Detroit Public Schools announces multi-year plan to reduce lost school days due to power outages

DPS and DTE working to set priorities and improve reliability

In a move to reduce the number of lost school days due to power outages, Detroit Public Schools (DPS) today announced a plan to transition all schools’ electric power from the City of Detroit Public Lighting Department (PLD) to DTE Energy.

DTE already has begun the process of strengthening the existing system. As a result, some areas should start seeing a reduction in outages this fall.

DPS schools’ electric systems will still be at risk for harsh weather conditions bringing down power lines during storms. However, DPS is hopeful that the overall response to these issues will be much faster than it has been in recent years.

“Our teachers, principals and administration shared the extreme frustration of our parents this past year as the failure of the City of Detroit’s power grid repeatedly hindered the educational process for our children who needed to be in class and learning every single day to ensure academic achievement continues to progress,” said Emergency Manager Jack Martin. “This transition to another power provider was long overdue. Although we know that the DPS electric service may still be at risk as a result of ‘mother nature’ bringing down power lines during storms, we are hopeful that restoration will be much faster than it has been in recent years. The district is encouraged by the progress already underway by DTE to help ensure lost school days will be minimized.”

DTE Energy has already begun to build redundancy into circuits servicing several schools including the circuits connecting Emerson and Ludington schools.

Martin emphasized that while none of the changes are quick fixes – noting that the former PLD system has been in disrepair for years – the collaboration between the city and DTE throughout this process has been excellent. He added that he is pleased both the school district and DTE are working together to find solutions that minimize outages.

“While the complete transition to DTE power lines will take about 5 years, DTE already has taken responsibility for all of PLD’s former customers,” said DPS Chief Operating Officer Mark Schrupp. “Therefore, when we have an outage, we call the DTE service hotline and DTE is responsible for restoring power.”

DTE and DPS officials have met to work out protocols for giving easements to bury new lines and place transformers on district sites, which will also help create more reliable power distribution to DPS schools.

The top five schools that were most affected by PLD power outages during the 2013-14 school year were:

  • Emerson – 12
  • Mason – 12
  • Edison – 10
  • Greenfield Union – 10
  • Bates, Dixon, Mann, Palmer Park Preparatory Academy – 8 each

Detroit Public Schools, LitWorld and Detroit Public Library launch new DPS summer reading initiative: Everything Literacy!

Detroit Public Library & Detroit Public Schools to work together to ensure that every DPS student has a library card

library card campaign flyer_Page_1To combat the “Summer Learning Slide,” the learning loss that happens when children are not engaged in reading during pivotal out-of-school time, Detroit Public Schools, the non-profit LitWorld and the Detroit Public Library are announcing a new district-wide summer reading initiative called Everything Literacy! to keep kids engaged with learning throughout the summer.

The Everything Literacy! initiative engages a variety of strategies to accomplish this goal, including a first-ever LitCamp in conjunction with LitWorld, Accelerated Reader online reading quizzes, and free books for many students, with support from Scholastic Inc.

Through this new partnership, the Detroit Public Library also will work with Detroit Public Schools to ensure that every DPS student has a library card and access to the world of fun and educational resources that a library card provides.  The Library will also work with DPS families to ease existing fees and fines on their child’s library record that keep many students from full use of the Library.

Activities for the Lit Fest:

LitFest FlyerLit Fest Flyer

Reading Log

Confidence My Superhero

Belonging Heart Map

Kindness Comic Book

Hope 7 Strengths Roadmap

Friendship Memory Book

Curiosity Welcome to My World

Courage What I Love

Library Card Information:

Library Card Campaign flyer and Card Application

Everything Literacy! seeks to challenge students to read throughout the summer to ensure they are ready to learn on the first day of school this fall,” said Dr. Deborah Winston, Executive Director of the DPS Office of Literacy.  “Research shows that children lose the academic skills they learned throughout the school year if they don’t keep their skills sharp and continue reading throughout the summer.”

