Steppingstone School
30250 Grand River
Farmington Hills, MI 48336
phone: 248-957-8200

Press Releases

With Support of Local Businesses, Steppingstone School Hosts their 21st Annual Benefit Auction

March 17, 2014

School auctions are social fundraising events that bring together families, friends, staff, and the community in support of a school. At Steppingstone School, they believe that support is a two way street. Parents and school staff are encouraged to shop at donor businesses, and the school’s Facebook page promotes donations and provides links to local business websites.

In her 21st year of hosting the school’s primary fundraiser, Kiyo A. Morse, Head of School, states, “Our annual auction would not continue to be a successful source of funds for our school without the commitment and support of the local community. To that end, we are attempting to give marketing support back to our donors through social media promotions.

This year’s theme is “Dragons and Dreamers, A Night of Magic and Fantasy”. The event is Saturday, March 22, from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, at St. Mary’s Cultural Center in Livonia Michigan. The evening includes dinner, music, magic, silent and live auctions, tarot card reading, casino games and raffles.

St. Mary’s has been the auction’s location for each of its 21 years. “We could not provide such a reasonable ticket price for a complete evening of entertainment without the support of the people at St. Mary’s Cultural Center”, states Admissions Director Donna Coffin. “They have graciously worked with us over the years and we appreciate our relationship with them”.

Cathryn Bock, Steppingstone School’s Auction Chair, agrees that the success of the school’s annual fundraiser can be attributed to the participation of the local community.
Bock also welcomes the opportunity to share information about local businesses, stating, “Attendance at our fundraiser does not only support Steppingstone School. Guests have an opportunity to learn about and support local and independently owned businesses in Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville and other nearby communities who have graciously donated items for our auction. We believe in supporting the community that helps to support our school”.

Local Farmington Hills businesses such as the Farmington School of Rock, Suburban Ice of Farmington Hills, Jungle Java, Country Lanes Bowling, Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, Farmington Hills Golf Club and Farmington Gymnastics Center have donated items for the event’s silent auction. The Farmington Hills Fire Department is donating a tour of the Fire Department for 10 children, complete with a fire truck ride to the station if you live in Farmington Hills.

Photo:  Career Firefighter Manndez Blanche provides a tour of the Farmington Hills Fire Department, August 2013, won at SteppingstoneSchool’s 20th Annual Auction.

Other community businesses who have donated items include Royal Oak’s Mark Ridley Comedy Castle, Novi’s Salon Freda, Club Pilates and Salon Agape, Livonia’s Cirque Amongus and Sorella’s Bakery, Northville’s Bee’s Knees, Plymouth’s Natural Healing Solutions and the Michigan Philharmonic. Detroit businesses include Busted in Detroit, Canine to Five and Detroit Bikram Yoga.

For tickets please contact Steppingstone School at (248) 957-8200 or visit the school’s website at

About Steppingstone School for Gifted Education

Founded in 1981, Steppingstone School for Gifted Education serves as an independent educational institution for gifted students in grades K-8. Believing every child deserves a satisfying and challenging education, Steppingstone’s Head of School, Kiyo A. Morse, opened the school as a means to help families in need of a scholastic program specialized for rapid learners to unlock the gifts and the joys of education often trapped by a traditional school system.

Steppingstone School for Gifted Education
30250 Grand River Avenue
Farmington Hills, MI 48336
(248) 957-8200

Is My Child Gifted? Steppingstone Provides the Answers

February 18, 2014

Does your child have an amazing memory?  Is he extremely passionate about his interests?  Was she especially curious and alert as a baby?  Is your child frequently bored or “in trouble” at school?  If you are nodding your head to these questions, you may wish to attend an upcoming free parent support seminar entitled, “Is My Child Gifted?” at SteppingstoneSchool in Farmington Hills.

Featuring psychologist Pat LaPat, a panel of four experts and parents will examine and discuss the behavioral characteristics of the gifted.  Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions of the panel.  Who should attend this free event?   Parents and educators interested in learning more about the behavioral characteristics of the gifted and how their humor, play, speed of learning and learning style differs from the typical student.

According to Kiyo A. Morse, one of the seminar panelists and Head of Steppingstone School for Gifted Education, “The first step is for you, who know your child best, to use a checklist of the traits of a gifted child to help you determine whether your child is potentially gifted”. 

