Norman honored for family program

REED CITY — For some time now, many people and businesses throughout the area considered Reed City’s Norman Elementary School Family Night program something special.

Teachers and staff stayed after school once a month and volunteered several hours of time putting together a program meant to be fun, innovative, educational, and nurturing not only with good meals, but also on an emotional level for parents meeting other parents and sharing ideas.

In addition, a number of teens and adults from throughout the area also pitch in to help during the year.

When it came time to judge school districts in the state with strong, programs, Reed City’s Norman Elementary ranked as one of the top three in their category and moved on into a second round of judging.

The results are in and Norman Elementary has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 Michigan’s Best Award for its Family Night program in the Community Relations Category, and with the honor receives a $1,500 cash award and a trophy. That presentation will be made at a special awards ceremony Oct. 29 in Traverse City.

Only schools in nine districts throughout Michigan received the 2011 Michigan’s Best Award. Knowledge of the honor came shortly before September’s Family Night kickoff for this school year at Norman Elementary.

The Welcome Back Picnic on Thursday (Sept. 29) was attended by nearly 500 people, and although rain threatened to move everything inside earlier in the day, after a hearty picnic meal, the whole event moved outside.

Children played games, took part in bubble-blowing, face-painting, and a variety of other activities while parents mingled.

The various activities allow children to learn valuable lessons beyond the structure of a classroom, and many Family Nights provide activities that teach reading, math and other skills. Some Family Nights include a visit from Therapy Dogs (also referred to as the “Reading Dogs”) and the youngsters enjoy meeting them and them telling the animals stories or reading to them from a book.

Each child in the family also gets to choose a free book to take home, again focusing on an important skill.

It was noted that the Reed City program earned the honor in the Community Relations category for its innovativeness and impact on student achievement.”

Kathy Hayes, MASB executive director noted that the “districts have a proven record of success and should be thought of as models for other districts across the state.”

It was noted that more than 150 entries were received and the programs are judged by an independent panel of experts in each area. Focus is on uniqueness, critical needs served, and evidence of impact on student achievements.

The awards ceremony will be co-sponsored by MASB and SET SEG School Insurance Specialists, the program’s exclusive sponsor.

Sponsors for the recent Family Night included Dental Health Care, Osceola County Community Foundation, TransCanada, Ice Mountain, Mosaic Potash, Kienitz-Nix Memorials, Target, H & R Block, Vic’s Foodland, General Mils, Wesco, and FSU Dining Services.