THE DISTRICT DISPATCH Royal Oak Schools news, straight to your inbox

MARCH 2024

In This Issue

  • Message From Our Superintendent
  • Schools of Choice
  • New Employees
  • Teachers of the Year
  • Consumers Energy Award
  • Black History Month Recognition
  • Student Spotlight
  • Jumpstart Music Program
  • Musicals in March
  • Around the District
  • Curriculum and Insights
  • DEI: The Deep Dive
  • Teaching Grant
  • Did You See It On Social?
  • March Calendar
  • 2024-25 School Calendar
  • Job Postings In The District
From The Superintendent


March is Reading Month! While we always promote reading in the district, this month provides an intentional opportunity for children to learn about the value of this life skill. By guest reading in classrooms, establishing regular routines for reading, and modeling good habits at home, children will be encouraged and supported to read themselves. Reading to children at all ages allows for conversations about fiction and non-fiction text, and helps to create a supportive environment for learning to read. Many staff will share strategies to grow the love of reading with our students this month. Commit yourself to increasing your own time with text and support our children in their path to greater literacy.

Later this month, we will be hosting a collaborative event at the senior center. Soup and Salad With The Super, a special senior citizen lunch event, will take place at the Leo Mahany/Harold Meininger Senior Center on March 20, 2024, at 11:30 AM.

I will update senior community members on the district's long-range plan and take questions during the lunch. Royal Oak High School Seniors will serve the food and join the Senior Citizens for lunch to provide an intergenerational experience.

Interested senior citizens are encouraged to RSVP by March 13 to secure a spot by calling the Senior Center at 248-246-3900.

We are excited to bring students and senior citizens together to foster connections through this collaborative lunch. It's a great chance for knowledge sharing between generations while enjoying a meal. In addition to the luncheon and presentation, staff will be available before and after the event to help interested senior citizens sign up for the district's Royal Oak Schools Gold Card. This program offers district residents ages 60 years or older free admission to school events.

- Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, Superintendent Royal Oak Schools

Schools of Choice


The Schools of Choice application window is now open for students entering Developmental Kindergarten and Kindergarten through 8th grade beginning in Fall 2024.

This opportunity extends to Oakland County residents outside the Royal Oak School district boundaries. Connect with us now to secure a place for your child in our community of excellence.

Please see the "How to Enroll" portion of the Enrollment website for more information.

New Employees


We're excited to warmly welcome the newest additions to our Royal Oak Schools family. These talented individuals bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to our district.

Laura Sheridan, Lauren Makled, Deidre Nell, Stephanie Martens, Meghan Mayer, Kayla Bardo
  • Kayla Bardo - Paraprofessional at Addams
  • Ava Fall - Level 4 Social Worker at Upton (not pictured)
  • Mary Kauffman - EI Teacher at ROHS (not pictured)
  • Lauren Makled - Secretary at Churchill Continuing Education
  • Stephanie Martens - Clerk at Upton
  • Meghan Mayer - AST Teacher at ROMS
  • Deidre Nell - Clerk at Oakland
  • Laura Sheridan - Speech and Language Pathologist at Oak Ridge and Northwood
  • Michelle Skewes - Level 4 Special Ed Teacher at Upton (not pictured)

Their dedication aligns with our mission of creating an inclusive, diverse, safe, and student-first environment. Please join us in extending a warm welcome to our fresh faces.



We surprised three teachers over the last few weeks when we recognized them for Royal Oak Schools Teacher of the Year.

A surprise was in store for Royal Oak High School Teacher Kirsten Williams, who was named Royal Oak Schools High School Teacher of the Year! She sat amongst her peers during a professional development session when Interim Principal Angela Ashburn started discussing teacher of the year. "In choir, her ability to engage students through creative teaching methods, foster creative thinking, and instill the love of learning and music is commendable," she read before announcing Kirsten's name. Kirsten was happily surprised by her husband and family members, Superintendent Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of Staff and Student Services Patrick Wolynski, and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Joseph Youanes.

Royal Oak High School Teacher of the Year

At the middle school, Lindsey Potterack was introduced by colleague Kate Chambers before receiving her honor. Lindsey was not only surprised by the recognition but also by members of the Royal Oak Middle School Student Council in attendance for the presentation.

Royal Oak Middle School Teacher of the Year

At Oak Ridge Elementary School, Lois Mann was recognized as Elementary Teacher of the Year. Superintendent Fitzpatrick surprised Mann during a professional development activity at the elementary school. Mann has been teaching for 50 years and has made such an impact on the Royal Oak community. Superintendent Fitzpatrick was joined by Executive Director of Staff and Student Services Patrick Wolynski and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Joseph Youanes.

