Meet Matt Olson: Future CFI-West Director says facility will be focal point for district

Zemmer Middle School principal Matt Olson, left, will be the Director of the District's Center For Innovation at the West Campus starting this fall. Olson was recently a recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from Lapeer Community Schools.
Zemmer Middle School principal Matt Olson, left, will be the Director of the District’s Center For Innovation at the West Campus starting this fall. Olson was recently a recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from Lapeer Community Schools.
This fall, the current Lapeer West High School campus will become the Center for Innovation, a facility that will house numerous advanced and project-based programs including the robotics.
This fall, the current Lapeer West High School campus will become the Center for Innovation, a facility that will house numerous advanced and project-based programs including robotics.

Matt Olson calls it the power of proximity. Starting this fall, Lapeer Community Schools will bring more advanced academic offerings within reach of all students than ever before – convenient, close to home and chock-full of opportunity.

The fall 2014 consolidation of East and West High Schools gave the District the opportunity to repurpose the West High School facility as a one-stop-shop for a variety of innovative options for secondary students.

The opening of the Center For Innovation – West Campus will be a watershed moment in the history of Lapeer. CFI will embody what Lapeer Community Schools is all about: choice and opportunity.

“The purpose of the CFI is to push students to think beyond the standards and goals that are more prevalent in a traditional school,” said Matt Olson, Director of CFI-West. “We challenge our kids to stretch their potential to position them to be at the front of the pack when applying for college or going into the workforce.”

One great example of this is CFI-West ‘s College on Campus program that opens up dual enrollment possibilities for more students than ever before. Instead of handing students a college course book and a road map out of Lapeer, the program will bring university professors into the District to teach college-level courses inside a traditional high school schedule.

“When we bring the colleges to our campus, students are far more likely to access the program,” Olson said. “The prospect of being able to access these programs right here in Lapeer is very exciting and I’m sure this will lead to many students considering options that they may never have looked at otherwise.”

In addition to our already thriving AP program, LCS will have more college courses offered and taught in person on our campus than any other school in our region.

This same principle of proximity applies to the District’s new STEM program (Project Lead The Way) as well as many other current and future programs at CFI. They are new, nearby and tailored for students with a wide-range of interests.

The teaching approach at the CFI varies in each program, but Olson likes to point out the common thread that traces through all of them: students will be challenged.

“We represent a different manner of instruction that will challenge our students to think more independently and creatively than they perhaps ever have,” he said.

And there’s more to come.

‘A focal point’

CFI-West will be the home of all future magnet concepts for the District, an incubator of creativity that will filter throughout the District.

“The face of education is changing; it’s undeniable,” Olson said. “I’m so excited that we in Lapeer are recognizing these changes. We are adapting quickly to offer our students the opportunities that they need to be competitive in an ever-changing global economy. I have no doubt that our students will be poised to be more competitive than ever when they walk across our stage at graduation.”

The creation of CFI-West is a visible sign of a significant transition for the District toward an even greater focus on college and career readiness. This fall Lapeer Community Schools will become the first district in the state to offer AP Capstone, a new diploma program from CollegeBoard.

“This campus will be a focal point in our efforts to stretch our students,” said Olson, pointing to the District’s future magnet programs in STEM.

CFI-West will become a proving ground, of sorts, for future engineers with pathways to prestigious schools like Kettering, Purdue, and M.I.T.

In addition to our already thriving Advanced Placement program, LCS will have more college courses offered and taught in person on campus than any other school in our region.

“This is just the beginning,” Olson added. “We stand ready to expand our program and grow as others recognize that Lapeer is a destination school district.”

Zemmer Middle School has been Olson’s home away from home for the last four years. His passion for working with middle school students and his comfort level with the staff made his decision to take on this new role very difficult.

That said, the allure of being a part of something new, tackling a new challenge, was too much to pass up.

“I will miss (Zemmer) a great deal,” he said. “At the same time, I’m tremendously excited about taking on the challenge of leading the creation and implementation of so many new and innovative programs. I’m looking forward to being able to be a part of something that I believe will be looked at as a model for our region, and beyond that, the state. I believe Lapeer is going to set the standard.”

2 Comments

  1. Diana Boyne

    I was always told the district had to consolidate the two schools due to low enrollment and lack of funds to keep West open. So since they district got the community to agree that this is what needed to be done, now they are going to keep West open for other things/classes. How is that saving the district any money? It sounds like it will add bussing expenses also. So glad I don’t live in Lapeer Schools district anymore.

    1. lapeercs

      Because the vast majority of the cost of operating two comprehensive high schools is not keeping the heat and lights on, it’s staffing. So closing East and West and consolidating into Lapeer High School saves the District around a million dollars per year. Simply keeping the building open for use by our students and community is not an expensive proposition.

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