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Ryan Smith headshot
George Sipple

Ryan Smith, a teacher and K-6 Electives Content Area Leader, was named to the Oakland County Oakland Together 40 Under 40 Class of 2022.

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter announced members of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 on Feb. 28, 2022. 

These individuals exemplify Oakland Together, Coulter's vision for a community working together to leverage its strengths, address its challenges, and find value in working with regional partners.

 "This diverse group of exceptional individuals are leaders and entrepreneurs, activists and teachers," Coulter said. "But overall, they are all passionate about their communities, successful in their careers and bound for great things in the future. They embody the Oakland Together message that blends talent, skill and excellence with a commitment to public service."

To learn more about the entire Class of 2022 visit

"I am incredibly honored and humbled to be selected as a member of the Oakland County Oakland Together 40 Under 40 Class of 2022," Smith said. "I take great pride in being a leader within my community and helping grow Oakland County towards the Oakland Together Vision. Being a Novi graduate who still lives in Oakland County and has spent the majority of my educational career working within the Novi Community School District, I have worked tirelessly to help grow and develop deep relationships with the community and its stakeholders.

"My only hope is that I will have the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Novi and Oakland County as we grow together to develop the best future for all.”

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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.”
Read More about Enhancement grant will transform outdoor learning at all elementaries, Novi Middle School
Brian Gordon
George Sipple

The Michigan High School Coaches’ Association (MHSCA) recently announced the selection of Novi Athletic Director Brian Gordon for induction into the Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremony will take place in the Terrace Room of the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan University at 1 p.m. on September 19, 2021. Tickets to attend the event will be available on June 1, 2021 on the website.  

Brian Gordon’s coaching career spans 31 years and three sports in Royal Oak. He has also served as the Athletic Director of Royal Oak (2010-2012) and Novi (2012 to the present). From 1990-2010, Brian coached at Royal Oak Kimball and Royal Oak High and finished with a career record of 419-221. While head coach his teams won  five league championships, four district championships, and one regional championship. During this time  Brian also coached football at Royal Oak Kimball from 1990-1996 with a JV record of 40-23, and from 1997- 2002 at Royal Oak Adams Junior High with a 28-7 record. From 1992-1995 he coached 9th grade boys basketball at  Royal Oak Kimball with a record of 49-31. 

As a varsity baseball coach, Brian Gordon has been recognized multiple times for his coaching and service to sport. He has been named District Coach of the Year five times, Regional Coach of the Year two times, All Star Coach; Detroit News Metro Coach of the Year, Oakland County Coach of the Year, Royal Oak Schools Distinguished Coach, and was inducted into the MHSBCA Hall of Fame.

He has also been honored for his leadership and hard work in his position as an athletic director. He has been named the Oakland County AD of the Year, the Region 11AD of the year, received the Allen Bush Award, and the Unified Champion Schools Award (Michigan Special Olympics). 

Brian has also been active in many different sport associations throughout his career. He has served on the MHSBCA Board of Directors ten times, received the Oakland County Past President Recognition, was President of the Kensington Conference, VP of the Kensington Activities Associations, served as a Coaches Advancement Program Instructor, was a MIAAA presenter, and Sport Commissioner (KLAA, OAA). 

Brian Gordon is known for his dedication and tremendous work ethic evident in everything he does, professionally and personally. His motto throughout his career has been, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” He is highly respected in his community for his passion, enthusiasm and integrity, which have impacted many generations of student athletes and coaches. 

The MHSCA is a 66-year old association with nearly 12,000 members representing 18 sport related associa tions was founded on the campus of Central Michigan University in 1954. The Hall of Fame is located in the Student Activities Center.

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  • Brian Gordon
  • Novi High School
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Emily Pohlonski
George Sipple

Emily Pohlonski is one of six state finalists for the 2021 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Mrs. Pohlonski is a National Board Certified science teacher with 19 years of experience at Novi High School. She teaches biology, genetics, Medical Career Explorations and has previously taught mathematics, ranging from algebra to calculus.

She is also NCSD's K-12 Science Coordinator - aligning the district's K-12 curriculum to the Next Generation of Science Standards. She is also the sponsor of Novi High's decorated HOSA club. 

She is passionate about partnering with community businesses to give kids opportunities to do science and math in meaningful ways.

In 2015 Emily was a finalist for Michigan Teacher of the Year.

She was also named the 2021 Michigan Science Teacher of the Year.

The other science finalists besides Pohlonski were Heather Peterson of Holt High School and Scott Milam of Plymouth High. 

The PAEMST program is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Each year, a national committee of prominent mathematicians, scientists, mathematics/science education researchers, district level personnel, and classroom teachers recommends up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST awards.

Up to two teachers—mathematics or science—from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Territories as a group (comprising American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) receive the award.

Teachers who are selected as PAEMST awardees receive a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities. They also receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, a presidential certificate, and join an elite cohort of award-winning teachers who can influence state/jurisdiction science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM) teaching.


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  • Novi High School
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