Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Y is for You!

Really believe in your heart of hearts that your fundamental purpose, the reason for being, is to enlarge the lives of others. Your life will be enlarged also. And all of the other things we have been taught to concentrate on will take care of themselves.
Pete Thigpen (Executive Reserves Consulting Firm)

          You are the most important variable in determining the success of any student or any initiative: You.

You are absolutely the most important factor within our classrooms in terms of determining to what extent our students will learn, behave, and adjust socially and emotionally throughout the year. Collectively, we are the most important factor determining how well all of our students will perform during a given year. Although you are the most important variable, that does not mean other factors do not play a role. Indeed, family demographics, poverty rates, home life situations, and English language ability are but a few variables that impact a student’s and a school’s level of success. Based on all variables, we may not be able to have the highest M-Step scores of any school in the State. However, what the You variable does mean is that we have the power to take our kids from where they arrive and take them to levels of academic, social, and emotional well-being that teachers at other schools may not be able to match.

 “Going the extra mile” is not merely a cliché at our school; it is the way we conduct our business on a regular basis. There are seven behaviors practiced in order to “encourage the heart.” Read through them and see if these are not the very same behaviors that edtec schools teachers engage in, which, again, makes our You variable that much more powerful than our colleagues at surrounding schools:

  1. Set clear standards
  2. Expect the best
  3. Pay attention
  4. Personalize recognition
  5. Tell the story
  6. Celebrate together
  7. Set the example

Hopefully, we follow these guidelines as a whole school in terms of working with each other professionally. More importantly, I know that individual teachers at our school follow these in working with their students each day. It is what sets our teachers apart and allows us to reach levels of performance that our demographics would suggest we should not be reaching.

At every school in America, there are students who sometimes misbehave. There are students who sometimes fail a test and there are students who at times will fail to complete their work. These are not really variables, then. The variable is how we respond when these student outcomes occur. At edtec schools, our You variable kicks in and we do whatever it takes to relearn the material, or improve the behavior, or afford the student a second opportunity to complete an assignment—in other words, we encourage the heart.

Demographics are very real and they do impact student and school success. In my five years at edtec , however, I have come to learn something that I hold onto as one of my most steadfast educational beliefs: Superior teaching trumps “difficult” demographics—or any other challenge we might face. The master teachers who staff our school have taught me this lesson loud and clear. You are the reason our kids succeed at school—at levels higher than they would had they attended another school with less passionate, encouraging teachers. Accepting that we stand as our students’ most important variable in terms of their school success and acting in ways which encourage the heart are examples of how we commit to Teaching with Passion at our school each day.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts!

Tuesday October 20, 2015

You are not merely here to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.
Woodrow Wilson

This week, a friend of mine forwarded a video presentation displaying motivational quotations relating to our noble profession of teaching and accompanied by musical selections. Of the forty-eight quotes included, I think the one above most aptly sets the scene for the journey upon which we have embarked. No teacher at our school entered this career path to become wealthy, or because of the plush working conditions, or because of the generous monetary bonuses, or even because they just wanted the chance to hang with cool teachers like VanBrocklin and Trotter! Instead, each of us heeded this calling because: (1) we wanted to make a difference and (2) we felt that we had the capability to do so. As President Wilson suggests above, we are here to enrich the world, if not our stock portfolios. We enrich the world each day that we work to fulfill our school mission: re-engaging all learners at our school.

 One way we teach, inspire, and motivate our kids and each other is through storytelling. During the past few years together, many of us have had the opportunity to exchange heartwarming stories of how something we did at our school has had a positive and lasting impact upon one of our students. Often, we were not even aware at the time that we had touched this young man or woman. It is commonplace for our kids to accept our extra efforts without so much as a thank you. Yet years later, that apparent ingrate returns to thank us in what turns out to be a much more meaningful way, which lets us know that we have, indeed, made a difference. Again this year, every teacher at our school will lead with his or her personal vision. For many of us, that is simply doing good work that people will remember. It may not seem as if anyone will remember, but undoubtedly many will.

