NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education during its June 13 meeting accepted with regret the resignations of two longtime instructors while hiring “four people” to replace retiring Recreational Monitor Tina Brewster.
Music Instructor Christine Baumann and Spanish Teacher Luis Sanchez both submitted letters of resignation indicating they are taking similar positions in the Lakeshore District.
Baumann’s letter follows: Dear Dr. Leslie, it is with excitement and also sadness that I must inform you that I am resigning my teaching position. I have accepted the job of fifth- through eighth-grade band at Lakeshore Middle School.
New Buffalo has been my home since 2008, and I have treasured the countless friendships and connections that I have made in the past 14 years. The administration and staff members that I have had the pleasure of working with have shaped me into the teacher I am today.
I am proud of the program that I am leaving for the next teacher to take over. I have appreciated all of your support for the arts, and I hope to see this support continue and thrive in the upcoming years.
Thank you again, and Go Bison!
New Buffalo Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said Baumann “is just awesome” and has done a great job over the years at both the middle and high school levels.
Sanchez’s letter reads as follows: Good morning, Hope all is well in the craziness of the last days of the school year. Is difficult to catch you all together, and I will be making my rounds with each one of you individually, but it is with bittersweetness that I would like to inform you that I’ve accepted a position as a Spanish teacher at Lakeshore HS.
New Buffalo has been my home since 2011 and I will always cherish the moments, and experiences I’ve lived here. I know Wayne (High School Principal Wayne Butler) and Brad (Middle School Principal Brad Brunner) won’t be here next year either, and I wish you both the best in your new adventures.
Thank you all for all your help and support you’ve shown me through my time here.
“We learned it takes four people to make one Tina Brewster,” said Leslie before her successors were hired by unanimous board votes on June 13 as follows:
• Frank Rowley in the position of Morning Recreational Aide, pending background approval.
• Jamie Bartelheim in the position of Recreational Aide for weekday afternoon/evening and every other weekend.
• Julie Williams in the position of Recreational Aide every other weekend, pending background approval.
The school board on June 13 also agreed to employ Morgan Motycka in the position of Administrative Assistant to the Athletic Director.
The Board of Education on June 13 also listened to presentations from district counselors Angela Robertson (Elementary), Hillary Cunningham (Middle and High School) and Lisa Price (High School).
Robertson talked about her roles and responsibilities which include everything from scheduling, meeting and collaborating with parents and teachers and conducting student observations for special education testing for RESA to developing interventions or lessons based on behavioral data and providing various levels of support including sessions, small groups, check-in lunches, and parent consultations.
She reported that 250 students have received whole group lessons, 56 students have participated in small group sessions and 91 students have received individual counseling sessions.
Robertson said Important Lesson Topics include Conflict Management, Coping Skills, Career Awareness, Understanding Emotions, Friendship, Self Esteem and Self Control.
Positive reinforcements implemented in the school include monthly raffles, a Class Compliment Robertson said the school partnered with ommunity members to offer staff, students and families Ssupport and education for the 2021-22 school year (Partners included Harbor County Toys for Tots, the local Lions Club, Rotary Club and Women’s League for donations, the Children’s Advocacy Center for education on internet safety, strangers, and safe touches, Lory’s Place for grief support, Berrien RESA provided a mental health consultant, David’s Deli promoted Kindness Month traditions, parents and community members for guest speaking during Career Day).
Cunningham said as the school continued to navigate COVID this
year, community services returned including:
• Lory’s Place, which visited monthly to provide small group support for students experiencing loss and grief.
• The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan, which returned to provide Teen Safety Matters lessons to Middle School students through classroom push in.
• The Signs of Suicide (SOS) suicide prevention curriculum continued in both the middle and high schools
Cunningham said there were an average of seven individual sessions with students per day involving 59 percent of the middle school and 42 percent of the high school student body, with 60 percent self
referred. There was a 10-percent increase in teacher contact and referrals from the previous year.
A Social Skills Group focusing on Everyday Speech supported students in navigating relationships
and social cues through video modeling, discussion, and hands-on learning activities.
The Go Strengths Resilience & Well-Being Group aims to increase middle school students’ sense of well-being and build their capacity for resilience using curriculum developed by Go Zen, a positive psychology based animated program.
The Navigating Anger Group: Go Charge!! aims to help students understand why they get angry
and how to start making positive changes in their life.
And the Coping Skills Group TRAILS to Wellness, developed by the University of Michigan, helps students to understand and deal with symptoms of anxiety, worry, stress, overwhelm, and
Price talked about her extensive responsibilities related to testing including: Pre-ID’ing/registering students, Arranging transportation if testing is off site, Arranging substitute teachers if necessary, Altering lunch schedules on test days, Advising students and parents, Distributing test results, and Inputing test data into Powerschool.
Price said tasks relayed to high school seniors include: College Representatives visiting New Buffalo, Bus trips to Lake Michigan College and Southwestern Michigan College, College Applications, Distributing, encouraging and assisting students with, and mailing Scholarship
Applications, Senior Honors Night, College Orientations and Registrations, and Sending AP and CLEP scores, SMC credits, and final transcripts to colleges.
Michelle Pliske and Jean Haskins presented a report on activities of the PTO, focusing on the organization’s fall Bison Stampede fundraiser (conducted all online).
The 2021 celebration of reaching the Bison Stampede goal included a staff tricycle race captured for posterity in a video shown during the board meeting.
Other recent PTO efforts have included the addition of book vending machines at the Elementary School (with help from The Pokagon Fund and Harbor Country Rotary Club); providing clothing for students if they need extra items during the school day; fall and spring book fairs; monthly staff appreciation events; and a well-attended June 11 End of the Year Carnival at the Elementary School.
In other June 13 matters, the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education:
• Accepted final 2021-2022 budget figures including General Fund revenues of $17,963,427 and expenditures of $18,523,847.
• Discussed issues related to academic eligibility standards to be incorporated into a new athletic handbook expected to be approved at a future meeting.
• Granted tenure status to Angela Robertson and Melissa Forker.