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 small-schools concept. The community that is constructed when class size is intentionally kept low makes it possible for educators to better reach and teach every student.
When I asked students to tell me what they liked best about their school, one familiar theme emerged - the teachers.
“They care about you,” one student mentioned. “You can talk to them, like if you don’t understand something, they are there to help you.
When I met Principal Nir Saar, he discussed the importance of establishing a culture and climate that was ordered and predictable, in which students could flourish. “Many kids are coming from home environments that lack structure,” He says.“We try to provide structural support necessary to insure success.”
At that point he turned me loose, saying, “Feel free to go wherever you like.”
I was impressed with the dedication, enthusiasm, and creativity of the educators at Mumford Blue. It was easy to see how students valued and appreciated the work of their teachers. Culture and climate matters, and the professionals at Mumford Blue have worked hard to cultivate an academic environment where kids not only feel cared for, but capable of maximizing their greatest potential.