 Many of you have mentioned that you consider teaching your “calling”, not merely your job. Many of you will not see the rewards of your daily toil on an immediate or frequent basis. Yet, in the end, you will grow stronger through fulfilling Woodrow Wilson’s charge to enrich the world. Just as importantly, so will your students—whether you or they notice it this year or many years hence. Thank you for your passion, persistence, and performance. I am awed to be able to bask in the glow of folks who Teach with Passion each day. Take a moment and check out this clip by one of my favorite poets Taylor Mali. I think it aptly and deftly describes each and every one of you.

Miracle Worker by Taylor Mali
A tribute to one of the best speakers I've ever heard - Taylor Mali Free online exercises, worksheets, whiteboard activities for Maths and English. Stellar L...

Have a Terrific Tuesday!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Honorable Mention: Initiative for a Competitive Inner City

Detroit Metro area Educational Service Provider
edtec central, LLC receives Honorable Mention from
 ICIC and FORTUNE’s Inner City 100 winners

Annual ranking showcases the 100 fastest-growing urban businesses in America.

Detroit, MI – The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and FORTUNE announced that edtec central received an Honorable Mention for the 2014 Inner City 100, a list of the fastest-growing inner city businesses in the U.S. This year, for the first time in the list’s 16-year history, the Inner City 100 consists of 10 fast-growing businesses from 10 industry categories. The 10 industry categories are: Construction; Manufacturing; Professional Services; Food and Beverage; Retail; Media and Communications; Software and Information Technology; Transportation and Logistics; Healthcare and Biotechnology; and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation. Applicants ranked according to revenue growth against their industry peers, as well as overall. 
edtec central ranked 11th in the Professional services industry category. The Inner City 100 program recognizes successful inner city businesses and their CEOs as role models for entrepreneurship, innovative business practices and job creation in America’s urban communities. Dr. Anna Amato, President and CEO of edtec central and graduate of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership at Benedictine University was thrilled at the recognition for edtec central. "It is such an honor to be recognized for the hard work and all the efforts of edtec central employees. It is inspiring to know that we are reaching youth in the inner city of Detroit and making a positive impact in the lives of students," said Dr. Amato.  The full list of winners can be viewed at

“It’s important to recognize businesses like edtec central that are truly driving economic growth and job creation and America’s urban cores,” said Matt Camp, President, ICIC. “We believe that inner cities hold unique competitive advantages for business and the success of these firms underscores that market opportunity.”

Highlights of the 2014 Inner City 100 include:

  • Employ 8,276 workers (approximately 35% are inner city residents).
  • Created 5,119 new jobs in the last five years.
  • 25% have woman CEOs. Nationally, only 10% of companies with over $1 million in annual revenues are woman-owned.
  • 35% have a minority CEO. Nationally, only 21% of all companies are headed by minorities.  
  • Average company age is 17 years.
  • 39% average compound annual growth rate.
Companies generated $42.2 million in 2013 revenues on average and $4.2 billion in the aggregate.

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

ICIC is a national nonprofit founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter. ICIC's mission is to promote economic prosperity in America's inner cities through private sector investment that leads to jobs, income and wealth creation for local residents. Through its research on inner city economies, ICIC provides businesses, governments and investors with the most comprehensive and actionable information in the field about urban market opportunities. The organization supports urban businesses through the Inner City 100, Inner City Capital Connections and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programs. Learn more at or @icicorg


Smiles, support and celebration!

On Tuesday, October 14, 2014 the ACE Academy – Woodward Place held its Dedication Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting Celebration.  The newest project for edtec central, LLC and the ACE Academy Board of Directors, the new center in Highland Park, Michigan will service former students of ACE Academy, along with other community youth, enabling them to continue on the path towards graduation and earning a high school diploma after they complete the Spectrum Juvenile Justice Services (SJJS) program.  Distinguished guests from Central Michigan University, SJJS, Spectrum Human Services, the Highland Park Fire Department, members of team edtec and community and business leaders from Highland Park joined to celebrate the opening of the new school and show their support for its future success.

