News & Blog

Family Newsletter – Dec. 01, 2016



Letter from the Head of School

Dear Parents,

Think back to the outstanding teachers you’ve had over the years. The ones who inspired you, who cared for you, who sparked your curiosity and led you to places you never would have gone. Emerson has many such educators, but sadly, we must say farewell to two such veterans who will be retiring at the close of the 2016-2017 school year. Both have served as teachers as well as school leaders, both share the same last name (though they are unrelated!), and both leave behind incredible legacies of their time here at Emerson.

Tim Wilson
Tim joined Emerson in 1982 as a science teacher, when Emerson was starting its ninth year of operations, and the school was housed in the basement of Westside Methodist Church. From 1987 to 1993, Tim took the reins as Headmaster, leading the school forward as it grew its present campus. Under his leadership, Emerson built a specials wing, received its first ISACS accreditation, and created a new Middle School. Having finished these daunting tasks, Tim returned to the classroom to serve as middle school science teacher, where he has sparked a joy in learning for more than 20 years. It is through his passion and dedication that we now enjoy the Emerson Nature Center, where he has brought hundreds of students to learn about the environment.

It is a daunting task to begin to list Tim’s many contributions to Emerson, one that will take us quite some time to compile. Tim, like many great leaders, has a special connection with many of us—mentor to new teachers; touchstone for the community; source of wry humor; keeper of the flame. Tim has been an elemental presence for all of us, and we will miss him dearly! Few educators would have been able to negotiate the transition from teacher to school administrative leader, then back again, with the grace that Tim has demonstrated. As school Head and as science teacher, he has been a positive force for Emerson. Each role he has played, and the extraordinary combination of positions he has undertaken, testify to his seminal significance for the success of this school. Upon his retirement from Emerson, Tim plans to take on a new challenge, as he seeks to join a new venture with a mission to increase educational opportunities for school children of Detroit.

(And before you ask, let me reassure you that his wife and 2nd Grade Teacher Ruth Wilson has sworn that she has no plans to retire this coming year!)

Peggy Wilson
In 1991, Peggy came to Emerson to fill the role of 1st grade teacher—perhaps one of the most fortunate hires the school could have made, given the deep impact that Peggy came to have at Emerson. She demonstrated herself to be a master teacher, and she successfully taught some of our youngest children for the next 15 years. In 2007, she was named the school’s first Assistant Head of School, and in this role, she has been a guide to faculty, parents, students, and administrators alike. As one of her many achievements, she has been instrumental in developing our Learning Support Center to ensure that all our students’ needs may be met. She has also championed professional development for our faculty, ensuring that our teachers are best prepared to meet the needs of our students.

Peggy’s contributions to Emerson cannot be overstated. She is very much the glue that binds us together. Not only does she have many responsibilities as an Assistant Head, but she fills countless other roles as well – master proofreader; problem solver; supportive confidant; joyful Halloween celebrant; considerate communicator. Peggy cares deeply for all of us, and her thoughtfulness is evident in everything she does. She looks forward to spending her retirement with her husband Dick Tobin, who is also retiring at the close of this school year from Greenhills.

So, where do we go from here? First, we look to a date this coming spring for a gathering of our community and alumni to help celebrate the milestone achievements of these two. Please keep an eye out for a future newsletter for an announcement on ways for us to celebrate Peggy’s and Tim’s many years. I will also be announcing our transition plans early in the calendar year. In the meanwhile, please join me in celebrating their outstanding tenures.

Take care,


All School News and Info

Parent Community Event: Technology and Your Child, presented by Washtenaw Area Council for Children

Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7:00pm in the AIC

The Washtenaw Area Council for Children will lead families through an exploration of the world of technology at our students’ fingertips. They will share data on current trends and challenges, as well as provide strategies for helping your child handle this unprecedented access to information. The WACC will also share information on cyber safety, strategies for protecting your child in this age of access, and what concerning behaviors adults should watch out for in their children.

Emerson Geography Bee Sign-Ups

Sign Up by Friday, Dec. 16

The Emerson Geography Bee, open to all Emerson students in grades 4 through 8, is scheduled for Tuesday, December 20, at 11:15, in the library/media center.  There is no cost, and registration couldn’t be easier – just give Lenny Dale a piece of paper with your name and the letters GB legibly written on it before he leaves school on Friday, December 16.
Bee questions cover a wide range of topics.  Sample questions from previous years can be found on the National Geographic website.  The school bee winner gets to take an on-line test to try to qualify for the state bee.

Families Invited to Admissions Events

Current Parents of 4th and 5th Graders Invited

Tours on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 9:00am
Attend this admissions event to learn more about the Middle School. You will meet teachers and students, visit classrooms in action, and see why children continue to thrive in Emerson’s middle school.

Middle School Q&A Brown Bag Lunch

Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 12:00pm in Andy’s Office
Sit down for lunch with Andy Zimmer, Emerson’s Middle School Director, and other teachers and staff for some candid Q&A. This very casual setting is the perfect opportunity to ask questions and learn more about Middle School at Emerson.

Prospective Families Invited to K-8 Tour

If you know of a family considering Emerson, or who should be, please invite them to attend. Students will still lead the way, but the tour will extend beyond the middle school experience our current families will partake in.

