Graphic depicting a "no peanuts" sign against an orange, polka dot background.

Teachers face the pressure of student allergies

Early education instructor Dayle McLeod was prepped this fall to begin her new position as Head Start’s lead teacher at Potterville Elementary School in Potterville, Mich. With six years of professional experience under her belt, she knew just how to ready her classroom for her newest batch of preschool students: Her lesson plans were organized, her classroom supplies purchased, her bulletin boards constructed. She was prepared for everything — or so she thought. Not long before the first day of class, McLeod was informed she would be responsible for a student with maple syrup urine disease, a rare genetic disorder in which the body cannot break down certain proteins. “At first, it was really stressful,” McLeod said.

Illustration with white lesson plan and green, polka dot background.

Veteran teachers in Michigan express angst over standardized test prep

For the past two decades, David Atkins has pursued his passion for teaching with excitement. As an Advanced Placement and eleventh-grade English teacher at Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Mich., he has looked forward to coming to work each day and playing a part in educating the nation’s youth. Lately, however, he’s noticed something has changed. Over the past few years, the literature, poetry and humanities lessons that once held the spotlight in his classroom are increasingly being cast aside to make room for a new star – standardized test prep. As American classics such as “In Cold Blood” and “The Grapes of Wrath” gave way to article analysis and college readiness practice exams, he says school days have become less progressive, less interesting and ultimately, less satisfying. “Twenty-five years I’ve been teaching, and in the last couple of years, it’s just reached this point where I ask, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ It’s not really teaching anymore,” Atkins said.

White pennant banner with a capital letter "U" against a blue, polka dot background.

Assemble U offers community-based learning for the Michigan music industry

Crabs in a barrel. That’s how Nicole Churchill, one of the three founding members of Assemble Sound, describes Detroit’s music industry. “When you think about crabs in a literal barrel, when one or two start to crawl to the top, the other crabs try to pinch at them and pull at their legs and drag them back down,” Churchill said. “It’s a metaphor for what support has commonly been like in the industry. Detroit’s the birthplace of a ton of different music genres, but a lot of people don’t realize that the talent never went anywhere.

Graphic of book with dollar sign on the cover against a red, polka dot background.

Economic barriers to book fairs inspire teachers to take charge

Scrolling through the feed of a millennial Twitter user, it’s hard to deny the trendiness of nostalgia. One account titled “90s Girl Problems” reaches over half of a million followers, with the popularity of other “throwback” themed accounts and posts following closely behind. Yet amidst all of the tweetable references to hair scrunchies, Nirvana and Lisa Frank, the remembrance of one educational event seems to repeatedly evoke fond memories from today’s young adults – Scholastic Book Fairs. “When the revolution comes I hope they let us keep the Scholastic Book Fair,” one tweet reads. “Marry someone who makes you feel the way you felt during Scholastic Book Fair week in grade school,” says another.

Nominees and winners increase for Meridian Township's 2016 Environmental Stewardship Awards

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

Though Meridian Township resides less than two miles away from Michigan State University, a look at the recent increase in nominations for the township’s annual Environmental Stewardship Awards is evidence that some community members view the phrase “go green” a bit differently than their neighbors down the road. “For the 2016 awards, we have had a larger pool of nominees than in years past, which is exciting,” said Meridian Township Associate Planner and staff liaison to the township’s Environmental Commission, Harmony Gmazel. “In years past, we usually just have two or three nominations per year. This is the most we’ve had in quite a while.” Meridian Charter Township’s Environmental Stewardship awards are held to honor residents who advocate for the environment through “local habitat stewardship, recycling, or anything in between”.

Streamlined Meridian Township burn policies work to keep blazes under control

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

The summer before heading off to college is typically considered to be the perfect time for recent high school graduates to create long-lasting memories with their
friends. While 2012 Okemos High School graduate Colin Jackson said that he expected to create some moments he would never forget before leaving his hometown, he never expected them to be so incendiary. “The summer I graduated, there was a rumor going around that a girl I knew accidentally set fire to a field called ‘The Shire’ that we used to have bonfires at,” Jackson said. “Apparently she didn’t put a fire out all the way and ended up burning down a good chunk of [the field].”

Jackson said his curiosity led him to revisit the alleged burn site to see if the rumors were true. “I went back this year and all of the grass is like, seriously lower and you can still see where stuff is charred, so I guess it actually happened,” Jackson said.

Meridian Township celebrates womanhood in light of Women's History Month

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

March marks Women’s History Month, and the Meridian Township Communications Department is taking full advantage of the opportunity to educate community members about females and their accomplishments of both the past and present. Andrea Smiley, administrative assistant for the Meridian Township Communications Department, said that the township used a variety of methods to celebrate womanhood with community members. “We have shown the importance of Women’s History Month in many ways including sharing on social media, such as Meridian Township’s Facebook page, our HOMTV & Township eNewsletters, an intern story which airs on our government access channel HOMTV 21, and an interview that showcased female athletes, which also aired on HOMTV 21 in our sports show, ‘All Access’,” Smiley said. According to the United States Census Bureau, Women’s History Month first began on March 8, 1857, when female factory workers in New York City staged a protest over poor working conditions. Formally recognized as just one week, it was not until 1987 that the United States’ Congress formally recognized Women’s History Month as the full month of March.

The pros and cons of Meridian Township's emergency communication policies

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

With winter weather scares already in the books for the new year, Meridian Township public officials are relying on the township’s emergency operations plan to keep residents safe and informed during Michigan’s temperamental transition from winter to spring. Meridian Township Fire Chief and Emergency Manager Fred Cowper said the plan values transparency between city officials and Meridian residents. “The plan is updated nearly every year and is shared online and at board meetings,” Cowper said. “Our communications director is always a part of our emergency meetings. She makes sure everything is up to date with contacting media sources and putting information on Facebook and Twitter.”

After reviewing Meridian’s communication outlets and social platforms, Juan Mundel, doctoral student within Michigan State University’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations, noted some strengths and weaknesses within the township’s policies.