Dr. Anna Amato, ACE Academy founder and president and CEO of edtec central, kicked off the ceremony by thanking everyone for their role in helping to bring the vision of the Center into reality. Sharing her sentiments, she said “Through countless and humble acts by so many, without needing to name anyone in particular, this Center will provide a much-needed nurturing place where youth can come to aspire, create and explore their innate desire to learn, grow and transition into adulthood.”

But the highlight of the evening was by far guest speaker and ACE Academy class of 2013 graduate, Curtis C.  His inspiring message to all those in attendance mirrored the purpose statement of ACE Academy – Woodward Place; to Aspire, Create, and Explore.  Curtis shared with us that he is working part time and plans to attend Henry Ford Community College this winter. 

As the rain poured outside of the newly renovated Woodward Place, so did the words of inspiration for our present and future students of ACE Academy – Woodward Place

The mission statement of ACE Academy, in partnership with youth serving agencies, is to re-engage youth in the active pursuit of self-improvement, interpersonal growth and educational development, within a climate where students, staff and stakeholders feel safe, secure and valued as individuals.  The Academy will encourage all students to excel to their highest potential, while providing them the support and tools needed to explore the infinite possibilities that learning and life has to offer. ACE Academy is authorized by Central Michigan University.

edtec central, LLC is relentlessly and enthusiastically focused on its core purpose: to create and sustain high quality, innovative and engaging educational opportunities for students. With its five core values at the center of all activities, edtec pursues its purpose through ethical, respectful and caring actions driven by cooperation and service to others.

For more information on ACE Academy – Woodward Place please call (313) 281-3500 or visit  For more information about edtec central, please call (248) 582-8100 or visit

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Winding DOWN and Winding UP...

Robbie Ray. Detroit Tiger Pitcher.
Detroit Free Press, May 2014
I don’t really mean baseball (though it is the Tigers' great pitching and a post on Facebook that at first brought these words to mind). But rather, I mean “a this and a that,” or an “on one hand then the other,” or my own personal metaphor – the Yin and the Yang.
I often find myself thinking one thing, then immediately thinking of its opposite. Recently, my fellow classmates, along with confirmation from a visiting professor, donned me the “contrarian” of the class. They were not being insensitive or even critical. Instead, they were pointing out how I often concurrently consider an alternate view when presented with a new idea or possibility.

For as long as I can remember, I have always thought this way (for whatever reason) and came to self-understand and self-define this as a search for the line between the Yin and Yang. I don’t think this is fence-sitting or even avoiding making a decision. Instead, it feels more like wanting to consider as many possibilities as possible – and certainly, not ever just one. The movement towards the most far-flung idea from what has been proposed seems to me (anyway), to help make room for a gazillion other possibilities in-between.

It’s this “in-between” that fascinates me and draws my attention. Some might call this a search for “balance.” Others might call it finding the middle ground. Whatever it might be, as we enter the “winding down” phase of the “regular” school year, my thoughts cannot help but turn towards the “winding up” (the opposite of course!) of the coming year that is surely and undeniably to follow.
While this cycle of unwinding – only to wind back up again – emerges over and over again, perhaps really focusing on it and considering both the Yin and the Yang might help us better prepare for the future in proactive ways, especially as we endeavor to make the next phase even more enriching than the last for our students and ourselves. Here’s just a few things that come to mind:

1) Looking back and if given the chance, what one thing would you “do over”? What is the exact opposite of how that might look? Now, believe with all of your heart that you do have the chance for a do-over -- because of course you do! -- and start planning it for a special summer project.

2) Thinking of your groups of students and the challenge of a constantly changing population, what sort of things might capture the interest of both the newest and the most-veteran student, for a team-based learning experience? Perhaps put this question to the students themselves!

3) Search out the teammate who you think you are most different from and brainstorm all of the ways you might together implement a new teaching and learning experience for students or for staff. This could be within the same subject area or cross-curricular, or both. Encourage each other to consider the most opposite of what you each are thinking! Be sure to share your results with other teammates. How innovative and diverse might your results be?