The behavioral characteristics of a gifted child include the following:

  • Unusually alert as babies
  • Wants to do things independently
  • Can learn by observation
  • Very passionate about any area of interest
  • Can sustain interest in specific areas for long periods of time
  • Understands complex ideas
  • Keen sense of observation
  • Great sense of humor, sometimes when still a baby
  • Wants to hang out with older children and adults
  • Extraordinary memory - retains great amounts of information and for long periods of time
  • Likes to be "perfect"
  • Seems more emotional than other children or sensitive in other ways

If you believe your child may be gifted, next steps include evaluation of your child through observation and IQ testing.  Morse adds, “Giftedness speaks to the potential for high performance - over and above the norm. However, it involves more than just cognitive and academic learning; it also involves social and emotional aspects that must be addressed but which are often overlooked.  Every child deserves a satisfying and challenging learning experience”. 

Is My Child Gifted?
When:  7:00 p.m., Thursday February 27, 2014
Where:  Son Room at SteppingstoneSchool for Gifted Education.
Address:  30250 Grand River Avenue, Farmington Hills, MI48336
Please RSVP via, under the event name "Is My Child Gifted”, or call (248) 957-8200. 




About Steppingstone School for Gifted Education
Founded in 1981, Steppingstone School for Gifted Education serves as an independent educational institution for gifted students in grades K-8. Believing every child deserves a satisfying and challenging education, Steppingstone’s Head of School, Kiyo A. Morse, opened the school as a means to help families in need of a scholastic program specialized for rapid learners to unlock the gifts and the joys of education often trapped by a traditional school system.
Steppingstone School for Gifted Education
30250 Grand River Avenue
Farmington Hills, MI 48336
(248) 957-8200

The 4 Rs: Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic and Running

December 30, 2013

At a time when most parents, teachers and physicians are concerned about childhood obesity, diabetes, and lack of exercise, Steppingstone School in Farmington Hills is teaching their students how to be healthy, and making it fun. Believing that exercise should be a regular habit, not requiring significant investment in equipment or gear, the school has established a daily running program for all students, grades K-8.

Steppingstone has no running track. Just before lunch every day, each student is required to run 5 laps, or the equivalent of one mile, on the playground. Students are not graded on their running, but they are given rewards. Each student has a running card and receives a punch to track their laps and their miles. Each card equals 5 miles, and the first level is attained when the 5 mile card is full. Students then receive a colored foot charm and a number charm that shows how many miles they have run. At the second level, the charms are animals or symbols such as 4-leaf clovers or teardrops. These can be traded for by turning in three of the first level-type foot charms. Students get a bit of math practice as they continue to “trade up” their charms. The third level is a gigantic foot called a mega foot symbolizing 50 miles. This can be traded for by turning in ten first level feet or three second level feet plus one first level foot. Faculty Chair Keiko Morse developed the program and added the levels to keep it interesting for their students. “Gifted kids need variety or they lose interest,” says Morse, “and this kept their interest more because they wanted to earn specific charms“.

On bitterly cold days, they either run indoors, or “trade” running for jumping jacks or other exercises. One lap of running can be traded for 150 jumping jacks.

Once a month, on School Spirit Day, the student who has logged the most miles for the previous month is given a “Runner of the Month” award, and recognized at a school assembly and in the school newsletter. Some students run 25 miles a month, a notable achievement!

Other healthy habits encouraged at the school are fruit and vegetables for morning snacks, a ban on candy, and weekly physical education in addition to the daily running program.

Photo:  Runner of the Month Nicholas Pauken, 3rd grader at Steppingstone School for Gifted Education.

About Steppingstone School for Gifted Education
Founded in 1981, Steppingstone School for Gifted Education serves as an independent educational institution for gifted students in grades K-8. Believing every child deserves a satisfying and challenging education, Steppingstone’s Head of School, Kiyo A. Morse, opened the school as a means to help families in need of a scholastic program specialized for rapid learners to unlock the gifts and the joys of education often trapped by a traditional school system.
Steppingstone School for Gifted Education
30250 Grand River Avenue
Farmington Hills, MI 48336
(248) 957-8200

Photo Advisory: Farmington Hills Teacher Wins $2,000 Classroom Makeover

March 21, 2013

Mary Gage, a local teacher at Steppingstone School in Farmington Hills, Mich., was chosen as the third place winner of the Great American Classroom Makeover, a national contest sponsored by Great American Financial Resources. Gage received thousands of online votes throughout the month of February and was selected from hundreds of entries submitted nationwide to receive $1,000 to purchase items needed for her classroom. An additional $1,000 prize will be awarded to the school.

