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August 2023


The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower lights up the night sky this month. The peak days are August 12-13. However, you can see them for a couple of weeks before and after this date. Watch these little bits and pieces of space debris and dust as they enter the earth’s atmosphere and burn up. When you see one make a wish. As the words from a Disney song go “When you wish upon a star your dreams come true”. Better than a wish, use August as a time to wrap up your summer bucket list and launch into new goals for the upcoming school year. 




On his graduation day, Jaxon Carter remembers his mother, who died in a fire in July 2022, and gives a special thanks to those who helped him through kindergarten.

Jaxon Carter is an incredible example of turning tragedy into triumph. The 6-year-old boy lost his mother, Taryn Marie Gainey, in an accidental apartment fire in Harrison Township, Michigan, when he was 5, a few weeks before he started kindergarten.

Even though his life had been turned upside down by tragedy, young Jaxon excelled at his school, New Dawn Academy, is an SVSU authorized public school academy focused on STEM. He won his class spelling Bee, received honors in nearly all of his subjects and graduating valedictorian of his class.

Thank you to all staff at New Dawn Academy for the relationships, instruction, support and sense of community that you provide for your students and families. Read more or see Jaxon deliver his speech at the links below.

ABC News - Kindergarten Graduation - Audience in Tears Video

Upworthy - Kindergarten Graduation Speech


August 18, 2023 - School Leader Orientation

10:00 am - 3:00 pm @ SVSU Gilbertson Hall GS127

Purpose – To provide PSA school administrators with an orientation to the updates and expectations of the School University Partnership Office in the areas of staff, compliance, Educational Program Reviews and social media.


  • Staff Roles
  • Social Media
  • School Boards
  • Compliance
  • Education Program Reviews


Lunch – Provided at the Market Place on campus

Attire – Casual dress and comfortable shoes. The building is cool, so layers may be helpful.

Materials – Materials will be provided for each session.

Guests – Administrative teams are welcome (if you haven't already, please RSVP and add the number of guests or forward the invite to your guest)


It is the goal of the School/University Partnership Office (SUPO) at Saginaw Valley State University to provide quality educational opportunities that are accessible to all. As a school board member, you play an incredibly important role in the success of the academy you serve. We feel honored to be able to partner with each of our academy boards to ensure best practice and alignment with state and federal requirements. 

Efforts for the 2023/24 academic year are underway and we wanted to share that the professional development expectations for school board members have been updated. Beginning this academic year, each of the school board members will be required to complete two (2) hours of professional development annually. There will be many opportunities available to meet this requirement – more specific information will be forthcoming, but here is a preview!

  • Regional Board Trainings
  • Virtual training available on the SUPO website
  • Board training in collaboration with your SUPO Field Rep

We recognize that your service is volunteer and in conjunction with all of the other obligations in your life. It is our full intent to provide each of you with an opportunity that will serve your needs. Thank you again for your continued service. We are looking forward to an amazing school year!

Candice Casey
Director of Operations


CEC Resources:

State Special Education Updates:

August Special Education Update (39KB)


by Wynter McClain 

I can hardly put into words the immense joy and excitement that filled my heart as I embarked on my first-ever trip to Ghana, Africa. Being an African American, this journey held a profound significance for me, as I was eager to explore my roots and connect with the land of my ancestors. From visiting the W. E. B. Du Bois Center to the haunting Cape Coast Castle and meeting a tribal chief, every step of this adventure was filled with wonder and enlightenment.

The W. E. B. Du Bois Center:
Arriving in Accra, the bustling capital of Ghana, I was thrilled to visit the W. E. B. Du Bois Center. This place is a tribute to the legendary civil rights leader, scholar, and writer, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. As I wandered through the center, I immersed myself in the life and accomplishments of this remarkable figure. Learning about his pivotal role in the Pan-African movement and the global struggle for equality filled me with immense pride as an African American. It was a moving experience to see how African Americans have contributed to the fight for justice worldwide.

The Cape Coast Castle:
Setting foot on the grounds of the Cape Coast Castle was an emotional moment for me. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stood as a haunting reminder of the dark history of the transatlantic slave trade. As I walked through the castle's chambers and dungeons, the weight of my ancestors' suffering became palpable. It was a somber yet essential experience to confront this painful history and acknowledge the resilience of those who survived. The visit left an indelible mark on my soul, strengthening my commitment to promoting awareness and understanding of our shared past.

