About Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Public Schools is creating Centers of Excellence in every school in every neighborhood. The district’s primary mission is educating students to perform at high academic levels. DPS offers educational advantages to students and parents/guardians across the system and reforms throughout the district’s schools. Those include:

  • $138 million in student grants and scholarships
  • Art/Music enrichment for every elementary-middle school student
  • High Quality Pre-Kindergarten
  • Individual Learning Plans
  • Free healthy breakfast and  lunch for every child
  • Eight different world languages offered across the district
  • New Parent University and abundant parent programs
  • Safety initiatives with more community volunteers
  • Netbooks for every student in grades 6–12 and take-home Netbooks for grades 8–12
  • A new Career Academy, and high schools focusing on science and medicine, the arts and aviation

Learn more about Detroit Public Schools »

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School of the Week: Emerson Elementary-Middle School

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.“ ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A strong academic program with just the right mixture of technology and art are the perfect ingredients to produce an award-winning curriculum, according to Emerson Elementary-Middle School Principal Brenda Carethers.

Emerson Elementary-Middle School, a two-building facility housing grades Pre-K-8, was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist, philosopher, poet and supporter of abolitionism. When Carethers took the role as principal in 2009, she put the school into a reconstruction phase with more than 75 percent new staff members. As part of the reconstruction period, Carethers implemented a three-year academic plan with a new focus on integrated learning in areas including science, technology and art.

Known for its unique, in-school Butterfly Greenhouse, Emerson students are offered STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) opportunities beginning at the Pre-K level. Both school buildings are fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology in every room. Emerson has a media center, iPads, laptops, Promethean/SMART interactive whiteboards, multimedia projectors, document cameras, laser printers and scanners in order to maximize student engagement and achievement.

“Our students are exposed to blended learning which utilizes traditional learning with technology. This component is important and acts as a visual piece, which I find is most impactful to our students,” Carethers said.

Because of Emerson’s heavy focus on technology and science – and involvement in programs including Robotics, A World in Motion and Think Green – many Emerson students have set high standards to pursue the most unique careers.

“I want to be a statistician,” 10-year-old Terry Turner said. “I like dealing with numbers and working with addition, subtraction, multiplication and everything about math.”

Turner is one of many students at Emerson who have a passion for learning and already seem to be career-focused.

Eighth-grader William Ivory also shared that his favorite subject is math, but wants to be a technical engineer.

“I love math and being a part of the robotics team,” said Ivory. “I also like to draw. I think that art signifies a person’s creativity which, is just as important as any other subject.”

It’s no surprise these students are so career-focused. Carethers shared that she and her staff constantly promote careers in science, engineering and technology and take every chance to incorporate real-life practices into the curriculum.

Emerson is also an award-winning Go Green school and boasts having Science Teacher Kunjan Vyas, who oversees the Butterfly Greenhouse attached to her classroom.

Students receive hands-on learning when working in the Butterfly Greenhouse, which Vyas said during the spring is filled with dozens of Monarch Butterflies that students are able to study and observe. The Butterfly Greenhouse also leads outside to the school’s garden beds which are shaped as the “Michigan Mitten.”

“We completed 16 Go Green projects last year during the Go Green Challenge thanks to our outstanding science teacher Ms. Vyas,” Carethers said. “She is a wonderful asset to our science program and helps the school receive grants from organizations including DTE, GM and Bosch Engineering. These grants help sponsor many of the science and technology equipment you see throughout the school.”

Emerson also has an award-winning art gallery that houses art pieces by students of all grade levels. This year, Emerson had 11 submissions at the 77th Annual Detroit Public Schools Student Exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts with two first-place winners.

According to Art Teacher Bonita Wells “art mediums” are art materials or artist supplies used to create a work of art. Wells challenges her students by working with many types of mediums including recycled jeans, juice cups, old telephone wires, paint, pottery and more.

“I have a lot of talent that I am able to work with here. So I try to channel busy students by utilizing art, and they really go places and create things they never realized they could,” Wells said.

Carethers has a passion for the arts. When she became principal of Emerson, she knew art was another aspect that needed to be incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

“I want my students to have the same experiences as students who attend schools such as Cranbrook. Many schools in our district are doing outstanding things in their art departments and my school is one of them,” Carethers said.

The 23-year DPS veteran prides her school on being a professional learning community with highly qualified staff. Emerson students continue to achieve academic excellence by taking advantage of the integrated curriculum focused on cooperation, collaboration and holding high expectations for all stakeholders.

Bates Academy teams up with AmeriCorps to host annual “Ride Your Bike to School Day”

Students, staff and community members, along with volunteers from the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Project at Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies, took part in Bates Academy’s annual Ride Your Bike to School Day on Friday, October 17.

