UCS equips students with new online toolkit

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 1, 2017

 Michael Tiseo, of Macomb Township, watches his son, also named Michael, draw at a Beacon Tree Elementary School open house Aug. 29. The Utica Community Schools district’s first scheduled day of the school year was Sept. 5.

Michael Tiseo, of Macomb Township, watches his son, also named Michael, draw at a Beacon Tree Elementary School open house Aug. 29. The Utica Community Schools district’s first scheduled day of the school year was Sept. 5.

Photo by Sean Work

As students get ready to use their new school supplies this September, the Utica Community Schools district is providing students with a toolkit of its own.

On the first day of school, Sept. 5, the school district was expected to offer a free collection of electronic and online resources called the UCS Success Toolkit. The toolkit is available to students and their families via the UCS website and mobile app.

UCS Superintendent Christine Johns said the school district has previously offered some of the resources, but what’s key is that the district has added more resources and put them in one place, either online or through the app.

“We are very pleased that we’re going to be able to provide these free resources to our community in one place. You’ll be able to find it right on the (website’s) front page,” she said. “It really supports the academic excellence and student learning in the district.”

The online toolkit will allow students to easily reach learning resources and online lessons through programs such as Khan Academy. But this year, a couple of new options will be available through the toolkit for students.

For instance, this year UCS students will acquire a virtual library card made possible through the Suburban Library Cooperative. This tool lets kids freely use certain reference materials at the Clinton-Macomb, Shelby Township, Sterling Heights and Utica libraries, school officials said.

Johns explained how partnering with various libraries within the school district will give kids access to e-books, music and more. In addition, kids will also be able to ask tutors for help on tough problems or assignments via Tutor.com.

Johns said the students have been using the district’s online resources, and UCS is trying to encourage more use of them. For instance, many parents would once pay for SAT exam preparation, but now students can use the UCS Success Toolkit’s programs to enhance their SAT scores at no cost to their families.

“It’s all about putting the resources in our children’s and family’s hands,” she said.

Naviance, a tool that helps families plan for their kids’ college and career paths, will now not just be open to students in grades nine through 12. For the first time, it will also be open to seventh- and eighth-graders this year.

School officials say the tool lets users look up colleges, scholarships, careers and more.

The parent version of the Naviance tool is called Family Connection, UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy said.

McAvoy praised Naviance.

“It has provided clarity,” he said. “It has provided direction, and it really has given our kids a competitive advantage.”

Learn more about Utica Community Schools by visiting www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.