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February 2, 2023


GLPS Families,

January seemed to fly by, but as we head into February, we are continuing the great work in our classrooms and across the district to help students learn and grow. 

February is Black History Month, and throughout GLPS, our buildings and classrooms will be engaging in activities that celebrate the contributions and history of the African American community. This is also a good time to remind you that Black History Month, along with other celebrations, recognitions, and dates that are important to our families can be found on our district calendar, which is shared in our elementary newsletters, or here on our website. If there are events or celebrations that are important to your family that are not on the calendar, please reach out to Director of Communications John Ellsworth to let us know.

In my message a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I would talk about strategic plan goals, new positions, and board policies over the coming weeks. So, in keeping with that list, today I want to share some exciting news with you about two new positions we have in the district. The first is a Student Safety Supervisor, and the second is a Student Inclusion, Mental Health, and Wellness Supervisor. These two positions are connected to our strategic plan, as they are directly in line with the district’s vision that Grand Ledge Public Schools will provide every student with a high quality education, critical thinking skills, & social development to reach their highest potential in a safe and inclusive environment, along with our belief statement that We believe in a safe, inclusive environment where students can explore their interests and learn the skills they need to thrive in their communities.

Chris Chester started in January as our brand new Student Safety Supervisor. Chris has done an outstanding job already, bringing years of law enforcement experience and school safety training into the role, as he was most recently our school liaison officer at the high school before joining our team. The state has an allocation in our state aid fund specifically for school safety, and that has allowed us to pay for Chris's position, along with a myriad of school safety upgrades. School safety is tremendously important, and having a school safety expert on our team shows the district’s commitment to doing everything we can to make sure our students, staff, and families are safe on our campus.

In addition to dollars specifically allocated for school safety, the state provided us with money to be used for student mental health, and we are utilizing some of that funding to bring additional expertise into our district in this area as well. This week, Juan Castillo started with us as the district's new Student Inclusion, Mental Health, and Wellness Supervisor. The goal of this position is to tie together resources, support students and staff, and ensure that we have a safe, welcoming environment throughout our district. Juan brings a great deal of social work experience and expertise into the role, along with a background in leveraging community resources to meet the needs of students, and he will use that experience to provide support for students, staff, and families in GLPS.

It should also be noted that the two positions only used a portion of the funding; there are additional dollars available for Chris and Juan to coordinate programs, purchase materials, and provide programs for kids and training for staff. We will see an impact across the district from these positions and the additional dollars that have been allocated, because we have been able to hire two extremely well qualified individuals with broad experiences and knowledge. We know that a safe and supportive environment, from both a physical and emotional safety perspective, leads to better educational outcomes for kids, and GLPS is committed to utilizing all of the resources we have to create that type of learning space for our students.

As I wrap up this week, I want to again thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with you and your children every day. GLPS is a wonderful place to learn and grow, and we appreciate your ongoing support.

Thank you for all you do; as always, I am #proudtobeacomet!

Dr. Bill Barnes
Superintendent of Schools

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