A renowned 2007 study by Johns Hopkins University researchers that documented the “Summer Learning Slide” showed that while impoverished children progressed in reading at rates comparable with middle-income students during the school year, reading skills slipped away during the summer among low-income students. The researchers found that the achievement gap in ninth grade can be traced mostly to the differences in summer learning between those two groups throughout the elementary years.

library card campaign flyer_Page_2“The Detroit Public Library understands the importance of summer reading to ensure academic success.  Through this partnership, the Library and DPS will nurture a love of reading that will serve these students for a lifetime,” said Jo Anne Mondowney, Executive Director of the Detroit Public Library.

Pam Allyn, Executive Director of LitWorld and renowned literacy expert, author and speaker, has worked full force to combat the Summer Learning Slide.

“Reading matters so much to a student’s lifetime academic achievement, in fact, that even a summer away from nearness to books and experiences with reading has a detrimental impact on our children,” she said. “By sixth grade, the Summer Learning Slide can account for 80% of the achievement gap.”

This summer, Allyn and the LitWorld team are collaborating with DPS to run the first-ever DPS Summer LitCamp, a literacy and enrichment program designed by LitWorld specifically to combat the Summer Learning Slide. DPS, LitWorld, with support from Scholastic Inc., will also host a community-wide LitFest, an intergenerational reading celebration, in late July. LitWorld is dedicated to working with DPS to give children in the district the tools they need to stay on track this summer, and well into the future.

“LitClub and LitCamp programming cultivate a new generation of leaders, storytellers and academic achievers, effecting change for themselves, their community, and their world,” Allyn said. “We truly value our relationship with Detroit Public Schools, as we work together to create positive literacy outcomes for the wonderful children of this great city.”

The Everything Literacy! program includes:

  • A first-ever community LitFest to be held across all 37 schools holding summer school on Thursday, July 24, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The LitFest will include group writing activities, oral story sharing, live storytellers, and a distribution of 7,000 books to participants; Click to see the  Summer School LitFest Sites!
  • A free book for thousands of DPS children to take home through partnerships with LitWorld and Scholastic Inc.;
  • A new partnership with the Detroit Public Library to ensure that every DPS student has a library card.  The Library will also work with DPS families to ease existing fees and fines on their child’s library record that keep many students from full use of the Library;
  • Access to Accelerated Reader Quizzes in Detroit Public Libraries thanks to a partnership with the Detroit Public Library. Parents and students received reminders prior to the end of the academic year and during the summer school session;
  • An Accelerated Reader Contest open to students of grades 1 – 6, sponsored by the Office of Literacy. Contest winners will receive books and the sixth-grade winner will receive a NOOK;
  • DPS’ first-ever LitCamp in partnership with LitWorld at Marcus Garvey Academy — a one week camp engaging 60 female students in reading, writing, speaking, and listening activities. Campers will also participate in activities such as vocal music, scrapbooking, and yoga. Through the innovative combination of active literacy support, community building, and interactive lessons that span a variety of disciplines and interests, LitCamps provide children with a fun, joyous, and safe way to learn and grow academically and personally and to see the value of a reading culture while creating one together;
  • A one week writing camp for DPS students in grades 3 – 12 through a partnership with the Office of Literacy and the Meadowbrook Writing Project of Oakland University. The fee is $100. Camp dates are:
    • July 14-18, 3-5th grade
    • July 14-18, 6-8th grade
    • July 21-25, 3-5th grade
    • July 21-25, 6-8th grade

Carleton students tour WDIV

The acclaimed Andrew Humphrey, WDIV meteorologist, invited 20 Carleton Elementary School students and their counselor, Valerie Henderson, to the Channel 4 station for a special Career Day tour on Saturday, June 28. Humphrey gave the students a sneak-peek into what goes on behind the scenes including working with a green screen and other high-tech equipment.

Pasteur Elementary celebrates Independence Day

The students and staff at Pasteur Elementary School dedicated the entire week of June 30 to celebrate Independence Day.

Classes learned about the historic day by researching the meaning of the 4th of July and reenacted the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Students showcased their patriotic enthusiasm by creating their own flags, banners and posters. The week concluded with an Independence Day Parade on June 30th outside of Pasteur.

