February 2017

Director's Note

Greetings all,


I’m sure you are aware that a nasty virus has been taking its toll on our students and faculty. This weekend the cleaning crew will be taking extra steps to sanitize all surfaces in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. You can help us by keeping your child home for twenty-four hours after the break of a non-medicated fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.


The timing of this outbreak coincides with “count day” which is Wednesday February 8. If your child is ill on “count day” please do not bring your child to school. We have an alternate method for including your child in the count.


In late November and early December, third through eighth grade students participated in the TerraNova Assessment. Individual reports are now available at the front office. Please stop in at your convenience to pick up your child’s report. If you have questions about your child’s results, please contact you child’s teacher. If you have remaining questions, please feel free to contact me.


January and February tend to be busy months for both students and staff. The shorter days limit the exposure to sun and the outdoors. For many, it is time for a short break. Honey Creek will be closed on February 16th and 17th for our mid-winter break.  We will resume classes on February 20th.


Stay healthy!






Count Day

PTO Meeting

Mini Mid-Winter Break

Board Meeting

1/2 day



1/2 day

1/2 day

Board Meeting

Talent Show

1/2 day


The Honey Creek Mission

Honey Creek Community School develops the whole child by integrating a rigorous, project-based curriculum, real-life experiences and expertise, a focus on relationships, and an emphasis on the importance of community in a supportive, multi-age classroom setting.
If we all follow these rules it will make for much safer and more orderly pick-up and drop-off periods.

PTO News

The PTO will have a very important meeting this month to discuss rightsizing the organization given our volunteer availability vs needs. We hope to see you all there, and there will be free bagels! We need to discuss how we want to position the PTO for the future, we think it might be helpful to play more of a social role. Also, we need to let the community know the open positions for next year and propose what we need to cut next year. Please make an effort to attend in person or online. Make sure you participate in the STEM Fair this month February 24th after school. Please feel free to email comments or suggestions.

February PTO Meeting: 
Fri, Feb 10, 2017
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM EST 

Please join my meeting from Google Chrome on your computer. 

Get Chrome:


What's Happening in the Classrooms

Early Elementary

As part of our Fairness Unit celebrating the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists, we are reviewing the conflict resolution technique we use at school called “S-O-S.” Students are taught how to use it in the classroom and teachers help them work through the process until they are able to do it independently in most cases. If there is a conflict, students work through these steps:

S = Story: each child takes a turn to explain their side of the story (without interruptions) to the other child. They are asked to look at the other person, to use a kind voice, a calm face, and “I-Statements.” For example, “I felt sad when you built the Lego car I built.” “I feel mad because you take those pieces every day and I wanted to use them.”

O = Options: Both children propose options for solving the problem. For example, “You could use them tomorrow.” “You could let me have them now.” “I could give you the piece you want the most and use a different piece on my car.”

S = Solution: They settle on a mutually agreeable solution. “Okay, you can give me that one piece I really want.”


Middle Elementary

The month of February will have the middle elementary students continuing to focus on CAFE strategies during their Daily 5 block. We will also work with mental math, strategies to build our basic math facts, explore and work with area and perimeter and solve story problems as well as learn to regroup multi-digit problems. In social studies, we will begin to learn more about how the European explorers changed Michigan and the Native Americans who lived in the past and the contribution of the Erie Canal and immigration. For science, we will be conducting a STEM project that focuses on the properties of matter by creating a pet toy.


Middle School

Language Arts

Sound, Lights, Wave Action! In the middle school classrooms we are working with waves and how we interact with them on a daily basis. We will be taking a look at both sound and light waves to help us understand how they are similar and different. Each will result in a small project to demonstrate our manipulation respectively, and we hope to better understand the nature and behavior of them both. In the first week of February, the middle school will take a field trip to the University of Michigan Physics Demo Lab where we will experience waves at a different level.


Don't Forget Our Specials!

