A 2014 Excellent Schools Detroit “Top K-8 School”
Monday mornings are typically said to be one of the most “unlooked-forward-to” days of the week for many individuals. It is routinely the morning to hit the snooze button a few times or drag your heels as you prepare for a school or work day, but the students and staff at Nichols Elementary-Middle School beg to differ.
Each and every Monday morning, Principal Regina Haywood leads her school with a clever concept she likes to refer to as “Monday Morning Matters.” Monday Morning Matters is a weekly assembly Principal Haywood utilizes as a tool to kick off the school week with encouraging words, acknowledge positive student behavior, highlight extraordinary teachers and simply sync each and every Nichols school member in order to ensure a successful teaching and learning environment.
“I want my staff and students to be recognized for what they do. It is important to come together to make sure everyone is on one accord because ultimately it is not just my business, but their business too,” Haywood says.
Nichols, which has been in existence for more than 100 years, is described as a family-centered community, with many parents, grandparents and great-grandparents having history of attending the school. Staff member are laser-focused on attendance and retention and stress the concept of being On time, All day, Every Day, which is the district’s attendance slogan. The school currently boasts at least a 90% daily attendance rate.
With Nichols students understanding the importance of their attendance and attention to their academics, many of the school’s young scholars perform many grade levels above their actual grade.
Ridgeley Hudson, a seventh-grade student at Nichols, currently reads at an 11th grade reading level and credits the school and his teachers to his accomplishments thus far. Hudson plans to become a politician, president and already is a self-exclaimed genius!
“If Nichols was a high school and a college, I still would attend Nichols,” says Hudson, “but since it’s not, I would like to go to Cass and then Harvard to study law and political science. Ever since I was a little boy I’ve wanted to be a politician and, to be more specific, the president.”
It is no surprise Nichols students are so driven. Nichols was amongst 16 Detroit Public Schools ranked by Excellent Schools Detroit (ESD) in 2014 as the top schools in the city!
Science projects, recycling and gardening… oh my!
If you want to learn something new, now is a perfect time to visit Nichols. Currently the halls are engulfed with wall-to-wall science boards as students prepare for the district-wide science fair competition. But don’t fear; once the competition comes to a conclusion the students will willingly recycle all necessary items as Nichols has a strong recycling program.
In 2013, the Nichols Garden Collaborative broke ground at its new school garden at 3000 Burns Street in Detroit. Students at Nichols along with their parents and members from the surrounding community filled six 4 x 8 ft. raised beds with soil and compost, in order to plant vegetables that will be used in the cafeteria for school lunches. The vegetables include delicious: squash, cucumbers, beans, radishes and a variety of greens such as collards, spinach, kale and mustard. The innovative program is part of the Detroit School Garden Collaborative and the Farm-to-School initiative inspiring access to healthy foods.
Programs such as gardening and recycling are only two of the many reasons Nichols has been able to keep up with its century-strong community foundation. Nichols has robust partnerships with local community members and organizations who regularly visit the school to mentor and tutor students. The Indian Village Home and Garden Tour brings in numerous community members who do not have current students attending Nichols, but want to be involved because of the reputation the school has upheld with its community members. During the visit, members tour the school and the garden and see first-hand what Nichols has to offer for not only its students but also the community.
“We have a very small, close-knit community surrounding Nichols. We have a lot of parents whose children are maybe grown and have moved on, but they still continue to watch over our school and students, and we continue to be forever grateful,” Principal Haywood says.
Something you didn’t know…
The Nichols Garden Collaborative not only benefits the school students with yummy healthy treats, but the community as well. Principal Haywood welcomes anyone who visits Nichols to take home items from the garden and share their scrumptious experience with their families.