A New Attitude at Mumford Blue

I was greeted at the door of the English class the same way I had been met at the other three rooms I visited. An eager, very polite 9th grader addressed me with a greeting that went like this, “Hello and welcome to our science classroom. We are currently studying genetic mutation in plants. Would you like to come in for a visit?” Upon entering, I was led in and offered a seat where I could observe the lesson in silence or interact as much as I wished. I immediately felt comfortable, as if I had instantly joined the learning community in which I found myself. I left each classroom wishing I could stay. Mumford Blue Academy is a new school on the northwest side of Detroit operating on the sma

Shawono Center Provides Stability

What stereotypes do you associate with juvenile detention centers? Inhumane conditions? Sexual abuse? Hopelessness and despair? As Michigan Teacher of the Year 2016, I want to be an advocate for all students and educators in all schools, everywhere. This includes students in juvenile detention. As someone who was hospitalized with bipolar disorder for over three months in two different psychiatric settings - I have a slight inkling of what incarceration looks and feels like. I wanted to dispel my own myths, prejudices and biases about juvenile detention. I had the honor of being the guest of Principal James Thomas at Shawono Center in Grayling. Shawono is one of only two state-run juvenile d

Endurance Through it All

Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School at Northwestern endures. Despite the challenges surrounding Detroit Public Schools, DCP at Northwestern continues to meet the needs of the kids it serves, one student at a time. As guest of physical educator Ray Williams, I was excited to have the opportunity to spend some time at DCP@NW. Ray showed me the state-of the-art gym and pool facility that was made possible through the support of a partnership with Ford and the UAW. I also was able to see the library, which had been recently renovated through a gift from the Detroit Pistons. Ray made it clear that while DPS has a number of systemic challenges, there is a significant amount of variance in t

Coleman Young Elementary Empowers Learners

Coleman A. Young Elementary School is the kind of caring community where kids are encouraged to reach their highest potential. What always amazes me when I step into a Detroit Public School is the invariable professionalism and dedication of the staff. I am reminded of the veritable sea of negativity and bad publicity surrounding DPS that colors my perception and skews my prejudice in negative ways, even though I know better. Mainstream media messages and relentless stories of low test scores, “failing” schools and the overall systemic dysfunction obscure the day-to-day reality of hard work and selfless behavior that exemplify educator-student interactions. ____________________, a 5th grade

Literacy in Two Languages: Being Bilingual is Better

How many languages do you speak? Chances are, if you are like many native-born Americans - the answer is a Only English. Students at Marquette Elementary School in Muskegon, however, learn in both Spanish and English in the school’s dual language immersion program. The idea is that by the end of 8th grade, students will be prepared to enter high school fluent in two languages, regardless of their native tongue. The results are astonishing. Kids begin in kindergarten learning in classrooms where 90% of the instructional language is Spanish and 10% is English. Slightly more than half of the students come from homes where English is the home language while the rest are from fa