I imagine there must be unlimited ways to use this play between the Yin and Yang as a method of unleashing creativity and discovery, within a context of sharing among and between ourselves, that must surely give way to innovation and infinite possibilities.
As we wind down the current school year and wind up to the next one, grab a colleague -- or two or three or more -- and give yourselves permission to think in extreme opposites. Then, have a blast in filling in the “in-between” as a way of co-creating new and exciting possibilities for the coming future.

Caring for Our Culture,


Monday, November 11, 2013

Vignette. I wonder . . .Design: Frode Inge Helland, 1978.

How often are we really working in teams – and how it that going?
Sometimes just through the use of the word team, our minds immediately picture a small to medium-sized group of people sitting around a table or gathered in clusters, meeting on some project or task.  Just Google the word team and you will discover that these are the most common images that arise.

But today I just viewed a video sent to me by my best friend and fellow animal lover – which at first seemed unrelated to anything remotely connected to work – when it hit me that we often find ourselves working in ever-changing “teams” as we navigate through our daily routines.  And this seems to most often take the shape of getting with just one other person at a time for this, that and the other thing.
And it got me to wondering….

What might the implications be of such 2-member teams (or interactions) taking shape and occurring at break-net speed throughout an organization, over and over again, on a daily basis?  How might our present understanding of dyadic communication, network theory and even relationship theories help us in our understanding of how differences of ideas and opinions come into play and impact on an organization’s ability to change, develop and transform?
These questions and others of course, seem extremely important and perhaps even daunting on some level, in the overwhelming complexity they reveal as it relates to exploring, identifying and understanding on a deeper level what factors contribute to organizational effectiveness and performance.

But putting aside if only for a moment, what might seem to be complex research questions more appropriate for the serious student or academic world, at the very least I believe the best place to start off any search for new learning is with the simplest of clues available. And so it is in this spirit of keeping things simple that I share forward the video that was shared with me and which got me a-wondering in the first place!
I think it can trigger key insights into 2-way communications (along with some hearty laughter), by showing us how several “couples” with seemingly disparate backgrounds go about tackling a common disagreement in a host of different and creative ways.

As you watch, you might also consider – or wonder about -- the following questions: 
  1. What ways do you yourself commonly use to settle a difference of viewpoint when trying to work towards an agreed-upon direction or solution for a particularly challenging task?
  2. How do most of your 2-way didactic interactions with other team members and stakeholders end up?

If the video playback is less than ideal when viewing
from this blog, here is the direct link:

Sharing forward what hopefully will be a few chuckles and some reflection-provoking vibes...

Caring for Our Culture
edtec central Founder


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Suddenly Summer: How the best time of the school year is now upon us!

It seems like only days ago that we were bundling ourselves up in winter coats, hats and scarves - at least in the very seasonable state of Michigan.  But at the time, it also seemed like we would never get to the sun and warmth of our state's fabulous summer time period.  Now already into July, and only a few short weeks after the high points and exhilaration of graduation and promotion celebrations, the edtec Team is already preparing for engaging and enlightening summer school "journeys" across all of our school sites

This summer will be one of high intensity learning explorations for all students and creative collaborations between teachers, staff and specialized service providers made possible in part through our 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal grant. For what lies ahead, I asked Cathy Nowosatko, our Project Director for the MetroConnect-YMAC project, to fill us in on some of the exciting things in store for students. Here is what she shared...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Thinking

The Incredible Capability of Self-Renewal

It’s hard to believe we are halfway through March and spring break is just around the corner!

My thought for today -- as we close out another week -- comes from a place deep within.  And it seems to “spring” forth about the same time each year when most all of the snow and ice has melted away and the air smells faintly of the mixture between the spring to come and the departing winter.  And the thought is this…

Monday, March 11, 2013


This past weekend I made a stop in the Dollar Tree and purchased Shamrock Garland for our office Poinsettia. (Yes, you read that correctly we have a Poinsettia that is still alive in March!) While searching for garland for the now “St. Patty’s Day Poinsettia," I was struck with a thought. Typically most poinsettias are dead or dying by January first and are in the trash no later than the fifth. I thought what was different about our office poinsettia? It wasn’t expensive; I purchased it for two dollars at Aldi’s. It wasn’t a new hybrid poinsettia; it was just your average run of the mill Christmas plant, why hadn’t it died yet? The answer hit me as I was checking out. No one had dismissed it as unimportant or not worthy of care because the holiday was over. It had sat on the counter in the sun and it had been watered and cared for daily. Our office staff had not given up on it because a date had passed.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Innovation at work

It is always important to applaud the efforts of our team members. Effective teams build each other up, celebrate success, and support during setbacks. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize and applaud a success of one of our valued team members.

