Story and photos by Lisa Carolin
Members of the Chelsea School District had a lot to be proud of when State Superintendent Sheila Alles toured the district’s four schools March 20.
Alles, who is Interim State Superintendent for the Michigan Department of Education, was appointed to the job by the State Board of Education in May of 2018, and her office contacted the Chelsea School District’s Superintendent Julie Helber earlier this year to request a visit.
“It is a fairly common occurrence that she visit school districts to stay connected with the local public schools,” said Helber. “We are certainly honored that she selected the Chelsea School District for one of her visits. We have an agenda set that will give her a good overview of our district; the Strategic Framework and highlights from each school building.”
Alles saw flexible learning space, examples of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math), makerspaces, and early literacy work at the various schools in Chelsea.
“I’m most impressed with the passion teachers and administrators have for students and their learning in the Chelsea schools,” said Alles, who previously worked as a kindergarten-eighth-grade teacher in the Plymouth-Canton school district and as an administrator in the Livonia Public Schools. “The climate of Chelsea’s schools is uplifting, warm and welcoming.”
When she visited North Creek Elementary School, Principal Kimberly Gillow introduced Alles to two tour guides – second graders Greta Wiseley and Felipe Adam-Rita – both of whom are in the school’s student leadership group.
“We practiced by pretending that Miss Gillow was a student and showed her the special classrooms in the school,” said Greta, confidently clad in a pair of Wonder Woman high tops.
Filipe added, “I like to be a tour guide for the music room, library, gym and art rooms.”
for Gillow, the focus during her meeting with Alles was on early literacy work with kindergartners.
“We’re excited about what’s happening,” said Gillow.
Alles asked her if North Creek’s teachers are comfortable with readers’ and writers’ workshops, and Gillow replied, “They’re getting there.”
Alles said she was impressed with the growth this school year that Gillow described. She also expressed admiration for the condition Chelsea’s schools are in.
“You can tell people take pride in the schools here,” said Alles.