Monthly Archives: January 2014

START Program Equips Students for Success

Have you ever considered where you would turn if your young child, not yet ready for school, exhibited signs of delayed development? If questions mounted and answers seemed missing?

Allendale Public Schools wants you to know, we’re here.

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START stands for Statewide Autism Resource and Training, and is available to children whose testing reveals they may lie on the Autism Spectrum (ASD). While this post is not intended to provide medical information, early indicators of concern may include:

  • failing to hit key social, cognitive and emotional developmental milestones
  • learning to babble, gesture, speak and/or interact, but then regressing and losing those abilities
  • struggling to relate to others and/or the world around them

Bill Patteuw, an APS social social worker, notes that teachers working with the START program commit to on-going training, meeting 1-2 times per month from October to April. These individuals work to learn research-based techniques and teaching strategies that, while certainly beneficial to all students, are specifically aimed at helping children with autism clear the path to reach their individual potentials.

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Funded by the State of Michigan through grant monies, the program draws on the expertise of a multi-disciplinary team comprised of the school social worker, special education teachers, a general education teacher, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, autism consultant and parents. Mr. Patteuw commented that although ” parent involvement is critical and … strongly suggested by the facilitators of this series, parent involvement seems to be unique to our district.  The parents involved on our team have been present and have been active participants.”

Some of the cognitive and behavior teaching strategies this team is currently employing (or will be learning) include:

  • Foundations of Effective Practice for Young Students with ASD
  • Stucturing the Environment to Promote Learning Opportunities and Engagement
  • Intensive Teaching for Young Children with ASD
  • Structuring Play
  • Behavior Support
  • Transition Planning/Implementation

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Of the program, Mr. Patteuw says:

“Having this START training opportunity for our students, parents, and staff is amazing!  We are extremely blessed to have GVSU in our backyard, which is where the statewide START program originated!  These local resources are invaluable in assisting, teaching and developing staff that are working with students on the Autism Spectrum to promote successful learning opportunities.  Our staff will be working hard to implement these strategies and continue to serve all students to the best of our ability.”

Thanks to Mr. Patteuw and the team of dedicated APS staff who work tirelessly to provide excellence in education to all our students!

If you have a question or concern about your child, please contact Bill Patteuw at: patteuwbil@allendale.k12.mi.us.

Categories: Allendale Elementary Schools | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Principals’ Podcast

Allendale Public Schools

This screenshot shows where you can find the principals’ podcast.

This past fall, as the play season approached dress rehearsals, middle school teacher and Fall Play Director Shawn McMaster had an idea: why not promote the play with a podcast?

Mr. McMaster approached Mr. Remenap and Mr. Hadden with the idea, offering to help with the technical end of things if they’d be willing to host the podcasts. They agreed, kicking off the inaugural recording by interviewing key thespians.  They soon realized they had begun something special. The podcast is now used to “highlight students who might not otherwise get the recognition they deserve,” said Mr. Remenap.

“…anytime we can recognize our students for their talents and efforts it is a good thing.  This is simply another way to “show off” our great kids,” said Mr. Remenap.

Podcasts are recorded in the office conference room with the continued help of Mr. McMasters, who is credited as the “mastermind” of the project. The team reports that reception to the weekly releases has been overwhelmingly positive by both students and parents.

“Our students shine through in these podcasts as positive, mature, and intelligent young adults. They continue to amaze us!” said Mr. Hadden.

 

Stay up-to-date on exciting announcements and get to know exemplary students by listening yourself! Simply go to the high school’s website and look for the icon as outlined above, or click here.
Categories: Allendale High School, Students in the Spotlight!, technology | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

We Welcome Mrs. Huistra!

maria huistra, allendale public schoolsWe’d like to officially welcome a new staff member to the Allendale Public Schools family: Mrs. Maria Huistra!

With an official start time this fall, Mrs. Huistra joined the athletic department as Allendale Middle School Athletic Coordinator — a position created to help bridge the gap between athletics at the middle school and those at the high school.

