Hillsdale’s Gier Elementary School has been recognized for its after-school enrichment program.
The Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) awarded the school with an Education Excellence Award for two of its math and science programs, “Astronomy and Mathematics-A Marriage Made in the Heavens,” and “An Amazing Mathematical Tour,” both taught by retired teacher Linc Miller.
The MSAB describes its Education Excellence Awards program as a way to “recognize innovative programs that contribute meaningfully to improved achievement and success for all its students.” Candidates submitted their programs to one of eight different categories, ranging from math/science, language arts, and school development, and awards were given to the top three programs in the state for each category.
Of the hundreds of entries submitted, Gier was one of three recipients of the Education Excellence Award for “Improving Student Achievement in Mathematics and Science,” and will be honored with an awards ceremony in Lansing on May 6.
The “Astronomy and Mathematics” course is offered in the fall to fifth-grade students who scored in the top 15 percent of their class in math and science on the MEAP test. “An Amazing Mathematical Tour,” offered in the spring, is for exceptional math students and requires them to pass a difficult entry exam to be accepted.
“The program strives to provide some extra outlets for the talents that can go beyond the core curriculum,” Gier Elementary School principal Scott Siakel said. “ We really challenge students to think outside of the box.”
Miller, who has developed approximately a dozen programs for students in his career, proposed the program to the school in 2006 as a way to challenge gifted students in math and science and encourage their interest in it.
Miller’s fall astronomy and mathematics course is broken into seven sessions where students are exposed to different astronomical concepts including solar system components, cosmological structure, and orbital dynamics among others.
His spring math course is also divided in seven sessions and covers more advanced mathematical concepts for fifth graders with geometric growth, probability, exponents and computer math as some of its topics.
“I’m honored to be able to this program,”Miller said. “It brings attention to the community that Hillsdale Schools responds to the needs of its enriched students.”
Gier will continue to compete to win for “best in” category, the Michigan’s Best Award. If it wins, the school will receive a presence at the MASB’s fall concerence, an additional trophy and $1,500 to enhance and maintain the program.
Siakel is very pleased with the recognition.
“It’s just fantastic that we’ve won this Education Excellence Award,” he said. “It validates that we offer something that is meeting a need that other districts may want to emulate.”