Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Meet Zac Brannock, School-Age Child Care Specialist

Welcome Wednesday - Zac Brannock
"What I love most about my job is the interaction I now have with the School Aged Child Care students in our 18 sites. This job has really given me the opportunity to interact with all SACC staff, students and families."  

Zac's home base is the Rec & Ed office at Pioneer, but
he spends many hours a week out at child care sites.
Rec & Ed's School-Age Child Care program scored a huge win last February when Zac Brannock became the Site Specialist. Zac joined the School Age Child Care staff as a Site Supervisor in 2013, working primarily at Bach Elementary. His focus on youth development and fun made him a hit with students and parents alike. 

In his new role, Zac is responsible for supporting staff and facility needs at all 18 of Rec & Ed's child care sites. "One area where he's already made a significant contribution is payroll," says Vickie Malcolm, SACC Manager. "He streamlined the process for our approximately 70 staff, making it more efficient for everyone."

Zac plays piano at Lakewood's after school child care.
Originally from Albany, New York, Zac has been a resident of the Mitten state since 2003. Nestled in the town of Tecumseh with his wife and two daughters, Zac loves the outdoors and any opportunity to go hiking, snowboarding (he was an instructor in NY), snowshoeing or camping with his family. 

If you see Zac at the Pioneer office or at a child care site, be sure to say hello! 

Welcome Wednesday features people who work or volunteer for Rec & Ed. Have a suggestion for someone to highlight? Email Chris Drago at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TRIVIA TUESDAY: How many kids played Rec & Ed youth soccer last weekend?

If you were driving past Scarlett Middle School, Wines Elementary or any number of other fields this past weekend, chances are you saw dozens of children playing soccer as part of Rec & Ed's fall recreational soccer program. Parents and kids love our kid-friendly philosophy which means that there are no try outs or cuts, and every child plays in every game.

How many kids played Ann Arbor Rec & Ed soccer last weekend?

Poll Maker

Take a guess. The answer is below.

"Our youth soccer program focuses on building skills while having fun," comments Seth Dodson, Team Sports Manager. "It's also a great community-builder, with kids and parents getting to know each other. Many of our teams grow up together in the program." 

One of our many fall soccer teams! 

The answer is a staggering 2,020

And how many games did the 2,020 youth play? 83.

We're extremely proud to run a program that supports fun physical activity for over two thousand kids every weekend. Learn more about Rec & Ed's youth team sports programs here

Friday, September 25, 2015

Why Parents Love "Parent Talk"

Guest blogger Marj Hyde, First Steps Manager

I'm a parent and just have to say for the record that it's the most wonderful yet difficult job I have. When my daughter was a baby we struggled with colic for the first few months, then with asthma, and later with a strong will. I wished for a child with a guarantee of good health and happy feelings. And more sleep for us! Dream on. The challenges changed as she and her brother grew older and being their mom was/is wonderful but it never got easy.

Wouldn't you love some really effective support and strategies to make parenting easier? To connect with other parents under the guidance of an amazing instructor? Parent Talk is just the ticket.

First Steps, a division of Rec & Ed, has been offering a popular 6-week series called Parent Talk for several years. Here's what parents have told us:

"Such a great experience. Coming to class was fun and exciting. [It] was great to learn from Ann and peers in the group. I learned so many concrete skills to keep in my pocket - skills that have become commonplace in our family dialogue. Thank you so much!" 
--Parent of a 4 year old.

"The class was excellent and extremely informative. I learned strategies that I can use with my son on a daily basis." 
--Parent of a 1 year old

"This class exceeded my expectations. My favorite Parent Talk System principle was the one minute modifier - well, most of them actually. I recommend this class to everyone!" 
--Parent of a 3 year old.

Parent Talk System is a style of communicating with children that creates emotionally healthy family relationships. It is a skill-based program that teaches you a series of verbal skills and language patterns to help you raise responsible, respectful children while reducing stress and family conflict.

Instructor Ann Stalhandske, M.Ed. leads you through the 6 weeks using a variety of instructional methods including video vignettes. There is plenty of time for parental sharing of successes and lots of humor. By coming together and learning new ideas, you'll be amazed at how quickly you can make your home an even happier place.

So, if you're like me and have strong children with ideas of their own and you want to help them feel great about themselves, consider joining the Fall class with Ann. You won't regret it!
Parent Talk 
6:45 - 8:45 p.m.
Mondays, October 26 - December 7 (no class on Nov. 23)
W. Scott Westerman Preschool and Family Center, 2775 Boardwalk Dr Room D108
Fee: $89 and includes a workbook. $89 allows both parents/guardians to attend together. 

Easy registration HERE
Questions? Email

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Top 8 questions about after school classes answered

Help your child enjoy after school enrichment

Rec & Ed's after school classes are designed for your child to learn through fun. Your child can develop friendships and enjoy directed activities that support exploration and achievement. Our diverse selection of after school classes reflects our commitment to promoting well-being among children in our community. 

After School Science Fun with Ann Arbor Hands On Museum
We frequently hear the questions below, but if you have a different question, please do contact Ivy at 734-994-2300 x 53248.