What: Live check presentation by executives from Great American Financial Resources
When: Thursday, March 28, 7 p.m.
Where: Steppingstone School - 30250 Grand River Avenue, Farmington Hills, Mich.

How many schools accept the challenge of converting a used car dealership into a school? Gage will use a Classroom Makeover to create a weather-tight, temperature-controlled environment that supports great art and science, complete with wash basins, canvases and more. According to Gage, "Receiving this grant will not only finish a project that never ends, it will allow it to get started!"

About Great American Financial Resources

The subsidiaries of Great American Financial Resources offer retirement solutions through the sale of traditional fixed and indexed annuities in the education, bank and individual markets. The company's subsidiaries include Great American Life Insurance Company® and Annuity Investors Life InsuranceCompany®. GAFRI is a member of the Great American Insurance Group, whose roots go back to 1872 with the founding of its flagship company, Great American Insurance Company. The members of Great American Insurance Group are subsidiaries of American Financial Group, Inc. AFG's common stock is listed and traded on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol "AFG". Learn more at

Pirates Teem at Steppingstone School

 "Yo-ho-ho," sing (standing top left to right) Lindsay, Amelie, Daniel and Ryan with a chorus of shipmates below (left to right) Alex, Hugh, Anneka, David, Chase and Michael aboard their pirate ship. In addition to flying their flag, students built their ship, the "Thrashing," using picnic tables, a workout pell and volleyball net standards.

Aug. 2, 2012

"Aaarghgh," growled "Captain Gutterman" of PIRATES, a Steppingstone School Summer Camp, as she greeted student "shipmates." In a week of fantasy role-playing, students from Western Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw counties also learned some history, real and fantastical. To play their parts, "pirates" designed their own costumes and built their own ship as well.

With "First Mate Tobin," students learned to use a padded cutlass, practicing techniques of martial arts as well as dueling on ground and on the plank (laid on the floor). Other physical-sensory activities included walking the (floor) plank blindfolded to develop balance.

"Avast," declares Anneka while sister Lindsay walks the plank, holding her cutlass in a relaxed position to provide counter-balance. Occasional activities such as these have ample room for expression in the 15,000 square foot former Holiday Chevrolet body shop, which is part of Steppingstone’s new home.

Making sure that wits and intellect were also exercised, students deciphered treasure maps, studied clues and did some logical problem-solving in their hunts. They also learned traditional pirate "lingo," the symbolism behind pirate flags, and how to navigate by the stars.

"Learning the difference between romanticism and reality" lay behind many of the activities and discussions during this summer camp led by Heather Gutterman, founder and head of Polaris Fellowship of Weapons Study. Polaris uses the North Star to represent guidance in finding one’s way through conflicts. This is a major premise for the western martial arts studies offered by Polaris, an adjunct program of Steppingstone School. In addition to the summer camp sessions, After School and Saturday programs are also offered during the school year.

"Discovering Newton" with Grandpa Don at a Steppingstone School Summer Camp

Alex and Anatasia test the qualities of the Newton’s Cradle Alex and Anatasia, residents of Farmington Hills, MI, test the qualities of the Newton’s Cradle, which was constructed with Grandpa Don (on the right) during the Steppingstone School summer camp session, Discovering Newton.

Aug. 2, 2012

"Newton is one of the greatest scientists in the history of mankind," said Grandpa Don Gaines, the instructor of one of last week’s summer camp sessions at Steppingstone School, the Center for Gifted Education, located on Grand River in Farmington Hills. Grandpa Don, as he prefers to be called, is also the instructor for "Science Is Super," a Saturday Science Program at Steppingstone School. He is a retired engineer and inventor. One of his most well known patents was the light sensor for night lights.

As a retiree, Grandpa Don has been dedicated to inspiring young students to learn about science through the process of inquiry. "He’s a natural," said Kiyo Morse, Head of School, in reference to his ability to teach using this particular approach, "and an inspiration to other teachers as well."

