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Little Giants Preschool adding full-day classes

Posted on Jun. 22 2015 by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Marion Community Schools’ Little Giants Preschool is expanding to offer area families a new full-day option for tuition-free, high-quality preschool next school year.

The MCS Board of School Trustees on June 22, 2015, approved the plan to add two full-day classes to Little Giants Preschool for the 2015-16 school year. This expansion paves the way for a total of about 250 students to enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies and stronger basic math skills, as well as to begin to develop social skills and good classroom habits.

“Grant County has the highest rate of child poverty in the state of Indiana. We know this need is out there,” said MCS Preschool Coordinator Kerri Wortinger. “This expansion will allow us to reach more students and close the achievement gap earlier. The full-day option also gives parents a wider range of choices. We are excited to be able to welcome more families to Little Giants!”

Little Giants Preschool encompasses both Head Start and Title 1 preschool programs. Currently for the 2015-16 school year, both programs are at full enrollment and waiting lists have been established. Those wishing to apply for a spot on the waiting list should leave a message at 651-2080 x. 108.

Every classroom at Little Giants Preschool will be led by a teacher licensed in early childhood education, paired with a highly qualified teaching assistant. For the 2015-16 school year, the new Title 1 full-day classes will join the half-day classes already in place in the preschool wing at Justice Intermediate School, 720 N. Miller Ave. The Head Start classes are housed in the preschool wing at Tucker Career and Technology Center, 107 S. Pennsylvania St, where the Little Giants Preschool offices are also housed.

“Preschool is the single most important investment we can make to enhance opportunities for academic success for more of our children,” MCS Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “Early learning and academic success lay the groundwork for lifelong learning and academic achievement. We believe our Little Giants Preschool is the best, and providing high quality preschool today is a service that is essential to our community in building for a better tomorrow. The children of greater Marion are our most important asset, and preschool is a wise and proactive investment into the lives of our children and our future."

MHS grad aims to bring wider healing from ashes of ESC fire

Posted on Jun. 22 2015 by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Marion Community Schools is pleased to be able to announce the approved sale of the former Education Service Center to a local group looking to bring unity and healing to the Marion community.

The building at 1240 S. Adams St., which housed the district offices for MCS, caught fire during a roofing project in May 2014. The building sustained fire and water damage, and has been vacant since the fire. The MCS Board of School Trustees officially approved the sale of the building at its regular meeting on June 22, 2015.

After the insurance settlement late last year, and the relocation of MCS district offices to space inside Marion High School, MCS was left with a building it no longer needed. Now, after approval of the sale, ownership of the property will be transferred to a non-profit group that aims to rehabilitate and repurpose the building as a church that is intentionally multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-class.

Local entrepreneur and MHS graduate Andrew Morrell is heading up this effort.

“It’s been my conviction for a while now that there is too much separation, even in the church, in terms of ethnicity and class,” he said, noting that he has been exploring potential denominations and locations for this project for years. “It seems like the time is right, and things have come together now.”

Morrell has received endorsement by the Evangelical Covenant Church, which describes itself on the denomination’s website as a growing, multiethnic, intergenerational mosaic of more than 850 congregations in the U.S. and Canada and ministry partnerships in nearly 40 countries, set in motion in 1885 by Swedish immigrants.

He said it was important to him to align with an established denomination because of the accountability, support, resources, experience, and wise counsel that it brings. He found the Evangelical Covenant Church to be in line with his vision for what the community and the church needs.

“A lot of the problems that we face today in our society have to do with segregation,” Morrell said. “It shouldn’t be that way. We are one race: the human race. There are however different ethnicities, but that is the beauty of the kingdom of God. We have allowed separation to take hold in our churches. The Evangelical Covenant Church is a very diverse group of people. When I found out who they were and what their mission was, I was convinced this was where I was meant to be.”

He said when the opportunity to purchase the former ESC building came up, the location aligned with his vision as well.

“Central Marion is the perfect place, he said. “Great people, great neighborhood, great need. Part of our calling is to serve the needs of our community. We go where there is need.”

MCS Superintendent Brad Lindsay said he had faith that the project would have a significant positive effect.
“Andrew Morrell is a Marion Giant that the greater community of Marion can be proud of,” he said. “Andrew has a giant heart for God and a giant heart for people. His vision for this ministry is exciting, and I believe it will have a giant impact in the lives of the people of Marion. Andrew and his team are putting their faith into action for the greater good of the people and community of Marion.” 

Morrell’s background and his business, Gillespie & Morrell General Contracting, allowed him to easily see through the damage to the building and envision a plan to rebuild there. He also noted the building’s historical status in the community, having been built in 1946 as an elementary school, and said they’ll work to preserve that history. In fact, when the fire- and water-damaged portion of the building was gutted, an old mural from Clayton-Brownlee school was uncovered, and saving that will be one of the priorities of the project, he said.

Morrell said a core group of people are following the model of the early church, gathering, praying, following the teachings in the chapter of Acts in the Bible, and seeking guidance on the best way forward to build this new church and to serve the community of Marion. He said he has already been seeking out some wise counsel from community leaders and pastors and plans to reach out to more leaders in the near future. All members of the church have a burden on their heart to bring unity and healing to the community, and some even attended Clayton-Brownlee as students, Morrell said.

