Volume 6 No. 6
The Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA) is honoring the outstanding educators and administrators in Michigan. Bay Mills Charter Schools Office has two teacher semi-finalists, one from the Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac and another representing Frontier International Academy. Bay Mills also has three administrator semi-finalists, one each from the American Montessori Academy Upper Campus, the Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac, and Frontier International Academy.

Before the finalists were announced, Bay Mills had the chance to interview three of the five finalists: Septembra Williams and Miranda Holsinger from Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac, as well as Renee Arnot of American Montessori Academy Upper Campus. What they had to share was inspirational and valuable; a testament to the integrity, can-do spirit, and excitement these educators foster in their roles. 
In Pontiac, Michigan, Septembra Williams, Superintendent of Arts and Technology Academy of Pontiac (ATAP), has been working in education for almost twelve years and has been a superintendent for six. “My original background is in communications; I worked for a TV Station. But they made you force a specific narrative on particular events, and it caused you to lie. That didn’t sit well with me. I ended up moving to Michigan, started subbing, and worked with an administrator who was toxic. I kept thinking: people deserve better. That is what pushed me to go into education. I went back to school, got two degrees, began teaching, and then eventually moved up the ladder to where I am now.”

Not everyone agreed with Septembra’s firm stance, but she remained determined to succeed. “People did not like the change I represented. I couldn’t take it personally because I knew I was on an assignment. I have overcome because I didn’t focus on the attacks. Ultimately, I’m held accountable for my responsibility, not for the responsibility of others. I had a vision when I first got to ATAP of who we were going to be. And I’m proud to say that we have grown into that vision.”
Miranda Holsinger is in her eighth-year teaching kindergarten at ATAP, but teaching came as a surprise. “It fell into my lap,” she remembered, “I had different ideas about what God was going to do in my life. I was going to work with animals, I was going to do interior design, I was going to have a rock band – and God was like nope, you’re teaching. And that’s where I am now.” This journey developed a drive in Miranda that enabled her to overcome the challenges of teaching, “In the beginning of my career, I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I’m so much more passionate about improving myself and my students, too.” Her classroom approach tries to consider a greater picture of her students’ experiences, “I want to get to the bottom of the story before I assume to know completely. There is always a story behind the eyes, behind the behavior, there’s always a heart.” 

Amidst the difficulties of the past few years, Miranda has learned what it takes to keep motivated, “Number one, it’s all in God and leaning into his Spirit. Growing up, I was diagnosed with several learning disabilities, and just recently I’ve overcome the shame with that. I’m realizing that my students might have that going on and so I teach them to have a growth mindset and say, ‘Don’t give up. Keep trying. You don’t know it yet, but you might know it eventually.’”
This is Renee Arnot's fourth year as executive director of American Montessori Academy (AMA) in Livonia, before that she was teaching and administrating, “This is the first year that I’m just the executive director. Three years before that I was principal and executive director.” AMA is special in that way, “We are a public Montessori. There are only around fifteen public Montessori schools in the state of Michigan. That makes us unique.”

Her greatest joy comes from watching the bonds form between students and teachers. “You know they last when you see those kids coming back to share all the successes they’ve had or just even a shoutout on social media. A lot of times when students are in your classroom, you don’t see the effect you have on them. It’s years after.” 

According to Renee, self-reliance impedes progress in the education world, “You can’t do it alone. It takes a team. Probably the biggest obstacle is getting out of your own way. Once you reach that top, turn around to pull somebody else up. Keep pulling someone else up.” In regards to educational goals like differentiation and individualized instruction, she has seen Montessori exceed expectations, “I felt like we were really prepared for social and emotional learning with our peace education. Our students totally knew how to share their feelings and solve problems. Our students can take what they’re learning and empower themselves to learn more.”
Bay Mills is proud of all the semi-finalists, including those they were not able to interview: Principal Mohammed Alsanai and high school English teacher Rachelle Harris both from Frontier International Academy, Detroit. 

Congratulations are also in order for Septembra Williams who since the writing of this story was selected as a finalist for Administrator of the Year along with four other administrators! The dedication, excellence, and hard work that all these educators have displayed are encouraging to everyone who works in the education sector.
After a wild and hard-fought season, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep girls’ basketball team went home with the championship trophy. These closely-watched games were the backdrop displaying each girl’s best in sportsmanship. In this final game against Kent City, Arbor Prep steadfastly held their lead, winning with the score 54-48 and claiming the state championship. 

As MLive recorded in their article on the game, Arbor Prep Coach Scott Stine will not forget the best plays of the night, “Kari Woods made arguably the most important defensive play of the game when she blew up that handoff and took it for a layup,” Stine said. “That was a huge play and that’s what she does.”
Picture credit: Cory Morse | cmorse1@mlive.com

The team respected the stiff competition from their opponent, Kent City, and Coach Stine had this to say, “Give Kent City credit, they did some things that we struggled with and they battled us all the way to the buzzer. A play or two there and we could easily have the runner-up trophy. That’s a great program. Next year, they’re going to be back here again next year.”

As a result of their win, fan-favorite Mya Petticord was able to fulfill her dream of winning a state championship: “It’s been my goal since freshman year. I promised my coach and my teammates that we were going to get on this year, and that’s what we did.” She had high praise for her teammate who carried the final points, “Kari is one of biggest and the most deadly defenders we have and in the state of Michigan,” Petticord said. “That play was a big part of the game and that obviously got us the confidence that we needed. It basically sealed the game.”

Great job Arbor Prep!
The robotics event, which took place March 17-19th, 2022 at Escanaba High School, brought together high-schoolers from around northern Michigan in competition. The Ojibwe Charter School Facebook account shared their gratitude for the event and the help, “Thank you to our alliance members the Cyberstangs from Munising and RoboMos from Escanaba! Our pit crew and drive team put in so much effort and made so many adjustments. Also, we won a safety award and the Spirit Award.”

FIRST Robotics Competition is a team challenge where high school students contend under time-restraints and set resources to build industrial-size robots that compete or ally with other teams. This program teaches students how to fundraise, design a cohesive message and mission, all while promoting the best of STEM education.
Great job Ojibwe Charter School! 
About Bay Mills Community College Charter Schools
Bay Mills Community College began authorizing charter schools in the year 2000 and now authorizes 46 schools serving approximately 23,660 students.
 
Our Mission: To ensure a quality education for urban, minority, and/or poor children by improving and expanding educational opportunities through innovative oversight methods. To provide academy boards with the necessary support and training so that they may make educated decisions that are in the best interest of the students that attend their academies.