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Delta Force students learn on Education Day

Victoria LaFave photo Trent Bellingar, career and technical education director with the DSISD, gives Delta Force students a tour of the Automotive Technology Classroom during Education Day on Thursday, Sept. 15.

ESCANABA — Delta Force students learned from education leaders at the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District and the professionals at the Learning Center during Education Day on Thursday, Sept. 15. In this session, students explored the issues impacting education in Delta County, and gained a deeper understanding of the complexities facing our educators today.

Specifically, they learned about the challenges, successes, and future goals of our local educational leaders and teachers.

The day started at the DSISD in Escanaba with breakfast and introductions from Superintendent Doug Leisenring. Students then learned about the DSISD’s Early Childhood Department, including the Great Start Collaborative and Family Coalition as well as the Growing Families Home Visiting program from its Early Childhood Director Tara Weaver.

Weaver and her colleague Laurie Mold presented on the importance of talking, reading and singing with young children, and discussed the differences these early learning strategies can make in a child’s life. “We have information and resources to support parents. They are their child’s first and most important teacher and we are here to help them in that role,” Weaver said.

They provide opportunities to learn about child development, parenting skills and information about community services that support parents and children. One of these services is the Small Wonders Preschool, which Delta Force students toured with Weaver.

Next, DF students learned about the ISD’s special education services from Liz McCall, Director of Special Education. She discussed the ISD’s resources and specific individual educational needs that students may have and how the professionals at the ISD meet those needs. Students also heard from Kristy Alimenti about the challenges facing students and educators after the pandemic required at-home learning and caused many students to experience mental health issues.

Students then took a bus ride to the ISD’s Learning Center, where they received a tour of the center with Learning Center Supervisor Tim Racicot and Secretary Michelle Rubick. Students saw the special education teachers in action, patiently guiding and teaching students in hands-on projects and exercises.

After touring the Learning Center and seeing how the teachers interact and work with moderately to severely impaired students, Delta Force student Morgan Eagloski said, “It was clear that the teachers and staff at the Learning Center are special people — unbelievably kind hearts and patient souls.”

“It’s a blessing that we have the teachers that we do, particularly at the Learning Center,” said Mike Roland, Career and Technical Education (CTE) supervisor.

Students enjoyed lunch at Escanaba High School, and then heard from more professionals at the ISD, including Kristie Latsch, Mike Maki, JoeyLynn Selling and Laura Carlson, who discussed General Education and gave the students math and literacy problems to illustrate some of the challenges students face.

CTE Director Trent Bellingar then led students on a walking tour of the CTE classrooms, specifically the building trades, machine shop, CAD, welding, and health science II classes, where students were doing hands-on projects. Delta Force students learned that when welding students successfully pass the welding class, for instance, they earn certification from the American Welding Society, giving them career-ready skills.

Delta Force student April Weber said she saw Education Day as a valuable opportunity for educators to network with Delta Force students and was impressed with the vast amount of knowledge that Leisenring and his staff have.

“The ISD showcased why networking is so valuable and powerful,” she said. “Delta Force is an opportunity to connect with the public who may need help with services and professionals who can eventually help the school system to achieve their goals,” she said.

Delta Force students then learned more about the challenges facing educators today, including mental health issues, how educators deal with rumors spreading on social media, and the balance between security and educational instruction.

Superintendent Doug Leisenring said he hopes that the Delta Force students left the Education Day sessions with a new understanding of the educational system in their community: “Our hope is that the Delta Force students have a better appreciation of the opportunities that the students in our district have and how we, as educational leaders, want to support our students in their educational journeys.”

Next month during Economic Development Day, Delta Force students will learn about the strategic discussions that need to take place to identify the greatest opportunities and challenges for economic development in Delta County.

Created and facilitated by the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, Delta Force encompasses a series of ten full-day sessions covering key segments of our community. Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.deltami.org/delta-force-leadership-program” www.deltami.org/delta-force-leadership-program for more information.

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Victoria LaFave is with the Delta County Chamber of Commerce.

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