Bates has deemed the special day “Ride, Walk, Stroll to Bates Academy” and welcomed surrounding community members to take part by bike, foot or vehicle to advocate student safety. Parents and students met at All Saints Episcopal Church on Seven Mile Road just before sunrise with patrols from the DPS Police Department, City of Detroit, Sherwood Forest and University District.

Members of Bates’ Parent Advisory Council on Student Achievement and Principal Cleo Moody also took part in the event by riding alongside students. The AmeriCorps Urban Safety Project volunteers, who work to promote safety and community awareness within Detroit’s “Bike Watch,” were also present during “Ride, Walk, Stroll to Bates Academy” day. Bates’ parents and staff agree that physical fitness has a positive effect on a child’s ability to concentrate, reduces stress, improves cognitive function, and leads to an overall increase in student achievement.

The event took place one day after AAA of Michigan presented a check for more than $200,000 to the district to keep students safe while traveling to and from school. DPS and a host of agencies unveiled a comprehensive Safe Routes to School strategy focused on keeping all students safe through coordinated Safe Zones, volunteer vehicle patrols, prioritized street light replacement, blight removal around student walking routes, signage, Eyes & Ears Patrols and more at a Community Breakfast held at the Brightmoor Community Center.


AAA announces $200,000+ donation as Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative unveil coordinated Safe Routes to School strategy

From the door of the home to school, in school, and back home, focus is on prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry

AAA of Michigan on Thursday presented a check for more than $200,000 to Detroit Public Schools to keep students safe while traveling to and from school, as DPS and a host of agencies unveiled a comprehensive Safe Routes to School strategy focused on keeping all students safe through coordinated Safe Zones, volunteer vehicle patrols, prioritized street light replacement, blight removal around student walking routes, signage, Eyes & Ears Patrols, Student Code of Conduct/Dress Code enforcement and positive behavior intervention.

AAA/The Auto Club Group President and CEO Chuck Podowski announced the donation, which further expands a strong partnership between AAA and DPS, alongside DPS Emergency Manager Jack Martin, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, DPS Police Chief Stacy Brackens, President of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation Glenda Price, representatives from the Skillman and Kellogg foundations, and other local and state dignitaries who have all taken ownership in expanding the Safe Routes to School program city-wide.

The Safe Routes to School effort targets prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry. It directly supports the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. As a city-wide effort, Safe Routes has garnered support from several independent patrol groups, parent ambassadors, community leaders, faith-based organizations, the Detroit Police Department and Michigan State Police, and other city departments including the Detroit Public Lighting Department, D-DOT Transit, Animal Control, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Wayne State Safety Authority and others.

District officials accepted the donation at the Brightmoor Community Center – located directly across from Gompers Elementary-Middle School – following a breakfast event and public presentation on extended efforts to ensure the safety and security of children and their families as they walk to and from schools and bus stops. Student safety patrollers from Gompers also attended the breakfast and press conference. Gompers is one of many DPS Safety Patrol programs supported by AAA.

In 2013, AAA donated $56,000 in support of Safe Routes to assist with patrols in 14 key school zones and an additional 14 school zones during the first quarter of 2014. With the expanded model of the Safe Routes program, the City of Detroit is defined by 34 zones. Detroit Public Schools’ 97 school campuses, Charter Schools and Independent Schools are included in the expanded model to ensure student safety city-wide.

With this year’s donation, AAA has agreed to fund expanded Safe Routes and Safe Zones for the next three years with a $70,450 annual contribution to Detroit Public Schools. The grant total is $211,350, with the first contribution made on October 16. Subsequent contributions will be made in the fiscal years 2015 and 2016.

The new grant will fund the following:

  • More than 10 new volunteer vehicle patrols;
  • Identification badges and reflective vests to make volunteers easily identifiable;
  • Two-way radios and other technology equipment;
  • Vehicle patrol gas expenses;
  • Background checks for citizen patrol volunteers;
  • Funding for staff members to manage the program and more.

This multi-year contribution reinforces the Auto Club Group’s commitment to traffic safety, education and community outreach; and supports the mission of the AAA School Safety Patrol program.

“Student safety, both in and out of school, is fundamental to educational achievement,” said Martin. “Our goal is to effectively engage all DPS stakeholders, including civic, faith, grassroots, labor, businesses and foundations in creating safe environments for our students. We can’t say thank you enough to our community partners, such as AAA, Kellogg, Skillman and others who continue to support strategic initiatives to help improve our students’ safety. I would also encourage others to support this extremely critical effort.”

