April is Autism Awareness Month
Did you know April is Autism Awareness Month? You might be wondering how you can help. If you like walking in the spring sunshine, free food, fun and prizes we have an exciting event (click here!) for you to partner in.
» Show more...

Ionia County YAC Awards Grants to Address Youth Issues
Ionia County Youth Advisory Committee consists of high schools students from each of the five high schools in Ionia County and Lowell High School. The committee completes a needs assessment every two years on local youth needs. They use the information to select grants for organizations addressing these needs within the county. This year YAC awarded $9150 dollars to local organizations. The grants will address: literacy, childhood food insecurity, Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, classroom technology and teen driver safety.
» Show more...

MSTEP!! A "New" State Assessment
This April students across Michigan will begin the second year of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP). It is meant to be an online assessment measuring how much students know and can do. New learning standards require new ways to measure the students' knowledge. That's why in 2014-15, Michigan replaced the 44-year-old MEAP test with the MEAP. The most significant change from the MEAP is that MSTEP has far fewer multiple-choice, and has questions that are focused more on using critical thinking skills. And of particular note, it is meant to be an adaptive online assessment. It can make a follow-up question be a different difficulty based on the response provided on the prior question. This of course requires technology!
» Show more...

PAC Special Education Awards Banquet
On Tuesday, May 3rd we will be celebrating those individuals who have made a significant impact on a student(s) with a disability. Please consider joining us for the annual Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) Special Education Awards Banquet. Reserve your seat at ioniaisd.org and click on "Conference Registration."
» Show more...

2016 Dolly Parton Imagination Library Quilt Raffle UPDATE
Follow the read more link below to see this years winners of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library quilt raffle featuring the book "The Mitten".
» Show more...

Communication, Joy & Full Potential
At Freedom Acres this year, on our very first Professional Development Day, our staff did some amazing brainstorming and reflecting. They reflected on what they could do each day to make our school great. When we boiled it all down, we found three guiding principles that we chose to embrace for the 2015-2016 school year: Communication, Joy, and Full Potential.
» Show more...

At The End Of The Day, It Is Still About The Child...
My position affords me the opportunity to supervise both special education and general education programs. When I first started at Ionia ISD my caseload for the birth to three program was nine; four of my kiddos had cerebral palsy, two had Down syndrome and three others had communication delays. Fast forward almost 30 years, our Early On program works with over 200 children every year. Over time, our population has changed, rarely do we see a child with cerebral palsy, children presenting with ASD are increasing and we still have on average about 1-2 children with Down Syndrome. We are also seeing another type of child, the "traumatized" child. Any child that is substantiated for child abuse or neglect is automatically referred to Early On and we receive these referrals each month. There are still plenty of other children that have these types of early experiences that slip through the cracks and come to us in our preschool or kindergarten classrooms.
» Show more...

Real Life Experiences For Students At Heartlands
February was Career & Technical Education (CTE) Month. It was a month of celebration based on the accomplishments of our staff & students. Some highlights:
» Show more...

2016 Dolly Parton Imagination Library Quilt Raffle
The quilt raffle is one way you can support the library and provide books to children in their homes. There are 45 quilts total, that are featured in this book, each quilt is handmade by community members and citizens interested in assuring that every child has books in their home and is read to before they go to school. The quilts were designed to be lap quilts for you and your child to cuddle up and share a book. The quilts are based on the book, The Mitten by Jan Brett.

Tickets for the raffle will be $5.00 per ticket or $30.00 for 10 tickets. This is approximately the same amount of money that it costs to fund a child in the program for an entire year! The more tickets you buy, the more chances you have to win a quilt that is sure to be treasured by your child. Tickets can be purchased at the Ionia ISD and through several community organizations.

For more information, check out the quilt raffle booklet.

Wellness Grand Prize for 2016
The 2015-16 Wellness Grand Prize is a two night stay at The Inn at Bay Harbor Resort. Thank you to Boyne for the generous donation to our wellness committee to keep motivating our employees to strive for happy, healthier lifestyles. The one night stay donated by Boyne was matched by the ICISD Wellness Committee; employees earn wellness bucks from when they show acts of kindness, eat healthy and participate in wellness events. The drawing will take place at the end of the year picnic.
» Show more...

Lasting Impression
February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month every year. Typically I write about all the great opportunities we at Heartlands offer the students of Ionia County. I also write about the impact my staff has on our youth; we all have stories of success and struggle from our time with students. Yet, sometimes a story surfaces that resets the bar and reminds all of us just how important our words and actions are, in and outside the classroom. Students, often times, remember more of what we did than what we say. This year for CTE Month I am relaying a story that reminds us of the gravity of our positions. Below is a true story in the words of John Nelson, Heartlands Criminal Justice Instructor.
» Show more...

Braxton Montgomery: 1st Grader at Jefferson Elementary
Many myths and misperceptions exist about people with autism. One common myth is that individuals with autism lack empathy or compassion for others. Meet Braxton Montgomery, a first grade student at Jefferson Elementary School who completely shatters this myth.
» Show more...

