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Brian Gordon
George Sipple

Novi High School Athletic Director Brian Gordon, who previously announced plans to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, will be part of the Michigan High School Coaches Association's Hall of Fame Class of 2021. 

"It’s about the most humbling and exciting message I’ve gotten in my 31 years (in athletics)," Gordon said of the Hall of Fame news. "It means that you are going into an organization of the best coaches or administrators in Michigan high school sports. Just to be in that conversation is humbling and unbelievable.

"When I got word, two people popped into my head that I wished I could call and tell them. One was Chuck Jones, who is also a member and past president. He was the person who gave me my start at a very young age of 22 in Royal Oak. The other was my dad. My dad was also a coach. He coached at Old Pontiac Catholic and coached me growing up and was the assistant varsity coach at Clawson.

Gordon was previously inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

He was an Allen W. Bush Award recipient (for unsung work in creating athletic opportunities) by the MHSAA in 2019.

Gordon has served as Novi's Athletic Director for the past 11 years. Prior to joining NCSD, Gordon spent 22 years in Royal Oak schools as a teacher and administrator. 

Novi was recognized in August as a National Banner Unified Champion School by Special Olympics North America. Gordon helped establish Unified Sports in the KLAA and in 2019 Novi became the first school, in partnership with the MHSAA and Special Olympics Michigan, to host a Unified basketball tournament. 

He was the Oakland County Athletic Director of the Year (OCADA) and the Region 11 AD of the Year in 2018. 

He has served on the executive boards of the MHSBCA and Oakland County Athletic Directors Assiciation. He has also been the president of the OCADA and Vice-President of the KLAA. 

He has been an MIAAA presenter and served an an MHSAA Sport Committee Member for baseball, girls lacrosse, cheer, hockey, gymnastics, officials, site selections, Middle School, mental health, boys lacrosse and softball. 

He has hosted over 200 MHSAA tournament events as an athletic director. 

"As a I sit back and reflect about our my time here in Novi, I have to say that Novi is a remarkable place," Gordon said. "The kids, the community, the amazing coaching staff this place has. Barb McDougall and Ashley Bootz, the eight different co-ops who have worked in our office, the people who serve the community in terms of working our events, the thousands of officlas we’ve come across, the fellow ADs and coaches....

Everyone comes through Novi at some point. To be the perso to greet them as they walked in the door has been so rewarding. There’s nothing better than to jump on the golf cart on a beautiful spring day and go watch the kids compete,  watch the coaches at their craft, and watch the moms and dads and grandparents in the stands. 

"Recently, I had an umpire come over and congratulate me on retirement between innings. It shows we’re doing it right here in Novi."

Gordon finished with a 419-221 record as a baseball coach at Royal Oak Kimball  from 1990-2010. During that time he his teams won five league titles, four district titles and a regional title. He was a MHSCBA All-Star Coach, an Oakland County Coach of the Year and a Detroit News Coach of the Year. 

Asked about leading the athletic department during the pandemic, Gordon said: "When we’re faced with adversity in athletics, it’s amazing how people come together and work to provide opportunities for kids. We work together. That’s in the entire KLAA, with the support of the MHSAA. We have collaborated by sharing ideas, sharing frustrations, all to benefit kids. That’s what we are about.

Secondly, this has become the biggest life lesson for all of us, kids and adults. We've seen how opportunities can be taken away. I do believe we appreciate each other more and appreciate the opportunities that our kids get, our coaches get, that all of us get, and what it means to be permitted to be part of educational athletics."

 

 

 

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The Novi Wildcats athletics logo -- a black powercat in front of a green letter N.
George Sipple

The Novi Community School District is ranked the top school district in the state of Michigan by Niche.com for the second straight year.

Niche.com recently released its Best Schools 2021 rankings. Niche is a national educational research and ranking firm. “Ranking factors include state test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, public school district ratings, and more."

NCSD also ranked 10th among districts with the best teachers and 12th for best places to teach in the state. 

Deerfield Elementary ranked as the top public elementary school in the state, according to Niche. The other NCSD elementary schools ranked as follows: Novi Woods (No.6), Parkview (No.9), Village Oaks (No.10), and Orchard Hills (No.42).

Novi Meadows (Grades 5-6) ranked No.2 among public middle schools in the state. Novi Middle School (Grades 7-8) ranked No.10. 

Novi High School ranked No.3 among public high schools and No.4 among best college prep public high schools in the state. 

 

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Rebecca and dog Bosa.
George Sipple

Novi Community School District is proud to announce the first cohort of the Novi4All Therapy Dog Program. The goal is to have a therapy dog at every school in the near future. Five NCSD staff members and their canines are part of the first cohort. The staff and canines will begin training soon with Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth. 