The expanded Safe Routes Program offers:

  • More Safe Routes and Safe Zones
  • Volunteer Vehicle Patrols scouting key zones
  • Street light replacement (LED) and enhancements
  • Blight removal around student walking routes
  • Bus, Community and Faculty Eyes & Ears
  • Visible Safe Routes Signage
  • Neighborhood Engagement and Mobilization
  • School Enforcement Code of Conduct and Dress Code
  • Positive Behavior Intervention & Support (PBIS) and Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative (MiBLSi)

AAA’s commitment to DPS dates back to 1919 when the first AAA School Safety Patrol was established at Detroit’s Alger Elementary School. Today, AAA sponsors nearly 33,000 safety patrollers in 1,076 schools statewide, including Gompers Elementary-Middle School.

“AAA is proud to expand its ongoing support of the Safe Routes to School program and join forces with the organizations and individuals who are committed to this program’s success,” said Podowski. “Providing students a safe route to and from school is an important and basic part of giving each child the opportunity to achieve a good education.”

AAA’s 2013 donation was the first corporate donation received in response to the District’s “call to action” for support of the expansion of its citizen volunteer patrol programs to increase Safe Routes for Detroit children and their families going to and from school.

DPS is seeking more volunteers to assist with patrols district-wide. The volunteer patrol groups, with support from local law enforcement officers on a per school basis, are on duty before and after class, providing students greater safety and security, and allowing them to focus more on academics. Volunteers who are interested in becoming the Eyes and Ears for a safer DPS should call 313-240-4377.

About AAA Michigan
AAA Michigan has been active in traffic safety since its founding nearly a century ago, with activities including teen driving safety and road safety improvement programs. It is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

About Detroit Public Schools
Detroit Public Schools is creating Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools at 97 campuses with a mission to provide a comprehensive educational experience that is high-quality, challenging and inspires all students to make a positive contribution to society. DPS offers a wide variety of educational advantages to students and parents including Individualized Learning Maps for all students. New this year, arts/music and sports leagues for boys and girls are being offered at every elementary/middle school. Prekindergarten offerings have been expanded to 70 schools across the district for all qualified 4-year-olds. Twenty-one schools are now open as Community Schools, offering extended hours and services. Students in grades 8-12 enjoy take-home Netbooks and students in grades 6 and up have access to Netbooks in school. An outstanding Fine Arts program with instrumental music, vocal music and dance is also offered. Ongoing advantages include eight parent resource centers, Parent University and additional parenting programs, enhanced safety initiatives, a district-wide Customer Service focus, nine Detroit Rising College Preparatory Schools and DPS-authorized charter schools led by educators with proven track records of raising achievement. In 2014, DPS graduates earned $138 million in grants and scholarships. To learn more about Detroit Public Schools, visit www.detroitk12.org or call 313-240-4DPS.

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin appoints new Chief of Police

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin today announced the appointment of Stacy Brackens to serve as Chief of the Detroit Public Schools Police Department (DPSPD), effective October 14, 2014.  Brackens has served as Acting Chief of DPSPD since July 1, 2014.

“The safety and security of Detroit Public Schools’ nearly 50,000 students and their safe passage to and from school, as well as the overall safety of the district’s more than 6,000 employees, are of the utmost importance,” Martin said today.

A native Detroiter and a graduate of Chadsey High School, Brackens has been working with DPSPD since 2010 as Deputy Chief and has been responsible for patrol operations, supervision of uniformed officers (sworn and Campus Security Police Officers), in addition to serving as the departmental liaison with the district’s private security contractor. Brackens previously served as Deputy Chief in the Detroit Police Department, where he spent 35 years protecting and serving the people of Detroit.

The Detroit Public Schools’ Police Department is comprised of Police Officers, Investigators, Campus Security Police Officers, security officers and a K-9 unit. Its mission is to provide a safe and secure environment for students and staff that is conducive for teaching and learning. The Police Department is housed in a 23,000-sq. ft. state-of-the-art Command Center and Headquarters that opened in January 2011.

“As a product of DPS, this is my way of giving back,” Brackens said. “Working at DPS is not just a vocation, but an avocation.”

Brackens said his top priorities as Chief will be:

  • Continuing the downward trend of reported incidents and crime within Detroit Public Schools;
  • Working on expanding the district’s Safe Routes to School initiative; and
  • Maximizing pertinent training for both law enforcement and academic staff as it relates to school and personal safety.



Budget and Salary/Compensation Transparency Reporting Annual Education Report

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School of the Week: Emerson Elementary-Middle School

Cass Tech volleyball standout Monette Daniels named PSL Proud Strong Learner of the Week

Bates Academy teams up with AmeriCorps to host annual “Ride Your Bike to School Day”

FAMILIAR FINALISTS: Cass Tech to face Renaissance in PSL girls’ volleyball title game Thursday

Cass Tech running back Mike Weber named PSL Proud Strong Learner of the Week

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