalized experiences that unlock learner potential at scale.

With the pandemic, the past two years have seen a significant increase in technology-enabled learning and, while it began out of necessity, it’s resulted in a fundamental shift in how we view modern education.

Great teaching and learning practices are now more important than ever, and the right LMS can be your partner in modern education, helping you achieve your district goals and support this new technology-enabled education landscape.

“Parents know that we can do things differently, they know we can be more flexible. This is going to become the new educational model of the future. LMSs are not a pandemic thing.” – John VanWagoner, Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

With this educational model of the future comes a shift in the tools required to support modern learning needs.

D2L has been a trusted partner in Michigan since 2009 and is here to help you in reaching Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan goals to support all learners.

So how can Brightspace help support your district’s needs?

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So, You Want to be a Superintendent?
Calling All Aspiring School District Leaders

Do you know someone who dreams of becoming a superintendent? Spread the word about our upcoming webinar – June 1 at 4 p.m.!

Come learn from experienced superintendents the key steps to securing, maintaining, and succeeding in the superintendency. Have questions? Participants will also be able to have their most burning questions answered by current school district leaders.

You'll hear from MASA's Deputy Executive Director Dr. Sarena Shivers, and experienced superintendents in the field, Dr. Alena Zachery-Ross, superintendent of Ypsilanti Community Schools, and John VanWagoner, superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools.

When: 4-5 p.m. on June 1, 2022
Where: Online via Zoom
Cost: $50 MASA Members/$65 Non-Members

Go Online with
School ADvance

Learn how to use your district's evaluation tool, or get re-familiar with the system for goal setting and evaluations in the new school year. Summer is the perfect time to complete your training!

Have a whole team that needs training? Ask us about our private sessions.

Some perks of a virtual School ADvance session:
  • One-day trainings for new administrators
  • New 2.0 materials since July 2018
  • SCECH credits
Available Sessions:

Apply Today: Professional Learning & Exploration Program

MASA members are invited to join administrators from around the country for a 5-day professional learning experience focused on building Global Competency in their district. As a part of this professional learning experience, you will build your knowledge of global competence, gain a deeper understanding of the skills that today's students will need to be successful in tomorrow's world (and why), as well as expand your professional network. During this experience, you'll join administrators from around the country, as well as Dana Mortenson, CEO and Co-Founder of World Savvy, as well as staff from EF Education First to get a taste of hands-on learning with leading environmental scientists as well as discover the rich history and culture of Panama – October 6-10, 2022, offered by MASA and EF Education First.

Learn More & Enroll


The Reputation of Public Schools is Declining. What Can You Do About It?

By Jacqlyn Burde, Managing Director |

Before the start of this school year, we surveyed K-12 parents across Michigan to find out how they felt about their children’s schools. The survey touched upon various topics including their feelings about COVID protocols, concerns about learning loss, mental health, and how schools communicated throughout the pandemic.

As a firm that specializes in supporting public schools and their marketing efforts, we have seen our clients struggle more than ever with unhappy parents and communities since the start of the pandemic. This survey served to validate our hunch, and the hunch of our clients, that the reputation and perceived performance of schools in the eyes of parents has declined significantly over the course of the pandemic.

A Rapid Decline

Prior to the pandemic, 70 percent of parents rated their school’s performance as very good or good; compared to 50% during Covid. In terms of school reputation, 72% of parents viewed their children’s school as having a very good or good reputation; only 61% could say the same this past summer. This reveals a 20% decline in parents’ view of school performance and 11% decline in parents’ view of school reputation.

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This is the only time we plan to hold the conference Tuesday through Thursday. (We will return to our usual Wednesday through Friday schedule moving forward.) 
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