There will be no school on Monday, February 15, as Toledo Public Schools observes Presidents' Day.

Offices will reopen and classes will start again on Tuesday, February 16.

Posted on February 11, 2016

The Toledo Public Schools Foundation, formerly Scholars of Toledo, is set to award scholarships this year in the amounts of $1,000 and $1,500 to eligible seniors in the district.

A student graduating in 2016 is eligible if he or she has a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or above (unless otherwise noted by specific scholarship requirement); is seeking a post-secondary education at an accredited higher learning institution as a part-time or full-time student, and is involved in extracurricular activities, volunteerism, leadership roles, organizations and/or internships and work programs.

Qualified students must complete an application and essay and supply recommendations.

Applications are completed online by using this link:

The deadline to have a submitted 2016 scholarship application is April 5.

Posted on February 5, 2016

Dr. Romules Durant, CEO/Superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, is always looking for new ways to engage students and to meet the specific needs of the neighborhoods surrounding each school.

One of his more unique projects is currently underway at Old Orchard Elementary in west Toledo, where seventh and eighth graders are taking daily lessons in Mandarin Chinese. The pilot program extends the learning of Chinese language and culture that younger students at the school are exposed to through a teacher from the Confucius Institute at the University of Toledo.

The tie-in is a natural because many residents in the neighborhood around the school are either foreign students or work at the university.

That connection between Old Orchard and the nearby UT is one of the reasons for the pilot program there, Dr. Durant says. And choosing Mandarin was easy.

“Mandarin is the [fastest] growing language in the world and it’s the language of the international business community,” Dr. Durant says. “The incentive for the middle schools is that they can test out of a high school language and start moving toward post-secondary options.”

Dr. Durant says his long-term goal is for every student in the school, starting in kindergarten, be taught Mandarin Chinese every day.

Right now, though, it’s the seventh graders first thing in the morning, followed by the eighth graders, who are being taught by Start High School teacher Yumei Wang.

As Ms. Wang collects homework, she keeps up a constant stream of information, including how in the Chinese culture, students aren’t supposed to write in red because that’s a color reserved for teachers. Then it’s time for work at the board.

After writing a series of words, including who and you, she calls on different students to write the Chinese characters for each word, reminding them that the lines must be written in the correct sequence – vertical, horizontal, perhaps a slash first and then a curved line.

Carrie Meagher, one of the seventh grade teachers says she knows the language is hard but the “students putting in the work are seeing results.”

“It’s getting easier,” says seventh grader Bajanai Eichenberg. “I like learning new languages because it’s fun and challenging. I was in Spanish before but this is more interesting and I like that I’m learning it before I go to high school.”

Daveon Washington echoes his classmate, saying that the character-driven language “makes sense to me.”

Quentin Pickett says he is getting better at speaking Mandarin Chinese and that “the numbers are easy to learn.” The best part of earning high school language credit in grade school, he adds, is that “I’ll probably take a different language in high school.”

Old Orchard Principal Valerie Dreier says the Mandarin Chinese lessons are a natural complement to the instruction from Confucius Institute teachers that has been going on at the school for several years (Old Orchard was the first elementary school to partner with the institute).

“You need to know Chinese now for global business,” Ms. Dreier says, adding that the school has hosted two Chinese delegations in recent years because of the Confucius Institute connection.

The current teacher, Fang Xie, is in her second year of a two-year stay in Toledo. She is an English teacher in China and thought a stay here would help her understand American culture.

And while here, she is hoping her lessons – including teaching the students this week (in honor of the Chinese New Year) how to make Chinese knots and masks, as well as do calligraphy and make dumplings – will expose Old Orchard students to her country.

“The world is becoming so global – we need to know about each other,” she says.

Ms. Xie says teaching the younger students calligraphy, for example, helps them realize that learning the language would not be that difficult.
“I want them to be open minded. I want them to learn there’s a bigger world than Toledo,” she says.

Posted on February 3, 2016

When Dr. James M. Jones, assistant principal at Rosa Parks Elementary, heard about the growing water crisis in Flint, Mich., he knew he had to do something for that city's schoolchildren.

After all, he still remembered the water crisis that Toledo faced in the summer of 2014, when the drinking water was unsafe to drink for three days and he was worried about his own children.

He wrote up a few paragraphs quickly and started spreading the word that the student leaders of the school, including members of Young Men of Excellence and Young Women of Excellence, "will be asking each family, community stakeholder, school, and business to donate 1 case of bottled water toward our 'Children Need Safe Water' community service."

The idea spread like wild fire and Dr. Jones and Principal Angela Hickman-Richburg has been overwhelmed by the response.

From workers with the Ann Arbor Railroad Co. (more than 50 cases) to those at TARTA (more than 150 cases), to other TPS schools like Elmhurst and Whittier elementary schools and the Jones Leadership Academy, the donations poured in.

Several sophomores at Jones were glad to drop off what the school plans will be many drop offs "to help our brothers and sisters in Flint, Michigan," says Antonio Davis, assistant principal. He adds, "We would like to thank the Rosa Parks community for welcoming and allowing us to be a part of their leadership in this time of crisis!"

Students and TPS employees loaded up the first batch of water - roughly 2000 cases - on Tuesday, February 2 and three TPS trucks delivered them to Flint. The school plans to keep on collecting water through this month. Anyone wishing to make a donation can stop by the school, at 3350 Cherry St., between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., or call Dr. Jones at 419-671-4350.

As Dorothy Moore, an employee in the TPS Invoice Control Office, says, "This is an awesome project and a selfless act of kindness and concern to show for our fellowman that goes beyond the reach of our own back yard!"

Posted on January 29, 2016

Dr. Joan Simonis, director of the choirs at Woodward High School, has been working since 2014 to raise money to take her students to perform in New Orleans.

The original plan was to take the students last school year but fund-raising fell short. Now, increased costs means another $9,000 needs to be raised in order to make the New Orleans trip a reality.

To make it easier to find donations, Dr. Simonis has created a number of YouTube videos that showcase her students. Take a look:

Anyone wishing to give money to make the trip a reality can contact Dr. Simonis at Woodward High School:

Posted on January 25, 2016

Students helping students.

That’s how Rosa Parks Elementary School is approaching a new community outreach effort that will support the students who attend public school in Flint, Mich. Students at Rosa Parks are collecting bottled water for their Michigan peers so those students have plenty of safe water to drink during the continuing Flint water crisis.

The ‘Children Need Safe Water’ project was initiated by the school’s assistant principal, Dr. James Jones, who remembers what his family went through during Toledo’s water crisis in the summer of 2014.

The water crisis in Flint continues to make national headlines and was caused when the city broke away from Detroit’s water system and began getting its water supply from the Flint River. The Genesee County Health Department declared a public health emergency and deemed the water unsafe to drink.

Dr. Jones feels collecting water for the schoolchildren of Flint is simply the right thing to do.

People who wish to contribute to this effort can drop off water at Rosa Parks Elementary, 3350 Cherry St., Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The school will be collecting water through February 29 and then it will be transported to Flint.

Posted on January 21, 2016