Q1. When is the best time to enroll my child?
Enroll your child at least several days in advance of the start of the class to ensure that you have time to let your child’s teacher and the school know that your child is attending the class. If your child is enrolled in the child care program at your school, please inform the child care staff, too.

Save $10 by enrolling in after school classes before September 14 or 21, depending on the class start date. 

Q2. How do I find out more and sign up?

Q3.  Is financial help available?
Rec & Ed is proud to offer scholarships to residents of the Ann Arbor Public School District who meet specific very low HUD income guidelines. More information and application available at **Please allow two weeks for approval process.

Q4. How does my child’s teacher know that my child is attending an after school class?
Please send a note or email to your child's teacher explaining that your child is enrolled in a Rec & Ed after school program. Provide the class name, day of week and dates, so the teacher can remind your child to go to class. Also, it helps to inform your school secretary as well as child care staff, if your child is enrolled in that program.

Q5. How does my child get to the after school class?
When the bell rings, students walk to the classroom where the class is held. School staff are in the hallways ensuring that your child gets to the right room. The instructor will be standing outside the classroom door to welcome and check in the children.

Q6. What else can I do to support my child?
Be sure to remind your child that he/she has an after school class that day. Speak to the instructor about any special needs or ways to support your child. We also welcome your call at 734-994-2300; ask to speak to Sally or Ivy. 
At the end of the class, please come to the classroom to sign out your child and interact with the instructor
After School Flag Football with One on One Sports
Q7. Can my child walk home?
If a parent has provided a signed permission slip, older children (usually 3rd grade and older) may sign themselves out and walk home.

Q8. Who should I notify if my child has an appointment and cannot attend an after school class?
Call the Rec & Ed office @ 944-2300 ext. 0 to let us know. A supervisor will then let the instructor know that your child will not be at class that day. If you do not notify Rec & Ed, you will get a call from Rec & Ed staff asking the whereabouts of your child.

Other Questions?  Contact Ivy at Rec & Ed 734-994-2300 x 53248.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Rick's Run for Kids Host Committee members share why this event is so special

The inaugural Rick's Run for Kids, held in November 2014, drew over 400 runners and walkers of all ages and raised $6,000 for Rec & Ed's youth scholarship program. 

To build on last year's success, Rec & Ed formed a volunteer Host Committee of community members, school district staff and Rick's family members to help support the 2015 Rick's Run for Kids

Host Committee Members
Jenna Bacolor - Executive Director of Community Education & Recreation 
Lisa Cope - AAPS Physical Education and Health Department Chair and Teacher
Christine Drago - Rec & Ed Business Sponsorship Coordinator 
Tom George - Professor, University of Michigan School of Kineseology  
Mary Jo Gray - Member, Recreation Advisory Commission
Angela Johnson - Member, Recreation Advisory Commission
Michael Johnson - AAPS Principal at Carpenter Elementary School
Katie Lewit - AAPS PE Teacher and Vice-President, Recreation Advisory Commission 
Glenn Nelson - Retired Trustee, AAPS Board of Education 
Sean Williams - Race Director and Rec & Ed Supervisor 

Honorary Members
Felicia Brabek - Washtenaw County Commissioner
Che Carter - Principal, Clague Middle School 
Julie Grand - Ann Arbor City Council member 
Michelle Hart - Rick's family member 
Laura Kokkales - Rick's family member 
Kathy Scarnecchia - Principal, Haisley Elementary School  
Dr. Jeanice K. Swift - Superintendent, Ann Arbor Public Schools
Ron Warhurst - Rick's family member

Host Committee members are busy approaching local business about becoming event sponsors and getting the word out about the event, to be held on October 24, 9:00 a.m., at Gallup Park. However, several were happy to take some time out to tell us why this event means so much to them. 

One of Rick's passions was kids' fitness and health. He was committed to getting as many students as possible to participate in recreational sports, whether they could afford it or not. Many times he used money out of his own pocket to help kids participate. Rick's Run will help to continue Rick's commitment to his "kids" through Rec and Ed Scholarships. I know Rick's spirit is with us as we plan this run to honor him.
                             -- Michelle Hart, AAPS staff person and Rick's longtime partner  

A lesson I learned from Rick: "The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones who hold the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care." Rick was one of those teachers who helped students journey through their school years. Rick was one of those friends who helped you through difficult times, taught you something worthwhile, and made you feel appreciated and special.  
         -- Lisa Cope, AAPS Physical Education and Health Dept. Chair and PE Teacher   

The inaugural Rick's Run in 2014 was an inspiring event. Hundreds of us joined together to support more opportunities for low income families while having a great time. It was just the right way to honor Rick Dekeon.
              -- Glenn Nelson, Former trustee, AAPS Board of Education

Tom George, Glenn Nelson and Mary Jo Gray 
Rick cared deeply about the health and well-being of young people, and his dedication to active living had a profound and lasting impact on many people in the Ann Arbor area.           
              -- Tom George, Professor, UM School of Kinesiology and former member of the Recreation Advisory Commission

