Morenci's school success acknowledged by state 04.27.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci Area High School is one of more than 130 Michigan schools identified as Beating the Odds.

The Michigan Department of Education released a list of schools last week described as overcoming barriers to reach academic success. The school districts making the list face factors such as low economic status, race and ethnicity.

Morenci Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Osborne said he isn’t familiar with the study and the education department website doesn’t offer clear information about the news. Despite that, he’s pleased to see the district recognized for its achievement.

He assumes that socioeconomic factors are what placed the district on the list. For example, the number of families qualifying for free and reduced school lunches is high compared to other area districts.

Despite the economic challenges facing many families, high school students consistently score at or above the state average on annual testing.

In a press release from the state, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan said, “These are schools that are doing remarkable things to help their students achieve, despite the odds being stacked against them.”

One study identified schools performing above predicted levels. A second study—the one in which Morenci appeared—identified schools that perform better than a comparison group of school with similar demographics.

“What it really comes down to,” Dr. Osborne said, “is teachers in the classroom. It’s the impact of teachers and families, and the involvement of both.”

High school/middle school principal Stephen Philipp names several factors  that he’s observed as he’s gotten to know the staff in his first year with the district, including:

• The staff identifying academically weak students and encouraging these student to seek additional help, to prevent students from falling behind, getting discouraged, dropping out, etc.

• Parent notification of students performance, good or bad;

• Offering parents an option for improving students performance through the ZAP program and other after-school help.

• Parents holding their student accountable by helping that student make the best decisions to finish work and look beyond high school.

“These are just a few of the many things that add up to student success,” Philipp said. “I believe student success is multi-leveled.”

Teacher and staff involvement in students’ lives; community members involved in students’ lives; student expectations set by staff and community all play a role.

Staff and administrators now need to examine the data, Philipp said, and look closely at areas where the school is showing strengths and weaknesses.

Dr. Flanagan takes that a step further.

“If I were a local superintendent again, I would contact that school beating the odds and find out what they are doing and put those things in place in my schools,” Flanagan said.

  • Homecoming Court
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  • Front.cross
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  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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