Our Community

September 2016

Superintendent's Message

TCAPS Families, Staff and Friends,

Our district is committed to a new approach to managing our resources. If we continued to use the traditional budget model, it would ensure that the district would repeat the decisions and priorities of the past. Instead, we challenged ourselves, with the support of our Board of Education, to flip budgeting on its head and make our educational priorities the driver of our budget, instead of our budget driving our priorities. Once we made that choice, we were able to focus on a top educational priority: updating our curriculum materials.

We started with elementary math. But, we didn’t just put money into the first curriculum that appeared to show results. Instead, we used a systematic, scientific approach to ensure that we got the biggest educational gain for our financial buck. We began a process to test three new curriculum offerings, with the previous curriculum serving as a control group. The conclusion of the process was that we identified Math Expressions as getting high marks in user satisfaction (student, teacher, and parent), while also showing significant gains in student achievement.

One parent shared this feedback on a survey, “I am very happy and satisfied with this math program. My daughter feels she is "good" at math. Confidence is half the battle!” And, our math teachers said things like, “Very in-depth program.” “All lessons incorporates individual, partner & group work and the Homework & Remembering was a great piece for review and keeping parents in the loop.” “The kids seem to really enjoy solving the math because a lot of them are viewed as puzzles, which makes it more fun. A lot of great resources, especially for struggling students.” We are proud of the process we used to select Math Expressions and are excited to be implementing it in all of our elementary schools this year.

Now that we have broken the mold with our math curriculum, we are doing the same with our elementary English language arts curriculum. We also have plans to conduct periodic reviews of curriculum in other areas and to make sure that we are giving our teachers and students the best materials possible to support great teaching and learning.

Our success story in “smarter school spending” is being recognized nationally and is being used as a tool to help other schools across the country. But, our most important success stories are right here at home.


Paul A. Soma
Superintendent Traverse City Area Public Schools

Student Spotlight

First Day of School


2016 TC Patriot Game


TCAPS Students Make National Merit Scholar List


Four students have been named 2017 National Merit Scholar Semifinalists. Traverse City Central High School students, Gavin Carpenter, Erin Huls and William Kroes, and Traverse City West Senior High School student, Hannah Ellery, made the 2017 list. National Merit Scholar Semifinalists are high school seniors who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. They now have the opportunity to continue in the competition to receive one of 7,500 scholarships worth approximately $33 million. Congratulations!

News & Events

Traverse City Area Public Schools Launches New Early Childhood Programs


Friends First and Preschool Preview are two new TCAPS programs designed to help young learners grow. Socialization at an early age is an important developmental tool for children as they start to build their sense of self. As children begin to interact with others, they learn about sharing, setting boundaries, problem-solving, and caring for others.


Friends First is a new program for children ages 18 months to 2 ½ years old and their parent or caregiver. The Friends First program will offer participants a setting to interact with other children and families under the direction of a certified teacher. Participants will have the opportunity to play with toys, read stories, and make new friends. The program will be offered on the third Friday of each month from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Cherry Knoll Elementary School (1800 Three Mile Road N.) and Long Lake Elementary School (7600 N. Long Lake Road). The cost of the program is $100 and it will run through May 19th.


Preschool Preview is a new program for children ages 2 ½ to 3 ½ years old and their parent or caregiver. Children will be encouraged to paint, use blocks, participate in circle time, use sensory tables, and use their creative ideas in the dramatic play area. Activities are led by a certified teacher. The monthly Friday playgroups will begin October 21st from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Cherry Knoll Elementary School (1800 Three Mile Road N.) and Long Lake Elementary School (7600 N. Long Lake Road). The cost is $125 and the program will be held the third Friday of each month through May 19th.


To register, contact 231-933-1792 or email isaacdi@tcaps.net. Space is limited, so register today.


TCAPS Calendar Reminders




Annual Notifications

An annual notifications email was sent to all TCAPS families on Friday, September 16th. Annual notifications include information regarding:

  • Asbestos Notification
  • Concussions & Athletic Activities
  • District Policies & Procedures
  • Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) Notice for Directory Information
  • Notification Regarding Staff Qualifications
  • Pesticide Notification Advisory
  • Project FIND Special Education / Section 504 Notice
  • Student Accident Insurance
  • Students with Disabilities
  • Title IX, Section 504, Age Discrimination Act, & Title II Americans with Disabilities Act & CTE Opportunities
  • Translation Services


Annual notification information can also be found on the TCAPS website at: www.tcaps.net/about/annual-notifications.



