School is more than a place to learn ‘reading, writing and arithmetic.’ In Livonia Public Schools (LPS), students are cared for in many ways that aren’t measured on a test or a report card.
“In our schools, we strive to educate and care for the ‘whole child,’” says Superintendent Andrea Oquist. “From modeling and teaching what it looks like to be good humans, to providing extensive academic opportunities, to meeting social-emotional needs, our focus is always on growing well-rounded individuals who leave our district ready to grasp a hold of their futures and fly.”
Teaching and modeling the district’s Community with Character traits has been a standard in the district’s 23 schools for several years. Centering around respectful interactions, the district’s Community with Character emphasizes being genuine, supportive, professional, kind, reflective, empathetic, thoughtful and positive in all interactions with others.
“The character traits on which we focus in our schools include respect, responsibility, grit, mindfulness, integrity, reflection, confidence and empathy,” said Oquist. “We know that these are the soft skills that our students will need to be successful, not only in the school setting, but throughout their daily lives.”
Safe, heard and supported at Livonia Public Schools
Another area of focus in Livonia Public Schools is social-emotional support for its 13,400 students. It is widely known that students who feel safe, heard and supported are more likely to be ready to learn. When their social and emotional needs are met, they are then able to clear their minds of the challenges that can come with difficulties at home, with friends, with relationships, etc.
LPS has recognized this need and has responded by adding significant resources to its rosters. Some examples include adding Elementary Support Teachers at each elementary school: Student Assistance Providers at each middle and high school: and full time school social workers and school psychologists at each high school.
“We have seen an increased need in student support services at all grade levels over the past few years, so we have responded to that need by adding more professional staff who can address those needs,” says Dr. Jennifer Taiariol, Director of Student Services. “These additions really strengthen our wraparound services for our students so they can feel safe, emotionally supported and ready to learn.”
Programming offers rigor and relevance
Speaking of learning, Livonia Public Schools’ core mission is to educate students to their fullest potential by offering academic programming that is both rigorous and relevant to today’s world.
In addition to a full array of special education programs, LPS has several specialized programs that include a unique Japanese-English immersion elementary school in which students learn in Japanese for half of the day, and in English the other half. The school, Niji-Iro Elementary, is one of just four such schools in the country and is a bright source of pride for the district.
Other specialized programs include a full complement of career-focused programs at the Livonia Career Technical Center (LCTC); gifted and talented programs for qualified students in grades 1-12 and a performing arts high school program called the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) program.
In recent years, the district has added a STEM curriculum, Project Lead the Way, at the middle and high school levels and is currently expanding the LCTC to house STEM facilities and a permanent home for the district’s five FIRST robotics teams.
“It is a very exciting time in our district,” says Phillip Francis, Assistant Superintendent of District Services. “Thanks to our latest bond proposal, we are in the midst of planning a dynamic space for our STEM and robotics programs at LCTC.”
In addition, the 2021 bond issue will provide funds to redesign and reimagine the library media centers (LMCs) in all LPS schools and convert them into collaborative spaces that meet the needs of the 21st century learner. A few years down the road, the district will also see a brand new, state-of-the-art child care center, likely to be housed at the current Dickinson property on Newburgh and Six Mile.
“Our future is bright here in LPS, with all of the investments we are making not only in our staffing and support services for students, but also in our brick and mortar buildings throughout the district,” says Oquist.
Learn more about Livonia Public Schools at livoniapublicschools.org.