Amy Cole has been with edtec central since 2008. She is the Assessment and Achievement Coordinator for all school sites, overseeing all assessment efforts, data gathering, and training. Her ability to successfully complete her tasks while offering top notch support to both staff and students makes her an invaluable member of our team.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Minute Meditation 2013

I would like to extend a warm welcome back to the entire edtec family.  I hope you each had an enriching holiday and work break, enjoying whatever you chose to spend your time on: whether that be with family, friends or even some “just-for-you” time recharging your battery.

To help kick off the new year, I would like to share a thoughtful verse -- from an anonymous source -- but which recently came to me as part of a daily meditation email I get by virtue of being a student at Benedictine University.  The suggestions provided aptly convey my own hopes and thoughts as we start afresh for 2013.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Minute Meditation

I am inspired and gently coached, several days each month, by virtue of being a student at Benedictine University 

I thought this particular “Minute Meditation,” was especially a propos for this time of the year, and wanted to share with everyone.

I sincerely hope that in some small way, it might

Thursday, February 2, 2012

21st Century Students

With the shift coming up to incorporating the Common Core State Standards and teaching 21st Century skills to 21st Century students, it's becoming quite clear that there is a learning curve for educators. I found this short video conceptualized by students in Birmingham, UK, that captures the educational needs of 21st Century students.

- Karen

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The A-Ha Moment

The aha moment has been described as a "magical" and "insightful" experience. Whether it is happening to you or someone else, that moment of clarity is motivating. It is a defining instance, often used to gain wisdom and inspire change.

SmartEd Services™ reveals aha moments large and small in this thoughtful video. Share this short film to help turn others' aha moments into teachable moments in 2012.

- Karen

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bring on the Revolution

In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish.

- Karen

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Go Team!

I have been a UofM Football fan since I was old enough to hold a football. Although we lived in Spartan country, growing up we were a maize and blue house. One of the people I admire is legendary coach, Bo Schembechler. As a coach, he led the Wolverines to 13 Big Ten titles and 10 Rose Bowl appearances through his intensity, drive, and dedication to the game and the team.

One thing I remember most about Bo was his famous "Team" speech. It is this speech that defines, for me, what it takes to be a part of a team. In his speech, he drives home the point that one person does not make a team. No one on the team is more important than another. Everyone's job is important. In a team, you don't criticize, back stab, or cut each other down. You build each other up and support each other.

We did some of that and will continue to do on our team as we fill each other's buckets, but there is even more to it than that. To be a part of a team,

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bucket Filling

There’s a concept I was first introduced to at one of our schools called “bucket-filling”. I thought the idea was clever, though I was not sure if it was an idea used by that particular teacher or if it was widely used. I did some research and found out that it is not only a method commonly used in schools, but it also is a pretty large trend. Bucket-filling, basically, is showing kindness to others. You can read the story here. Stephen Covey calls this same idea “filling the emotional bank account”. People have emotional bank accounts that others can fill through kind and encouraging words and actions. On the flip side, “bucket-dipping”, or making withdrawals from the account, are negative words or actions to others.
I was doing a lesson in my Sunday preschool class that I teach on kindness, and this seemed like a great way to get the idea across to the 2, 3, and 4 year olds. Let me tell you, they are crazy about bucket-filling. It’s amazing how when you present someone with a concept in a way that is fun and that they can understand how it takes off.
That got me thinking. What if