DIA teacher puts DPS on the LitWorld map

Not only are the students at Detroit International Academy (DIA) for Young Woman showcasing their creative sides, teachers are too! DIA Teacher Carmen Perry created a fun and engaging song titled, “Read Along” for the students in her LitClub, an organization that fights women’s illiteracy. Now that same song is sung by girls across the globe.

According to Detroit Public Schools Office of Literacy Executive Director Deborah Winston, DPS is the only district in Michigan that has a partnership with LitWorld.

To view LitClubs in India and Haiti as they sing the “Read Along” song created by DIA, click the links below.

Haitian Creole-
Gujarati from India-


Carver S.T.E.M. Young Eagles Aviation Club prepares to take flight

Carver student Deanna Wilson and Dr. Brian Smith prepare to take off at Detroit's City Airport!

Carver student Deanna Wilson and Dr. Brian Smith prepare to take off at Detroit’s City Airport!

Dr. Brian Smith, the Director of the Tuskegee Airmen and sponsor of Carver S.T.E.M. Academy’s “Young Eagles Aviation Club,” is in his second year working with Carver students to educate them on Aviation and Aerospace careers.

Dr. Smith is also assisting Carver in partnering with Mr. Cliff Miller at Davis Aerospace Technical High School at Golightly so that students can further their aspirations with the hopes of graduating with a pilot’s license.

DPS Foundation and Detroit Free Press donate books to Carleton Elementary

Carleton Elementary School was one of five Detroit schools selected to receive free books to take home and read over the summer on Wednesday, June 25. The donation was provided by the Detroit Public Schools Foundation and Gift of Reading, a Detroit Free Press program that promotes reading and literacy in metro Detroit.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Gift of Reading granted the foundation $5,000 in April to purchase about 1,300 new books. Carleton received 280 books that were distributed to students in kindergarten through third grade.

Click here to read the Detroit Free Press article!

DPS teachers participate in the “Urban Forestry Teacher Institute”

groupZakiya Jackson and Diana Koss of Ralph J. Bunche Preparatory Academy and Theresa Clayton of Mark Twain School for Scholars are three Detroit Public Schools’ teachers who participated in the “Urban Forestry Teacher Institute” on Belle Isle June 23-27, 2014.

The event was coordinated by Michigan Technological University’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

Through readings, presentations, field trips, data collection and classroom activities, teachers gained new knowledge and outdoor teaching skills that can be incorporated into their science, social studies or math curriculum. They learned tree ID, forest measurements, forest health, disease and insect pests, forest soils, carbon sequestration, best management practices and sustainable forest management.

“The Urban Forest Stewardship Teacher Institute at Belle Isle in Detroit was dynamic,” Jackson said. “The entire week was jam-packed with information, resources and exciting lessons from experts in the fields of forestry, nature and environmental science. The collaboration with colleagues from across the state of Michigan was a wonderful addition. I look forward to implementing hands-on lessons and investigations for my students during the 2014-2015 school year on trees, birds and insects. My love for nature and wildlife has been ignited! It is my goal to inspire a sense of caring and stewardship in my students so that we can do our part in promoting the health of Michigan forests and the plants and animals that live there.”

Koss agreed. “This teacher institute has made me a much more informed teacher. I have learned so much information and participated in activities that have broadened my educational horizons. I never thought I would get into a kayak and enjoy it! I want to share these experiences with my students and have them participate in new hands-on educational experiences. I feel much more confident in my ability to impart this valuable information to them. Forests are amazing!”

“The Belle Isle Urban Forestry Teacher Institute was the best learning experience I have had this year!” Clayton said. “The hands-on learning activities were great. I can utilize the educational concepts we explored to enhance cross-curricular lessons for my students. The Project Learning Tree materials are very user-friendly and will help me educate students for many years to come.”

The institute was partially funded by grants from the US Forest Service and the Michigan Forest Association.

