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Patrcia Gilcrest-Frazier Award
George Sipple

Shailee Patel, NCSD’s Director of Special Education, received the Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier Award at the recent Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education conference. 

This award recognizes the outstanding service and leadership in the role of a local district special education director. The candidate must have a track record of implementing innovative programming which contributes to the field of special education. Criteria for this award also includes organizational involvement, volunteerism, and years of service.

“It's a great honor and I am thankful for this recognition,” Patel said. “My peers understand how rewarding the work that we do is to advocate for our students with disabilities.”

The award was a surprise to Patel. Several NCSD staff members attended, as well as members of Patel’s family. 

“I was very shocked to see everyone there, and especially my family that flew in,” Patel said. “My boys were also there and I was so proud of them.”

Sue Toth, the Director of Special Education for South Lyon Schools and a member of the MAASE Board of Directors, delivered the presentation speech for the award and said Shailee Patel was “a fierce advocate for individuals with disabilities and she has a passionate commitment to supporting Women in Leadership. 

“She is creative and bold, as evidenced by her determination to advance the opportunities for her students through Peer to Peer mentoring and Unified Sports. She has helped to establish several initiatives including district therapy dogs, sensory classrooms and adequate handicapped parking on all district campuses.”

Toth said what sets Patel apart is her exceptional vision and leadership skills. 

“Imagine the vision that is required to see a trailer - yes - a 16+ foot long trailer being converted into a food truck,” Toth said. “She had the trailer painted and outfitted in order to provide a Mobile Market allowing adult students an authentic environment to learn vocational skills and gain valuable work experience.” 

Among the projects Patel is proud of in her 10 years in Novi are the #Novi4All hashtag, the Mobile Market and Therapy Dog programs, the graduation rate and full continuum of services offered to students.  

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Ben Mainka talking to elementary students at Summer Reading event.
George Sipple


Superintendent Ben Mainka held the first ever Novi Community School District Elementary Summer Reading Days for each K-4 building in late August. 

Mainka read "No Buddy Like A Book" by Allan Wolf at each Summer Reading event. 

Ben Mainka holding "No Buddy Like A Book"



The Novi Public Library hosted the first event, for Novi Woods families, on Aug. 18. Novi Woods Principal David Ascher played his guitar and sang with students. Superintendent Mainka read a book to the students and later passed out popsicles. 

David Ascher with guitar at Summer Reading Days event at Novi Public Library.


“Our schools are precious centers of our students’ community, and getting together at The Novi Public Library helped build those community relationships with many, many partners,” Ascher said. “Being with students, their families, and our staff reminds me why we do what we do. Schools and our PTOs are here to celebrate and nurture learning, growth, and those positive relationships. Singing, playing, reading and even enjoying special treats helped start our year in the most spectacular way!”

Mainka and Michael Giromini, the new Assistant Superintendent of Academics, visited Orchard Hills in the afternoon on Aug. 18. 

“Mr. Mainka and Mr. Giromini joined the Orchard Hills community on our playground,” said Orchard Hills Principal Adva Ringle. “As children played in our playground, our families excitedly got to know Mr. Mainka and Mr. Giromini. Our families and students welcomed them with hearty cheers and signs! 

“Escaping the summer heat for the coolness of our media center, our students rejoiced in listening to a read-aloud with Mr. Mainka and then celebrated with ice pops. We are so excited to learn in NCSD under his new leadership!

The final three reading events also allowed new principals to meet their families before the first day of school. 

“As the new Parkview principal, this was my first opportunity to meet some of the students, families, and staff,” said Jennifer Murphy after an event at Lakeshore Park Shelter on Aug. 19 . 

“I was so grateful to be received with such warmth, and I left the event feeling so excited after feeling all the positive energy!  If this was any indication, it is going to be an amazing year at Parkview!”

Village Oaks Principal Katy Dinkelmann, the new principal at Village Oaks, said the reading event at the neighborhood clubhouse was a fun way to kick off the school year: “It was such a joy to meet my students and families for the first time! Students and I played Sharks and Minnows, while others enjoyed playing on the playground and using sidewalk chalk.”

The final event was held Friday at Wildlife Park Pavilion for Deerfield families. Ryan Francis, the new principal at Deerfield said: “The Deerfield Summer Reading Event was a great way for Mr. Mainka and myself to meet the community. I love to read books to kids so this was right up my alley.  Connecting with kids and families is important to establishing a partnership this year and every year.  Everyone was so nice and welcoming and I look forward to a great year.” 

Ben Mainka reading a book to students.





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Michael Giromini, the Assistant Superintendent of Academics.
George Sipple

The Novi Community School District Board of Education approved Michael Giromini as Assistant Superintendent of Academics during its meeting on June 9.

Giromini served as the principal at Royal Oak High School for the past seven years.

“I am humbled and excited to join the Novi team,” Giromini said. “This is a fantastic school district doing incredible work, and I am eager to continue and to build upon those efforts.

“I am committed to the promise that NCSD is always a place where every child is successful – academically, socially, and emotionally. To ensure this is a reality for all of our students, my focus is on providing whatever is necessary for our teachers, staff, and administrators."

Michael Giromini, the Assistant Superintendent of Academics.

Giromini worked for Plymouth Canton Community Schools from 2012-2014, first as a curriculum coordinator, then as a regional director responsible for a quadrant of elementary, middle and high schools.

