LOCS gears up for another school year

Supt. Marion Ginopolis discusses programs, projects and priorities

By Megan Kelley

Review Writer

With school starting for the students at Lake Orion Community Schools on Tuesday, it’s time to say farewell to summer and dive into another school year.

For LOCS, this entails continuing the progress of several projects and exploring a few new ones.

“I’m looking forward to an exciting 19’-20’ school year,” said Superintendent Marion Ginopolis, who announced Aug. 24 that she would step down as superintendent at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

The district has hired almost 30 new teachers and 20 new support staff this summer; therefore, one of the many roles administration will take on is ensuring their success and welcoming them into the Dragon culture, Ginopolis said, adding that professional development has been in full swing throughout the summer and will continue during the school year.

LOCS’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program will continue to be a highlight in the district. Elementary coaches (STEM, math, data and literacy) will also continue traveling to different classrooms to assist teachers in instruction.

“The fact that we’ve been able to have teachers trained as coaches in specific areas where they’re working directly with classroom teachers makes a huge difference in any school district and we’re very fortunate to be able to do that,” Ginopolis said. “That’s another thing we want to maintain.”

According to Ginopolis, LOCS continues to outmatch the state and county averages in all academic areas.

The district will continue moving forward with bond work during the school year.

“One of the things that I think is unique about the way we’re approaching the bond is that we’re looking at the renovations from an instructional standpoint of teaching and learning, so that as we design these different parts of the building, and so forth, the focus in on how appropriate these are for instruction,” said Ginopolis. “To me, that’s so different from any other approach I’ve ever seen with a bond. Usually it’s just strictly the architectural or the engineering…we’re really looking at the entire space.”

An example of this is the elementary school STEM labs. By the end of bond work, each elementary school media center will have a STEM lab added to the area, Ginopolis said.

“All of the spaces that are being constructed with the bond money have had a tremendous amount of thought from the focus or perspective of good instruction,” said Ginopolis. “So, one of my goals this year is really to monitor that we’re moving forward with all of our projects.”

Communication with the community is also on Ginopolis’ list of goals for the years.

“It’s a little disappointing that people aren’t going to the website and looking at all of the information that’s out there, but it is there for everybody. We have interactive maps on there,” Ginopolis said.

The Pine Tree Center recently expanded with the introduction of Jillian Knapp as supervisor of the center. Julie Gutman will continue to oversee the special education program throughout the district.

Student support will also continue to be a priority for Ginopolis this year.

“One of my initiatives this year is going to be this whole issue of supporting kids emotionally and socially as well as academically. We have great needs of all of our kids, not just in Lake Orion, but everywhere in the world,” said Ginopolis. “I want to expand our SOS (Students Offering Support) program for one. The Real Talk program is another one that we have just not been able to do as regularly and I want that to continue. I’m going to start a Superintendent’s advisory committee of students this year…what I’m expecting from them is that they will provide me with good advice on our initiatives.”

Ginopolis and the district as a whole work to keep the district interconnected and hope to continue that this year.

“The interconnectedness is this: it could be that everyone operates in a silo, and to me that can be really dangerous for a school district. So, what I mean is; you’ve got your parent silo here, you’ve got your teacher or staff and employee silo here, you’ve got your community silo here. If you don’t find a way to connect all of those people then everybody’s operating on their own,” said Ginopolis. “I have always operated where there have to be methods that are strategic so that everybody is working together.”

Ginopolis will also continue to maintain the district’s relationships with Orion Township, the Village of Lake Orion and the sheriff offices in both areas.

“I’m this handle on the umbrella and each of the spokes is a different stakeholder,” Ginopolis said.

This past school year, Ginopolis connected with county government representatives and plans to continue to meet and communicate with representatives regarding legislative issues. Ginopolis also hopes to expand the Legislative Advocacy Committee that she created a few years ago.

With the start of a new year comes the return of the many school events, such as Homecoming and the dozens of High School Leadership activities. that Ginopolis looks forward to.

“I’m excited about the year, I really am. Even though it’s going to be my last year, it’s time to move on,” Ginopolis said.