Eleven Center Line Public Schools students received Turn Around awards this year.

Eleven Center Line Public Schools students received Turn Around awards this year.

Photo by Maria Allard

Students recognized for turning themselves around

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published June 2, 2023


CENTER LINE — Growing up isn’t always easy.

Sometimes there are problems at home, family relationship issues, or challenges at school that affect a child’s academics, behavior or social skills.

But sometimes those students who go through difficult times work on themselves to find academic success or improvements in their behaviors.

Several years ago, Center Line Public Schools administrator Shannon McBrady saw the value in that and began a program known as the Turn Around Achievement awards. Teachers, counselors, principals and support staff could nominate students who had turned themselves around to become better students.

This year, the Turn Around ceremony was held May 31 in the media center at Center Line High School. The event began with breakfast. Derrick Jackson, behavioral interventionist at Roose Elementary School, was the keynote speaker. With family members present, 11 students were honored during the ceremony.

“I’m really moved by the love between the staff and the students. Thank you to all of the staff members that recognized their students and that made the change,” said McBrady, the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources. “This moment doesn’t define you. The bad moments don’t define you. What defines you is to keep moving forward. Keep trying. Keep failing and putting a smile on your face and trying again tomorrow.”

Roose educator Amy Dugan couldn’t hide her emotions when recognizing fourth grader Daniel Orkisz, who had pretty much been withdrawn this year. But she saw him start to open up, even enough to join the soccer team.

“I’m so proud of you for becoming a confident man,” Dugan told a smiling Orkisz.

Crothers Elementary School fifth grade teacher Nathan Landoski and social worker Raquel Edwards honored fifth grader Isaiah Lockridge. Landoski remembers Lockridge from last year when he was in the fourth grade.

“I would see him in the hallway all the time, just sitting out there. During my planning, I would go by and say, ‘Hi,’ and just kind of check in with him,” Landoski said. “He wouldn’t say much, but it was my connection with him.”

When he saw some positive changes in Lockridge, Landoski knew he wanted to nominate him for the Turn Around award, and Edwards and Principal Matt Provost were on board with it.

“I’ve seen you grow into an amazing young man. I know you’re going to continue to grow from here,” Edwards said. “There will be times where you’ll feel that pressure that you aren’t being your best self, and that’s OK. This will remind you that I will keep growing.”

At the podium, Lockridge thanked his family.

Wolfe Middle School teacher Sheila Scott, who instructs students with cognitive impairments, sets the bar “very high” in her classroom.

“I expect you to reach up and jump it, or I am going to pull you up and we’re going to get there,” Scott told her students, who were up for the challenge. “They have just blown me away. I’m just amazed at them.”

Scott nominated two students for the Turn Around award: seventh grader Samara Price and eighth grader Sasha Mayes-Mack.

Wolfe English language arts teacher Jennifer De Smet told the crowd about the strides eighth grader Tasnia Jannat made in her reading skills.

“Right from the very start of the school year, Tasnia began checking books out of our classroom library. I remember one of the things that she shared during her personal culture presentation was that she loved to read,” De Smet said.

De Smet added that Jannat’s fall Northwest Evaluation Association score was 232.

“A 232 is a very, very high score for an eighth grader,” De Smet said. “During the past two years, while learning an entirely new language, Tasnia brought her overall reading skill level from just the fourth percentile to the 80th percentile. A true turn around indeed.”

Jannat thanked her teachers for the honor and shared a bit about her reading journey. At first, she didn’t want to read, but at the encouragement of De Smet and also Wolfe English as a second language teacher Autumn Pabst, she began to enjoy reading.

“The last two years, I didn’t know English at all but Ms. Pabst helped me so much. Her class is my favorite place in the entire school,” Jannat said. “Ms. De Smet is one of my favorite teachers. She helped me so much.”

Pabst honored eighth grader Bineta Diop. Academy 21 Principal Jennifer Wickersham and administrative assistant Sheri Ballard recognized ninth grader Saumik Shahriyar. Roose second grade teacher Alex Pauls recognized Major Garner, and third grade teacher Lanae Kruk honored third grader Jacob Brown.

Center Line High School counselor Dori Babcok, principal assistant Grace Lewis and Assistant Principal Valencia Garrison nominated Carly Sawoscinski while Assistant Principal John Grob recognized Andre Micou.