LOCS launches Dragon University, introduce LOHS flex time

By Megan Kelley
Review Writer
During the March 27 board meeting Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Heidi Mercer and spokes person for the Curriculum Committee Dana Mermell announced plans to begin a program called Dragon Staff University and introduce flex time at LOHS.
During the April 24 meeting, Mercer announced that Dragon Staff University was now up and running and that teachers would be able to sign up through an internal staff portal on the district website.
The Dragon Staff University program is offered to LOCS teaching staff and is marketed as an alternative way to take district approved courses in order to earn credits for their master’s plus 15 or their master’s plus 30, according to Mercer.
Courses that are currently available include: Explicit Instruction Training of Trainers, Modeling Instruction Workshop, Forensic Science Summer Workshop for Educators, Teaching Mindfulness in Youth, Action Research Project and The Arts in Engineering.
“These opportunities right now are things that we’re taking advantage of throughout the county but we are also in the midst of having a few staff members throughout the district that will be creating a few courses that we will be adding in the fall,” Mercer said.
LOCS is expected to continue to add approved courses as time goes on.
Mercer also added that the program has potential to extend out to other school districts as well.
“We are really hoping that this is a benefit to staff and I’m really excited about this,” said Mercer. “We’re really proud of this.”
Questions regarding Dragon Staff University can be directed to LOCS’s Director of Curriculum Kerri Anderson at kerri.anderson@lok12.org or via phone at 248-693-5400.
LOHS Flex Time
LOCS will also begin seeking out 11th and 12th grade students at Lake Orion High School to pilot flex time.
This week, LOHS Principal Steve Hawley is expected to reach out to specific students that will hopefully agree to participate in the pilot.
Students will have to provide their own transportation to and from school and only certain classes will be available.
“This pilot will be particularly small as we try this out but notification will be going to those classes and students and parents need to sign up and we’ll be up and running in the fall with that flex schedule,” said Mercer. “We’re hoping that it will be successful and that we will be able to expand.”
Much like high school courses, student interest would measure the success of the schedule change, Mercer explained. Though she does not anticipate the program not being a success.
“There’s no doubt what the research says, I already know that the later schedule is absolutely a benefit to students,” said Mercer. “It’s again, making sure that it works within student’s schedules and that’s where I think students need to have choice. We do have students that this will not work for…that’s why the district has been so adamant that we still have that choice.”
Mercer also confirmed that this would not cost the district any additional money.
According to Mercer, teachers are required to work a certain number of hours every school day. This means that teachers teaching on the flex schedule will also come in later; therefore they would not have any additional work hours.
Should the program be a huge success with a vast majority of students in favor of the flex schedule, the district would look into a permanent switch for all students, Mercer told the board.
Also in the meeting:
• 7th grade students from Scripps Middle School presented their companion book projects they created with Mrs. Moyer and Ms. Lowe.
Students created a companion book, a podcast and a QR code using iPads to explain the books they had chosen and read.
• Orion Oaks Elementary School Principal Drew Towlerton brought along some Orion Oaks staff and students to tell the board about their “Day of Service” on April 12.
• Superintendent Marion Ginopolis is still unsure of when the last day of school will be. Due to legislation that recently passed through the State House of Representatives, there is a chance LOCS (excluding Carpenter Elementary) will avoid having to make up any days.
• District parent Chris Peace addressed the board regarding the parking lot of Paint Creek Elementary and the potential dangers it holds.
“People are supposed to park their car, go inside, get their child and come back out,” Peace said. “We have seen over the course of a couple years, people parking in the middle, in the lane of the parking lot, physically getting out of their vehicles and going inside to get children.”
Peace explained that his son has a congenital heart defect and therefore utilizes the school’s handicap parking. However, Peace has run into situations where he cannot exit or access the handicap parking sports due to cars blocking them.
Peace is also concerned about cars blocking the view of children who may happen to run across the road, citing it as a “safety concern.” He hopes the board will take proper action whether with bond money or through other measures such as contacting the Oakland County Sheriff’s office.