Physical Education

We have been having a lot of fun in the pool and the gym over the past couple of weeks.  All of the students, across all grade levels, have learned the steps to the same dance, “Shake a Tail Feather.”  The classes will continue to practice during warm-up in the gym over the next couple of weeks so that the steps become second nature for all of the grades.

We have just begun our basketball unit at school.  The K1 classes will be mixing in some heart health lessons and jump roping along with an introduction to basketball skills.  The 2/3 classes will be focused on skills such as passing, dribbling, and shooting.  In 4/5 grade students will begin to learn more game rules and play in dynamic settings.  Middle school classes will be combining two units- net ball and basketball- over the next couple of weeks.

Our middle school elective class this semester will be a conditioning class in which students will work to complete many different types of workouts and increase their level of fitness.

In the pool, we are building up a lot more endurance and getting more swimming in this semester.  I would like to remind students to bring goggles if they need them as the longer we swim, the more difficult it is to improve if they have their eyes closed or head above water.



There’s a lot of exciting stuff going on in technology this semester. The 2/3 classes are working on their research skills. We’ve been working on using keywords in search engines to find information online. Our next project is to create an ABC’s of Inventions book using Storyjumper. Each student was assigned one or 2 letters of the alphabet. They have to find an invention that starts with that letter and create a page of a book that will give information about the invention.
The 4/5 classes just finished up their Pure Michigan videos, and they turned out great! You can learn about some great places in Michigan and check out their videos on this interactive map! Either click on pinned locations to view the videos, or click the down arrow next to “All Items” under teacher names to view videos by individual students. 

Here's a link to the map!

Middle schoolers just finished up their 5 Minutes in History podcasts. They used to record their scripts and add music and effects. They did a nice job on them! Next up for Middle School is researching a job in the STEM field and completing a creative project to present the career they chose.

The middle school elective this semester is a coding adventure. Students will learn about the uses of several different programming languages, and then pick one to learn the basics of and write programs in. They can choose from any of the languages listed on Codeacademy. Students in this elective who are also on the brand new First Tech Challenge team will be able to work on their Java programs for the tournament in May.



K/1 music has been focusing on showing me their steady beat, as well as telling the difference between gentle and strong. Our gentle has kids ice skating across the floor, and doing solos for their classmates. The strong activity is coming soon! We’re also experimenting with the different voices we can make such as a mouse voice, grandma voice, whisper voice, shouting voice, speaking voice, and more. See how many voices your student can remember, along with the chant!

2/3 and 4/5 have both been in the midst of a unit on analyzing music. We’ve listened to the William Tell Overture, Ode to Joy, and O Fortuna so far. The kids have had a great time coming up with narratives and illustrations for the music based on its feel, style, and form. There’s been everything from a sword fight, to a king with a head that’s too big for his crown, and a moldy fridge!


Both bands are making great progress through their music! We’ve started a rhythm of the day to improve music reading literacy and encourage the students to help each other with accuracy. The middle school band is very excited about what they’re preparing for everything this semester! There might be a movie theme in the works…

It’s finally time for the ukulele elective to begin! Students will explore music reading through finger picking and chord strumming on the ukulele.  I hope to get them playing some popular music and possibly creating a playing video of their own. I can’t wait to see their progress!


It was wonderful to meet many families on curriculum night. I hope you enjoyed the awesome art made by your kids. I am always impressed with their work especially when it is on display.

Here’s what’s going on now:

K-1 art: We are just starting to work with weaving. The K-1’s did a great job with this task. We all worked together on cutting the loom from paper and then practiced weaving paper strips under and over to create a woven look. It was a lot of fun and everyone did a great job.

2-3’s: We are building on a big word we learned last year in 2/3’s..ANTHROPOMORPHIC! This is when someone adds human characteristics or features to something that is not human. Last year we made Aztec Sun’s with faces. This year we are making animals with human bodies. The kids enjoyed watching the videos by William Wegman, an artist that uses his own dogs that he has given human bodies to and clothing. Check it out here.

