DPS News Highlights

Get ready for the PSL Hoops Classic Dec. 26-27!

Hoops Classic photoFans, friends and families are encouraged to warm up to the holiday spirit by watching the high school basketball season heat up at the sixth annual Detroit Public School League Holiday Hoops Classic Friday and Saturday Dec. 26-27 at Renaissance High School, 6565 Outer Drive, Detroit.

Featuring 10 big games over two festive days, the PSL Hoops Classic will tip off five boys’ games on Friday and four boys’ games and one girls’ game Saturday, showcasing stellar teams from the PSL and from as far away as Chicago. Admission is $10 for an all-day ticket that can be purchased at the door.

The lineup — Friday, Dec. 26: CMA vs. Community 11 a.m.; Cass Tech vs. Farmington 1 p.m.; Mumford vs. Southfield Lathrup 3 p.m; Ford vs. Allen Academy 5 p.m.; Renaissance vs. University Prep 7 p.m; Saturday, Dec. 27: Osborn vs. Harper Woods 11 a.m.; King vs. Harper Woods Chandler Park 1 p.m.; (girls) King vs. Chicago Crete-Monee 3 p.m.; East English Village vs. Southfield 5 p.m.; Western vs. Westland John Glenn 7 p.m.

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Detroit Lions Linebacker Stephen Tulloch continues “Operation 55 Adopt a School” at Carleton & Clark

Stephen Tulloch, Linebacker for the Detroit Lions, continued his “Operation 55 Adopt a School” program on Tuesday, December 16 at Carleton Elementary School and J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy. Tulloch and his team from the Stephen Tulloch Foundation delivered laptops, tablets, children’s books and more during an in-school assembly at both schools.

Operation 55 was launched in 2011 when Tulloch signed with the Detroit Lions. Tulloch personally selected 55 schools from across the city and is helping grant the wishes of the hardworking teachers and staff by donating books, laptops, tablets, iPads, learning programs, athletic equipment and more. The purpose of the program is to support students in need and give children throughout the Metro Detroit area an opportunity to come to Detroit Lions’ home games to experience a game day with Tulloch. To learn more about the Stephen Tulloch Foundation, visit tulloch55.com

School of the Week: Neinas Elementary School

They just keep coming back to Neinas Elementary School

Each day, the educators and partners at Neinas Elementary School build upon the school’s foundation of nearly a century of service. They work to meet the educational and social needs of the 270-plus students and their families in the tight-knit southwest Detroit community.

And everybody – it seems – just keeps coming back.

The families keep returning.

Students learn in the same classrooms as generations of parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

The volunteers keep returning.

Universities, churches, clothing donators, food providers, former teachers, Forgotten Harvest, Bridgepointe Community Partners, The Detroit Institute of Arts and even a national news network have maintained long-lasting partnerships.

Even staff members return if needed once they have separated from the District. Bilingual teacher Julia Ortiz happily returned from Puerto Rico this past year to provide Bilingual educational support to the students.

“My mom sat in this desk.”

“Just about every child here has had a family member attend Neinas,” says Principal Natalia Russell. “That ties us together and creates a sense of belonging. From the student’s perspective, knowing that ‘my mom sat in this desk’ helps them to take ownership of what they’re doing in school.”

Inside the well-kept historic structure, individualized student-focused, hands-on and integrated science, technology, and language programs take place alongside recycling and social work services for a population whose families occasionally struggle with insurance issues, temporary homelessness, and deportation.

Hands-on Science Inside and Out

The science curriculum spans a roomy classroom filled corner to corner with plants, experiments, desert ecosystems, nesting habitats, stuffed critters, solar system models and measuring devices. Walk through a door in the back of the classroom and you will come upon a rooftop experimentation station of birdseed-feeding experiments and more. Right now students are studying the effects of soda pop in plants’ soil pots and the impact on plants’ photosynthesis when a substance is applied to its leaves.

The only thing keeping Science Teacher Amy Lazarowicz’s students from making the ad-hoc rooftop a complete classroom garden is the district’s completion of a 9-foot section of safety fence.

Lazarowicz, one of DPS’ master science and technology teachers, says, “It shows our students how things happen naturally. What would otherwise be hard to replicate for students in an urban setting grows naturally in their midst,” she says, using as an example several mounds of moss on one corner of the pebble-stone roof. “They might say, ‘oh, it feels just like carpet,’ rather than just reading about it or viewing it online.”

