3/14/2023: From farm worker to teacher

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

High 33°/Low 19° Sunny

He started out life as the child of migrant workers in southwest Michigan. Now he’s a kindergarten teacher, helping students in Kalamazoo learn to believe in themselves. Also: Construction season is starting up again in Michigan. Find out what areas to avoid. And KPS says its students’ academic scores are improving.

News You Need To Know

From migrant farm worker to kindergarten teacher

When Alfredo Aleman was a child, he worked the fields. One of 15 children, his family settled in west Michigan when he was 4. He would accompany his migrant farm worker parents to harvest crops beginning in third or fourth grade. Years later, he graduated college and now works as a kindergarten teacher at Kalamazoo’s Arcadia Elementary. He makes sure to tell his students that they can accomplish the same things he did no matter what their background.

Some of the students Aleman teaches come from similar backgrounds he did. Others had it worse. His classroom is made up of kids who fled war torn countries, kids whose families moved here seeking opportunities they couldn’t back home. Many don’t speak English. Most come from economically disadvantaged families. Aleman said his job is to convince them to keep trying. “We don’t all start with the same starting position (in) the race of life,” he told Bridge Michigan. “But you have to go up to that line and take that first step.” [Bridge Michigan]

As construction season begins, these are work zones to watch out for

As usually happens around this time of year, construction crews are preparing to start work on roadways throughout Kalamazoo County. An article on MLive highlights 15 upcoming projects to watch out for this construction season.

Several projects will have major impacts on traffic in the coming months. In downtown Kalamazoo, crews plan to add a bike lane and narrow vehicle traffic lanes along Michigan Avenue. Also in Kalamazoo, water main replacements are expected to shut down parts of Whites Road for most of the rest of the season. In Portage, a $3.8 million project will replace water mains and upgrade sidewalk ramps along Shaver Road.

It’s not all bad news though. The years-long project to rebuild the interchange between Portage Road and I-94 may be finally coming to an end. The Michigan Department of Transportation said the $87 million project is close to completion after several setbacks forced crews to pause the project. Officials are still determining the timeline, but that project could wrap up yet this spring. [MLive]

KPS testing shows improvement

Despite learning loss during the pandemic, students at Kalamazoo Public Schools are showing improvement over the past year. That’s according to internal testing done by the district. The improvements are seen across grade levels, though the effects of nearly a year and a half of virtual schooling continue to have impacts. In math and reading, nearly every grade level between kindergarten and eighth grade showed improvement or were even with results of testing in 2021. For example, 25% of KPS first graders performed at or above grade level in reading last fall compared to 16% the previous year.

Meanwhile, the district is performing worse than the state average according to statewide M-STEP testing. Testing showed that 33.9% of Michigan third grade students were not proficient in English, while the same KPS classes were just under 33%. Interim Superintendent Cindy Green said standardized testing may be a poor way to judge performance. “Some students do not test well but they do well and I think we need to look at different ways of measuring growth for children,” she told MLive. The district will report on these assessments again after the end of the school year. [MLive]

Owner of Fourth Coast, Crow’s Nest has passed away

The creator of two staples of Kalamazoo’s Vine Neighborhood has passed away. Chris Danek launched the popular Fourth Coast Cafe on Westnedge Avenue in 1992 and the Crow’s Nest restaurant upstairs from that in 2003. Both became popular hangouts, especially for those living nearby. He passed away March 2, according to a post on the Crow’s Nest’s Facebook page. “Chris impacted many lives in more ways than just good coffee and delicious food,” reads the post. [WWMT]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Artistry and Innovation in Japanese Ceramics and Printmaking – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
12:00PM 3/14

Floor Repairs Workshop – Community Homeworks
6:00PM 3/14

Eco-Bricking – Climate Emergency Month
10:00AM 3/15

“Metropolitan Stories” by Christine Coulson – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
2:00PM 3/15

Connecting to the Culture – The Kalamazoo Promise
4:00PM 3/15

Environmental Ethics Talk; Grasslands, Garbage Islands, and Plastic Trees: Working Towards a Future Ecology – Climate Emergency Month
6:00PM 3/15

Trivia Night at the Bookstore – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
6:00PM 3/15

Board Game Night – Main Street Pub, West Main
6:00PM 3/15

Out of Favor Boys – O’Duffy’s Pub
7:00PM 3/15

GD Funny! – Green Door Distilling Co.
7:00PM 3/15

The Travelin’ McCourys – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 3/15

The Changing Land and Waters of WMU’s Asylum Lake Natural Area: Status, Management, and Future Opportunities – Climate Emergency Month
4:30PM 3/16

Charmer, Freddie Sunshine, Finalbossfight!, [email protected] – Papa Pete’s
6:00PM 3/16

Patricia Polacco Presents: Palace of Books & Go Ask Ozzie – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
6:30PM 3/16

Kettle Belles – O’Duffy’s Pub
7:00PM 3/16

Becoming Dr. Ruth – Farmers Alley Theatre
7:30pm 3/16-18; 2pm 3/18

Eggy – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 3/16

Karaoke – Shakespeare’s Pub
8:30PM 3/16

See more upcoming events here.

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