4-5’s are making some great posters! We looked at poster art from 19th century France to more modern posters by Shepard Fairey. I can’t wait to see the finished artworks.

We are going abstract in Middle School Base Art! We have spent a lot of time working on drawings that require a lot of thought. This week we started abstract color wheel paintings. Using the primary colors from the color wheel we mixed made our own abstract drawings that are filled with colors.

Our new Middle School Elective is focused on Drawing. We started by learning about how the hemisphere’s of our brain help us to learn to draw. We made a Vase/Face drawing to create an optical illusion. This project comes from a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. It has a lot of activities that help train your brain to see like an artist.

After School Programs

ON-SITE EXTENDED DAY STUDENT CARE WILL BE AVAILABLE ON THE FOLLOWING “EARLY DISMISSAL DAYS:” February 23rd; March 10, 17th & 28th; April 27th, and May 5th.  If you have not already registered online, please register by emailing  Also, please remember that you MUST give us 48-hour WRITTEN notice to cancel any pre-registered care without being held financially responsible.


REMINDER: NO ON-SITE STUDENT CARE DURING BREAKS OR ON CERTAIN HOLIDAYS.  This includes:  February 16th & 17th; April 3rd-7th; May 29th; and June 14th.

Please pick up a registration form from the after school programs bulletin board and stay tuned for information on these and other activities:


4H, Art, Ballet, Baseball, Campfire, Capoeira, Chinese, Cooking, Crafts, Cross Country Skiing, Dance, Drums, Eco-Maniacs, Electronic Music, Fitness, Football, French, Gaming, Garden, German, Girls on the Run, Golf, Guitar, Guys on the Go, Gymnastics, Handwriting, Harp, Hip Hop, Japanese, Juggling, Knitting, Korean, Music Lessons, Open Swim, Orchestra, Personal Training, Photography, Pilates, R.E.C.E.S.S., Rocks & Robots, Rockets, Scratch Programming (January), Sewing, Skateboarding, Soccer (K-8), Spanish, Speed Stackers, Spiral Scouts, Star Fleet Academy, Strings, Study Skills, Stunts, Swim Lessons, Tap Dance, Tech, Tennis, Tutoring, Volleyball, WESO, Writing, Yoga, Youth In Government, Zumba



PLEASE CARE WHAT YOU WEAR.  Recess will be outside everyday.  Except for hazardous weather conditions (lightning, severe storms, wind chill below -10° F), we will always go outside for recess.  There is limited indoor space that allows the children opportunities to move around energetically.  Children should always dress for the weather.  Students must wear snow pants, boots, coat, hat, and mittens or gloves in order to play in the snow and sled.


CAFETERIA MICROWAVE USE:  Please do not send your children to school with lunches that need to be microwaved - ESPECIALLY if your child needs assistance.  We do not have enough adults available to help prepare student lunches, and Honey Creek staff will not be held responsible for burned lunches or students.



Please keep our fabulous camp with field trips, daily swimming, and flexible scheduling, and specialty camps on your list of summer fun.  Although we work hard to keep our camp affordable, did you know that any and all excess summer camp funds directly support our school?  Please forward this information to friends and colleagues who may also be interested and encourage them to email us so we can add them to our list.  In the meantime, LIKE us on Facebook!



Service-Learning and building a spirit of service in order to positively impact the world are core components of Honey Creek Community School's mission.  Curriculum-Based Service-Learning happens in the classrooms, but many students are motivated to serve others outside of school hours as well.  Each year we recognize students and families who spend 50+ hours/year serving others with the President's Volunteer Service Award.


The deadline to submit hours is June 14th, 2017.  An awards ceremony will be held the following year to honor all recipients.


In the meantime, thank you for supporting our students as they learn to become philanthropists: giving of their time, talents, and treasures to benefit the common good.  In short, thank you for being heroes!




