Ypsilanti Citizen Education Ypsilanti Cycle

Ypsilanti Schools accept transportation consolidation
By Adrienne Ziegler
Jun. 8, 2010   ·   3:07 p.m.

Connie Shelton, an East Middle School Teacher, speaks against the WISD transportation consolidation plan at Monday's special meeting of the Ypsilanti Board of Education. The board approved the motion to join the consolidation by a vote of 5 to 2.

"Shame on you" echoed through the audience Monday night after the Ypsilanti Public Schools Board of Education approved a plan to join a countywide consolidated...read more

Willow Run appoints new board member
By Adrienne Ziegler
Jun. 5, 2010   ·   8:16 a.m.

The Willow Run School Board looks on as Kristine Thomas, a district parent and previous board member, is sworn in as trustee on Thursday night. Thomas will take the position of Joi Jenson who resigned in early May.

The Willow Run School Board appointed a new, yet familiar trustee to the board of education during their regular meeting Thursday night.

Kristine Thomas, a Willow...read more

Willow Run approves county-wide transportation plan
By Adrienne Ziegler
May. 27, 2010   ·   2:09 p.m.

The Willow Run School District signed on to a countywide consolidated transportation plan at their regular board meeting last week.

The plan aims to save transportation...read more

Lincoln offers summer courses to area high-schoolers
By Mark Tower
May. 26, 2010   ·   7:49 p.m.

Students from Lincoln and other nearby districts are being invited to participate in Lincoln High School's Summer Academy this year, registration for which opened...read more

Willow Run terminates student services administrator
By Adrienne Ziegler
May. 26, 2010   ·   12:26 a.m.

Willow Run School Board President Sheri Washington said she didn't know if the district was going to press charges against former Student Services Administrator Laconda Hicks after the board fired Hicks during a special meeting Tuesday night.

The Willow Run Board of Education unanimously voted to terminate its contract with former Student Services Administrator Laconda Hicks Tuesday night during a special...read more

Joi Jenson

Joi Jenson, Willow Run board candidate in today's election. Photo by Dan DuChene

Joi Jenson, Willow Run board candidate in today's election.
Ypsilanti Farmers Market

Willow Run board candidate

By Dan DuChene
May. 5, 2009    ·    8:01 a.m.

“I have a lot to say,” said Willow Run parent Joi Jenson.

A 32-year-old mother of four, Jenson’s four boys range in ages from 10 to 5. Among the children, they attend three different schools—Holmes, Kaiser and Cheney.

Jenson moved into the district with her husband and children during the time the board was selecting a new superintendent in 2007. She said a group of parents at Thurston Early Childhood Development Center, which was announced to be closed at that same time, asked her to be a spokesperson for the school.

“I was asked to speak on behalf of the parents,” she said.

It was then that Jenson said she started coming to board meeting and getting involved. She said she then became aware of the contract dispute between the district and the teachers’ labor organization, the Willow Run Education Association.

“I walked the line with them,” she said. “I began to hear stories of teachers struggling to make ends meet.

“It bothered me,” she said. “It hurt my heart.”

Jenson said the district could have afforded to pay Willow Run teachers a better salary and benefits. She pointed to administrator pay and advertising budgets as examples.

“They can find the money,” she said. It was an insult to me as a parent.”

Jenson does not deny that she is a strong critic of Superintendent Dr. Doris Hope-Jackson.

“I was very supportive of Dr. Jackson in the beginning,” she said. “She created a hostile work environment for our staff.

“You’d expect a superintendent to live in the district she’s working for,” Jenson said.

However, she said she doesn’t intend to go after Jackson if she’s elected to the board. She said she would try to implement a system where the superintendent takes more direction from the board.

“The board should dictate what Dr. Jackson does, not Dr. Jackson dictating what the board does,” Jenson said. “I would advocate for Dr. Jackson to become a more effective leader.”

She said she would try to create more communication between the district and the community, as well as the board and the superintendent. She said the board should get its direction from the community, and then communicate that direction to the superintendent.

“It’s not happening like that right now,” Jenson said. “That’s not an effective school district.”

Jenson defended her endorsement from the WREA during the campaigning for today’s election. She said she and candidate Anglesia Brown have the support of the teachers because they are running for “what’s in the best interest of the students of Willow Run.”

Instead, Jenson said Blakita does not have the support of the WREA because “he blames the teachers.”

She said she is surprised Blakita isn’t supporting the union, especially as he is a retired Ford employee.

Like Brown, Jenson said she would like to see Willow Run have more partnerships with outside institutions like Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. However, she said she is also in favor of working with other public school districts as well. She said a cooperative relationship with special education would be a good example.

One of Jenson’s sons is a special education student. She said she is very happy with his involvement in the program at his elementary, and would like to see it expanded to a district and region-wide program.

“We have an outstanding special education team,” she said. “We could become a model for districts facing similar challenges.”

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