Elementary Teacher of the Year

You can watch their reactions with this link.

Clean Energy


Royal Oak Schools was recently recognized by Consumers Energy's Business Clean Energy Program for outstanding leadership in improving energy efficiency across the district in 2023.

The district was spotlighted for major infrastructure upgrades this school year, including the installation of new boilers at the Churchill Continuing Education and Administrative Offices, as well as a new boiler at Royal Oak High School for the pool. These projects are estimated to save the district money on energy bills through increased efficiency.

“We’re honored to be acknowledged by Consumers Energy for our efforts to operate more sustainably across our schools,” said Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick. “It is important that we model responsible energy usage for our students while also ensuring fiscal responsibility to our community."

By upgrading infrastructure through the Business Clean Energy Program, Royal Oak Schools is paving the way in energy efficiency. This ultimately benefits both the environment, the staff, students, and community.

Statewide Significance


The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) embarked on a statewide survey project to gather educators' insights regarding their approach to teaching Black History. In response to the MDE's call, Royal Oak Schools got on board with this initiative and submitted numerous insightful lesson plans. These submissions ranged from Maria Manolias' exploration of Black males' experiences in America to Jennifer Van Every's daily highlights of African American lives and contributions. Vikki Kasperek and Jodi Berger delved into local history, connecting students to the rich historical tapestry of Royal Oak.

An example of work and students in Vikki Kasperek's class.
Maria Manolias' students and an example of work.

The MDE's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director acknowledged the excellence of the submissions. Royal Oak Schools lessons have been selected for inclusion in the 2024 Michigan Department of Education Black History Month Calendar, a testament to our district's dedication and impactful teaching practices.

Student Spotlight


A Keller Elementary 5th grader is looking forward to participating in March is Reading Month, this time as an author. Princeton Lockett will be a guest author at an assembly and talk to the students of Keller about what it takes to become a published writer.

Lockett recently published his first childrens fiction book, The Secret of the Wolves. He describes the story as a boy who gets hit by a "curse ray" in a mysterious mansion and later transforms into a werewolf. It's a tale of good triumphing over evil.

His mother, Ebony Glenn, is proud of her son and hopes he inspires other young writers.

Princeton Lockett's book launch event. (Center) Principal Dryden with Princeton.

Principal Marcie Dryden has talked with Princeton about starting a writing club to encourage other young authors at the school. She is planning an all-school read with the book and will ensure each classroom has a copy.

Meet Princeton when you check out this student-produced video below.

Jump Start


We proudly recognize the Royal Oak Schools Foundation (ROSF) for its unwavering commitment to supporting the district's students, staff, and families. The foundation has contributed significantly to enriching and developing educational programs across Royal Oak Schools, including Jump Start.

The Jump Start Music Program in our district has thrived for a remarkable 14 years, thanks to the ongoing support of the Royal Oak Schools Foundation. This enduring partnership ensures that every Royal Oak student has multiple opportunities to engage with the Performing Arts. Annually, the ROSF has provided $7,500 to the Instrumental Music Jump Start program, offering 5th-graders a unique chance to explore music. It nurtures a love for music and helps students explore the Performing Arts programs available to them in Middle School and beyond.

“The Foundation is grateful to continue to support our students and staff, and this is one more way to continue that support,” said Maryanne VanHaitsma, President of the Royal Oak Schools Foundation."

The ROSF has supported many iniatives at Royal Oak Schools. Most recently, the ROSF secured a remarkable achievement by receiving a $36,000 grant from the City of Royal Oak Community Grants. This funding will be used to increase career-focused education and career readiness opportunities for all students in all grades. It will do this by providing exposure to career opportunities, allowing students to review their skill sets, passions, and goals, and assisting in identifying career paths that interest them the most. Another objective is funding K-12 teachers' professional development for related learning opportunities.

“In partnership with Royal Oak Schools, this grant will allow us to expand opportunities for our students and prepare them for the future,” said VanHaitsma. They will also fund a literacy initiative in 2024 at the Addams Early Childhood Center to increase access to social-emotional learning (SEL) and JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) literature.

Music In Your School


This March, Royal Oak Schools brings you two productions to attend and enjoy put on by our students at the secondary level.

The Ravens and the Royal Oak High School Drama Club are kicking off the month with their production of "Freaky Friday." The story is about an overworked mother and her teenage daughter magically swapping bodies. They have just one day to put things right again. There are 75 students working on this production. The freaky leads are played by Charlotte Murray and Haley Barry.

