Monday, November 17, 2014

Abbot Teachers Win Four Educational Foundation Great Idea Grants

Please join us in congratulating Alison Corey (Young 5s), Carol DeKeyzer (Kindergarten), Angela Gusfa (Occupational Therapist), and Colleen McAlinden (Reading Intervention/Title 1 Teacher) on each earning individual Great Idea Grants from the Ann Arbor Public Schools Education Foundation (AAPSEF).

Thanks to an anonymous donor, this year the Foundation was able to give out more grants and grants in larger amounts than last year. According to the AAPSEF, it gave out 40 grants in total for the 2014-2015 school year and the grants ranged in amount from $1,000 to $5,000 each.

“As a staff, we would like to express our thanks to the Ann Arbor Educational Foundation,” said Abbot Principal Pam Sica. “These funds allow us to help students with specific needs and to provide additional enrichment activities for our students.”

4 Ideas for Making Abbot More Beautiful

It may be snowing but Molly Mason, chair of the Abbot Grounds Beautification committee, never rests. She's already thinking ahead to next spring and recently proposed four possible ideas for how the committee could work for positive changes in the appearance of our school.

Which ideas appeal to you? Please consider joining the committee and helping us with this work.

1) A Green Garden
Molly went to an event put on by the Agrarian Adventure They’re a group of students, teachers and parents who are committed to the farm-to-school movement. Kids of all grades are getting involved in the creation of gardens; including tending, harvesting and providing produce from their gardens to their schools.

She is very interested in creating a greens garden at Abbot. The school has a nice sloping south-facing area right by the library—a micro climate really. "I think it would be a great place to put raised beds with small hoops," she said. "There are literally a million gardeners in this area so we would have access to tons of additional resources. I’m in touch with the coordinator of the program who is a teacher at King Elementary. I’m going to be working with her to get a plan together."

2) A Nicer Kindergarten Line-up Area

The area outside of the Kindergarten centrum where our youngest students line up in the morning could use a shielded seating/waiting area. There also is a paved area just to the left of that sidewalk that could use a plan. "I was thinking we could put fairy gardens in there or something," Molly said. "I welcome design input here and have contacted my landscape architect to come and have a look (for free) and give me some direction."

3) Weed Removal for the Back Parking Lot

The area around the back parking lot is overgrown and full of invasive species such as Buckthorn and honeysuckle. Removing this and starting over with native plants is a huge undertaking. "I’d need several parent volunteers to help at least get that project started," Molly said. "That would be a multi-stage project and we’d need some help and support making it into a curriculum-relevant undertaking where the students could learn about invasive plants, native plants and proper disposal of the waste.

4) An Art Garden

"The art room courtyard has paving stones and a large wall so somebody somewhere along the way had a few great ideas about bringing the art room outdoors as much as possible," Molly said. "The problem is that the pavers are framed by posts that are in an awkward layout and are terrible tripping hazards. There are overgrown barberry shrubs and weeds galore. There’s a great large wall that would be perfect for a mural of tiles or some other weather-resistant material. We just need a plan. It would be great to have ample seating out there in the form of picnic tables."

Miguel's Dairy Farm Visits Abbot First Graders

On November 13th, the Abbot Elementary 1st graders had a special visitor. Farmer Kari spent an hour with each class showing them photos and answering questions about life on a farm. She discussed the benefits of farm life, from growing your own food to physically working in nature.

Her presentation covered the types of animals raised on her farm, including cows, sheep, horses, pigs, ducks and chickens. She also talked about the different fruits and vegetables grown there.

The students enjoyed learning about the process of milking cows, filtering the milk for drinking, separating the cream, and making it into butter and ice cream. Kari also discussed about the process of making maple syrup and sugar.

The highlight of her visit was making butter right there in the classroom. She brought a jar of cream and passed it around the room, giving each student the opportunity to shake it. By the end of the hour, the students had made butter!

Thank you, Farmer Kari for teaching our children about your farm, and all of our PTO supporters for helping to sponsor her visit.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

EGGS: The Effortless Way to Raise Money for Abbot

Did you know there are programs that help make money to support Abbot and they cost you nothing? Select retailers have programs in place that allow you to designate a portion of the money you spend with them as a donation to Abbot.

