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Governor’s Return to School Advisory Council Named

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, June 10, 2020

Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the members of the Return to School Advisory Council. This council was created through Executive Order 2020-88, which was issued on May 15, 2020. More than 1,700 applications were submitted for the 25-person council. The advisory council is tasked with providing the COVID-19 Task Force on Education with recommendations on how to safely, equitably and efficiently return to school in the fall.

Tonya Allen, President and CEO of the Skillman Foundation, was named Chair of the advisory council. The council will also include two state senators and two state representatives—Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia), Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) and Rep. Sheryl Kennedy (D-Davison). Mary Gebara, a Trustee on the Okemos Public Schools Board of Education, was named to represent school board members and Anupam Chugh Sidhu of Canton, Instructional Technology Manager for Wayne RESA and President of the Plymouth-Canton School Board will represent parents.

Also named to the council were:

  • Angela Blood Starr of Kalamazoo, Regional School Health Coordinator for Calhoun Intermediate School District, to represent school leaders;
  • Nicole Britten of Saint Joseph, Health Officer for Berrien County Health Department, to represent individuals with expertise in public health;
  • Johanna Clark of Frankenmuth, Principal of Frankenmuth High School, to represent school leaders;
  • Dominic Gonzales of Lincoln Park, a student in the Detroit Public Schools Community District, to represent students;
  • David Hecker of Huntington Woods, President of AFT Michigan, to represent community members;
  • Paula Herbart of Lansing, President of the Michigan Education Association, to represent community members;
  • Melissa Isaac of Mount Pleasant, Director of Education for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, to represent school leaders;
  • Elizabeth Koschmann of Ann Arbor, Licensed Psychologist and Assistant Research Scientist in Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, to represent individuals with expertise in mental health;
  • Stephen McNew of Monroe, Superintendent of Monroe County Intermediate School District, to represent school leaders;
  • Vic Michaels of Detroit, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services and Athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic Schools and Director of the Catholic High School League, to represent school leaders;
  • Justin Michalak of Grosse Pointe Woods, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education for Macomb Intermediate School District, to represent school leaders;
  • Nicholas Paradiso III of Grand Rapids, Vice President of Government Relations for National Heritage Academies, to represent school leaders;
  • Lisa Peacock of Traverse City, Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, to represent individuals with expertise in public health;
  • Kevin Polston of Grand Haven, Superintendent of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, to represent school leaders;
  • Dr. Gwendolyn Reyes of Grand Blanc, Assistant Clinic Director at Hurley Children's Clinic, Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Children's Hospital, Medical Director for Flint Community Schools Wellness Program, and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Michigan State University Department of Pediatrics and Human Development, to represent individuals with expertise in pediatrics;
  • Robert Shaner of Shelby Township, Superintendent of Rochester Community Schools, to represent school leaders;
  • Travis Smith of Marquette, Elementary School Principal in Marquette Area Public Schools, to represent school leaders;
  • Joshua Smith of Jackson, School Counselor for Western School District in Parma, Lead Facilitator for Michigan College Access Network and Counselor at A Healing Place, to represent individuals with expertise in mental health;
  • Stephanie Sutton of Commerce Township, Central Clinical Infection Preventionist for Beaumont Health System, to represent individuals with expertise in epidemiology;
  • Gregory Talberg of Williamston, Teacher with Howell Public Schools, to represent educators;
  • Ridgeway White of Fenton, President and CEO of Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, to represent community members; and
  • Kymberli Wregglesworth of Onaway, Teacher with Onaway Area Community Schools, to represent educators.

The Advisory Council held its first meeting late last week and is expected to work throughout the month of June with a goal of having recommendations put together by early July.

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