Students at the summer camp session, "Discovering Newton," studied Newton’s laws and applied them in the construction of a seven foot, large scale model of Newton’s Cradle and in the construction of smaller individual models that could be taken home as mementos of their studies.

Anatasia and other students built small scale models of Newton’s Cradle Anatasia and other students built small scale models of Newton’s Cradle at the Steppingstone School summer camp session, Discovering Newton.

Grandpa Don often teaches a couple of different sessions, and his last session of the summer will be about castles. He plans to integrate a little history with the subject of castles, castle safety and the construction of a trebuchet.

His summer camp sessions are always enriched with additional experiences, not necessarily directly related to the theme, but always related to science. During "Discovering Newton," students also had a chance to spend a day observing a box turtle with a six-inch shell diameter and going on a field trip to The Teddy Bear Factory to experience the engineering process and stuffing of their own individual teddy bears.

The teaching techniques Grandpa Don employs are similar to those used in Steppingstone School’s day school and are very hands-on and interactive. The depth and breadth of the day school curriculum can be favorably compared to his summer camp curriculum. Grandpa Don is as beloved as his classes are greatly loved.

A Week of Star Wars Fantasy: Jedi Training Steppingstone School Summer Camp - Jedi Training

Padewan, Anneka, Ryan, Amelie, Aidan, Harrison, Evan, Aidan, Wesley, Helen, and Ethan practice light saber guardsShown from left to right, local (MI), southern (LA) and western (CA) Padewan, Anneka, Ryan, Amelie, Aidan, Harrison, Evan, Aidan, Wesley, Helen, and Ethan practice light saber guards at the Jedi summer camp at Steppingstone School in Farmington Hills.

July 30, 2012

Steppingstone School for Gifted Education recently held its summer "Jedi" camp which was open to "Padawan" of all ages.  During the week-long camp, young Jedis assembled from Metro Detroit and the far away realms of California and Louisiana. The Jedi Master for the week, Heather Gutterman, is both a Steppingstone Instructor as well as Head of School at Polaris Fellowship of Weapons Study.  She has practiced and taught western martial arts, self-defense, and conflict resolution for over 15 years, drawing experience from a wide range of styles and resources.

Initial Padawan instruction included the many aspects of light saber combat using foam swords to prevent the youngsters from accidental injury.  Specifically, the children practiced how to properly attack as well as defend oneself, all while using some flashy moves worthy of the next Star Wars movie. 

Padewan Anneka and HelenFrom left to right, Padewan Anneka and Helen spar under the instruction of "Master" Heather Gutterman (not shown) at the Jedi summer camp of Steppingstone School.

Although training for combat, the campers also practiced the art of good sportsmanship and the importance of sparring with your partner while maintaining control of yourself and your weapon

Additionally, the children began their quest to better understand and use "The Force" by means of meditation and mindfulness, two skills that are essential to their real life development as well.  When asked about The Force, one camper responded, 'I cannot wait to go home and try using The Force on my parents!'

On the first day of camp, the children were outfitted in their Padawan robes with each costume uniquely tailored to the child.  Other hands-on activities were included, providing them with keepsakes of their week at the Jedi camp.  One camp favorite was the Yoda origami that the kids learned to fold and then use as a finger puppet.  At the end of the day, many of the kids were enthusiastically talking to Yoda about the engaging activities that day. By the end of the week, the campers were more than excited to demonstrate the skills that had been acquired during their Summer Jedi Training Camp to any unsuspecting adults or siblings who crossed their paths.

Computer Take Apart Summer Camp at Steppingstone School

Computer parts, and microscopes.In the background are the microscopes used to examine computer parts during the Steppingstone School, Computer Take Apart camp last week. Each week new camps are offered throughout the summer up to August 24th.

June 25, 2012

One of the first camps at Steppingstone School, the Center for Gifted Education, was "Computer Take Apart." The instructor, Dr. Philip D. Morse II, PhD, guided elementary and middle school students in the process of taking computers apart and identifying components. A microscope was used to take a close look at how the parts work, alone and together. At the end, students were allowed to choose parts to take home as souvenirs of their week of study.