You likely already shop at these stores. It’s just a matter of making sure that your shopping makes money for Abbot’s PTO, which makes our school stronger for everyone.

One of the most powerful ways you can do this is by buying Meijer gifts cards from our EGGS (Everybody Goes Grocery Shopping) committee head Chris North, an Abbot parent and teacher. When you pay for holiday gifts, groceries, gas, etc., at Meijer, with a gift card purchased through the Abbot EGGS program, you will be earning Abbot 3% of what you would have already been purchasing. Or purchase the Meijer gift cards as holiday gifts for family, friends, employees, clients, vendors, teachers or anyone else. We have Meijer gift cards in $25, $50 and $100 amounts.

However, for the 3% to go to Abbot, you must purchase them through our EGGS program. If you buy them directly from Meijer, Abbot doesn’t earn any money.

Three additional options:

Kroger Plus card linked to Abbot PTO
How to participate: Go to, select Michigan and then click on Enroll. Click “Sign up today” under the New Customer section. Follow the instructions to sign-up. You will then get an email with a link to complete your registration. Sign-in to your account and click “Edit Community Rewards Program Information.” Then enter your Plus Card Number, confirm your address and enter Abbot’s organization number, 82606. Once your card is registered, you will see “Abbot Elementary” at the bottom of your Kroger receipts when you use your Plus Card. Program requires re-­enrollment annually beginning in April. To re­-enroll, sign in, find Abbot by typing in our number, 82606, click “Select Your Organization,” and then click “Save Changes.

Busch's Rechargeable gift cards linked through MyWay program to Abbot PTO
How to participate: Obtain a free gift card from an Abbot EGGS Coordinator. Register your gift card at under your MyWay account. The card is pre-coded to Abbot. Take the card to Busch’s and tell the cashier you want to add money to it at any point during your transaction (up to $500). You may use cash, check, a debit card or a credit card to add money to the card. You then use the card to pay for your groceries. Abbot receives 5% for recharges paid for with cash, check or debit cards and 3% for recharges paid for with credit cards. 

Target Card or Target Visa Card ­ Take Charge of Education
How to participate: Visit, scroll to the bottom of the page to apply or call 1-800-316-6142. Be sure to designate Abbot Elementary School for the donation. Abbot s ID  number is 60592. If you already have a Target Card or a Target Visa and have not designated Abbot to receive the donation, visit or call 1-800-316-6142 to make sure Abbot gets a donation for your purchases.

EGGS Coordinator Chris North can help with these and set up times to purchase cards. Contact her at or 734-994-1901.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Support of Peace Neighborhood Center Furthers Our Mission

We have a lot of fun supporting our school and community. Seeing an owl in class, watching a play or musical performance, experiencing a field trip, these types of enrichment activities are all paid for by the PTO. However, we also recognize that our work can make a meaningful and lifelong impact on a child.

One area where we do this is in our long-time support of the Peace Neighborhood Center on North Maple Road. Peace helps many Abbot students and families throughout the year.

Recently, we received a letter of thanks from Peace Executive Director Bonnie Billups, Jr., that included as story about a girl who first began coming to Peace’s Alternatives for Your after-school program as a sixth grader. He wrote:

“When S. first started coming to Peace, she exhibited severe social issues that were impacting her success in school. It came to the staff members’ attention that she was fearful of interacting with others and often suffered panic attacks when forced to do so. Staff members identified the problem as a form of social anxiety disorder and worked with her teachers and mother to address the issue. S.’s inclusion in daily activities at Peace slowly began to make changes in her social behaviors. Over the course of the school year, she spent less time removed from others. She began to smile more and joke around. She is now and active participant in programs, demonstrating a better ability to advocate for herself and express her opinion to others. At school, her academics have also shown improvement as she is more engaged in her studies and with her classmates. She has not experienced a panic attack in months. S. credits her time at Peace with this change in her attitude because of the environment that made her feel safe.”

The PTO is proud to support Peace. Learn more about the organization here.