The sale price was set at $10, and the sale agreement was largely modeled on the sale of the former Lincoln Elementary building in west Marion to The River Church a few years ago. Specifically, the agreement requires that there be no K-12 programming at the location for a period 50 years, and it also contains a clause that compels the new owner to make external repairs within 24 months, or the MCS Board has the option to reclaim the title.

“I am really excited about what this project can mean for the community, and our students in that part of town,” said outgoing MCS Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs Chris Hoke, who ushered the sale agreement to completion as one of his last acts before leaving to take over the superintendent role at Northwestern Shelby County Schools.

Morrell said that impact on the community is exactly the purpose he feels called to work toward.

“You cannot be a church without being about your community,” he said. “We look forward to serving our community in whatever capacity we can. We look forward to partnering with other churches and organizations to bring about some real healing in our community.”

Schwartz to take the lead at Riverview Elementary

Posted on Jun. 10 2015 by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Riverview Elementary School’s next principal will be a familiar face: Lendon Schwartz, who served as assistant principal at the school in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. Michele Kelsay, Riverview’s previous principal, has been asked to take a lead role at the district level for Marion Community Schools.

Schwartz will officially start as Riverview Elementary principal on July 30. He was approved by the Marion Community Schools Board of School Trustees during its regular meeting on June 10.

“Lendon Schwartz will be an outstanding leader for Riverview Elementary,” MCS Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “Lendon brings character, energy, focus, and execution, and he will serve the students, families, and staff of Riverview well. He has rich educational leadership experiences, including his previous time at Riverview, and he is the right person to take the baton from Michele Kelsay and continue the upward momentum.”

Schwartz began his administrative career at MCS, as assistant principal at Riverview in the 2012-13 school year, after several years as an elementary teacher at Yorktown Elementary School in neighboring Delaware County. After two years at Riverview, he then moved to Allen Elementary for the 2014-15 school year, where he was instrumental in helping to set up an innovative and nationally recognized alternative learning system for students — the first of its kind in Indiana — as part of an ongoing federal school improvement grant awarded and overseen by the state Department of Education.

At Riverview, he will look to continue the successes the school has seen in the past several years under Kelsay’s strong leadership. Riverview has earned an “A” on the annual IDOE report card three out of the last four years.

“I’m thrilled that my first principal position will be at Riverview Elementary; it’s sort of like coming home, since I started my administrative career here, and I know many of the staff, students, and families,” Schwartz said. “At the same time, though, it’s bittersweet. I’m really going to miss the staff and students at Allen. But this opportunity is exactly what I’ve been working toward, and I’m excited to see what this next year brings. I’ll be working closely with Michele to make the transition as smooth as possible, and I want to continue to ensure that the students and staff have every opportunity to succeed.”

Schwartz earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Ball State University, and his master’s degree in elementary education and administrator’s license at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Kelsay is taking on a special assignment at the district level, leading literacy, high ability, and the Response to Instruction learning systems across the school corporation. RtI is a system of student-specific interventions and enhancements aimed at tailoring instruction and other services to best meet the needs of each individual student. She will also be playing a role in expanding professional development opportunities and support for teachers across the district.

“While I am very sad to leave Riverview, because I love the families and the staff and will miss them a great deal, it’s exciting that I will still be able to work with them in this new role,” she said. “I am thrilled to be able to focus on literacy and meeting the needs of our students across the board. I am excited about what we are planning for the future, and I look forward to helping shape the system of learning across the Marion Community Schools district.”

Kelsay added that with Schwartz’s promotion, Riverview remains in good hands.

“It’s very reassuring that Mr. Schwartz is coming back,” she said. “He brings so much to Riverview, with his character and his team-based leadership style. I think the staff will be thrilled because they know him and they know what a strong leader he is.”

Lindsay echoed that praise.

“This is a win-win,” he said. “We strengthen our district with Michele, and we continue to strengthen Riverview with Lendon.”

On the Calendar

Here's a look at some of the big events coming up at Marion around the district.
(For more events, click here to check out the full calendar, where you can see events at one school building at a time or elect to see all events in the district. Just use the pull-down menu at the top of the calendar!)

  • Free meals for all Marion kids: Marion Community Schools is a Summer Food Service Program participant. Free breakfast and lunch is available to the public (to anyone 18 or younger) this summer. Click here for details.
  • First summer session: Monday, June 1, through Friday, June 26, MHS and Allen Elementary. All classes 8 to 11 a.m. Free breakfast (7:30 - 8 a.m.) and free lunch (11 - 11:30 p.m.)
  • Second summer session: Monday, July 6, through Friday, July 31, MHS. All classes 8 to 11 a.m. Free breakfast (7:30 - 8 a.m.) and free lunch (11 - 11:30 p.m.)
  • Giant Challenge 2015: Alumni vs. Athletes: July 17-18. Click here for details.
  • Giant Challenge 2015 Golf Scramble: morning of July 17 at Meshingomesia Golf and Social Club. Open to the community, and requires separate registration. Click here for details
  • Giant Challenge 2015 Tennis Battle Royal: 4 p.m. July 17 at Bill Beekman Tennis Courts at MHS. Open to the community. Click here for details.
  • Giant Challenge 2015 5K: 8 a.m. July 18 on Indiana Wesleyan University campus. Open to the community, and requires separate registration. Click here for details.
  • 2015-16 first day for students: Aug. 11. Click here to view full calendar.
Have an event you think should be featured in "On the Calendar"? Click here to share the details!

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