Tag Archives: Parent

An Innovative Program for Helping Students Succeed…Sharing the Good in Education

Given that Unlock the Teacher LLC was founded on the principal of sharing the good in education, we look for this good where ever we go.  In the grocery store, at Starbuck’s, the local library and most importantly at the schools we are blessed to work in.

We wanted to share a wonderful educational program we are following and hope that it might plant a seed for another school looking to add a resource room to their school.

St. Regis Educare – An Innovative Program for Helping Students Succeed

St. Regis Educare (SRE) is a newly created program serving the students of St. Regis Catholic Elementary and Academy, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The SRE program is staffed by three certified teachers who are dedicated to supporting the varied needs of St. Regis students. Based on the premise that each student has unique gifts and talents, with different learning styles and academic abilities, SRE supports teachers in providing differentiated instruction within and outside the classroom. In keeping with the St. Regis mission: Respect, Educate, Give, Inspire, and Support, SRE is dedicated to respecting individual students’ needs and supporting and inspiring them to reach their fullest academic potential.

The service provided in this program is more than a library of resources for teachers and parents. It is more than a place where students can come for help with their homework. It is a professionally staffed center for learning, where students attend workshops, join literature circles, compete in Math competitions, and follow academic plans designed specifically to meet their individual needs.

SRE Services

St. Regis Educare provides three different types of assistance/enrichment for students. They work with individuals and small groups needing assistance or enrichment in academic subject areas. They  provide workshops to help students with concepts such as grammar or study skills, and  work with individuals and small groups on specific skills such as comprehension strategies or counting money. In order to make the concepts they are enhancing engaging, they  integrate technology, and utilize manipulatives, hands-on activities, and use modeling to help students achieve their goals.

With all this, they also provide the following benefits for teachers: assessments, which they will design and/or administer upon request; a central repository for teacher resources and reference books; and documented processes and forms to make using our services less complicated. To help bridge the ever widening need between parent and school, they provide a central repository for parent resources, and are in the process of planning workshops for parents, so they can learn new ways to help their children succeed in school.

Development of the Program

This school year, St. Regis Educare has evolved from an idea and an empty office, into a focal point of learning for students in need of assistance or enrichment, as well as a central location for student, teacher, and parent resources.

Some highlights include:

  • A room that is now both inviting and functional for assisting students
  • Resource materials, games, technology, and manipulatives that are arranged by subject matter on labeled shelves for easy access
  • Documented processes and forms that are based on research of best practices and collaboration with professionals both in and outside the school
  • An extensive list of services designed to meet the varied needs of our students

As of this writing, at least one student or group from every grade, is being serviced by SRE, and they have had an abundance of positive comments from students, parents, and teachers who are grateful for the expertise and supportive of this team’s efforts. It is too soon in the development of the program to provide concrete results; however, I plan to monitor this program’s progress …stay tuned!

If your school or community is doing something great to help students, teachers or parents, please share.  It is in the collaborative model that we all rise to the level in which we have the potential to be.

May we all continue to seek knowledge in all things~

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Summer is a Time for Play…Learning can be FUN too!

During the school year, we reflect on summers past and the next one to come and we remember treasured times of relaxation.  However, sometimes we get so caught up in our scheduling and planning of events, that we forget to just pause, relax and allow our children…and ourselves to play.

If you find upon reflection that you and your family fit into the latter category this summer, I want to encourage you to pause, choose two good books to read and “schedule” some time into you weeks ahead to just “be”…to allow your children to play with some containers and a water hose in the yard, to research finger foods online and allow your children to make dinner for the adults in the house one night…they will have so much fun and you will be amazed at how much they have grown. 🙂

Our team has collected some helpful tips to ensure that summer is indeed a time of relaxing and learning, for you and the child(ren) in your life.

Moms who Think

Moms who Think, is a great site for recipes, diet and nutrition, holiday and celebration ideas and so much more.

