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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
Read More about Pohlonski named state finalist for Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
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."




Read More about Another Hall of Fame honor for AD Brian Gordon
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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