He was the associate principal from 2009-2012 at the International Academy, after teaching physics and mathematics there from 2005-2009.

He also taught physics and integrated science at Redford Thurston from 2003-2005.

Giromini received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and a Master of Arts in educational studies from the University of Michigan. He also continued studies in educational administration at Michigan State. 

“Mr. Giromini has the skills and experience necessary to be successful in this role,” said Dr. Steve Matthews, Superintendent of the Novi Community School District. “He has supervised administrators, planned professional development, coordinated the development of school improvement plans, taught in classrooms, and worked with diverse groups of students.

“Mr. Giromini has demonstrated an ability to improve student outcomes. Mr. Giromini will be an asset to our district and serve our district staff and community well.”




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Karen Dennnett and administrators after being named Support Person of the Year.
George Sipple

Invaluable.  Supportive.  Loyal.

That's how some bus drivers described Karen Dennett, who was recognized Thursday as the Novi Community School District Support Person of the year.

“Karen is the finest example of a true professional working to create a positive environment,” said bus driver Jesse Lollo. “Karen is professional, courteous, supportive, respectful, helpful, loyal and friendly.”

Karen’s normal duties include assisting the Director of Transportation in the coordination of the district’s nearly 30 bus drivers, who transport over 4,500 students to and from school each morning and afternoon.

Dennett also managed most of the department’s day to day issues for several weeks this year when the transportation director was out due to a family tragedy.

“Karen has always gone above and beyond in her duties,” said bus driver Mark Lauten. “This year, however, Karen faced many additional extraordinary challenges, and she handled them flawlessly.”

Bus driver Emily Moore said: “Karen always inspires everyone to do the right thing, the necessary thing and to do it, always, at your best.  Karen makes everyone proud to be working in the Transportation Office.”

Dennett has worked for the district for the past 12 years. Her husband, Jim, joined district administrators on Thursday for the surprise and gave her flowers. 

Karen Dennett receiving flowers from husband.

“Karen has the respect of the transportation staff, school staff and parents,” said Cynthia Valentine, NCSD’s Director of Transportation. “She is always patient and helpful with everyone she encounters. The fact that she was nominated by her coworkers shows what an incredible job she does.

“She is so deserving of this award and I am proud to say I get to work with her every day.”





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George Sipple
Novi Community School District outdoor classrooms and gardening programs will be transformed,
thanks to a one-time Michigan Enhancement Grant.
The Novi Educational Foundation will receive $400,000 as part of the state budget approved Wednesday by legislators. The budget now moves on to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who can make changes using a line-item veto.
“This funding will allow our district to continue creating opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Steve Matthews, the superintendent of the Novi Community School District. “The Novi Educational Foundation is a wonderful partner for our district. Together we find ways to engage and support Novi students to prepare them for today and tomorrow.
“Rep. Kelly Breen of Novi is to be commended for thinking of and supporting Novi.”
Rep. Breen is delighted to see this investment in education coming to her community and the district her children attend.
“I’m ecstatic that this is happening in Novi,“ said Rep. Breen. “My young children are going to benefit from these amazing spaces, and the lessons in these spaces, as will generations to come. This can be a beacon and a model for the rest of the country.”
Breen first became aware of the outdoor garden at Parkview and of Feed the Need as she toured the district.
“I know we dramatically underfund our schools and the NEF fills those gaps,” Rep. Breen said. “The more that we can use the NEF and the outdoor grant to make amazing opportunities for our kids, the more general fund money will have to attend to their needs.”
Jason Smith, the executive director of the NEF, said the outdoor learning space aligns with the mission of the
“The NEF is extremely grateful to state Rep. Kelly Breen for her support of public education and this enhancement grant will change the lives of our NCSD students for years to come. Our mission is to provide additional opportunities for our students.”
Smith said the district’s outdoor learning spaces began with a garden at Parkview Elementary, then Deerfield.
Eventually, gardens and greenhouses were built at every elementary school, through a partnership with Bosch. The vegetables grown at these elementary school gardens aid Feed the Need, an organization that helps feed students in the summer.
“Since 1986, the NEF has supported students in our district because of the generosity of our donors,” said Smith. “This grant is a culmination of more than 35 years of work for our students.”
Dr. RJ Webber, assistant superintendent of academics, said the enhancement grant will transform each elementary outdoor garden, as well as create a revolutionary outdoor learning space at Novi Middle School.
“What if we built an outdoor learning experience that was unlike any other in the country?” he said.  “Where we meld the natural world with making and building – whether it’s 3D printing or metal shop or wood shop or tech. And actually, have cameras and solar panels and all kinds of things where people that are not in that outdoor learning space can enjoy it as well.
“I would have never imagined Rep. Kelly Breen would be able to secure $400,000 for us to put towards these initiatives, which will benefit each and every K-4 student and 7-8 student in the district, in beyond just the actual physical learning space, but the technological advances as well.”
Webber sees potential for Novi High engineering students to help create high-quality greenhouses for the younger students to enjoy.
“We buy the materials for the greenhouse,” Webber said. “Our kids design them and then build them on-site.
“We see this as merging of technology and our outdoor environment, of our Next Generation Science Standards and the K-12 science efforts that we made across our district. We see all of those pieces fitting harmoniously. It’s a perfect example of the public-private partnership.”
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