Over the past several years, many of us in education on occasion may have asked this question, "Why am I doing this?" I know I have (more than once)! If you are someone in education, you empathize what I am affirming. In my position at the ISD, I am very cognizant of the stressors affecting those in education. I have observed this from educators at every level: paraprofessionals, teachers, ancillary staff, administrators-all at some level have been touched by the many demands placed on us. I was feeling this the other day and asked myself, again, "Why?" Then I looked up at the big whiteboard in my office with the collage of pictures of students we serve and reminded myself: "They" are the "Why." Let me share one of many examples of who "they" are and why we do what we do...
» Show more...

Celebrating 25 Years of Transition in Ionia County
"...the Ionia County Intermediate School District purchased the original John C. Blanchard House from the Ionia County Historical Society... It will be used as a classroom for the Young Adult TMI students from Freedom Acres School...It is not uncommon for adult TMI students to have their classroom be in a facility other than a school. However, very few in Michigan are located in a house. The concept is considered by any to be innovative and practical" (p.11 Ionia County Intermediate School District Newsletter, December 1990).
» Show more...

30 Years Celebrating the Exceptional
It's hard to believe that it's been 30 years since the first annual Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) Special Education Awards Banquet took place! The PAC is a group of parents of special education youngsters appointed by their local school board to assist and advise the ISD on the delivery of services to special education students. This year's banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 5:00 PM. Invitations will be going out soon.
» Show more...

Celebrating Our School Leaders This January
January is School Board Recognition Month and Ionia County ISD is joining 541 local and 56 intermediate school districts across the state to thank these community volunteers for their untiring dedication to public education.
» Show more...

Working To Improve Fiscal Stewardship
One of the major themes this year has been increased fiscal stewardship. At the ISD, we have consciously made decisions in the past whereby our expenditures have have been larger than our revenues, thus causing us to make up the difference by pulling from our fund balance. Funding for education has not kept up with inflation, increased retirement costs have more than eliminated any financial gains, and taxable values were either reduced or stagnant until very recent. This "perfect storm" has made for challenging fiscal times in education. In the same manner as your savings account at home, you can borrow from yourself - but only for a limited time before your savings account is empty and you find yourself in financial distress.
» Show more...

Heartlands Focus on College & Career Readiness
At Heartlands we provide amazing opportunities to prepare our students for the next chapter of their lives. One focus of the curriculum is college and career readiness. In every program, our students are exposed to various careers available within their program area. Guest speakers visit the classrooms and present information about their careers. They explain the steps along the career path to be employable in the chosen profession.
» Show more...

Ionia County YAC Plans to Give Back on Martin Luther King Day
Ionia County Youth Advisory Council is (YAC) partnering with Toad & Bean and Consumer Merchandise who will provide bags sewn in their sewing classes to YAC. YAC will use the bags in three different ways as part of their Martin Luther King Day service project. They will prepare bags with dental supplies for children in the IM Kids 3rd Meal program, hygiene items for RAVE (Relief After Violent Encounter) and school supplies for students in need at local elementary schools.
» Show more...

Creating Clarity for Progress Monitoring
On November 5th, Ionia County ISD hosted a unique learning opportunity for 90 special education providers and administrators from around the state. Participants traveled from as far away as the Upper Peninsula to expand their knowledge on using student level data in a meaningful way throughout the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. The theme for the session was "Make it Simple but Significant" as the presentation focused on using simple data collection tools and applying the information to make a significant impact on student learning. This session was led by a team of 6 presenters including ISD Monitors and School Psychologists from ICISD, Calhoun ISD, Kalamazoo RESA, and Berrien Springs RESA.
» Show more...

Skylert!! A New Communications Option
In 2012 the Ionia County ISD chose to use the Skyward Student Management Suite. Originally Skyward was only utilized to track student demographics, grades and attendance. Skyward now has an integrated communications tool that has the ability to contact students, parents, and staff regarding weather events, power outages, holidays, scheduled events, emergencies, and other general alerts. Alerts may be transmitted via phone/voice call, SMS/text message, and email message. While we will exercise the option of notifying the local media outlets and having their alerts be notifications, the opportunity to send out a message directly from the district is instantaneous and official.
» Show more...

Youth Advisory Council to Provide Grants to Address Local Youth Issues
The Ionia County Community Foundation's Youth Advisory Council (YAC) will offer grants to organizations that benefit Ionia, Belding, Lakewood, Portland and Saranac youth. YAC conducts a needs assessment every two years to identify funding priorities. Based on these results, successful grantees will address the following youth issues in their communities: teen driver safety, literacy, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, depression/suicide, healthy lifestyles, bullying, students with disabilities and college access.
» Show more...

Fill A Cart Fundraiser
AmeriCorps VISTAS from the Ionia ISD, with help from family and friends, as well as Ionia County Youth Advisory Council members, came together to give back on Make a Difference Day. IM KIDS 3rd Meal held a Fill A Cart fundraiser on Saturday, October 24th.
» Show more...