Science Fair Needs Space Enthusiasts

Emerson’s Astrofest Science Fair is scheduled for the evening of January 26th. In order to offer the Emerson community unique astronomy experiences and information, we are looking for scientists and enthusiasts who would be willing to present their expertise, passions, and/or materials/resources that evening. Maybe you are in the field of astrophysics or space exploration, or know of someone who is, and would be willing to share your knowledge?
+ Please send your reply to

Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood, with Lisa Damour

Monday, Dec. 12 at 7:00pm in the AIC

In this webinar from the Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS), Lisa Damour will hit the highlights of her New York Times best-selling book to help girls’ parents, educators, and advocates understand why teenage girls sometimes confusing and dramatic behavior is actually predictable and normal. Damour will explain the seven developmental transitions that turn girls into grown-ups and help the adults form happier, healthier relationships with the teenagers in their care. This webinar is for parents and all who work with girls ages 10-19.


Bake Sale Raises $2,200 for Emerson Tech

A huge thank you to the entire Emerson community for making the 2016 ESPO Bake Sale a fantastic success! This year, $2,195.74 in bake sale goods were sold and enjoyed! Proceeds from the BAKE Sale will go directly to the Emerson Technology Department for the purchase of iPad minis!
Maria Bichakjian and Jeanne Cooper, Bake Sale Chairs

Basketball News by Lenny

Eagles Head into Thanksgiving with Wins

The Eagles boys basketball teams went into the holiday break on a winning note, each handling the visitors from St. Paul…
+ Read more

Tickets Available for Middle School Musical: The Little Mermaid, Jr.

Thursday, Dec. 8–Saturday, Dec. 10 in the Arts and Innovation Center at Emerson

Students have spent months rehearsing and countless hours learning lines, choreography, and songs for this fun, all-ages musical. Their dedication and hard work always results in an unbelievable performance—don’t miss it. Tickets are available at

Get Your Tickets

Tell Amazon to Give Back to Emerson

Amazon Smile Will Donate 0.5% to Emerson

Did you know you can have Amazon give 0.5% back to Emerson on every purchase? Just set Emerson School as your recipient at No work, no cost, huge impact!

Set Emerson Smile for Emerson

Emerson Annual Fund: All In, All Win!

Thank you for making a difference with your support

At Emerson, as at most independent schools, tuition does not fully cover operating costs. Annual Fund gifts help bridge the gap, and we are counting on your gift this fall.

Your gift will help to sustain this creative, nurturing school. It will help Emerson’s passionate educators engage our bright students by tapping into their curiosity and encouraging their search for answers. It will inspire in our children a love for learning that will last a lifetime. When we are all in, we all win!
+ Make your gift online at

Check the Lost and Found

Items will be donated after Wednesday, Dec. 21

Please check the Lost and Found, located in the Fish Bowl near the After care entry doors. It is overflowing with sweatshirts, jackets, water bottles, and more. Items remaining after December 21 will be donated.

School Dress Code Has Been Updated

Students, teachers, and administrators have spent many months evaluating and reworking Emerson School’s dress code. The goal has been to develop a policy that provides common-sense guidelines, while better reflecting our commitments to diversity, equity, and justice. The result is the policy linked below, which expands on the abbreviated policy included in this year’s Family Handbook.
+ Read the updated Dress Code & Appropriate Clothing Policy

Giving to You on Giving Tuesday

Thank You Volunteer Baristas and Recipients

To thank you for all that you do for our school, Emerson trustees Peter Toogood, Holly Dolbey, and Christine Kim volunteered to join the Development office in serving coffee to our families curbside. Thank you for helping us thank our families on Giving Tuesday.

Community Activities

Handmade Items from Uganda on Sale to Support Education for Children

Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8–9 at Emerson

Emerson 5th grader Nate Ernst will be selling handmade items from Uganda to support Children Waiting Everywhere—an organization that supports education in Uganda. Aprons, jewelry, and carved wooden figures will be on sale in the Middle School Commons for $5 each, and proceeds will support education for Ugandan children.
+ Learn more, and more

Festival of Lights with Refugee Photovoice for JFS

Sunday, Dec. 11, 3:00pm–5:30pm

Emerson parent Abbie Lawrence-Jacobson has worked with a group of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan to create a “photovoice” photo exhibit entitled “Resettlement through the Eyes of Refugees.” Refugees are given prompts, and camera to photograph moments in their daily lives that have meaning for them as they work to make a new home in the Ann Arbor area. See this exhibit on display as part of the Festival of Lights, which also includes food and music.
+ Learn more

TEDxYouth@AnnArbor Seeking Middle School Presenters

Auditions the Fist Two Weeks of December

It’s that time of the year again for TEDx talks. TEDxYouth@AnnArbor is holding auditions during the first two weeks of December for our event next April. We invite middle schools students to participate. You do not need to have a full speech prepared, just pitch us your good idea worth spreading at auditions.
+ Learn more

Emerson Students Performing in Nutcracker

Dec. 16–18 at the Power Center in Ann Arbor

Emerson students Chiara Bichakjian, Francesca Bichakjian, Alita Cunningham, Chloe Eavy, Elena Mychaliska, Asha Owens, John Umbriac, Joseph Ranzini, and Liliana Ranzini will be performing in the Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre’s production of Nutcracker. Way to go Emerson stars!
+ Learn more