Kid Recipes

Easy and Kid-Friendly Recipes from Kraft Foods

Kid-Friendly Recipes

Rachel Ray Everyday …a great family website!

Rachel Ray’s Kid-Friendly Recipes

Martha Stewart and Summer Activities for Kids~We like the summer housekeeping and garden in a jar 🙂

60 Activities for Kids this Summer

Great Schools, Involved Parents, Successful Kids is an amazing website!

Ten Ways to Keep your Child Learning this Summer

Given that we like to promote the good in education, we would like to share the Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement‘s recommendation for parent/child involvement this summer:

Every Day…

  • Give your child a hug and say “I love you.” Do not forget to look them in the eye, to ensure that you make that special connection with them.
  • Praise your child. We all like to hear that we are doing a good job…it is o.k. and encouraged to tell your child(ren) often.
  • Talk with your child. Our Unlock the Teacher LLC team encourages you to not only talk with your child, but read the same book they are reading independently, specifically if your child is 7-18.  This will always give you something to talk about with them…a common ground.
  • Read and write with your child for at least 30 minutes every day. Our Unlock the Teacher children keep journals and we write and share about what we are passionate about. (When children are little, pictures in journals versus words are just as good…let your child explain their pictures to you.)
  • With your child, make a dictionary of new words and add to it every day. Studies have shown that the more words we learn, the higher our IQ…make it a family activity to choose a word or few words a week and have some fun at the dinner table uses them 🙂
  • Count with your child. Math is everywhere, in the grocery store on labels, on the road as we drive…make it a fun exercise to play Eye Spy math or numbers with your child.  The more that children can be exposed to numbers in their world and what they are utilized for, the more understanding they will have for math.
  • Share news with your child. Our Unlock the Teacher team believes that if you talk to your children as if they are intelligent, they rise to the occasion; it allows them to broaden their scope…sans any handicap or disability that prevents this from occurring.
  • Listen to music with your child. There are many positive studies on why this is important. Studies have shown, that memory retention and learning is enhanced while studying and listening to classical music.

May your summer, or what is left of it, be a time of renewal and rejuvenation for both you and the child in your life. Learning can indeed be fun and relaxing, it just might take a bit of planning.  We encourage everyone to live in the moment and choose to be the difference in the life of your child.

Please share your tips and favorite websites with us and we will post it here for all of our readers.  Together we can make a difference!

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things~

Denise and the entire Unlock the Teacher Team

Comments and Ideas Posted by our Readers:

Thank you for the great tips and links, but if I might add another great recipe site it would be; http://www.allrecipes.com on this site you can also share your own wonderful recipe ideas and rate others as well. Kid friendly, vegetarian  and even tips and advice I just love to see the creativity on this site! ~Melanie Osborn

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Letters of Recommendations

From Associate Superintendent

January 5, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

Please accept this letter as recommendation of Denise M. Ball.  I have known and worked with Denise for over 15 years and can attest that she will be an asset to any educational program.

Denise is a high energy educator with great knowledge of cutting edge instructional strategies.  She is a remarkable classroom teacher with experience with children of many age levels and socioeconomic backgrounds.  She has taught in both suburban and inner-city schools.  She has also taught in the public sector for the federal government as well as in non-public schools.

I had the pleasure of being Denise’s principal and she is one of the best teachers with whom I have ever worked.  She has the unique gift of being able to engage students, instruct them, and make them know that she respects them.  They, in turn, return that respect to her.

Denise is the consummate teacher-leader.  She collaborates well, and has become a mentor in all her teaching situations.  She is an expert on curriculum development and mapping, as well as curriculum alignment.  Her manner is such that she imbues in her colleagues the same enthusiasm that she projects.  She would be an extremely excellent candidate for a Teaching Ambassador Fellowship.

Should you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me personally.