The Neinas ground level outdoor classroom is just below the rooftop classroom. It lines the southern side of the school campus and is already a fully developed, year-round, part-natural laboratory/part-urban oasis that is well beyond a collection of raised planting beds. Now, in December, the gardens are put to sleep with mulch. But learning has not stopped. During this time, students study the decomposition process and identify the winter birds paying a visit. The family of the departed teacher who created the main garden 14 years ago still returns regularly to the school to assist in its maintenance.

“Extreme” Community Ties

“The ties are extreme with the community when it comes to Neinas,” Principal Russell says. “Our community support is phenomenal.”

DTE Energy recently provided winter warmth through the contribution of winter coats for students, and families can depend on weekly food donations from Forgotten Harvest. Help is literally just around the corner with community partners like Courage Church and E&L Supermercado, the local grocery store whose building and parking lots wrap partially around the school campus just over the fence from the school garden.

Additionally, the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition, and the University of Michigan-Dearborn are among the partners in the science curriculum.

The university has a wide range of connections to the school, with one University of Michigan-Dearborn professor even holding weekly summer college classes and developing project-based activities at Neinas. Projects include movable garden beds and mini-irrigation systems that will eventually be used on the rooftop garden.

Even when the university partners are not on site for one of their repeat visits, the young students have perpetual reminders gearing them to higher educational aspirations. The desks in second grade teacher Deidre Davis’ classroom – where a student-led, math lesson was being delivered in Spanish and English, are each named for a state university.

In writing, fourth grade students receive regular visits from reporters and editors at Bloomberg News to work on writing projects. Students gain exposure to jobs within the newsroom while building a rapport with those professionals. This experience ends with a culminating annual trip to the service’s high-tech Southfield newsroom.

“Your children will be constantly learning” and family needs will be addressed

“I tell our parents, at Neinas your children will be constantly learning,” the principal states.

Family needs are met by the Michigan Department of Social Services “Success Coach,” which is a social worker stationed at the school as part of the DPS/DHS Pathways to Potential program. Principal Russell refers to Success Coach Shannon Ramsey as “a very valuable member of our staff.”

And for families pursuing their GED, a program is held right at Neinas. Last year, the successful parents who earned their GED certificates were able to participate in the commencement ceremony at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School. This allows those parents and individuals to obtain, sustain or advance their employment.

Russell says she has a great team in all respects, from the teachers and coaches to the partners and parents, and even the engineer, known to crawl through vents and ducts to get the job done.

Ready to begin the next 100 years with Smart Boards and new bilingual immersion

In addition to planning generational observances of the school’s 100-year anniversary in 2016 with families and alumni, the principal, teachers and parents are eagerly working at a major curricular enhancement aimed at meeting the needs of the community and ensuring a strong future in terms of enrollment stability and growth.

Smart Boards will be expanded to every classroom. And starting in Kindergarten next fall and expanding annually to additional grades, Neinas students will receive dual language immersion as the school establishes new connections to sister-school Academy of the Americas, less than a mile away. Students who complete the Neinas elementary dual language program will have the opportunity to matriculate to the expanding Academia’s high school level programs.

School of the Week: John R. King Academic and Performing Arts Academy

When the WorldStrides Heritage National Middle School Festival chose the J.R. King Academic and Performing Arts Academy’s Angelic Chorale to perform as the Featured Choir at world-famous Carnegie Hall in 2012, then-Vocal Music Director Annette Anderson predicted the experience would have a lifetime impact on the students.

And she was right.

Long after the “rousing standing ovation that seemed to last forever” died down and the echo of the applause dissipated, that performance – and all the opportunities that led up to it – continue to impact the students of this pre-K-to-8 academy in northwest Detroit.

Consider Carl Shazor, a retired new product development engineer from Ford Motor Co., who no longer has a child attending the school. But Shazor can be seen almost daily near the front door, offering words of encouragement to many of the 972 students so they start their school day interacting with a caring adult. Or in the office, assisting the principal with assorted tasks. Or mentoring students after school.

Shazor’s daughter, Destiny, was one of the nearly two dozen students who played at Carnegie Hall. Today, she’s a student at nationally-recognized Renaissance High School, Detroit Public Schools’ top-performing high school, where she is soaring academically and planning for college with a double-major in business and music.

“This particular place was the instrument that took her where she is today,” said Shazor, beaming. “John R. King opened up great opportunities for her. I want the city and the nation to know that this school offers anything a child needs to be successful.”

Performing arts opportunities are part of the fabric of J.R. King, said Principal Felicia Cook, sitting adjacent to a baby grand piano in one of the school’s music rooms.