Emmett and HarrisonA couple of the youngest students: Emmett (6 years, left) a local Farmington Hills resident and day school student, and Harrison (7 years, foreground) a traveler from New Orleans.

In addition to taking screwdrivers to screws and uncorking the cases, students also examined monitors, disk drives and other computer-related components. In an ode to "Mythbusters," Dr. Morse took a torch to the plastic casing when it was too hard to open conventionally which provided a thrilling experience to those who observed. While generally not allowed at home, the students were encouraged to handle the individual pieces and inspect them at their own pace while learning just what makes the machines tick.

Dr. Morse is a Biophysics Professor Emeritus from Illinois State University, the Director of the SMART Center (Steppingstone MAgnetic Resonance Training Center), the current President of Scientific Software Services, and Steppingstone’s Computer Programming Instructor. He greeted students with a smile and the comment that, "Four years of medical school and a surgical residence are not required to dissect a working computer! Be prepared to have fun!"

Students ranged in age from 6 to 12 years of age. Most lived in or near Farmington Hills, but a few traveled from areas as far away as Brighton. The other camp offered last week was Spanish. A few students even return regularly each summer from residences in other areas such as New Orleans and California.

Steppingstone School Students Survive the Wild

June 19, 2012

For the 11th year, Steppingstone School students (Gr 6-8) of Farmington Hills camped in the Manistee National Forest. After hiking with backpacks for one mile to an alum-owned wilderness site, they spent 7 days camping.

Pranav, Danny, (Counselor Tobin), Meli, Filip, (mascot Abby), Collin, Max A., Gia and Max G.Steppingstone School campers around a campfire they built, clockwise from the top: Pranav, Danny, (Counselor Tobin), Meli, Filip, (mascot Abby), Collin, Max A., Gia and Max G. Not pictured are Counselor Keiko Morse and Dr. & Mrs. Morse, backup personnel. Participants live primarily in Farmington Hills but also in the surrounding areas of Northville, Southfield and W. Bloomfield.

The wilderness survival program was designed to give children the opportunity to learn that they can take care of themselves. Most of the time, students camped in tents and cooked over campfires. For 2 nights, they slept in shelters fashioned from scratch using natural resources such as branches and ferns.

Under the guidance of Eagle Scout Doug Tobin and teacher Keiko Morse, students also designed workshops to teach each other survival skills. Workshops included basic first aid, sanitation, water purification, knife safety, fire building and fire safety, plant identification, rafting, campfire cooking, composting and shelter building with natural resources.

Dr. Morse and founder and Head of School, Kiyo Morse, accompanied the class as backup staff.


Steppingstone School Performs "The Quiltmaker's Gift"

May 24, 2012

Steppingstone students produced and performed The Quiltmaker's Gift at the school's Fine Arts Fair. Steppingstone School ( is an independent school for gifted elementary students, grades K-8, located in the former Holiday Chevrolet auto dealership on Grand River Ave in Farmington Hills.

Melissa & Danny, the King and Queen in The Quiltmaker's Gift.Melissa & Danny, students at Steppingstone and residents of Farmington Hills, star as the King and Queen in this year's Fine Arts Fest performance, The Quiltmaker's Gift.

In addition to the Day School, Summer Camp sessions are open to the public, and a year-round, one-of-a-kind science research program is available to high school and undergraduate students. This is offered through the Steppingstone MAgnetic Resonance Training (SMART) Center, which teaches students experimental design through the use of electron spin resonance technology and data collection and analysis software. The program is directed by Dr. Philip D. Morse II, PhD, professor emeritus, Illinois State University.

The Fine Arts Fair is an annual event which incorporates many aspects of their fine arts program – visual arts, music theory and composition, writing, drama, set and scenery design, costume design and stage management.

Alison Kenyon, former Stage Manager said to students, "Believe me when I say that what you did in such a short time surpasses some professional theatres I have encountered. If any lines were forgotten (and I doubt that they were), your deliveries remained flawless, which is something it takes trained actors years to accomplish ... Keep up the great work!"

A pre-performance presentation of student compositions was featured by Robby Gall, Music Teacher. For viewing pleasure, Mary Gage, Artist-In-Residence and Art Instructor, organized a showing of Art Portfolios for each student. After the performance, students, parents, families and friends joined faculty and staff for refreshments, featuring ethnic foods.