"Novi4All supports all abilities and our goal is to support children's emotional well-being and learning through a district-wide therapy dog program," said Shailee Patel, Director of Special Education Programs and Services for NCSD.

Rebecca and dog Bosa

 

The five staff members who are participating in the first cohort for therapy dog training are:

 
  • Rebecca Middleton, Special Education Teacher at Novi Middle School
  • Kailee Chichila, School Psychologist at Deerfield Elementary and Village Oaks Elementary
  • Julie Holewinski, Special Education Teacher at Novi Woods Elementary
  • Ashley Weinert, School Psychologist at Novi High School. 
  • Karen Wilkinson, School Social Worker at Parkview Elementary
Karen and dog Otis

 

Rebecca Middleton explained why therapy dogs are important, how students will benefit and why she is excited to join the first cohort. 

Why are therapy dogs important?

MIddleton: "Research has shown that having access to a therapy dog has great benefits for all students, including but not limited to: a reduction in anxiety, improved reading and language skills, reduction in negative classroom behaviors, increased academic performance, and more. Research also states despite having one of the greatest needs for mental health services, children and families in low income households are the least likely to have access to quality mental health services. 

When you consider Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, if basic physiological and safety needs are not being met, how can we expect students to achieve higher levels of cognitive thinking? Supporting students’ growth in the area of mental health will only improve their sense of security, well-being, and naturally to follow, their academics. Additionally, providing therapy dog services within the entire school will also benefit all students by enriching their educational experiences within the classroom and with their peers."

Kailee and dog Daisy

How will students benefit?

Middleton: "Having a therapy dog in school will be a great support for all students within the building, but especially those students who need it the most (children with lack of access to quality mental health services, those with mental health or social-emotional needs, behaviors, learning deficits, etc.). With devastating impacts of COVID-19 on students, families, and our community, it is our hope with this grant to support all students during the global pandemic.

Once the program is complete, NCSD staff will be bringing their trained therapy dog into school buildings to begin service work. NCSD staff will be volunteering their time to collaborate with staff in order to spread the benefits of a therapy dog as wide as possible among buildings. Additionally, counselors, ancillary staff, and admin would have access to the building therapy dog in case of a student in need of its services. 

The desired outcomes of this project are a sense of community, belonging, love, enrichment, and support."

Julie and dog Lacey

 

Why am you excited for this program?

Middleton: "In February 2020, we brought home our sweet Labrador retriever, Bosa. Two weeks later, the world shut down. Bosa has been an incredible companion and light in my life during this pandemic. Like many others, mental health has been difficult during these times. I am diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and suffer from panic attacks. Bosa is my emotional support animal and brings me an overwhelming sense of joy, security, and hope when times are difficult. It is because of him that I was inspired to create a grant for him to become a therapy dog.

With the assistance of NEF and my director, Shailee Patel, we were able to turn my single grant application into a therapy dog program for our entire school district. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to train my dog for therapy services, as well as to be able to organize two cohorts of staff dogs to be the light for the children in our district. The pandemic has had significant impacts on mental health of those young and old. It is truly an honor to be able to offer my dog to help others and bring them his joy as well. We are excited and ready to kick off the Novi4All Therapy Dog Program with our first cohort of dogs: Bosa, Daisy, Lacey, Otis, and Ruthie!"

Ashley and her dog Ruthie

 

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George Sipple
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District Nurse Cathy Farris
George Sipple
Cathy Farris began work Monday as a full-time nurse for the Novi Community School District.
 
"Cathy Farris will be an asset to the Novi Community School District," said Superintendent Dr. Steve Matthews. "She brings years of professional experience, plus she's deeply committed because she has students in our school district."
Farris has worked part time for the district since 2010. She was approved for the full-time position by the Board of Education on Oct. 1.
 
"I'm honored to be hired full time to care for the health and well being of our Novi students, staff and families," she said. 
Farris is a licensed registered nurse with 24 years of Pediatric ICU experience at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Mott Children’s Hospital, in Ann Arbor, in the Pediatric Cardio-thoracic ICU, where she continues to work.
 
She graduated from Madonna University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1996 and is a certified Pediatric Nurse, a member of Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) and Vice President of the Michigan Association of School Nurses (MASN).
 
She also is the region leader for all school nurses in Oakland County.
 
Farris regularly meets with our state nurse consultant and collaborates often with the counties surrounding Novi to enhance our practices, policies and procedures. She also reviews each and every medical plan that is submitted and has revamped all of our medical forms to conform to the medical community. She is on call if needed for medical advice in a building or if a medical emergency should arise. She has provided training to our staff with regards to insulin, epi-pen, AED, CPR, and so much more. She has been instrumental in keeping our information up-to-date and moving us forward through the COVID learning process. 
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