Teachers or Proctors?

Mill Creek Middle School makes drastic changes through introduction of an online-based class program

By Nick LeBlanc

During the summer, the middle school made significant changes to students’ curriculum.  Now, instead of the traditional teacher led classes, classes at the middle school aren’t teacher led, they’re computer led.

This new style of class, which is called Summit Basecamp, is inspired and partially funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, and Summit Learning.  The goal this new program is to allow students to take control of their own learning and learn at their own pace.  Rather than having teachers assign work, the curriculum allows students to pick their own projects, leading to less student-teacher interaction.  The goal behind the new classes is to encourage development of important skills like time management and responsibility.  Such skills are deemed to be important for college.  However, despite the benefits, the new curriculum could clash with the traditional curriculum at Dexter High School.

“The positive and the negative with this new program is that students can set their own pace,” Assistant Principal Ken Koenig said. “It’s a positive because students can learn on their own pace, but it’s also a negative because if the pace that the student has is too slow then they will not complete the course within the school year.  This might lead them to have to retake the course at the high school due to the fact that we don’t abide by their style of curriculum.”

Despite this, Mill Creek Middle School Principal, Jamie Bronson, has been looking to implement these type of classes for a while.

“Mill Creek has worked for the past several years to create programs that allow more real world application, self directed learning and personal learning plans,” Bronson said.

To create a self directed learning program, Mill Creek teachers underwent training during the month of June to better understand the Basecamp platform.  In addition, the administration at the Middle School has spent countless hours over the summer working on the curriculum and setting up logistics for the program.  The work done on the program during the summer has led to the creation of classes that current 7th and 8th grade students are going through now.

“It’s quite a dramatic shift in teaching and learning,” Bronson said. “It’s a platform where there are some activities students can work at their own pace but also teacher instruction on projects and concept units.”

This change led to a change in the technology offered as well.  Over the summer, to make the classes possible, the middle school purchased new chromebook laptops.  Despite the implementation of the new system, not all classes offered at the middle school are based off of the Summit Basecamp program.

The work done over the summer has created something that the administration at Mill Creek is excited about.  The opportunities the new Summit Basecamp program claims to possess is something the District of Dexter hasn’t seen before.

“Basecamp is so much more than I can put in a single interview,” Bronson said. “Kids are doing great and teachers love the mentor aspect of the program.”

Mrs. Burgess moves back to Mill Creek

The beloved math teacher spent the past four years at DHS

By Tessa Kipke

This year, a lot changed at Dexter High School. Teachers and students came and went, to other schools, college, and beyond. Though we gained several new teachers, we also lost some to Mill Creek Middle School, and schools in other districts. Lisa Burgess, who has been in Dexter for 14 years, made a change this year.

Burgess began her career at Ypsilanti High School, teaching there for two years before moving to Dexter to teach math. She had always envisioned herself teaching high schoolers, but when it came time to teach eighth graders at Mill Creek, she said, “that worked well for me.”

As a teacher, Burgess doesn’t necessarily prefer one age group to another. Despite the perceived difference in maturity level, she simply enjoys “being with young people anywhere from 13-14 years on up.”

Additionally, says Burgess, “I like the teaming aspect of Mill Creek, working with teachers on a team to develop and track the whole student.”

Despite this, Burgess was moved to the high school four years ago (in what is called an involuntary transfer) because of her specific math certifications.

However, Burgess enjoys the different environments, students, and curriculum of both DHS and Mill Creek. In particular, she enjoys the experience of seeing students grow and change.

“I really enjoyed watching students grow, mature, and develop interests from ninth graders to seniors over the years,” Burgess said about her high school experience.

But back in Mill Creek, she’s excited for how eighth graders “often come into eighth grade really young and goofy, and I watch them grow into young adults throughout the year.”

