Ypsilanti Citizen Education ]]>

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

Ypsilanti superintendent interviews continue

Dr. Sandra J. Harris, above, as well as  Dr. Benjamin P. Edmondson and Dr. Theresa E. Saunders interviewed with the Ypsilanti School Board Wednesday. Interviews for superintendent continue today. Photo by James Cavanaugh

Dr. Sandra J. Harris, above, as well as Dr. Benjamin P. Edmondson and Dr. Theresa E. Saunders interviewed with the Ypsilanti School Board Wednesday. Interviews for superintendent continue today.

Three candidates meet with board Wednesday, two today

By Jim Cavanaugh
Apr. 16, 2009    ·    9:37 a.m.

Updated 2:14 p.m.

The Ypsilanti Board of Education continued its superintendent search Wednesday night, meeting with Dr. Benjamin P. Edmondson, Dr. Sandra J. Harris and Dr. Theresa E. Saunders.

Edmondson began the interviews at 4 p.m. in the Ypsilanti High School Media Center. He currently holds a position as principal of Scarlett Middle School, in the Ann Arbor School District.

"One thing to know about me is I'm an extreme extravert," he said right at the outset of his interview. "I make sure that I'm everywhere."

Edmondson said he could use his personality style to communicate effectively with the unions, the parents as well as the students. He said when he makes decisions, whether it be at the negotiating table or anyplace else, students always come first.

Edmondson said one of the first things he would do as superintendent was sit down and get to know the students and staff. He said the district needs to raise the level of expectation to be successful. He also said a good place to start at Ypsilanti would be at the secondary level.

School Board President David Bates said he appreciated that Edmondson came prepared to the interview with knowledge and background in the district's test performances and scores.

"It was nice he had taken the time to do some research," Bates said. "I think he had some great ideas."

Linda Carter, president of the Ann Arbor teacher's union as well as Edmondson's bowling buddy, said she would be sad to see him go, though, she said he is an asset at any district.

"I've worked with this gentleman for five years and I've watched him grow," she said. "We'll miss him."

Currently superintendent of the Oak Park School District, Harris has also served in administrative roles in Lincoln Consolidated Schools as well as Ann Arbor Public Schools. She holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University.

Harris described her leadership style as one of collaboration. She told the board that in the past, she’s worked to get a “buy-in” from those she worked with.

“My leadership style is participative,” Harris said. “I seek input from all stakeholders.”

Much of Harris’ interview focused on preparing students for life after high school, and referred not to a K-12 school experience, but to a “K-16 continuum” in literature she passed out promoting her candidacy.

“One of the things I’ve always advocated for is an early-college high school—students need to be prepared beyond high school,” Harris said. “It’s wonderful when students can leave high school and have college credits under their belt.”

After having lived in Ann Arbor for 50 years, Harris said that she knows the surrounding community very well. Harris told the board she’d not just work with parents, but others in the community to get their input.

“When you have a thriving and supportive school district, it will help everybody,” Harris said. “It increases property values, it brings a lot of benefits.”

Following the board’s meeting with Harris, it met with Dr. Theresa E. Saunders of East St. Louis School District No. 189.

Although her current position is in Illinois, Saunders has Michigan connections. She was born in Jackson and served as superintendent of the Highland Park School District before moving to East St. Louis in 2005. Before becoming superintendent, she taught at schools in Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Like Harris, Saunders told the board that she’d work to be a collaborative leader if chosen to serve as superintendent.

“I really strive to treat people how I would want to be treated if I was in their place,” Saunders said.

She added that she chose to interview in Ypsilanti because she likes to work where she feels she is needed the most.

“I have historically, throughout my work life, tried to go to places I thought I could help,” Saunders said.

When asked about the challenges students and schools face, she brought up retention and graduation, noting that when she did research on her current district, she found that 600 students had been held back at least twice. She said the problem only gets worse in high school.

“Almost any district in the country can turn around elementary schools,” Saunders said. “Secondary is where the challenge is.”

Saunders, who holds a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California, wrote her dissertation on school finance. Bates took notice of this expertise.

“I really appreciated the fact that she had a good grasp of the finance problems Ypsilanti is facing,” Bates said.

Bates also expressed thanks for the candidness and openness that all of the superintendent candidates have brought.

The board plans to meet with Richard Weigel, assistant superintendent of YPS and Dedrick D. Martin, executive director of equity and achievement in Champaign Unit Four Schools in Champaign, Ill.

Christine Laughren contributed to this article

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