NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education during its Monday, April 27, regular meeting accepted with an emphasis on “regret” the resignation (effective at the end of the current school year) of High School Spanish teacher Kelly Weidenmiller.
The meeting was conducted remotely using the Zoom app.
Board Secretary Lisa Werner read the following letter from Weidenmiller submitted to Superintendent to Dr. Jeff Leslie on April 17: Dear Dr. Leslie, Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from my position as high school Spanish teacher as of the end of the 2019-2020 school year. I will be relocating to St. Louis, Missouri and have accepted an offer to teach at a school there.
To say that I have enjoyed and treasured my last eleven years working at New Buffalo would be an understatement. NBAS took a chance on me as a first-year teacher and I will be forever grateful for the support and guidance that I have been given throughout my career thus far. Working with such a talented faculty, a supportive administration, a school board that values world languages, and a community that truly embraced me as one of their own, I have been incredibly lucky to have been a small part of the amazing things happening in our district. Despite being aware of my impending departure, due to the COVID-19 crisis, I am simply devastated that I will not be able to say farewell to everyone in the way that I had hoped, particularly to the students. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share my passion with so many young people and to have had the chance to open their eyes to such an enriching experience that learning a language and traveling abroad can offer.
NBAS has truly helped to shape me into the educator, leader, and person that I am today and this community will forever be in my heart.
Thank you for everything.
Werner said she is sorry to see Weidenmiller go.
“She has been such a huge asset to our district. It will be difficult to find someone that will be as great as Kelly has been, and certainly the trips to Spain have been an amazing experience for our students.”
Board President Chuck Heit said students taught by Weidenmiller and the district’s other Spanish teachers gained “the ability to speak the language, not just learn it.”
“She will definitely be missed. And whatever school district she’s going to will be blessed,” he said.
Vice President Heather Lijewski Black said Weidenmiller is “definitely a role model” for students and new teachers.
Leslie said Weidenmiller is going to “go above and beyond and do whatever it takes to help kids.”
He recalled when Niles Superintendent Dan Applegate mentioned the Seal of Biliteracy program to him a couple of years ago.
After talking to Weidenmiller about the program, Leslie said she drove all the way to the Oakland ISD near Detroit to receive training “on everything there is to know about that Seal of Biliteracy” before implementing it at New Buffalo.
He said approximately 13 NBHS students have earned the Seal of Biliteracy in the last two years.
“To this day we’re the only school in Berrien County that offers that Seal of Biliteracy, and the whole reason why we do it and nobody else does is because we’ve got Kelly Weidenmiller and nobody else does.”
Also during the April 27 meeting, Leslie told the board that the district’s meal pick-ups will take place at the middle/high school (1112 East Clay St.) and at the elementary school (12291 Lubke Road) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. starting on Monday, May 4. The program takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
He said the previous schedule consisted of meal pick-ups at those two buildings from 11:30 a.m. to noon, with distributions also held at Judy’s Motel and Oakview Estates Apartments from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.; and at the library and Converge Church from 1 to 1:30 p.m.
Leslie said those living at the motel and the apartments will be offered the option of having meals delivered to them.
Those unable to get to the two distribution sites are asked to contact Food Service Director Patty Iazzetto at (269) 469-6048 ov via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heit thanked Iazzetto and her staff “for the great work they’re doing” getting meals to kids.
Black said what the district’s food service and the local Blessings in a Backpack effort have done “is amazing.”
“Who would have imagined that we’d be able to take care of this many kids in the community with no notice.”
The Board of Education also voted 6-0 to award a $581,156 contract to Larson-Danielson Construction of LaPorte, Ind., for a security upgrade project planned this summer at the elementary school.
Leslie said an electronic bid opening was conducted recently, with four companies submitting bids, with two coming in very close to the lowest cost (CPM Construction of St. Joseph and Larson-Danielson). CPM’s bid was reportedly about $2,500 less.
Heit noted that Larson-Danielson did a fantastic job working with the district in fixing problems that arose with the then-new middle/high school building about 20 years ago.
He added that Larson-Danielson has all of their subcontractors in-house — a big deal in the current situation.
An overview of the project provided by Abonmarche included making changes to the school's entry area to improve security for students and staff including: demolition of existing glass entry wall and installation of a new fortified entry wall; the addition of a reception station with a sliding glass transaction panel; a secured door with buzzer and possible reorientation/relocation of the existing reception area; relocating the principal and support staff offices to the new main entry area; providing two adjacent administrative work stations as well as creating separate spaces for reception and private area for sick students with a refrigerator for medication and if possible an immediate and separate restroom; reconfiguring the existing principal and staff support offices for the BASE program.
In other April 27 business, the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education:
• Were told by Werner that the district’s Curriculum Committee reviewed handbooks for elementary, middle and high school as well as athletics during a recent meeting. Leslie said handbook changes should be ready for a vote of the board at the next Board of Education meeting.