“I would love to give a shout out to many of the repeat students I would have had this year; it was a tough decision to leave knowing I wouldn’t get to teach you again,” Burgess said. “I am confident that all my former students with be in great hands with the rest of the staff at the high school.”

Laptops For All

DHS will have a 1:1 student-technology ratio this fall along with strengthened WiFi

By: Truman Stovall

Changes were made over the summer to the district’s arsenal of technology. Students will have more access to the internet than ever in the classroom, especially in the high school.

It was made possible through grants, whereby the Dexter schools administration was able to “[purchase] Chromebooks for all of Creekside and Mill Creek… [and] move their macbooks to the high school,” Superintendent Chris Timmis said.

Executive Director of Instruction Mollie Sharrar added that “additional laptops and carts in the high school will allow both teachers and students increased access to technology where they will be able to save and share documents easily. Hopefully, this will facilitate increased collaboration with the use of Google Classroom, Google Docs and Google Hangouts.”

A system for distribution will likely be ready by the first day.

“Teachers will probably check out a cart at the beginning of the year,” DHS Principal Kit Moran said. “It’ll have a barcode – it’s their cart for the year. Only half of them have printers, so we’ll prioritize classrooms that need them.

“Some classrooms don’t need carts, like Mergler, Mackinder, Mendez, and Stockwell; They have desktops already. English and social studies teachers will need one; Math teachers maybe not as much.”

Since there aren’t enough carts for every class (anywhere from 34 to 40), some carts may go unclaimed and be used like carts were in years before. Teachers without a personal cart still need one from time to time for a class period, so they will still have the option to set aside a time for one of them.

Or they may just borrow them from the teacher next door. All of this will be worked out by the administration.

Many students will consider the new and improved WiFi, which is promised to be stronger and better suited to handle both the demands on the new laptops and students’ mobile devices, the cherry on top.

Moran believes that, in the future, the school’s access to technology, when it can be used to help kids learn and prepare them for jobs and higher education, is “kind of cliché, but limited by our imagination.”

Mrs. Fyke Makes the Switch

After a four-year stretch of teaching at DHS, the beloved English teacher is moving back to Mill Creek

 

By Tessa Kipke

Jill Fyke has always loved teaching middle schoolers. She started in Dexter as an English teacher at Mill Creek, where she found the students and community of team teachers to be “pretty magical, actually.” For the next 11 years, Fyke’s signature passion was for what she was teaching, and the students she taught, became a staple in the middle school.

Then, in the fall of 2012, Fyke underwent an “involuntary transfer,” or a switch brought on by a decrease of students in the eighth grade, that sent her up to the high school.

“I didn’t really decide; it was kind of decided for me,” Fyke said of the change. Nevertheless, her impact has been huge among high schoolers.

“I really liked being in Mrs. Fyke’s classroom, because you could tell she cared so much about her students and the subject,” said Vivian Culp, an exchange student who took Fyke’s creative writing class last year.

Fyke had a good time at the high school, too, stating the impact of going with her middle schoolers and watching them flourish into young adults (“or ‘real people’ I would call them,” Fyke joked).

“Some of the deeper conversations we would have at the high school were awesome,” Fyke continued. “It’s a trade-off, for sure.”

Now, Fyke is making another change, this time voluntary. This September, a teacher many students have grown to see as an integral part of their high school careers will be taking her leave of DHS and moving back to Mill Creek.

Though many high schoolers will mourn the loss of Fyke in the halls of DHS, her former students are happy to see her return to her original post; for many, she remains a beloved middle school teacher entrenched in memories from those adolescent years.

“Mrs. Fyke was a really good teacher in the high school, but I think she was the best teacher in eighth grade. You learned from her less because she was your teacher and more because she was someone you were in a room spending time with,” said Lucas Bell, a Dexter alum who originally had Fyke in middle school.

Fyke is incredibly excited for her return to Mill Creek, where she will resume teaching middle school English.