"I am incredibly ecstatic for the show, especially opening night," said Barry. "We've put lots of work into this show, and it's very rewarding to finally see all of our hard work culminate into this production, especially after the postponement! It's a very funny yet heartfelt show that I'm sure audiences will enjoy."

Tickets for this weekend's productions are available with this link. Tickets are $15 for an adult and $10 for a student.

  • March 1 - Evening: 7 pm
  • March 2 - Evening: 7 pm
  • March 3 - Matinee: 2 pm

The Bulldogs of Royal Oak Middle School and the ROMS Drama Club are putting on "Alice @ Wonderland" the second weekend in March. All the characters you know will be there with a bit of a twist... they will be texting and social networking! Tickets are available now for the March 8, 9, and 10 performances. Free for non-school-aged kids, $5 for students, and $10 for adults. We hope to see you there!

  • March 8th - Evening: 6:30
  • March 9th - Matinee: 2:30 Evening: 6:30
  • March 10th - Matinee: 2:30

Click here for the March edition of the Performing Arts newsletter.

Around The District


Students in Amber Wilt's 3-year-old tuition class at the ECC are paying close attention to the willow trees that they are propagating.
First and second-grade students at Keller recently had the opportunity to learn about STEM concepts and careers through a hands-on exploration of Bee-Bots, which are small programmable robots that help students understand the basics of coding and computational thinking. The event was planned and organized by Jamie Miller, teacher and Career Readiness Coordinator at Keller, with the help of Shana Ramin, Technology Integration Specialist.
The Student Senate at Northwood, led by Mr. Doody, held a Penny Wars fundraiser for the Love Team Tessa Foundation. Over two weeks, the students at Northwood brought in money and placed them in classroom milk jugs. Pennies and Dollars added points. Silver coins subtracted. At the end of the two weeks, the fundraiser raised over $3100! The overall class winner for the Penny Wars was Mrs. Wahl's class. They received an extra hour of PE for their effort!
Oakland Elementary students kicked off the Kids Heart Challenge with an assembly event. The event is through the American Heart Association. Students learn how to keep their hearts healthy while helping raise donations to help kids with sick hearts. At the assembly was the Huda Hut Jump Team from the Huda School to get the kids excited.
Oak Ridge 5th Graders are finishing up their 6-week violin unit!
Upton 4th graders in Mrs. Kaminski and Mrs. Ristoski’s classes met a scientist from Antarctica! A former Royal Oak graduate, Austin Carter talked with students about studying ice cores and living in an ice desert!
Middle School Tour: Elementary 5th graders visited ROMS to learn more about the next step in their educational journey.
ROHS Scholastic Art Exhibit Photos
ROMS Scholastic Art Winners
Our TRAILS students took their classroom to the bowling alley.
Insight Into Learning


This month’s Insight Into Curriculum video series focuses on our after school programming. Beyond the Bell was created to provide students at all levels with opportunities to participate in some after school learning experiences. Some of the opportunities focus on online math tutoring for students in grades K-12. Students participating in these online math tutoring sessions will receive targeted instructional support based on their academic needs.

Also included in our Beyond the Bell programming offerings are Cranbrook Science experiences and our Pretty Brown Girls program, which focuses on positively impacting, promoting, and empowering black and brown girls. Self-care, goal setting, building relationships, and being the best you can be are the focal points of this program for students in grades 6-12.

In case you missed it, we released a video created for Insights Into Curriculum on Windows and Mirrors at our February board meeting. This video focuses on the concept of "windows and mirrors" for our students in Royal Oak Schools. This concept and philosophy focus on ensuring that our students have opportunities to see themselves (mirrors) and others' perspectives (windows) in the classroom, curriculum, and our instructional approach.

Our goal is to provide a framework for inclusive classroom practices that provide students with these opportunities to grow, learn, and see themselves and others in our schools and classrooms. Students will be more successful in our schools when we can increase these “window” opportunities so that they can learn more about life from a different perspective. Also, it’s equally important to provide students with “mirror” experiences that help them feel more connected to their classroom and school community by seeing a part of themselves reflected in it.

DEI Work


Greetings from the Deeper Dive!

I hope that everyone had a fantastic February! Even with it being a shortened month that also housed the Mid-Winter Break, it was still packed with tons of productivity and progress!

