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Posted on Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

Ann Arbor schools want kindergarten roundup to be more warm and welcoming

By Danielle Arndt

Parents in Ann Arbor can expect a renewed focus on their needs and less emphasis on filling out paperwork at this year’s kindergarten roundups.


Wines Elementary School kindergardener Shane Roberts, 5, covers an eye, as he tries to concentrate on a spelling exercise during class Friday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell I

Principals and administrators across Ann Arbor Public Schools have been meeting to develop a more uniform approach to roundup programs district wide.

David DeYoung, Wines Elementary School principal, said the concept is simple: blending each building’s individual identity with a consistent and welcoming message.

“We have 20 different elementaries, but at some level what all of us want to share with the community is what makes our schools, as a unit, unique,” DeYoung said. “And that is the overall quality product we have here at AAPS.”

DeYoung was a member of the group behind the push for more uniformity.

Deputy Superintendent of Instructional Services Alesia Flye said other aspects being emphasized are ensuring students themselves are welcomed at the roundups, rather than being excluded by parent-only events. She said building tours also were stressed.

“You wouldn’t think you would have to say, ‘Show them around.’ But a lot of these things have never been discussed in a group setting before,” she said.

Carpenter Elementary School Principal Charles Davis found it immensely beneficial to hear what the other buildings do for their kindergarten roundup programs. He plans to check out a few in person prior to Carpenter’s Feb. 28 event.

The annual roundups will kickoff Sunday with an open house at Ann Arbor Open. They will continue through March.


Wines Elementary School principal David DeYoung poses for a photograph in the kindergarten room at the school on Friday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell I

DeYoung said nothing the district is recommending is “way out there” or brand new, but principals and administrators alike are aiming for a more user-friendly and friendlier, in general, process.

“We really want to express a warm, intimate feeling,” he said. “We want (parents and children) to have a good sense of what kindergarten is going to be like and what to expect and to place a little less importance on getting the paperwork done that night. … We want to fill (parents) needs more than ours.”

Details about curriculum and the structure and routines that help the individual elementaries run will be shared, he added.

Kindergarten roundups may be just the first step for parents waiting on school-of-choice or in-district-transfer information from AAPS.

Spokeswoman Liz Margolis said the district is in discussions right now about in-district transfers, or children who apply to attend a school other than their assigned school. School of choice designations will not be made until April.

She said the number of spots that will be opened to transfers and in which grades will be announced in February.

Davis said he does not feel kindergarten roundups ever were competitive between schools in the district, but he does believe Ann Arbor has a certain need to compete with the private and charter schools in town.

Last year Carpenter had nearly 100 parents attend the roundup and 81 kindergarteners enroll. Carpenter, which is one of just six elementaries at AAPS to offer all-day kindergarten, was a school of choice last year.

Click here for a complete kindergarten roundup schedule.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Linda Peck

Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

Many comments here reflect parents' dissatisfaction with what I see as insensitivity in our schools which is pervasive. That is why my grandchildren go to a charter school--it is smaller and more family-like. Even still, there are problems in that environment that are difficult for children to handle. The children's feelings and the emotional space to respond positively to a new situation should be priorities in the schools, and especially at the kindergarten level. It is a big step and for many their first step into "public life." Can the administrators and teachers try a bit harder to feel how a child would feel on their first day of school? How about extending that to every day?