Susan C. Leslie

Associate Superintendent of Schools

 Letter of Recommendation from Former Parent~Mrs. Rhonda Small

January 4, 2011

To Whom It May Concern,

It is with great honor that I am sending this letter of recommendation for Mrs. Denise Ball.  I have known Mrs. Ball for two years.  As my daughter’s 5th grade homeroom teacher at Gesu Elementary school, she brought confidence, security and wisdom to our academic process.   I say our, because within the two years, my daughter and I both learned so much from her. 

Besides being my daughter’s homeroom teacher, Mrs. Ball also instructed her in 4th grade for language arts.   When her 5th grade year began and I was aware that she would be her homeroom teacher, we knew that it was going to be a wonderful year.  While in 4th grade, she was strongly challenged by Mrs. Ball. She pushed our daughter beyond her expectations and even the expectations of what traditional 4th graders are asked to accomplish.   It was apparent that she was aware of her students’ strengths and weaknesses.  She structured the instruction and assignments to meet the needs of each individual student.  I was clearly made aware of where Nina was and how much she needed to grow academically in order to be successful in her studies.   Through the guidance of Mrs. Ball, our daughter transitioned to 5th and 6th grades well prepared for the next grade and had the confidence and excitement for school to take on bigger and better academic challenges.  What she impartedto our child, the academic and social emotional nurturing, is continuing to help her become a well-rounded student. 

To children that are 9 and 10 years old, the social emotional aspects of life are vital.  Mrs. Ball did an excellent job of bringing the right balance of academics and social emotional nurturing to her students.  I saw children develop into young men and young women under her care.  By giving them the academic tools and having confidence in her students, the students in turn trusted her and eventually trusted in themselves to be the best people that they could be.   The maturity that I witnessed in the students was a testament to her care and concern for the whole student. 

Mrs. Ball was also a teacher of adults.  The lines of communication were always open to the parents.  Parents were encouraged to view her lesson plans and homework assignments on-line.  We were also highly encouraged to meet with her with any concerns we had.  I often found myself in meetings with Mrs. Ball; not always regarding my daughter academic support, but in regards to her giving me sound advice and problem solving strategies.  There were many times when she defused situations, brought insight and clarity when parents felt confused or misled, and promoted positive articulation among all school stakeholders. 

Although it was only for two years, the Gesu Elementary community is a better place having Mrs. Ball as a teacher.  Any institution, especially one that involves students and education, would do itself a great service by having Mrs. Ball become part of it.  I am grateful for her part in our development.

Thank you,

Mrs. Rhonda Small

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Recommended Blogs for January: Parents,Teachers, Toddlers and More

Learning is Fun

Having little people in your life can be a challenge at times.  Regardless if you are a parent, caregiver, teacher, social worker, aunt or uncle, to name a few of the many roles we play as an adult in the life of a child, your role is an important one.  Many studies show that the first three years of a child’s life is crucial in establishing a strong cornerstone for learning.  This doesn’t mean that if the child in your life is older than three, all is lost, but it does mean that there is no time like the present to participate in your child’s learning process.

I spend a lot of time researching case studies, articles and basically anything I can get my hands on, that give insight and opinion on developmental stages and learning platforms for children of all ages.  Two common threads found are the importance of communication and collaboration.  I will be posting blogs on parenting, teaching and other sites  I think you would like to view for enhancing your knowledge base and sites that will allow you an opportunity to collaborate with others who have similar questions and concerns.

I am encouraging the mom groups  Iam  working with on the research for my  book to start sending questions or inquiries that can be researched and help provide resources for.  Please join in this collaboration and send me  your questions and comments.  If you view one of these blogs and they are not appropriate to our discussion, let me know so I can delete it and in return, if you view a FABULOUS blog…share!  Celebrate the sharing of knowledge in education, so all can participate in making a difference in the lives of our children, our future.

Recommended Blogs for Learning this Week:

Have a great month surfing these sites and we look forward to your comments and/or suggestions.

Thank you for being the difference in the life of a child today,


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