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


If you live in a place like Michigan, you either love the winter, or you tolerate it. Regardless, by the month of February, most people have experienced at least some level of the winter blahs. Snow piles up, the sun doesn’t shine for days, and the cold starts seeping into your bones. These things piled up with the daily grind of work and everyday frustrations can drag you down. This is the time when effectiveness takes a backseat to survival mode. You see people going about their day-to-day business just trying to survive the winter and whatever cold or flu bug has been passed around for the umpteenth time.
February is the perfect time for “sharpening the saw”. Sharpening the saw means taking time to renew ourselves: body, spirit, heart, and mind. Without taking time to care for ourselves and get refreshed, we begin to lose our effectiveness. We become disillusioned, depressed, and apathetic.
Take time to think about what you can do right now to

Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Energy

Do you ever notice how a group of people have a certain energy? You can walk into a room full of people and feel it. Sometimes it is negative energy. You can feel the tension, discontent, or unease. The larger the group, the bigger the feeling. People feed off of each other, increasing the positive or negative feelings.
This being said, imagine for a moment a group of people gathered that have the same purpose, the same vision, the same passion. People with a common goal and a strong, visionary leader to guide them. Imagine the energy when you walk into that room. The positive vibes, the sense of community and purpose. When a group such as this begins working together, it’s called Synergy. I like to think of it as a

Monday, December 13, 2010

Listen With Your Heart

Listening is about putting others first. I truly believe that being heard is a basic need that we all share. When we do not feel like we are heard, we get frustrated. We do not want to listen to anyone else, because no one is listening to us. We believe that what we have to say is so important, that even when others are speaking, we aren’t really listening but instead are simply waiting our turn to talk. This kind of “fake” listening is not effective for a number of reasons. It damages relationships instead of building them, and no one really gets heard. There is no “win-win”.
I’m reminded of a time when my grandparents were arguing. Each was desperately trying to say something that they thought was important, and they kept getting louder and louder, trying to out-shout the other. What they didn’t realize is that they weren’t really arguing, because they were talking about two completely

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A One-Woman Show

One of edtec's multi-talented employees recently had a performance of a lifetime. She shared her reflections on that experience with our team, and so we share them with you. Enjoy.

"I recently performed my one woman show “Bag Lady” at the YMCA on November 20. I told my story through the purses that I’ve carried throughout my lifetime. It’s not easy putting yourself out there to the world sharing my secrets and my joys with others. I was very nervous, although I’ve done this twice already. Yet I wanted people to know that we can heal our emotional wounds. I was so grateful that the staff of edtec Central was there right in the front row of the show supporting me. I would like to thank you all for first of all taking time to spend an evening with me and second for just being such warm, supportive and dynamic people. May this holiday be filled with love as you look at your life and the blessings you’ve received over the years. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Kim Kelsey"

If you would like more information about Kim's show "Bag Lady" or just about Kim, you can visit her blog at

- Karen

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Can You See Like This?

It's so important to take a step back at times and think about the things we don't take the time to see. Shifting your paradigm, the way you see the world, can make such a difference in your life. Attitudes can change, your mood can change, and the way you treat others can change.

In a blog I ran across recently, there was a great commentary about making a paradigm shift in your life. The video that accompanies it is truly powerful. Please take a moment to read the blog and view the short video. It will change the way you see the world and the people around you.

You can read the blog here.

- Karen

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Winning Attitude

November is the perfect time to be putting some extra thought into habit 4: Think Win-Win. It was the recent election that got me thinking about the power of positive thinking and a win-win attitude. I stopped at my usual coffee shop on my way to work the morning after the election, and in front of me in line, a lady was ranting and raving about the election results. This woman was fired up and extremely angry, letting anyone and everyone in the store know about how she felt about the fact that nothing is going to be accomplished (in her mind) that will be good for Michigan. Being the habit-minded person I am, I could have noted to the lady that she was not being very proactive by venting her politically-induced frustration on a store full of strangers.

Instead, I thought about the common belief that so many Americans have that nothing much gets accomplished in government when party control shifts so much and the balance of power so often holds up new legislation and forward progress.
Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if politicians had more of a “win-win” attitude? Thinking win-win isn’t about