Board News


December 21, 2016


Board Members Present: Megan Masson-Minock, Karen Andrews, Bridgette Carr, Bryan Cole, Matthias Kirch, Pam Reister


Staff and Community Members Present: Al Waters, Shellee Almquist, Mary Bassett,

Sue Hofbauer, Karen Giltrow, Brian Hockley.


Budgeting Priorities/Finance Committee

Shellee Almquist distributed a handout to the board and reviewed the current and modified budget items the Finance Committee requested to have added in to the different budget scenarios: 3% raises, 6% raises, and taking out the out the Assistant Principal and Development Officer.


A discussion followed and included:

• Al Waters would like to see a 4% raise for this year.

• To modify the fund balance board policy would need to be changed

Megan Masson-Minock suggests the following motion; the board fund balance policy is changed to a 10% minimum with a goal of 15% and adjust the faculty’s pay in the 2015-2016 budget with retroactive raise of 4%. Bridgette Carr stated that a goal should not be in the policy in her opinion. Al Waters would like the opportunity to look in to the after school staff salary information, and noted the raise is for returning teachers only, not for newly hired teachers. The board discussed the importance of investing in the sustainability through the school and if that should be a line item as well as a third administrator.

Karen Andrews moved the board policy be modified to allow a minimum fund balance of 9% to allow for staff and faculty raises and investment in the school’s sustainability, with the intent to finalize the raise percent at the January 25, 2017 board meeting. 2nd by Pam Reister. All in favor with the exception of Bryan Cole and Megan Masson-Minock.

Board requests Al Waters to review the budget for addition of Principal and Development Director.

Director’s Report:

Written report in board packet.
Al Waters reviewed the report that included:

• Al Waters attended three days of Danielson Training for the new teacher evaluations. Teachers will be rated on 76 elements along with Al Waters visiting teacher classrooms 9-10 times. Good tool designed to improve teaching.
• Applied for a grant for 2nd graders to help meet the needs of those students who are non-proficient in reading.
• Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation have been approved by WISD and will be available by the January 25, 2017 board meeting.
• Bryan Cole and Al Waters met with the WISD regarding more space for Honey Creek should the school grow. Extra space would most likely be through adding more modulars. More conversations need to happen. Facilities Manager Randy Trent encouraged us to begin seeking bids for new modulars. A discussion followed.
• Karen Andrews brought up a concern of a fire hazard in the modular hallway. Al Waters responded this concern continues to be addressed.

Faculty Liaisons Report:

Mary Bassett shared the faculty responses to the board’s question: How would you feel about having a part-time administrator, a new hire, come in to do one of your teacher evaluations?

Seven faculty replied no or with conditions, two replied yes.

Many feel the relationship with Al Waters is valuable and his feedback is needed to maintain and build a strong team of teachers. A discussion followed and Megan Masson-Minock will share the faculty concerns the Governance Committee.

Foundation Liaison Report:

Matthias Kirch attended the meeting and reported the Foundation received a $5,000 and a $7,500 donation. The committee expressed they would like to work more closely with the board and they prefer not to accept corporate funds, as they would like to engage Honey Creek families who have never given to the foundation.


PTO Report:

Written PTO minutes were sent via email by Andy Sheibar to Karen Giltrow for her to forward to the board and Mary Bassett.


Finance Committee Report:

Written report in board packet. The report included the following annual goals and accountabilities:

• Growth Assessment

• Management Company Recommendation

• Manage Budget Process and Reporting

• Expense Reduction Analysis

• Facilities Improvement


Governance Committee Report:

Written report in board packet that included:

• Policy on Crowdfunding

• Update on Administrative Load and Succession/Teacher Evaluations

• Employee Handbook

• Board Recruitment

• Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation

• Board Training


Communications/OutreachBranding Committee:

Written report sent today via email by Andy Sheibar. Karen Giltrow will forward to the board and to Mary Bassett.