Meeting the Tribal Chief:
One of the most cherished moments of my journey was meeting a tribal chief in a traditional Ghanaian village. The warmth and hospitality extended to me and my group was heartwarming. Participating in the village's customs and traditions, I felt a deep sense of belonging and connection to my African heritage. The exchange of gifts with the tribal chief was a beautiful symbol of unity, bridging the gap between my African roots and my American identity. It was a reminder that despite our diverse backgrounds, we are all connected by our shared humanity.

My trip to Ghana was an unforgettable and transformative experience that I will forever hold close to my heart. This journey reaffirmed the importance of embracing my heritage, fostering cross-cultural understanding, and working towards a more equitable and inclusive world. Ghana welcomed me with open arms, and I left with cherished memories, a renewed sense of pride, and a determination to continue the legacy of unity and empowerment for generations to come.

by Matthew Parasick 

In July of 2023, I took a trip to the beautiful nation of Ghana with PSA. Looking back on the excursion, I am shaken by an unrelenting feeling that my visit there was a life-altering event. It was my first time fully experiencing a culture not my own, and I was completely immersed. On our journey through the country, we saw natural beauty incomparable to what we have back home, a diverse collection of cultural traditions, and remnants of colonial activity that had been totally reclaimed by Africans. However, throughout this new and intriguing place I explored, what remained consistent was the caliber of humans I met at every turn. Not once during my time in the country did I feel like my presence was met with any sort of abrasion. Virtually everyone I met, from the first Ghanian airport security guard I spoke with to the king of our sister city Amonakrom, was a kind soul who welcomed my colleagues and me with open arms. I believe that is what stands at the heart of my time spent in Ghana, the feeling of being welcomed, the reassurance that wherever I went I would always hear “Awaaba.” This unyielding kindness and acceptance of the Ghanaian people made me profoundly question how our own society treats those deemed as outsiders. For years I have heard that people in Africa could be considered uncivilized or needy, but after witnessing the strength and kindness of every man and woman I met in Ghana, I would personally like to meet and educate whoever planted that silly idea in my head. The people of Ghana, and Africa in general, do not have less than us. I would argue that they have more, as their whole country is as kind, strong, and debt-free as I could ever hope to be. So, I would like to extend a “Medaase” to the people of Ghana and the PSA Scholarship Program for facilitating this amazing learning experience and for changing the trajectory of my life forever.



SVSU Public school academies are invited to participate. The GVSU Charter Schools Office supports great outcomes for kids and schools by connecting educators to proven tools and instructors from across the nation. All professional education offerings are free to all educators. Each series we offer is held together as a sequenced program, but participants may also attend individual sessions that best fit their schedule. 

GVSU's Full list of Professional Development Offerings



Differentiated Instruction: Maximizing Learning for All (Michigan Virtual Online Learning Offering)

Differentiated instruction aims to help address student differences and is shown to have a strong positive effect on learning outcomes across all groups, but many teachers do not fully understand the concept or are hesitant to implement it for a variety of reasons. In this pragmatic course, you will uncover many approaches to differentiated instruction and practical ways to introduce it into your classroom. You will study how environment and mindset influence the alignment of curriculum, assessment, and instruction as well as various strategies to differentiate all three.

In this course, you will:

  • Understand the importance of alignment between curriculum, assessment, and instruction,
  • Recognize the connection between Understanding by Design and differentiated instruction,
  • Define pre-assessment, formative assessment, and summative assessment,
  • Identify the ways that curriculum can be differentiated, i.e., content, process, and product, and
  • Identify the steps to getting started with differentiation.


Dr. Juan Martinez is the new Superintendent for Cesar Chavez Academy School District. He is excited about his new role and looks forward to strengthening and expanding the K-12 educational program.

Mrs. Carissa Rusnak is the new School Leader. Mrs. Rusnak has worked for The Leona Group since 2013 and has been a proud member of César Chávez Academy High School's educational team since 2015. Since 2004, Mrs. Rusnak has served in educational roles such as content teacher, Reading Specialist, and English as a Second Language teacher. In 2022, Mrs. Rusnak was elevated as CCAH's Assistant principal, supporting staff and students daily. Now as a school leader, she is determined to help students reach their career and college goals.

 Ms. Linette Garza (20 years+ as a CCA educator) is the new Assistant School Leader at Cesar Chavez Academy High School. Their collective 40 years of K-12, urban and southwest Detroit education experiences keeps CCAHS in very strong and capable hands.


School/University Partnership Office
Office Location: Gilbertson Hall
Phone: (989) 964-4623