“I have always thought that the arts are pivotal and important,” Cook said, adding that she was involved in band throughout her schooling. “That helped me to become more engaged and connected to the school… You have some students here that are great artists, some young ladies that can dance, and other students who love drama and perform in skits and plays. We have many students that have talents here that we help shape.”

Beginning in kindergarten, students have vocal music courses. By the time they are in middle school, they can participate in the acclaimed Angelic Chorale, which has also performed across the state and at the White House.

Students can also opt to take dance or drama, where they perform in the school’s Black Box Theater. The state-of-the-art 5,514-square-foot theater, which incorporates dramatic overhead lighting for plays, recitals and concerts, was part of a $10.7 million renovation of John R. King in 2010. The renovation also included the new Rosa Parks Atrium, new science and technology labs, new playground equipment, bright paint and tile flooring, new light fixtures in classrooms, a refinished gymnasium floor and more.

Cook, who plans to expand the school’s renowned performing arts offerings, is quick to point out that J.R. King also has a reputation for providing a strong academic program and a caring, dedicated staff, both of which attract families. To that end, the school increased its enrollment last year. This was a considerable feat given that more schools continued to enter the city’s educational landscape while the overall population declines.

Other attractive opportunities include extra-curricular activities like Girls and Boys Basketball, Junior National Honor Society, and a new Student Council, which Cook started this year because she believes students should have a voice.

Cook and her teachers embrace a collaborative learning approach with a schedule that builds in plenty of time to create learning communities across subjects, she said.

“We all have to be on the same page to build a synergy and energy that meshes,” she said.

Teacher Lisa White-Berry said she is constantly weaving fine arts instruction into her English Language Arts lessons. She embraces the philosophy that ‘anything that is worth teaching can be presented in many ways,’ a teaching theory by Howard Gardner. Gardner, a psychologist and Harvard professor of cognition, believed people have multiple intelligences and use different cognitive means to process information.

“Children need to have as many opportunities to become successful as possible, because students must not be limited when opportunities are available to exhibit mastery, and because all students may be different kinds of learners or have different skills and talents,” she said.

At the upper grades, in particular, the school infuses hands-on learning throughout the curriculum that incorporates lots of inquiry-based instruction.

“We want our students to think deeply and ask lots of probing questions,” Cook said.

In White-Berry’s classroom, students have a variety of options in which they can work toward mastery of a lesson: students may read alone, conduct pair reading, engage in small group reading, or do “picture walks” as others read. Through “picture walks,” students may join her at a workshop table for a guided reading lesson which may evolve into an art lesson – “read it, draw it or draw it, read it,” she said.

“I use probing questions to model inquiry skills and to better understand my students — each and every child. As a child, I was often that daydreaming or bored student hoping to remain invisible.  I remember light bulbs turning on when art was mentioned,” White-Berry said.

Tending to each child’s needs is key at J.R. King, where a new Reading Recovery program also provides intensive small group instruction targeted at students in first grade to help improve their reading skills. Markeeta Burr, one of the school’s two dedicated Reading Recovery teachers, works individually for 30 minutes each day with four students and later engages in small group instruction with three groups of three students each for 40 minutes each.

Such focused, individualized instruction has helped the students demonstrate a dramatic difference in reading levels in the last two months, Burr said.

Eighth grader Brooklyn Niang, who sings in the Angelic Chorale, but counts English Language Arts as her favorite subject, said J. R. King’s teachers push students to find their creativity and to excel in all subjects.

With a 3.7 grade point average, she said J.R. King’s teachers have prepared her so she is confident she will excel on the examination test to attend Renaissance or Cass Tech High School.

“They’ve given me the best education I could possibly have,” replied Brooklyn.

Something you didn’t know: Naima Mora, winner of “America’s Next Top Model” cycle four, is a graduate of J.R. King.

School of the Week: Fisher Magnet Lower Academy

Fisher Lower Creed of Excellence
My EDUCATION is important to me.
To become educated, I must discipline myself. I will observe the school rules every day to make my school the best school on planet Earth.
I will listen to my teachers. I will treat my classmates kindly. I will work with all of my ability. I will work quietly and respect the rights of others to learn in peace.
Every day, I will do my best to respect others and to respect myself.
My EDUCATION is important to me. ~ Yvonne Stokes

Every single morning before the school day begins, the students of Fisher Magnet Lower Academy recite the Creed of Excellence written by Principal Yvonne Stokes.

This daily ritual speaks to self-discipline, determination to become highly educated and creating a learning environment of peace, respect and pride. It may also help to explain why the students of Fisher Lower appear to behave perfectly, as observed by guests in the building during a recent school visit in late November.