“The only reason I took the opportunity to go back to Mill Creek is I’ve simply always considered myself a middle school teacher,” Fyke said. “I remember how hard the middle school years were for me when I was at that awkward age, and I always thought if I can make it a little easier for one or two other kids coming through, it would have been worth it.

“I’m definitely excited to be back in my old room, with my old teammates; working on my old curriculum to make it even better than it was before, and getting those eighth graders ready for DHS.”

Former Technology Director Sentenced In Embezzlement Case

By Kyle Doyle & Lucas Bell

Brian Tungl, the former Technology Director for Dexter Community Schools, was found guilty of embezzling more than $50,000 in iPads, Macbooks,cell phones, cameras, batteries, hard drives, and other pieces of technology from the district on May 23, 2016,

School officials have stated that Tungl stole somewhere close to $300,000 over the course of  four years.

The legal battle that started following the 2014 investigation into Tungl’s actions was drawn out over the course of two years, finally ending yesterday. Judge David S. Swartz, of the Washtenaw County Trial Court, sentenced Tungl to six months jail time, 500 hours of community service, two years of probation, and restitution to the district. The amount of restitution will be officially decided within the next 60 days.

“We are saddened at DHS and Dexter Schools that a former employee took advantage of their position to purchase items for their personal use,” DHS Principal Kit Moran said. “Schools are already strapped for cash and knowing this a school employee knowingly embezzled school money… That hurts. And it really hurts kids!”

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Latest SPACE Show Was a Success

By George Deljevic

On May 20th, the talented Dexter High School students of the SPACE Club performed in front of a huge audience in the high school CPA.

Acts such as Barry Megler, Stewie Weber, Jake Lamb, Zach Barnes, and singer Kate Emrich redid the hit single “Let it Be.” The talent didn’t stop there, Craig Rafail performed one of his songs and blew the crowd away with his amazing guitar skills.

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Clinton, Trump appear on collision course

By George Deljevic

The 2016 presidential election is heating up at this time of year. Primaries and Caucuses are happening left and right. In the thick of all this there are some presidential candidates that we have our eye on.

Illustrator - Christopher Gaskin
Illustrator – Christopher Gaskin

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, businessman Donald Trump, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Lately, The Democratic party favorite is Clinton, while on the right side of the spectrum Trump is keeping up his position at the top. Continue reading “Clinton, Trump appear on collision course”

Why Students are Opting for Reduced Schedules

By Jesse Linton

Senior year is a fun and exciting time for students, but also requires focus and effort to finish their high school career strong.

Something many seniors choose to do is take a reduced schedule. A reduced schedule is offered for seniors either first or sixth hour, shrinking the school day to only five periods.

There are various reasons students can have a reduced schedule.

“I recommend reduced schedules for students who are working after school, for dual enrollment purposes or if no classes are available that makes sense for student to take, or if no credit is needed,” counselor Kristie Doyle said.

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New Extended School Year

Michigan public schools feel students need more days in the school year. 
By Joe Ramey

Next year, Dexter High School, along with every other public school in Michigan will be implementing an extended school year.  

A five-day extension to the end of the school year will meet the state requirement for hours in school a year.

A state law saying public schools are not allowed to start before Labor Day has hindered the possibility of keeping the last day of school a consistent date.

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Flint Water Crisis

By Lucas Bell & Gigi Saadeldin

When the average American opens their tap, the water which comes out can be described as clean, refreshing, or clear; ever since April of 2014, the water in Flint has been anything but.

The first thing citizens of Flint noticed was the color, ranging from blues to brown. The second thing they noticed was the pungent odor.

In the mid 1980s, Flint fell into a deep economic depression after the closing of a General Motors plant, still affecting the city’s population today. In an attempt for the city to save money, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder changed Flint’s water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage (sourced from Lake Huron as well as the Detroit River) to the Flint River in order to save money. The corrosive river water caused lead from aging pipes to seep into the water supply – inducing extremely elevated levels of lead.

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