By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – A bright balloon arch and inspirational messages from new principal Michelle Hodgkinson greeted students and staff Sept. 4, the first day of school, at Myers Elementary School, 16201 Lauren Drive.
Hodgkinson said she wanted students to start the school year with a positive message.
“We want the kids to really believe in themselves and know how much we believe in them, and what a great year it is going to be,” she said.
This is a first administrative assignment for Hodgkinson, who taught for 16 years in the Wayne-Westland School District.
“Taylor hired me, and I immediately felt like family,” she said. “It’s been amazing.”
Hodgkinson did a makeover of the staff lounge, so they have a space to decompress, and all of the student restrooms were filled with inspirational messages on the outside of the stall doors.
Hodgkinson was also able to get backpack donations for every student in the school. Donations came from her friends and family, from Woodhaven Mayor Patricia Odette, through the fundraising efforts of Odette Chiropractic Family Health Center in Brownstown Township and Tittle Brothers Construction of Southgate. She said they also received some donations from local churches.
“We want the kids to have a positive welcome back,” she said. “We redid some of the bulletin boards, and we are starting something new this year, where kids come get a book on their birthday.”
Hodgkinson said she also is launching positive office referrals.
“Instead of coming into the office just to see the principal when something is wrong, when they do something great I want them to come down as well, and get a little something from me for doing great things,” Hodgkinson said. “I have partnered with the (Detroit) Pistons, and we are working on the (Detroit) Tigers to do some sponsorship as well, so we are really working hard to get a lot of free things for this school and this building.”
Hodgkinson said she met some of her students over the summer at two Popsicles with the Principal events. She also hosted a Gleaners Food donation event at the school, at which she met more families.
“I have been here less than a month and am working really hard to get to know everybody,” she said.
Hodgkinson said many of her students are from low income families, and she is making it a priority to get books in their homes so there is more family reading occurring.
She is also investigating the possibility of getting a shuttle from the school to the city library on a recurring basis.
Building relationships is important, Hodgkinson said.
“Once you have those relationships and you show the parents exactly how much we love the kids and believe in them, and the amazing things that are possible, then they are going to be on-board even more, and the kids are excited,” she said. “When you instill how much we believe in you, and that love of learning in the kids, and all the amazing things that they can accomplish if they really put their heart and mind to it, then we are just going to go amazing places.”
The staff wore T-shirts with the theme “Together we can” on the first day of school.
“I believe that together we can do anything,” Hodgkinson said. “Together as a staff, with the kids, in the classrooms and with parents, and together as a community, Taylor as a whole, there is nothing we cannot do.
“I am so thankful for all of the help. The staff, their families and my family have pitched in, and everybody has really adopted the school.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])