Volume 9 | Issue 2 | October 2023

Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15. Within our system of schools, we serve a large Hispanic population and believe it is important to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of the Hispanic people throughout our history and today. See how our students celebrated!

Academy for Business & Technology Middle/High School (ABT M/H)

ABTMH students celebrated with a lesson and video that engaged them in learning a song and dance to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

César Chávez Academy Lower Elementary (CCALE)

To help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, CCALE featured children’s books that reflect the Hispanic culture and provided read-along YouTube videos on social media!

(FB: @chavezvernor)

César Chávez Academy Upper Elementary (CCAUE)

CCAUE featured prominent Hispanic figures in various careers, such as acting, music, government, etc. Check out their social media to see the daily featured person!

(FB: @ccaupperel, IG: @ccauel)

Joy Preparatory Academy (JPA)

JPA celebrated with Spirit Week, concluding with wearing festive headpieces representing Hispanic Culture.

Saginaw Preparatory Academy (SPA)

SPA teachers celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with classroom activities. The school created a “Hispanic Hero” bulletin board showcased at their main entrance. The poster includes different Hispanic Heroes with short biographies. Each morning students listened to a "Did You Know" announcement.

Pontiac Academy for Excellence (PAE)

PAE celebrated with daily activities highlighting the variety of cultures within Hispanic Heritage and paraded the halls with flags representing the many different Hispanic nations.

MTSS Award Recognition

Congratulations on your ongoing efforts to implement a Multi-Tiered System of Supports

(MTSS)! Specifically, these districts have been recognized for MTSS implementation in the

following areas:

Northridge Academy: Behavior

Mildred C. Wells Preparatory Academy: Behavior

Mildred C. Wells Preparatory Academy - Tier 1: Behavior Bronze

Teacher Hall of Fame

We are entering our eighth Teacher Hall of Fame Induction for the 2023-2024 school year, which allows The Leona Group to recognize all of the exceptional things teachers are doing in our schools. Without teachers who continue to strive for excellence, we would not be able to carry out our company's mission to provide a quality education for students and families. 

School leaders, assistant leaders and instructional coaches are asked to submit nominations for monthly teacher hall of fame candidates for the 2023-2024 school year. We will have a Primary Teacher Category for grades K-5 and a Secondary Teacher Category for grades 6-12. These nominations are based on school leaders' observations in their locations. It is up to them to honor a teacher that they feel embodies the spirit of their school's mission. Once the nomination is sent electronically to The Leona Group Department of Academic Achievement, the team reviews the nominees and bases their decision on who best embodies the spirit of The Leona Group and academic success.


Vanessa Exum

East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy

First Grade

Ms. Vanessa Exum began her journey as an educator in Mississippi with a background in secondary education. Three years ago, she embraced the challenge and made the transition to teaching first grade at East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy (ECUEA), where she is thriving. She is firm, yet nurturing, and has great relationships with her students, their families and her colleagues. Ms. Exum is a master teacher who loves her students and gives them her all every day. 

Ms. Exum is always positive and has a smile on her face. Her classroom is a warm and inviting learning environment in which students feel safe to take risks and excel academically. “We are blessed to have her and so proud that her excellence is recognized and acknowledged by her colleagues as well!” said Veronica Eskew, school leader at ECUEA.

Briea Days

Joy Preparatory Academy

First Grade

Ms. Briea Days supports the students and staff at Joy Preparatory Academy (JPA) in any way she can. She has a heart of gold and an abundance of patience for her first graders. The students in her class receive a quality education with high expectations and memorable experiences of kindness. She leads the hospitality committee and always takes pride in helping people feel more connected by calling them by their first name. 

Ms. Days continues to work hard on developing herself as an educator. She uses that knowledge to build up her students and help them succeed. Every year, she implements something new and exciting for her students to experience. “She consistently looks for ways to reach all of her students. For the past four years, she has been a gift to me and the students alike,” said Adasina Philyaw, school leader at JPA.

Department Updates & Reminders

Abuse Prevention Training

Abuse Prevention Training was emailed to every Leona Group employee in recent weeks. The mandatory training is approximately one hour long and we asked that you have it completed on or before October 31st. Each employee receives a unique link that is specific to them. If you need the training link resent to you, please reach out to Paul Terry, Risk Manager, at [email protected], and he will redeploy your training link to you.

Save the Date!

STEM Virtual Pi-Day Event

In an effort to provide exceptional learning opportunities for students throughout the year, please see this flyer for more information about STEM Pi Day, presented by the Women in Defense, to be held on March 14, 2024.
Please contact Jill Chapman Spangler, STEM Director at Women In Defense Michigan, with any questions: [email protected] or cell: 703.498.8273

Midwest Department of Academic Achievement Website:

Please explore our website and find pertinent items at your fingertips to help ensure academic success! Save the link in your bookmarks to access it on the fly!


PayFlex Open Enrollment is October 23-31!

PayFlex offers two voluntary reimbursement accounts (Flexible Spending Account and Dependent Care Account) to help members plan, save and pay for personal well-being. This is a calendar year benefit. Employees must re-enroll in the PayFlex plan every year. If you do not enroll now, you will not be able to elect coverage until the next annual open enrollment period.

See this flyer for more details and watch your email for more information coming from Lisa Smith, Benefits Manager.

Send us your photos!

As the school year kicks off with smiling faces and fun events, many of you will take photos and celebrate the great things happening in your building. Please share your photos with TLG's marketing team at [email protected] and your social media specialist.

**Important Reminder: confirm with the office staff that students have updated media waivers for this school year. Photos and videos of those students who have opted out should not be taken or shared at any time.

Do you have news to share? We'd love to hear from you!

The Leona Group, 2125 University Park Drive, Okemos, MI 48864
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