When jokingly asked if her students always behave this way – extremely polite, self-governing, quiet (even during gym class), and so naturally enthusiastic to learn – Stokes laughs and responds, “I didn’t even notice.”

Which means, the answer is yes.

Fisher Lower offers a unique Pre-K to 4 elementary grade structure with dynamic educators and support staff who are vested in ensuring students succeed and exceed academically and socially. The school is located on the same campus with Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, offering grades 5-8.

Housed in a beautifully constructed building on the city’s east side, Fisher guests are greeted by hand-drawn, black and white portraits lining the main hallways and walls meticulously painted in bright yellow, sky blue and lavender. Inside each classroom, colorful carpet and crafts made by teachers and students brighten not only the school, but the mood of anyone who enters.

“What’s so wonderful about Fisher Magnet Lower Academy is we’re a school of little kids,” says Stokes. “Our school is one of foundational learning and has five preschool and five kindergarten classes. It all happens in the foundation, much like it does when a building is being erected. The foundation at our school is laid in preschool.”

Fisher also has the added benefit of support from companies such as PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great program “where our students are exposed to the best of everything,” Stokes says. “From going to the Grand Prix, to being placed in the Guinness Book of World Records. How great is that?”

Each year through a partnership with the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, PNC Bank and the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, hundreds of DPS students attend Grand Prix Education Day as part of PNC Bank’s Fifth Gear and Grow Up Great programs. Fifth-grade and prekindergarten students participate in hands-on activities that use racing to teach lessons in math, science and technology.

Fisher students also participated in a recent world-wide vocabulary lesson where prekindergarten students helped set a new Guinness World Records® title. Roughly 250 DPS students were among more than 4,000 children in 37 cities across 15 states and the District of Columbia who participated in a simultaneous vocabulary lesson. PNC Financial Services Group hosted the event in support of Grow Up Great, a $350 million, multi-year bilingual initiative in early childhood education.

Proving to offer a dynamic prekindergarten program, Fisher was recently recognized by Excellence Schools Detroit as one of the best early childhood programs in the city.

Stokes credits passionate teachers and supportive parents for the school’s success. Engaging academic instruction is also a factor.

“We relate the things that they’re learning to their own lives,” says Teacher Anita Lyons. “They work cooperatively, they work independently, they work in pairs… They get a chance to formulate questions, seek answers to those questions, research things, write about it and discuss it as a group to ensure they are getting the most out of every lesson.”

“Our teachers are very passionate,” adds Stokes. “They have expressed contentment with being at Fisher Lower and they show it by their performance, and by the fact that they have children who will speak very positively about them.”

Some Offerings: Library/Media Center, Art, Physical Education, Tutoring, Accelerated Reading/Math, Conflict Resolution Program, Jump Start Advanced Reading Program for Pre-K, School Nurse, Social Worker, DHS Worker, Sports and more.

Something you didn’t know…
Fisher Lower was one of the top schools in DPS based on percentage enrollment increases from Fall 2013 to Fall 2014 thanks to school-wide participation in the district’s Summer Enrollment Campaign. Stokes, along with Emergency Manager Jack Martin, teachers and parents, walked the school’s neighborhoods to retain and gain students for the 2014 school year.

“It works,” Stokes says. “Sometimes parents just need to see you and speak to you personally to make a decision on the best school for their child. The Ground Campaign definitely worked for Fisher Lower.”



Budget and Salary/Compensation Transparency Reporting Annual Education Report

News & Press Releases

Detroit Lions Linebacker Stephen Tulloch continues “Operation 55 Adopt a School” at Carleton & Clark

Youth Development Commission partners with Detroit Public Schools, Detroit PAL and others to develop scholar athletes in Detroit

Continuing a trend of improved campus safety, DPS announces incidents down 24.7 percent on school campuses

School of the Week: Neinas Elementary School

More than 7,000 students’ classrooms grow brighter as DPS adds high quality, energy-efficient LED lighting to 11 school buildings

First annual DPSL football College Coach-Student Exchange ‘only the beginning’

Detroit parents to have access to 753 early childhood slots, including 238 in 14 Detroit Public Schools classrooms, through new Southwest Solutions partnership

Parent Resources

Upcoming Events

HBCU College Fair at EEVP
11/18/2014 6:00 am – 8:00 am

Breithaupt Thanksgiving Buffet
11/21/2014 11:00 am – 1:30 pm

"O'Give Thanks" Thanksgiving Buffet
11/21/2014 11:30 am – 1:30 pm

Schools Closed
11/27/2014 – 11/28/2014

Schools Closed
12/22/2014 – 1/2/2015

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