Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart and National Education Association President Becky Pringle met with Farmington Public Schools students and staff Sept. 16 at Warner Middle School.

Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart and National Education Association President Becky Pringle met with Farmington Public Schools students and staff Sept. 16 at Warner Middle School.

Photo provided by Kendra Montante

State, national education associations visit Farmington Public Schools

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published October 8, 2021


FARMINGTON — Farmington Public Schools students and educators were recently paid a visit by National Education Association President Becky Pringle and Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart.

The two officials took a tour of Warner Middle School in Farmington Sept. 16 and had a discussion with FPS students and educators to discuss how state and federal funds “have ensured a smooth transition as districts across the state move back to in-person learning,” according to a press release provided by FPS.

FPS Superintendent Chris Delgado was also in attendance when the association presidents visited Warner.

“It was a wonderful visit,” he said. “We had a schedule that was set up where we had a group of students who greeted both of the presidents, chatted with them outside, and then were able to take them on a tour of the school. (Warner) had some nice, open spaces in the quadrant of the school — of each corner of the school — where they have some project-based learning. And so we were able to show both of the presidents the innovative teaching that’s going on in Farmington, using those spaces for group learning, and giving our students an opportunity to chat with officials from the education association.”

Delgado shared another highlight of the visit.

“After probably an hour or so of walking the building and chatting with the kids, we had them sit down with a group of teachers from Warner Middle School,” he said. “They had an open conversation with both presidents about rebounding from COVID and supporting their students. We were honored to have both of these presidents from the associations come and visit our school district, and happy to highlight our kids.”

Delgado said Pringle was visiting schools as part of a listening tour around the country, and was interested in coming to Farmington in part because of the district’s participation in an Educators Leading the Profession program.

He said FPS signed up for the program last year.

“It’s a pilot program through the educational associations that is about grassroots teacher- leadership and helping teachers have more voice in their schools and more active participation in decision-making in their schools — and really to encourage other teachers to step into leadership roles, not only for recruitment of new teachers to the profession, but to validate the contributions that individual teachers have,” Delgado said. “We’ve really supported the coaching model, teacher leadership, and instructional coaching in Farmington Public Schools. And so, it was a wonderful pilot for us to sign up for last year here in Farmington Public Schools.”

Delgado discussed some of the other advantages of the program.

“The more we can tap into these hidden gems within our own ranks, the better for students and their experience,” he said. “A lot (of) times it’s more effective when it comes from a peer encouraging you than a more top-down model, where it’s something administratively being pushed. Both can work, but there’s enough room for all of us to encourage teacher leadership. So, I’m really hopeful and optimistic about the program.”

The visit from the association presidents followed a $17 billion education investment in Michigan, which is the largest in state history, and was accomplished without raising taxes, according to the release.

“A lot (of) the funding was prioritized with the injection of COVID funds, keeping students safe, and to implement our rebounding strategies in helping students get caught up — for those who (need) extra remediation, some additional support, (and) some tutoring services,” Delgado said. “And so, a lot (of) that funding goes directly into those efforts to help students rebound from COVID and get back to normal as soon as possible.”

According to an email sent from FPS, the district has received approximately $19.4 million in federal COVID funding.

Aside from a “big part” of funding going toward instructional materials, among the multiple ways the money has been used, Delgado said a “huge” amount was for personal protection equipment.

He provided some examples.

“Farmington purchased air purifiers for every single classroom and classroom meeting space to make sure that we had not only enhanced HVAC systems, but air purifier systems,” Delgado said. “And then additional hygiene practices, including additional custodial support that we were able to hire. … A lot of it was about safety, hygiene and COVID security, and a big chunk of it was instructional materials and instructional software, coupled with Wi-Fi support.”

The release also states that in February of this year Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created the Student Recovery Advisory Council of Michigan, with the council releasing a blueprint that districts can use to create their own comprehensive student recovery plans.

“The governor’s council set this blueprint that helps schools have a guideline for recommendations for social-emotional supports when they’re in school, as well as academic supports,” Delgado said. “Additional things in the blueprint had to do with family/community engagement, as well as secondary education. So, the council set up a blueprint and roadmap for Michigan, and it helped provide much-needed guidance for local school districts. It fits in very nicely with Farmington’s COVID response plan and our strategic plan.”

Herbart shared some thoughts about the blueprint in the release.

“Our successful return to in-person learning would not be possible without the blueprint,” she stated. “As we help students recover from the pandemic, the blueprint provides actionable tools to foster student success, and our schools now have the funding needed to make those ideas a reality.”

Delgado discussed some of his takeaways of the visit from the association presidents.

“I’m so proud of our young people and how proud they are of their school. They were the forefront of this visit and they were not shy,” he said. “They spoke with the national president, they spoke with the Michigan president, and they were so excited to show them all the teaching that’s going on. … That, coupled with our project-based learning and some of the creative, innovative learning that the students were able to demonstrate.”