The report included:

• Brand Brochure final print-ready file was shared with Dan.

• Waiting for a reply from Christine Kelley regarding posting the Todd Parr video on the website.

• Currently making the suggested edits to the to the Honey Creek Parent Handbook.

• Attended the PTO meeting on December 21, 2016.


Sustainability Committee Report:

Written report in board packet.

Karen Andrews reviewed the report that included:

• Committee discussed their charge of $100,00.

• A $2,500 grant request has been submitted to the MASB.

• Borrowing against the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation Fund in 2018.

• Grant writing for a Capacity Building Fund.

• Christine Kelley and Karen Andrews will meet with the Executive Director of the Ann Arbor

Public Schools to discuss fund raising ideas.


90 Day Strategic Plan:

Megan Masson-Minock noted the Management Company Committee is the only committee that needs to meet the 90 day goal. Megan thanked all of the committees for their work along with a reminder to discuss the June 1, 2017 target date for all committees.


Old Business:

Articles of Incorporation

The Articles of Incorporation were tabled to the January 25, 2017 Board meeting as they have not been returned back to Honey Creek from the WISD.

“The Bully Brothers” Book Discussion

The board did not follow proper procedure for a motion without a discussion on the book “The Bully Brothers” at the November 30, 2016 board meeting. Megan Masson-Minock would like to reopen the discussion and to have a vote following the discussion on any actions taken regarding the book.

• Bridgette Carr noted the Supreme Court decision that school boards are prohibited from removing books from school libraries.
• Removing the word “ban” from the November 30, 2016 board meeting minutes.
• Al Waters asked to have the board reverse the motion and send it back to him and he will address it.

Bryan Cole moved to amend the motion to remove the word “ban” from the November 30, 2016 minutes. No board member seconded. The motion died.

Bryan Cole moved to reverse the motion and return it back to Al Waters and he will work with the Media Specialist. Motion was amended to reverse the motion from the previous meeting by Bryan Cole. Second by Megan Masson-Minock. Motion passed by all board members present.

Karen Andrews moved, second by Pam Reister to return the matter back over to Al Waters for his resolution. Motion passed by all board members present.

New Business:

New Board Members

Karen Andrews moved, supported by Bridgette Carr to nominate the appointment of Barnaby Pung and Wayne Millette, to serve three year terms on the Honey Creek Community School Board. The motion was approved by all board members present.


Board Kudos To:

• Ashley Hagadon for all of her hard work preparing our students for the amazing Winter Performance.

• Marta England, Jeannie Crayne and all the parent volunteers and student crafters for the Winter Craft Sale.

• Chris Bruxvoort for teaching the Make-One/Take-One art class to benefit the Craft Sale.

• Max Davis for teaching the fall session of skateboarding.

• Shellee Almquist for her hard work on the budget projections.

• Lara Thomas for spearheading the staff holiday collections and the families who participated.

• Everyone who supported the California Pizza Kitchen fundraiser.

• Jon Baek and Honey Creek LegomaniacsTeam for competing in the Michigan State FIRST

Lego League Championship.

• All the Honey Creek Alumni who participated in the High School review meeting.


Preparation for Board Communications:

Karen Giltrow will announce our new board members Wayne Millette and Barnaby Pung to the community. They will be sworn in on January 10, 2017 at the Washtenaw ISD.

Public Participation (regarding new business only):



Karen Andrews moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:40p.m.

Complete minutes are available online. Minutes from January's meeting will be available after they are approved on February 22.


Foundation News

Do you have experience with grant writing? The HCCS Foundation Board could use your expertise on some upcoming grant opportunities we are pursuing. Thanks!

Honey Creek Community School will advance transformative education practices to ensure all students reach their full potential while preparing them to successfully address the emerging challenges of the twenty-first century.

Copyright © 2017 Honey Creek Community School, All rights reserved.

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