New School Closing Alert System

With our new district and school websites comes a new way of sharing snow day/school closure announcements. When school is closed due to inclement weather or there is a scheduled no school day (excluding summer break), a TCAPS Alerts pop up will appear on the home pages of the district and school websites during that particular day. This alert system has the added benefit of 1) allowing you to share the news with others via the Share icon and 2) you have the option to subscribe to the RSS Feed by clicking on the orange RSS Feed icon. Archived alerts can be found at the School Closings & Alerts webpage.


School closing information will continue to be shared via our normal methods: all local media stations, the district Facebook/Twitter feeds, and the bus hotline (231.3933.1955). School closings are announced as early in the morning as possible, but can occur as late as 6:00 a.m. View additional snow day FAQs.



TCAPS Board Coffee Conversation—Sept. 22

The TCAPS Board of Education will host its monthly Coffee Conversation on Thursday, September 22, 2016, at Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The discussion topic will be “Curriculum Updates.” Attendees will also have the opportunity to discuss any other topic of interest with a TCAPS board member at the meeting.



September’s Local Harvest of the Month: Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a member if the Brassica oleracea family, which also includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale. Cauliflower provides vitamin C, folate, fiber, and phytochemicals. It can be enjoyed raw, roasted, grilled, boiled, smashed (like potatoes), or stir fried.


Education in Action

Traverse City Young Professionals Team Up with Junior Achievement to Launch Student Mentor Program


The Traverse City Young Professionals (TCYPs), a program of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, has partnered with the Northwest Michigan chapter of Junior Achievement to bring a professional student mentoring series to Traverse City. The TCYP L.I.F.E. (Lessons In Future Endeavors) Mentoring Program, will include a variety of hands-on activities and skill-building opportunities that are essential to professional growth from an individual’s high school years through to their career, including time management, career paths, job interviewing, and public speaking. The series, which will be held from September through May at the Traverse Area District Library – Woodmere Branch, will conclude with a networking/etiquette dinner where students will be able to put their newly learned and improved skills to the test.


Students who are interested in registering for the series can go to: www.eventbrite.com/e/life-mentoring-program-tickets-27004187251 to sign-up and obtain more information about the program.

Partner in Education

Local Sam’s Club Donates $20,000 to LEAP

Sam's Club check presentation during the TC Patriot Game.


On behalf of the entire TCAPS family, especially our students, we would like to extend a tremendous thank you to Sam’s Club for donating $20,000 to TCAPS. These funds will support new jerseys for LEAP participants, training supplies and more. TCAPS parent and local Club Manager Jesse Gauna presented the check at the 2016 TC Patriot Game to TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma and LEAP Director Janna Deering. They were joined by students wearing the new LEAP gear made possible by Sam’s Club.


"Sam's Club strives each day to help better our community and organizations through volunteering and sponsorship. We saw an opportunity to partner with our local school system to invest in the futures of our children. The team members here at Sam's Club take great pride in knowing that we can continue to give back to the community we live in," said Gauna.


Many thanks to Jesse and all of the Sam’s Club Associates for spearheading this donation in support of our students and our schools.



TCAPS Odyssey of the Mind Event with the Senior Center – Oct. 1


On Saturday, October 1, 2016, the Odyssey of the Mind program will be hosting a “Creativity Carnival Open House” from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Grand Traverse Senior Center (801 East Front Street). Students in 1st grade through high school are encouraged to come and try out the Odyssey of the Mind (OM) program, which is a low-cost academic extracurricular program. Seniors, ages 60 and over, are also invited to learn more about the Senior Odyssey of the Mind program, which is a way to keep the brain active, while having fun. Program contact is Tina Allen. She can be reached at 231.499.1213 or odysseymi3@yahoo.com.




School Supply Drives Help Students and Families in Need


Help in Heels Donates 30 Boxes of School Supplies

Help in Heels from left from right: Soon Hagerty, Kim Smith, Lisa Schmidt, Kristy Kurjan, Carrine Pomaranski, Mary Cueter, Erica Mohr and Rebecca Schubert.


Help in Heels, a local charity group comprised of 12 women in Traverse City, partnered with Hagerty Insurance to collect donations for four TCAPS schools, Blair Elementary School, Central Grade School, Courtade Elementary School and Silver Lake Elementary School. They collected 30 boxes of supplies, including notebooks, markers, folders, Kleenex, glue sticks, crayons, and more. In addition they also raised $400 to give each school $100 to purchase additional supplies that they need for a successful school year.