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

As I have written about before, the current kindergarten roundup has been very inadequate for years. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I am VERY happy to see that things are starting to change, and I hope that every school adds an informal open house as well as kindergarten roundup. It doesn't have to be restricted to kindergarten students, and I think it would be very beneficial to parents and students to see what different schools and classrooms are like. As Sy Syms used to say in those great ads, &quot;An educated consumer is our best customer.&quot;

Dr. I. Emsayin

Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

The proper hospitality is important at every level in the school system. Parents consider moves to other schools and districts as their children start middles school and again before high school. For whatever reason, Community High seems warm and welcoming and students clamor to get in there. How can every high school do what Community does? Even teachers want to teach at Community.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

I recall sending an email to the BOE and the administrators about this subject 5 years ago! We ended up at Ann Arbor Open, and if we didn't, we would have wound up leaving the district, because when I went to our neighborhood kindy round-up, it was just a packed room with people telling you about forms and vaccination schedules. There was no building tour, no &quot;this is our climate, this is what makes us special, this is what our school is like / about / feels is important.&quot; As a parent looking for a school for our family, how was I supposed to choose one I could get absolutely no feel for? This is long overdue. In my email, I had suggested they start doing Open Houses like AAO and the charters and the private schools do.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

I hope this works...when my then 4 1/2 year old went to Kindergarten Roundup at our local elementary, he ran away from us and headed for the car. When I caught up to him and asked what was wrong, he said, &quot;I do not like these frowny people!&quot; When I looked back at the adults I could see that he was right. The adults from the school ware not smiling and engaging. I hope no other kindergartener has to feel this way. We chose to enroll him by school of choice in a neighboring district. I know that his observation was right When I talk to neighbors whose children are enrolled in our neighborhood school about how their children feel about school they are never enthusiastic. Mostly their comments go along the lines of &quot;It's okay.&quot; &quot;The teachers try hard...but...&quot; I am glad that I found Whitmore Lake where he has had great teachers and the adults had &quot;smily faces.&quot;


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

@nicole, we are in the Northside area.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

We ended up with a charter because of the all day issues. Then ended up in an AAPS school later on. I too have notice on all levels, not many teachers smile. Gee, I wonder why?


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 2:35 a.m.

Can you tell us what school it was that your son didn't like?

Ann Arbor With Kids

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

We went to the Allen roundup last year. I called &amp; was told to bring my child that there would be separate activities for them while the parents attended the session in the auditorium. We showed up and they had a few coloring sheets for the kids who had to sit through the presentation with their parents, and the impression that they would have preferred that we left the kids at home. No surprise that when asked the most important thing to teach your child before kindergarten was to be able to sit, be quiet, and follow directions. If you want to teach them a few letters and that letters make sounds, that would be good. They continued to have poor communication. I would receive a flyer in the mail one day for a event at 4:30p the next day. For a working parent who would need to leave early to attend, they would have needed to ask to leave early when they arrived at work the next day.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

It would be nice if there was a way to find out why a family did NOT choose a particular school it visited, as a way to help improve the particular school. If a school kept getting the same comments about something that needed improvement, it would be something the school/administration could work on.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

So glad you posted this! The website is very confusing because it says, &quot;Children and parents are welcome unless otherwise noted&quot; but some of the schools have a note about meeting the teacher/principal/touring the classroom etc, some say parents only and some schools have nothing noted next to their school. I know many parents who are just entering the system were in doubt and questioned if they should bring their child to the round up if no details were printed next to their school. Private programs make the child feel very welcome and have time to tour the school. Very, very pleased to hear about these changes. Music to a parent's ears. Sounds like children should attend and will greatly benefit.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

This is a step in the right direction in capturing new students and retaining returning families within the district. As a parent who has assisted in many of my child's school's k round-ups, I have had many thoughts about the way these events are run. I have been to 4 or 5 of the schools in the district for round-ups, and the differences are vast. (I've also experienced the unavailability of a tour - crazy! What private school is not going to show you around?!) The schools did not feel like they were a part of the same whole. I disagree with Principal Davis - families absolutely do shop around within the district, not just comparing public on the whole to private/charter options. And the lack of collaboration district-wide on this entrance into the AAPS certainly plays into competition between elementaries within the district. As times and funding for public education have changed, so must the role of the kindergarten round up. I'm glad the district has come to recognize this. I hope they are very serious and thorough in their implementation of new elements to their round-ups as they become more important as a marketing tool.