Early Intervention Makes a Difference for Families and Children!
The birth of a child is a time filled with anticipation and dreams for the future. All parents want their children to be healthy and to grow and develop normally. However, for some parents, those dreams and expectations change when their child is born prematurely or diagnosed with a health or genetic condition that puts the child at risk for developmental delays. Other parents watch as their child grows, but important milestones such as crawling, walking, or talking do not occur on time. Regardless of when concerns arise, facing the possibility that your child may have a developmental delay or disability and finding the supports and services needed to help your child creates challenges for many families.
» Show more...

Students Hold "Strive to Arrive Alive" Teen Driver Safety Conference
Car crashes are the number one killer of teens! The Ionia County Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council in partnership with Ionia County ISD hosted the 5th Annual Teen Driver Safety Conference on October 14th, 2015 at Celebration! Cinema Grand Rapids North & IMAX to educate young people on safe driving. This conference is sponsored by State Farm and other local partners.
» Show more...

Pumpkins for Kids
The Fall season is in full swing here at Freedom Acres. The doors are decorated and talk of everyone's favorite pumpkin spice food or drink can be heard in the halls. I would like to take this opportunity to share a program that Freedom Acres has participated in over the past few years. The program is called "Pumpkins for Kids" and is a partnership with the Michigan Reformatory right here in Ionia. Each year, the Reformatory delivers a truckload of pumpkins that they have grown, to our school. These pumpkins are used in a variety of ways for learning and fun with our students!
» Show more...

Autumnal Update from Heartlands
Autumn in Michigan means many things for many people. For some it is the changing of the colors in the trees while others think of the salmon run in the rivers, hunting seasons beginning and time spent in the woods. At Heartlands, Autumn means students are back and learning at the speed of success, finding their purpose and learning skills for their future.
» Show more...

September Was Hunger Action Month
September was Hunger Action Month; 1 in 5 children in Ionia County and 1 in 4 children in Montcalm County are food insecure. Ionia Montcalm (IM) Kids 3rd Meal program held multiple fundraisers during the month of September to help end hunger in our communities.
» Show more...

Instructional Coaching
The general education department has two new faces.

Kelly Piercefield and Kathy Dole are instructional coaches who are working with local districts to improve student achievement by implementing research-based strategies and practices. Teachers and administrators across the county are receiving support and/or coaching in the following areas:

» Show more...

Farm Fresh Eggs For Sale!!!
The Heartlands Plant and Animal Science program is selling Farm Fresh Eggs for $3 per dozen. Contact Jason Griffith at jgriffith@ioniaisd.org for more information.

Summer Partnership is a Win-Win for Students and the Community
Jason Thayer, Health Care Aid for the Autism Program, and Mike Antonides (Michigan Rehabilitation Services Coordinator) partnered this summer to create a successful recycling initiative. Mike Antonides applied for and received a grant for a 3rd paper shredder housed at the Recycling Center. As jobs piled in, Mike needed additional help to tackle recycling all of the old documents from multiple contracts that he had garnered.
» Show more...

Summer Cooperation
The makeup of any classroom requires cooperation, tolerance, understanding, and an opportunity to grow and learn. Our classrooms for students with Severe Cognitive and Multiple Impairments are no different. Did you know that these classrooms are operated on a 200 day calendar and extend into July and August?
» Show more...

Carley Bennett, Summer Intern in General Education Department
Carley Bennett is a Youth Advisory Council member and this summer she worked as a Summer Intern for the General Education Department. She spent the majority of her time working on the YAC's Strive 2 Arrive Alive 5th Annual Teen Driver Safety Conference.
» Show more...

Heartlands Institute of Technology Open House
Have you ever wondered, "What is Heartlands?" Come to the Heartlands open house to meet our friendly staff members and learn more about our programs on September 16th, 2015 from 4pm - 7pm at the Ionia Education Center located at 250 E. Tuttle Rd. Ionia, Mi. Click here to see our flyer!

Ionia County ISD Welcomes Jason Mellema
Jason Mellema is on the job as Ionia County Intermediate School District Superintendent. He was chosen to replace Bob Kjolhede, who retired June 30th after 8 years of service to Ionia County schools. Mr. Mellema, 35, was superintendent of Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools, prior to his appointment.
» Show more...

Recycling at ICISD
You may have noticed our newest ICISD addition. The PaperGator, located in the back administration parking lot, not only disposes of our recyclable paper products but gives us money in return!! Click here to see what can be put into the PaperGator bin and what cannot. Staff and community members are welcome to use the bin for appropriate item disposal.

Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser
Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser: All proceeds go to IM Kids 3rd Meal. At Ionia First Christian Church, 130 E Washington. On Tuesday June 30, 2015 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Cost: $5.00 Adults Children 5 Years or younger Free.

PAC Special Education Awards Congratulations
Congratulations to this year's recipients of the Parent Advisory Committee Special Education Awards! Click the image to the right to see more.

© 2015 Ionia County Intermediate School District
2191 Harwood Road - Ionia Mi, 48846
Phone: (616) 527-4900 Fax: (616) 527-4731