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Sturgis Public Schools:Back-to-school highlights

Roundup of some new programs, initiatives and upgrades at Sturgis Public Schools, for the 2023-24 academic year, provided by superintendent Art Ebert. 
Culinary arts is offered to high school students countywide through St. Joseph County CTE Consortium. The program is taught at two locations, Sturgis and Constantine. The Sturgis culinary arts class is taught by Candince Swanwick, at Sturges-Young Center for the Arts. CTE offerings are reviewed on an ongoing basis, and new programs are added based on student interest and industry need, leading to the decision to include culinary arts.
Sturgis Public Schools is adding a part-time school resource officer, Noel Jimenez, in partnership with the city of Sturgis. Jimenez will focus primarily on supporting elementary school students, and full-time SRO Sam Watson will continue focus of support for secondary students. Both coordinate with the district’s safety director, Dave Northrop, and Ryan Banaszak, director of public safety. At the Aug. 21 school board meeting, Banaszak made a formal introduction of  Jimenez in his new role. “I’m grateful to have this opportunity,” Jimenez said. “I’m really excited.”
All school facilities that support preschool through fifth grade students have new, inclusive playgrounds. The first playground was built at Congress School in 2019, followed by Wenzel School in 2020, Wall School in 2021, Eastwood School in 2022 and Jerolene School and Sturgis Central Commons in 2023.
A new position, special education coordinator, has been added to support staff, students and families throughout the district. Pam Keeslar, who previously taught at Eastwood Elementary School, will serve in that capacity, and is part of the district’s Instructional leadership team alongside Nicole Gittinger, Amanda Herrera, Alex Milton and Brian Tallmadge.
Teachers introduced to board
New teachers introduced Aug. 21 to Sturgis Public Schools Board of Education. 
Rosalea Knapp
Special education, Wall School 
● Education: Bachelor’s degree in human resources, Indiana State University. 
● Experience: Substitute teacher, St. Joseph County ISD, for the past six years. 
Carrie Barrick 
Special education, Eastwood 
● Education: Bachelor’s degree in education, Eastern Michigan University. 
● Experience: Sixth grade language arts in Culpeper, Va.; grades 1-2 and 7-8, Amish school; reading and math in Kansas, three years; reading for six years and first grade for five years at Lakeland. 
Megan Lippert
Special education, Sturgis High School
● Education: Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and general psychology, Western Michigan University.
● Experience: Intensive care manager, Pines Behavioral Health; behavior technician at Lifetree Behavioral Health. 
Sherryl Eash 
Art, K-2
● Education: Bachelor of Science, business administration, Trinity College in Quenoz City, Philippines.
● Experience: Substitute teacher, EduStaff. 
Alexandria Stacey
Second grade, Wall 
● Education: Bachelor of Science in education, with major in early childhood development and learning, Central Michigan University. 
● Experience: Student teacher, Mount Pleasant Schools; day care worker, Child Learning Center, Mount Pleasant. 
Additional board news
At its Aug. 21 meeting, the board approved a change to the district handbook, pertaining to education records. Previous language had a “disconnect with policy,” school officials said. Students and parents have the right to review copies of all educational records. To review student records, provide a written notice identifying requested student records to the building administrator. An appointment will be scheduled to answer any questions and to review requested student records. Handbook is available at tinyurl.com/myxjfj2m.
At its Aug. 14 meeting, Sturgis Public Schools Board of Education approved the following changes to the contract of superintendent Art Ebert:
● Roll-over to a four-year term that covers July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2027.
● Increased the limit of reimbursement for professional development, from $2,000 to $5,100.
● Extended the district’s MSPERS contribution to cover the MIP contributions on Ebert’s district-paid annuity.

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