Ty Schmidt: Ready-to-learn kids and Missy | News

Watching Lowell High School win its eighth straight wrestling championship two weeks ago reminded me of my favorite Red Arrow, Missy.

Missy is smart, motivated, and direct. She is strong-willed and determined. Missy is above all a leader.

I was fortunate enough to see this leadership role in action while working with Missy, then Traverse City’s planning assistant at the time, on an ambitious $ 2 million safe ways to school project to increase access to our 10 schools in improve the city, improve connections and increase security.

A transformative project that started five years ago in 2016 and included lots of walking tests, parent and student surveys, and action planning meetings along the way.

A groundbreaking project coming to life this summer with 3.5 miles of new sidewalks, bike paths, paths and improved zebra crossings for our neighborhood schools.

A community-wide project that worked with all four school districts and many partners including Northwestern Michigan College, the Michigan Department of Transformation, Grand Traverse County, Garfield Township, and TART.

A unique project for Michigan as it also includes an innovative 3-year “system shift” component funded by Rotary charities that supports upstream solutions that focus on mindsets, guidelines, advocacy, and education.

A project that, in my opinion, would not have come about without Missy.

She was the driving force behind a dream team that came together in 2016. That talented crew included Jessica Carpenter, Tim Lodge, Alex Yockey, Russ Soyring, Meg Thomas-Ackerman, Debbie Hershey, and Laura Otwell. Together they kept focus and navigated with calm and professionalism to support children going to school on foot or by bike.

A former Willow Hill Elementary mom – Come on, Falcons! – Missy is a champion for ready-to-learn kids.

Children who can go to school safely, independently and confidently.

Children who come to class with their brains on because they were able to get the wobbly movements out first.

Kids like their boys David and Jack who love to get out and explore.

Missy received a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University in 2018 and now resides in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where she works as a senior planner, but her legacy here in Traverse City is undeniable.

In addition to the Safe Paths to School project, Missy was instrumental in the Slabtown Beach and Bayside Extension Trail, the 9-mile new sidewalk in Traverse Heights, the pedestrian crossing lights on the parkway, and the redesigned Eighth Street.

These successes have not been easy. Despite many challenges, Missy did not give up. She pushed and worked hard to get through these projects. Projects that would change the odds in favor of health, happiness, and social connections. Projects that made their community better for everyone.

“Never Yield” is the motto of the Lowell wrestling team and I think Coach Boudro and his Red Arrow team would be proud of their alumnus who lived this credo.

Thank you, Missy, for countless children ready to learn today and for generations to come.

Ty Schmidt is the managing director of Norte! A youth-oriented non-profit organization dedicated to building hiking / cycling communities.

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