Help in Heels member and Hagerty Vice President of Brand Strategy said, “As part of the Help in Heels group, we are always thinking about the local needs of our community, so as the upcoming school year approached, we started to hear that many teachers buy supplies out of their own pockets. We really felt we could make a difference here since many of us are so appreciative of the great teachers in Traverse City. We were so pleased to partner with Hagerty to create a “Tools for Schools” drive to help contribute as much as we could to support our teachers and the students. We were overwhelmed by the interest and turnout to the drive.”


Hagerty Strikes Again


Another Hagerty claims group, led by Jill Thayer, did an additional drive for pencils for our secondary schools and preschool replacement undergarments. The schools were so thrilled to receive the support as they are items often not thought of for our littlest and oldest learners.


Students Shop for Others in Need

Kathryn Riker with her niece and nephew.


Kathryn Riker made her annual trip to the office with her niece Aili and nephew Lachlan. Aili and Lachlan are students at East Middle School. Each year they look forward to their tradition of spending a day shopping for others with their aunt. Ten backpacks were delivered stuffed with all of the items needed for school success along with an additional bag of goodies. We love that one of the “must have” items Aili and Lachlan selected for the backpacks was a stress ball as they felt that kids in need may need a way to release some stress. It was very thoughtful of them. They are fortunate to have such kind-spirited and generous aunt teaching them to serve others when possible.


Serra Cares

Pictured left to right: Jerry Zezulka, Jackie Stremlow, Biz Ruskowski, and Mike McFarlan.


As part of the "Serra Cares" program aimed at supporting and enriching the local community through charitable donations and special events, Serra Subaru Executive Mgr. Jerry Zezulka and General Mgr Mike McFarlan will present Kindergarten teacher Jackie Stremlow and Eastern Elementary Principal Biz Ruskowski with classroom kits complete with free school supplies for every student in her class, courtesy of Subaru of America as part of the Subaru Loves Learning Program.


On Friday, September 23, 2016, Serra's Mike and Jerry will visit Eastern Elementary School and bestow the gift of classroom supplies in Stremlow's kindergarten class. Said McFarlan, “We're happy to have been able to pick a local school or teacher to receive kits for their class to help the learning effort. We hope that they enjoy the packets and put them to good use and learn lots of neat things."


Traverse City State Bank

Pictured left to right: TCAPS Director of Marketing & Communications Christine Guitar and TCSB representative Pamela Voss.


All five area Traverse City State Banks held a drive for back-to-school supplies in late August. The results were amazing! TCSB representative Pamela Voss delivered 11 large boxes to TCAPS for us to share with our schools. “We were so excited to host our quarterly drive in honor of TCAPS and bring in much-needed school supplies for our area students.” said Ashlea Walter, TCSB Marketing Director.


Schmuckal Oil Company


In support of the TCAPS 0-3 School Readiness Program’s monthly socialization groups, Schmuckal Oil Company has donated Shell gas cards to help ensure Blair and Traverse Heights elementary school families are able to attend. Relieving the barrier of an empty gas tank provides a helping hand to our most vulnerable students and families. Together, we are showing our commitment to students by offering the kindness and resources needed to help them to reach their full potential.


Chemical Bank


Aside from being a Title Sponsor for the district, Chemical Bank’s Director of Marketing Christine Stevens donated 6,000 popcorn bags to TCAPS to share with schools so they would not have to purchase bags for “popcorn Fridays.” It’s so nice to have that expense covered for those programs.


A hearty “THANK YOU” to everyone who donated something to get the year off to the right start. We sincerely appreciate it.



Father Fred Foundation’s Blessings in a Backpack Program Kicks Off for 2016-17

Superintendent Soma speaks with Blessings in a Backpack volunteers.


The Father Fred Foundation's 2016-17 Blessings in a Backpack program is in full swing. Volunteers stuff bags full of food each week for students whose families are food insecure to take home with them on the weekend. It is a program that supports TCAPS students and area families in need. We are very grateful for Father Fred, their volunteers, and their donors who help ensure that the children in our community do not go hungry.

Blessings in a Backpack volunteers



TCAPS Partner In Education Program: An opportunity to support schools, teachers, programs, teams and clubs!

The TCAPS Partner In Education (PIE) program works to connect community members, businesses and organizations to our schools through sponsorships, financial contributions, in-kind donations or givebacks. Your sponsorship or donation can benefit the school, teacher, program, team or club of your choice. Sponsor space is available at all TCAPS schools, Thirlby Field stadium and electronically via our e-newsletter. Contact Karyn Hertel at 231.933.5654 | hertelka@tcaps.net or visit www.tcaps.net/PIE to learn more.



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Traverse City Area Public Schools
Contact Us: info@tcaps.net