That was my experience after spending a remarkable day in Armada Area Schools on the northern edge of Macomb County, a remote exurb of Detroit that manages to retain its country character.
If the world is flat in 2015, Armada is a fine example. As the guest of Assistant Superintendent Phil Jankowski and Superintendent Mike Musary I was amazed at the robust programs coupled with a small-town ethic of accountability and community. In Armada there is very much a feeling that “we’re all in this together” as everybody certainly seems to know everybody. More importantly, people in Armada are proud of what they’ve built and what they do for their students. Even Phil’s daughter, a student at Armada High School, greeted him warmly when we visited.
Armada has worked exceptionally hard to maintain its way of life while preparing its students to compete on a global scale. They have launched #Accepted, a robust campaign at the high school level which has increased the percentage of students enrolling in post-high school experiences to over 96%. This is accomplished in a community where only 15% of the parents have a college degree. Armada demonstrates how the power of technology coupled with an exceptionally dedicated, hard-working community of visionary educators combines to provide meaning and relevance for each one of its students.
I had the benefit of touring all the buildings in the district – the Macomb Academy of Arts and Sciences, Krause Early and Later Elementary School, and the middle and high school. I was astounded at the breadth and depth of programming that I witnessed. I was most impressed with the passion, dedication and pride of the teachers and staff.
Armada is an outstanding model of conscious educational offerings which truly support and nurture all learners.
Armada's favorite son and legendary sports announcer Dick Enberg was a member of the class of 1952. Phil and Mike stand in a gym dedicated to Enberg
A complete and robust Career Technical Education Curriculum provides multiple opportunities for practical learning
Aspiring health care professionals anticipating their practical exams
Physics students collaborate in a lab setting
Art abounds at the middle school - even on the ceiling
No surface should be bare
Mike and Phil have fought to keep Armada's orchestral music program at a time when many larger districts have made cuts to fine arts programs
Nothing matches the energy of middle schoolers
Middle School Principal Todd Schafer displays that Armada Tigers pride
Patty Paxton, a Milken Award-winning 5th grade teacher, enables her students to utilize 3-D printing in her classroom
Students explore the changing states of matter as they make the mythical oobleck
Mike Musary is proud of his Pewabic tile that hangs alongside student tiles on the wall of the elementary school
Phil Jankowski chats with kindergarten students as they enjoy lunch in the cafeteria
A dynamic physical education class
There are few things better than pajama day!
Phil and his daughter at Armada High School
An English classroom at Armada High School. This is deinstitutionalized classroom learning at its finest
Collaboration and engagement is fostered
Aramda High School is one of few schools in Michigan with a wind turbine program
The dramatic arts flourish in the high school's black box theatre
Students emote with passion and conviction in a drama class