A new program being rolled out in Lake Shore Public Schools aims to build and strengthen relationships among classmates and between students and staff.

A new program being rolled out in Lake Shore Public Schools aims to build and strengthen relationships among classmates and between students and staff.

Photo provided by Lake Shore Public Schools

New teachers, technology on tap for school year in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 29, 2019


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The introduction of iPads, a new positivity program and new teachers will greet students across the three St. Clair Shores school districts this week as they head back to school for the 2019-20 school year.

Over the summer at South Lake Schools, bond work was completed to renovate the bathrooms at Elmwood Elementary, Koepsell Elementary and South Lake Middle School. There was also some work done on the heating and cooling system at Koepsell.

“Not necessarily glamorous things,” said South Lake Superintendent Ted VonHiltmayer, “(but) people will feel way more comfortable when they come back.”

Most of the work occurred at South Lake High School, he said, including the construction of a secure vestibule for the front entrance.

“Now they’ll be buzzed in and have to get buzzed in again to go into the main office,” he said.

Previously, visitors were buzzed in and then allowed into the main hallway, where they were greeted by a member of the staff at the front desk but otherwise could have access to the entire school.

The band and choir rooms also underwent extensive renovations, with new acoustic panels, carpeting, paint, ceiling tiles and LED lighting installed. In addition, the locker rooms for the pool and the main locker rooms had ADA-compliant showers added, along with new fixtures, plumbing and tile work done. New LED lighting, carpet and paint were also installed in the counseling and assistant principal’s offices.

“It was a nice space, but it will even be nicer when they come back,” VonHiltmayer said.

The big news in South Lake Schools is an initiative to go one-to-one with iPads for students across the district. Some teachers were trained with the devices over the summer. South Lake is calling them “Apple Pioneers,” and they will be introducing instruction with the iPads this school year, “so they can learn how to utilize that technology and teach others.”

VonHiltmayer said the plan is for every student in grades five through 12 to have their own device by the 2020-21 school year. Kindergarten through fourth grade will have class sets to use.

“The plan is to use this year to try to work out as many bugs as we possibly can,” he said. “It’s easy to buy the devices. Not so easy for people to actually utilize them and do it well, so that’s what we’re focusing on.”

In Lake Shore Public Schools, elementary school media centers are still undergoing large renovations that will add new technology and collaboration spaces.

“I’m excited to see how those turn out,” said Lake Shore Superintendent Joe DiPonio.

All buildings in Lake Shore Public Schools are receiving new secured entrances with a redundancy of security that will require visitors to be buzzed in from outside the buildings and then once again to enter the inner corridors of the schools.

The district is also rolling out a Positivity Project with 24 character traits that it will be working to instill in students across all grades.

“The whole idea behind it is strengthening and building relationships between our kids and with our staff,” DiPonio said.

Those relationships will also be strengthened with a new program at Lake Shore Middle School: WEB, Where Everybody Belongs, a mentorship program between eighth graders and sixth graders.

The Lake Shore Board of Education also has a new member, Michael Bakotich, who was appointed by a unanimous vote to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Shannon Ketelhut. She was required to resign by board policy before applying for a position within the district. As of press time, the district was still interviewing candidates for the position she was seeking.

DiPonio said that Bakotich is a parent of two first graders in the district who is a strong advocate for public education and has a background as a lawyer. Bakotich’s term runs through Dec. 31, 2022.

“He definitely displayed a ‘kids first’ mentality, and his comments were in lockstep with our vision and values as a district,” DiPonio said in an email interview.

There are 12 new teachers across the Lake Shore district and a new principal at Masonic Heights Elementary, Matt Barranca. There are also new teams: boys and girls varsity lacrosse, and a high school trap and clay shooting team.

Lakeview Public Schools is preparing for a special school election Nov. 5 to approve a $54 million bond proposal that would address major capital needs, safety and security without raising taxes, Superintendent Karl Paulson said.

Lakeview hired 18 new teachers, an American Sign Language interpreter and coordinator of the hearing impaired, a payroll/bookkeeper secretary and a food service employee.

“Students will not only be greeted by new faces this year, but they will have new textbooks, including implementing new hands-on science curriculum materials aligned to the Next Gen standards,” Paulson said in an email statement.