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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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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.

  • athletics
  • Brian Gordon
  • Novi High School
  • Novi Middle 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.


  • HOSA
  • Novi High School
  • science
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Watchowski named Athletic Director
George Sipple

The Novi Community School District is proud to announce Donald M. Watchowski as the next Athletic Director.

“Don emerged as our top candidate after a comprehensive multi-step process,” said Dr. Gary Kinzer, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. “I am confident that he will do an outstanding job leading our athletic program.”

Watchowski has served as the Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Royal Oak High School for the past five years.

He also served as the Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Ortonville Brandon High School (2011-2016) and Richmond High School (2010-2011).

 “I am very excited to soon be joining the Novi Community School District academic and athletic community,” Watchowski said. “We will strive to continue building upon the excellent Wildcat tradition.

“Mostly I look forward to building positive and productive relationships with our staff, teachers, coaches, administrators, student-athletes, and families. That trust will be the foundation for our work of providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes.”

Watchowski is a certified athletic administrator. A member of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, he has been a past presenter on coach evaluation and development at MIAAA conferences.

He is an innovative athletic administrator and was named the Oakland County Athletic Director of the Year in 2020.  He has served as the Oakland Activities Association’s Unified Basketball Chair (2019-2020). He founded both a student-athlete leadership team and a coaches’ leadership team at Royal Oak High.

He’s been a past president of the Oakland County Athletic Directors Association (2016), the Greater Flint Middle School League (2013-2015) and the Blue Water Athletic Conference (2011).

Watchowski has been a successful teacher and coach. He coached baseball in Birmingham and basketball in Royal Oak and Rochester.

He was a baseball student-athlete at Michigan State (1998-2001) and at Missouri State University (2001-20012). He earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a master’s degree in K-12 educational administration from Michigan State University.


  • athletics
  • Novi High School
  • Novi Middle School
Read More about Watchowski named Athletic Director
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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