With a district goal of creating a more cohesive program from 7th – 12th grades, Maria and high school athletic director Scott Daling work together to deliver a more seamless experience for young athletes and their parents alike. Serving as point person for 7th and 8th grades offers additional support to coaches while streamlining paperwork, meetings and other details for families.

But aside from all this, Mrs. Huistra brings with her new ways to challenge students involved in Falcon sports. In 2013, Maria founded “Giving Back,” a program designed to get AMS athletes involved in their community. Partnering with organizations like LOVE, inc., athletes have the opportunity to “pay it forward” by sorting donations, hanging clothing, pricing items to sell and even shoveling their sidewalk,

“Kids need to be appreciated beyond things they do in school or on the field or court. They need to be known as more than a jock or musician or someone who attains things. Serving their community is one way to earn that appreciation.”

Maria said providing ways for athletes to get involved in middle school is particularly critical, as so many kids (whether they know it or not) could be playing team sports for the last time.

“We don’t like to think about it, but the fact is that we roster two boys basketball teams in 8th grade, but 9th grade has only one. So the reality is that 24 kids leave middle school wanting to play ball, and only 13-14 will make the team as freshmen. Despite making that sad adjustment, if they can bring positive memories with them to high school, that’s an important piece for them as they grow.”

Mrs. Huistra has helped make scores of memories in her time as an involved parent and community member prior to joining the staff. Along with another parent, Maria conceptualized Fitness Frenzy and instituted the middle school athletic boosters (of which she still serves as president). She served as volunteer coordinator for the elementary PTO and worked on PE for Life, which is a program structured to help students at risk.

But of all she’s accomplished and continues to do, Mrs. Huistra says it doesn’t compare to the response she gets in the hallways:

“When someone passes me in the hall and says, “Hey — I got my grade up and I can play!”…I know I’m making a difference.”

Categories: Allendale High School, Athletics | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

AHS Recognized for Advanced Placement Classes

If you’ve kept an eye on the media, you’ve probably gathered that high schools today are being asked to provide more than “just” a meaningful, high quality, challenging educational experience for their students.

Increasingly, aside from the basics, schools in all fifty states are being asked to  provide college-level courses to students ready to move beyond state-mandated classes. This is most often done through advanced placement (AP) classes that offer students the opportunity to earn university credit as a high-schooler.

It is in this environment of our determined pursuit of something greater — something more for our students — that we celebrate Allendale High School being named to the National Advanced Placement Honor Roll!

Allendale Public Schools, AP Honor Roll

According to the AP College Board’s website, “Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community, from AP teachers to district and school administrators to college professors.”

And while that may sound easily achievable at first glance, we know there is much that is considered by the board before awarding such an honor. Consider:

“Inclusion on the 4th Annual AP District Honor Roll is based on the examination of three years of AP data, from 2011 to 2013, for the following criteria.
  • Increased participation/access to AP by at least 4 percent in large districts, at least 6 percent in medium districts, and at least 11 percent in small districts;
  • Increased or maintained the percentage of exams taken by African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students, and;
  • Improved performance levels when comparing the percentage of students in 2013 scoring a 3 or higher to those in 2011, unless the district has already attained a performance level at which more than 70 percent of its AP students are scoring a 3 or higher.”
Allendale stood out for two main reasons, according to Principal Dan Remenap: “for having increased the number of Advanced Placement opportunities and enrollment for our students while increasing scores on Advanced Placement tests,” he explained.

This is particularly meaningful to Mr. Remenap, Dr. Jonker and the district as a whole, because exposing more students to college level rigor is part of their District Strategic Plan. They additionally aim to increase the number of students who receive college credit prior to graduation. This award is a great indicator that the high school is moving forward toward these goals!

After being surprised with the good news at an administrative meeting, Mr. Remenap shared his reflections:

“To be recognized by AP for increasing the number of students exposed to the rigor of college level, AP courses, is something for our entire school to celebrate.  Our teachers and counselors continue to preach high expectations and challenge students to push themselves academically, and our students are rising to this challenge.  We are very proud of our kids for pushing themselves to perform to the best of their abilities.”

Congrats Allendale High School! And thank you for working toward increased opportunities for our community!
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