One of the first highlights was a visit to Keller Elementary to present to their 4th and 5th-grade students about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. During a student input portion of the presentation, students were asked to collaborate and share with each otherwhat DEI means to them. Students shared very meaningful insights from their Chromebooks that we were able to discuss together as a group on the SMARTBoard. Here are just a few of the amazing answers that were shared by some of our 5th Grade students:

  • “To me, DEI means being loved and cared about. DEI is something that everyone should have. Everyone is different and unique. You should always be you!”
  • “To treat everyone the way you should. Everyone should have access to equal opportunities. You should be cared for because you deserve it.”
  • “What DEI means to me is a classroom or family, and to not judge people on how they look.”

These were just a portion of the answers that the students shared through our interactive tech, as we also had lots of small-group and whole-group verbal discussions as well. Each share was very valuable, and input from our students’ voices will always be utilized to help drive our work forward. Thank you to all of our students for everything that they do on a daily basis to help us progress. Their impact as current and future leaders of change is tremendous!

I also want to extend a special thank you and congratulations to all of our educators who participated in the Michigan Department of Education’s Black History Unit Collaboration introduced in February’s Dispatch. Royal Oak Schools is the district with the most submissions selected to be shared with the State of Michigan. Four of our educators were selected, and their amazing contributions will be used year-round by educators statewide. Please click here to check out all of the selections for the 2024 calendar.

As we closed out February, we collaborated with Oakland Schools to host the 2024 African American Read-In event. This year’s event featured award-winning author and illustrator Don Tate and his book, “Jerry Changed the Game.” Several of our families joined us in person as we met Mr. Tate virtually to read, draw, and be inspired. All of our students who attended could take home their very own copy of the book. The event was amazing, and we look forward to hosting it again in 2025.

Well wishes to everyone as the weather continues to trend upward and we head into Women’s History Month!

I wanted to also share with you these resources from SAGA:

~Ashley Phillips, DEI Coordinator

Teaching Grant


Some members of our curriculum department, teacher leaders, and principals are working to develop a plan regarding teaching diverse histories. This plan will be used as part of our application for the 99d Teaching Diverse History Competitive Grant offered by MDE.

Section 99d School Aid Bill provides $6,000,000 from the state for local districts to do the following:

  • Develop and implement plans for professional learning
  • Teach the fullness of American history
  • Include the history of communities of color and marginalized communities
  • Include teaching of local history
  • Include teaching of cultural competency
  • Purchasing books and educational resources to support diverse histories
  • Supporting the goal of teaching American history to middle and high school students that reflects the state's diversity.
  • Focusing on increasing the teaching of the history of communities of color and marginalized communities

Our goal is to incorporate targeted professional development for our teachers around the goal of increasing instructional practices that focus on teaching American history and cultural competency. We’re excited about this opportunity for our teachers and students better to understand our diversity and fullness of American history.

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Dates for March


March is Reading Month

March celebrates Music In Your Schools month

March is Women's History Month

March 2 - Read Across America Day

March 4-8 - National School Breakfast Week

March 4-8 - School Social Workers Week

March 4 - Custodian & Maintenance Worker Appreciation Day

March 6, 13, 20 - Late Starts

March 14 - Board of Education Regular Meeting 6:30 PM

March 20 - Soup and Salad With The Super

March 25-29 - Spring Break/No School

2024-25 School Calendar

The 2024-25 school year calendar has been approved. Use this link to review the calendar, which is located on our website under District/Calendars.



We would love to invite you to join our team. You can use this link to apply for most jobs with Royal Oak Schools:

Food service workers and cashiers: Chartwells Food Service hires substitute food service workers. The cashier position is from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and pays $14/hr. The cook position is at the elementary schools from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and pays $16.15/hr. After training, you would be "as needed" fill-in for sick calls, working on average 1-2 days per week. It could also become regular part-time when openings exist. Includes free lunch.

Substitute teachers: EDUStaff is our partner for substitute teachers. Please apply through their website at:

Paraprofessionals: A paraprofessional works with a team of teachers to help qualified students be successful at school. These patient and caring individuals may implement academic, physical, behavioral, and self-care supports that empower students to engage with their education as independently as possible. All applicants should apply through the Oakland Schools Human Resources Consortium website at:

Individuals interested in working with and caring for school-age children before and after school for our Young Oaks (Latchkey) Program should contact the Addams Early Childhood Center at (248) 288-3220.

Bus Drivers: Durham School Services is hiring for our transportation department. A minimum of 20 hours is guaranteed, with options for more. Contact James Hollis at Durham to apply:

Instructional and administrative positions: Check the Oakland Schools Consortium portal at Employment opportunities with Royal Oak Schools are on our website under Employment/HR. If you have any more questions, please contact Beth Caverly at the District Offices: or (248) 435-8400 x1210.


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