Reconfiguration changes within the East Lansing Public School (ELPS) district for the 2014-2015 school year have impacted many students, especially those attending Glencairn and Marble Elementary Schools.
Glencairn, previously designated as a fifth and sixth grade building, now houses Kindergarten through fifth grade elementary students as it did over a decade ago. Sixth grade students now attend McDonald Middle School in a newly built separate wing of the building. The majority of students who previously attended Red Cedar Elementary (currently closed) now attend either Glencairn or Marble, and approximately 100 students who attended Marble in the 2013-2014 school year are now students at Glencairn.
When Marble Principal Dori Leyko visited former students at Glencairn on Friday, September 19, she had many children approach her asking if she could pass on messages to friends at Marble. Leyko wanted to encourage communication among students affected by changes in the district; this sparked the idea for a mail system between schools. Leyko and Glencairn Principal Lorraine Ware rolled out their “Mail for our Glencairn and Marble Friends” program when Leyko delivered her first batch of over 50 messages, cards and drawings to Ware for distribution at the beginning of this week.
Decorated mailboxes for student messages are now located near the main offices of Marble and Glencairn, with the next scheduled delivery date posted nearby. Leyko plans to make deliveries on a bi-weekly basis, potentially when the principals get together for Friday meetings. She is excited about the program, not only to keep friendships active and grow the connection between schools, but also because it “provides students with a real-life purpose and an authentic audience for their writing.” Leyko says she envisions “teachers integrating this program into their writing instruction or morning work” throughout the year.
Ware and Leyko were aware of the challenges the ELPS reconfiguration would pose for students and families and have been in constant communication since the 2013-2014 school year, planning for the conversion. To demonstrate how they are working together to assist families through the transition, Leyko stood with Ware and welcomed new students to the Glencairn Spring Open House. While the majority of Marble students impacted by reconfiguration now attend Glencairn, Leyko is willing to accommodate individual requests to also deliver messages to former students attending Whitehills, Donley, and Pinecrest Elementary Schools. She indicates that all of the building principals are committed to helping their students through this period of change.
Students at both schools have responded well to the program. As students discussed it at lunch last week, one fourth grade Marble student (who formerly attended Red Cedar) declared she was very excited to write to her two best friends, now at Glencairn. Another Marble student passed a message to his former Red Cedar teacher, and a second grade Glencairn student (formerly at Marble) was making plans to draw pictures for a friend at Marble whom she’s known since preschool.
Disclosure: Rebecca J. McAndrews has two children who attend East Lansing Public Schools and is a substitute teacher for the district.
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