Life Remodeled breaks ground on construction of new football field for Detroit Public Schools’ Cody High School

Detroit Lions to Donate Goal Posts

DETROIT, July 11, 2014 – The Detroit Lions will donate goal posts for Detroit’s Cody High School as part of a plan by non-profit Life Remodeled to build a new football field at the school. Construction of the field is major step toward Life Remodeled’s goal of renovating the school and its surrounding neighborhood this summer.

The Cody Comets’ former field sat on the same location as the new field until 2006 when vandalism and lack of irrigation caused the turf to become unplayable, forcing the team to play all games at “away” venues. When completed, the field will also be home to eight Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL) youth football teams and one Detroit PAL youth soccer team.

The 90,000 sq. ft. synthetic turf gridiron will be built on the Stein Playfield, just northwest of the school.

The cost of the athletic field project is $650,000, of which $291,000 has already been raised. Major contributors include the Skillman Foundation, the United Auto Workers, and a number of metro-area churches.

“Life Remodeled has always operated financially on a just-in-time basis,” says Founder and President Chris Lambert. “All of our projects have been nail-biters, often with labor, materials, and money not coming through until the last minute. But we have wonderful partnerships with the community and local businesses and we have faith that the job will get done.”

In addition to the Lions, major supporters of the football field project include general contractor Barton Malow, Foresite Design, Pittsburgh-based ProGrass is providing the synthetic turf and Edw. C. Levy Co. is donating the base stone.

Mark Dandar of Mark Land Surveying, Jason Arnold of Creative Site Solutions, and Mike Mentz of Turnkey Enterprises are also donating their services.

“What drew Life Remodeled to Detroit Public Schools and, specifically to Cody, was the hope that they saw in the school community as well as the neighborhood within which it sits,” said Emergency Manager Jack Martin. “Even though we have significant financial challenges, we all have hope for brighter days for our students and the members of the Cody community. We are extremely grateful to the Life Remodeled team and all of their volunteers and donors, who have demonstrated true community partnership and have helped reinforce this sense of hope.”

Since 2011, Life Remodeled has built six new houses and beautified surrounding neighborhoods in six cities throughout southeastern Michigan – each in just six days. In 2014, they shifted their vision to the city of Detroit and its schools. The majority of the work will be performed from Aug. 11-17, 2014, but Life Remodeled will remain in partnership with Cody High School for one year to help address more long-term needs.

In addition to painting, landscaping, roof and electrical repairs, and updating classrooms, Life Remodeled will partner with students, administrators, community organizations, neighbors, churches, and local companies like General Motors and Quicken Loans to demolish 10 nearby abandoned houses, remodel 20 others, and beautify over 100 surrounding blocks. Nearby Mann and Henderson Elementary Schools will also receive light facelifts.
The Cody Rouge neighborhood has the second highest concentration of youth in Detroit – but also one of the highest rates of crime committed against young people in the city. In spite of these challenges, Cody has proudly established specialized academies of public leadership, medicine, and technology in addition to its regular curriculum. The school’s graduation rate has increased from 40 percent just four years ago to over 80 percent today.

About Life Remodeled: Life Remodeled is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization based in Detroit, Michigan that exists to remodel lives, one neighborhood at a time. Our strategy includes remodeling a Detroit Public School each summer in order to create academic and athletic improvements. In addition, we believe that if we partner with the local residents to remove blight in the surrounding areas and create safe and inspirational pathways to the schools, we will help to sustain and build up a neighborhood that radiates hope to the rest of the city. All of this is made possible by thousands of highly motivated volunteers and very generous donor partners who are unified in working towards a common goal: to radically transform our community with enduring sustainability.

Students: Heat Up Your Summer — Read! See details for the Accelerated Reader Reading Contest!

The Office of Literacy and Office of Library Media Services is sponsoring a “Heat Up Your Summer” with Accelerated Reader Reading Contest!

The Contest is for Grades 1-6 and will go on from June 30-July 18, 2014.

There will be six District winners, including one winner for each grade. Participants in Grades 1-5 will receive exciting books to build their home libraries. The 6th grade winner will receive a Nook from Barnes and Noble.

Winners of the contest will be announced on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

Final decisions are made by the Office of Literacy and Library Media Services.