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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We did it! DPS pre-k students join PNC to raise vocabulary awareness and set new Guinness World Records® mark

- More than 4,000 children take part in world’s largest vocabulary lesson -

DETROIT, Oct. 30, 2014 – Holding tiger masks and seated on colorful reading rugs, prekindergarten students from Detroit Public Schools learned words and listened to their teachers read as they helped set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for the largest vocabulary lesson.

The 250 DPS children were among more than 4,000 children in 37 cities across 15 states and the District of Columbia who participated in the simultaneous lesson. The PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC) hosted the event in support of Grow Up Great, its $350 million, multi-year bilingual initiative in early childhood education. The new record was set with the initial 1,031 participants documented by the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS organization. The total is expected to increase as GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS organization officials receive video and written documentation from the various locations.

“Young children learn best when they take part in engaging, fun activities,” said Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics for Detroit Public Schools.  “At DPS, we embrace, support and provide high-quality early childhood education because know a great foundation in early learning is the foundation for academic success. We appreciate PNC’s ongoing support of our district and today’s event, which helped reinforce the teaching of new words and added to the excitement we in DPS are building for vocabulary in our pre-kindergarten classrooms.”

Vocabulary development is a priority as PNC Grow Up Great celebrates 10 years of helping children – especially at-risk children – prepare for kindergarten. The Fred Rogers Company and Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), PNC’s partners in early education, developed the lesson with words selected from “Mr. Tiger Goes Wild,” a picture book by Caldecott Honoree Peter Brown (published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), about a civilized tiger who, bored with his prim and proper lifestyle, runs away to the jungle to discover what makes him happy. The highly acclaimed picture book celebrates individuality and received five-star reviews.

“Pursuit of this world record is a great way to bring attention to a serious issue – the importance of vocabulary for a child’s success in school and life,” said Ric DeVore, PNC regional president for Detroit and Southeast Michigan. “A landmark study found that some at-risk children hear 30 million fewer words by age 4 than a child from a more well-to-do household.”

Today’s event is one of PNC’s initiatives to encourage parents and caregivers to talk and read to their children as a means to build vocabulary and help them gain the skills they need to succeed in school.

To foster the home to school connection, each participating child took home the book and “Words are Here, There, and Everywhere,” a new, English/Spanish multimedia kit created by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame StreetTM, as part of an ongoing partnership with PNC. The educational kit builds on young children’s natural sense of curiosity to grow their vocabulary around math concepts, science, and the arts. All bilingual materials are available for free at PNC Bank branches, pncgrowupgreat.com, and sesamestreet.org/words. Additional materials are available online, including an educator’s guide and a vocabulary tree.

The vocabulary lesson will be posted to an online Lesson Center which features practical, developmentally appropriate activities for pre-K teachers.  Many of the lessons on the pncgrowupgreat.com site were developed by a consortium of science and cultural centers that collaborated over the past four years to enhance science and arts education for young children served by PNC’s early education programs.

The success of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® attempt was made possible in part through the volunteering efforts by employees of EY, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, who served both as observers and stewards tracking student participation in approximately 20 locations. In addition, hundreds of PNC Bank employees worked with teachers and students to help present the event as part of a progressive policy that permits up to 40 hours a year of paid time off for volunteerism.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (www.pnc.com) is one of the United States’ largest diversified financial services organizations providing retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management.

School of the Week: Bagley Elementary School

If there is one commonality among most Bagley Elementary School students, fourth-grader Ryan Langford would proudly say, “We’re all pretty smart.”

They also love math and science. And the majority know exactly which career fields pique their interest by the fourth grade. Ryan, who is 9 years old, has a list of “top three” careers that he plans to narrow down by sixth grade.

“My favorite subjects are science and math. I’ve always been interested in Earth Science and how the earth should be getting colder…,” Ryan says. “I was thinking a scientist. I was also thinking maybe a doctor. And I was thinking maybe an architect because I’m really good with Legos. Those are the three things.”

Bagley, a Pre-K-6 school of nearly 400 students, is one of many Detroit Public Schools that offer programs such as Lego Leagues and Science Fairs to support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects to strengthen its overall academic curriculum. Bagley’s sixth graders also participate in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), which operates middle school-level programs in over 20 DPS schools and provides workshops to help teachers and students prepare for the Annual Science and Engineering Fair of Metropolitan Detroit held at Cobo Center.

Through the district’s strong science partnerships, students regularly enjoy visits to the Cranbrook Institute of Science and the Michigan Science Center to explore exhibits focusing on prehistoric animals, space travel, engineering, physical science and more.

Kelly Richardson, also a fourth-grader at Bagley, loves math and science. She aspires to become a nurse because she loves to help people. Although Najha Perry, a third-grader, enjoys doing science projects, she plans to become a lawyer. As for 8-year-old Serenity Dillard, she has her heart set on becoming a doctor.

“I want to operate on people,” says the third-grader. “You get to do surgeries. That’s kinda cool.”

After hearing her students share their joy of science and math, and their career goals, Principal Cheryl Price couldn’t help but smile with pride.

“We’re really trying to build a legacy of excellence here at Bagley,” says Price. “Many of our students have a new found interest in science. We decided to take it on full force with lots of science fairs and hands-on activities in the classrooms, and our teachers have just embraced the science curriculum to try to make it come to life for the students.”

From the enthusiasm shared by Bagley students regarding their love of science, it sounds like the hard work of administrators to make science a core subject is paying off.

“Science branches off to all of the other subject areas,” Price says. “So teachers have the opportunity to do some cross-categorical teaching in terms of matching science with their reading assignments, math, and social studies. It really broadens their horizons. We even connect science to gym class.”

The science programs are not only extended to students, but also to parents so that they are constantly learning with their children. Bagley hosts monthly Math and Sciences Bees, Science Nights, Math Game Nights, Family Academic Nights and Literacy Nights to ensure parents are engaged.

“All of these events are opportunities for parents to see their children in the process of learning, to see the kinds of activities that they can practice at home,” says Price. “And in most cases, they are able to leave with something that they can work on at home. When parents are excited about the learning, that excitement transfers to their children and they too will become excited about learning.”

Parent involvement is a staple of Bagley’s success with increasing MEAP scores and consistently being recognized by the Michigan Department of Education for meeting Adequate Yearly Progress. Strong emphasis is placed on academic achievement by meeting the needs of students where they are and challenging them to accelerate.

Curriculum highlights include individualized instruction, flexible grouping for achievement and “educating the whole child” to eliminate barriers to learning.

Bagley students also benefit from strong community partnerships such as Marygrove College, the University of Detroit Mercy, Bagley Alumni Association, faith-based partners and others who donate school supplies for students regularly.

“All of our community partners are really behind us,” Price says. “Bagley has a long history of excellence, and I think that all of those who have come before us are really looking for Bagley to be that star that they know we can be. And I’m sure they are pleased to see Bagley is indeed a school of excellence.”

Some offerings: Library/Media Center, Accelerated Reading and Math, Award-Winning Music Program, DAPCEP, Technology, Volunteer Reading Corps, Tutorial and Enrichment Programs, Basketball, Baseball and Cheerleading, Bagley Book Brigade, Bagley Newspaper, Building Community Schools Program, Fruit and Vegetable Program, Before and After School Latchkey and more.

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.




Budget and Salary/Compensation Transparency Reporting Annual Education Report

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