I joined the Host Committee because I wanted to do something concrete that could positively affect children. Also, I ran in the race last year, and had a great time. I'd like people who run this year to feel the same, and would like the race to benefit even more people than last year. 
          --Mary Jo Gray, Member, Recreation Advisory Commission

Rick was a long-time friend and colleague of mine. We started our careers together as AAPS physical education teachers in the late 1980s.  As a friend of Rick's, a physical educator, and a member of the Recreation Advisory Committee, being involved in Rick's Run 4 Kids is a easy choice for me.  Rick's passion to provide opportunities for all youth to participate in physical activity was infectious; it is a pleasure to carry on Rick's work and honor his memory through this event!
        --Katie Lewit, RAC Vice-Chairperson and AAPS Physical Education Teacher

Rick was a loyal and dedicated friend to so many people.  He spent his career offering his students a variety of opportunities to become healthy, happy and confident through Physical Education.  I am honored to assist in this event which honors his legacy in Ann Arbor Public Schools.
         -- Kathy Scarnecchia, Principal at Haisley Elementary, Rick's colleague  
Sophia Scarnecchia, Kathy Scarnecchia, Michelle Hart
and Hyeo Park 
at Rick's Run for Kids 2014
We never stop thinking about Rick and his contributions made to the academic community but mostly for his fun loving spirit that he continued to share with us always.  He was nothing short of being genuine always sharing his smile with everyone! 
                     -- Laura Kokkales, Family member of Rick Dekeon

I first heard of Rick's Run during a Recreation Advisory Committee meeting. Though I never knew Rick personally I've heard many stories of his accomplishments and his passion for the betterment of youth through positive and enriching community programming. Sharing this passion, I joined the Rick's Run Host Committee to honor Rick's memory and continue the united effort to provide Rec & Ed programming to as many youth as possible. 
                    -- Angela Johnson, Member, Recreation Advisory Commission

The Host Committee hopes that you'll participate, donate, volunteer or sponsor Rick's Run for Kids! Click here for more information and to sign up. 

Please help us spread the word about this family-friendly event through your social media and other networks. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

3 easy ways to rent a school gym for Fall 2015

Now accepting applications for Fall Gym Rentals.
Applications received by September 8, 2015 will be assigned by lottery.  
Any received after September 8 will be processed in the order they are received. 

Rec & Ed is pleased to offer rental of elementary school gymnasiums for community groups throughout the school year. Prior to each season (Fall, Winter, Spring) we post the gyms, days and times that will be available.
Due to a high demand for gym time, gym slots are assigned by lottery. As always, we will make every effort to accommodate all groups wishing to reserve space. Remember to submit your request, disclaimer, and fee in a timely manner so we can better serve you.  List as many choices as possible that would be acceptable to you.
New!  How to reserve a gym for your group:

1. Review the list of gyms, days, and times available for the upcoming season.
2. Review the rental prices for gyms. Because Eberwhite and Mack gyms are most in demand, there is a 20% premium fee for these locations. Bryant, Haisley and Wines, being the second in demand, have a 10% premium fee.

3. Choose from 3 convenient ways to rent a school gym for the Fall 2015 term
  • Complete and submit the online form. You have the option of listing up to six gym locations that would be acceptable to you. The more options you list, the better chance you will have of being assigned a gym rental space. Please list only schools, days and times that you are willing to accept. Refer to the 1.5 hour time blocks listed on the attached availability sheet. If you are requesting a one hour time slot, it must fall within the 1.5 hour time slot listed.
  • You may include your credit card information and approval for the most expensive gym you have requested. Your credit card will only be charged the fee for the gym you are assigned. We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
  • If you choose not to include your credit card information, you will be assigned a gym location and be emailed a notification that payment is due within one week. You may pay online, call the office at 734-994-2300 ext. 0 with your payment information or bring your payment into the Rec & Ed office.
      Download the PDF of the Gym Rental Application Packet 
  • Complete the Gym Rental Request PDF and mail in or drop off the forms and payment at the Rec & Ed office, located at 1515. S. Seventh Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48103, for the most expensive gym you have requested.
  • Your credit card will only be charged the fee for the gym you are assigned or if you paid by check or cash, your Rec & Ed account will be credited.
      Complete the Gym Rental Application Packet at the Rec & Ed office
  • The Rec & Ed office is located at 1515. S. Seventh Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 (we are located on 7th Street side of Pioneer High School).
  • Complete the forms and make a payment for the most expensive gym you have requested.  Your credit card will only be charged the fee for the gym you are assigned or if you paid by check or cash, your Rec & Ed account will be credited.
4. Once your gym has been assigned, you will receive a permit by email from If you need the permit sent to you via US mail, please indicate that on your request form. Please review your permit carefully. There may be dates when the gym is not available. These are highlighted on your permit. Please be mindful of them and inform your group of the dates that you will not be able to use the gym.

5. You must have your permit with you every time you use the gym. 
Office Location:
Rec & Ed is located at 1515 S. 7th St. (in the E wing of Pioneer HS), Ann Arbor, MI, 48103.
If you have any questions, please contact Katie McCoy by email at