Opening of new Drew Transition Center marks upgrade in building, programming to serve adult special-needs students

Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542
Kisha Verdusco at 313-873-8401

$5.2 million renovation adds onsite police station and space for Special Education Directors

Detroit Public Schools this week opened the new Charles R. Drew Transition Center, facility that will significantly improve the educational opportunities and services provided to special-needs adults ages 20-26.

The center is housed in the former Drew Middle School, which recently underwent a $5.2 million renovation that allows DPS to adequately serve the nearly 500 students who previously attended Detroit Transition Center East and Detroit Transition Center West.

“I have been an advocate for special-needs students for many, many years, and when I visited the Detroit Transition Centers last year and saw how inadequate the facilities were, I knew something had to be done,” said DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb. “We were able to tap unused dollars from the 1994 bond to give these students and their families a building that finally gives everyone equal access to the wonderful programming offered here.”

Students who attend Drew Transition Center are visually impaired, hearing impaired, moderately and severely cognitively impaired, physically impaired, otherwise health impaired, and autistic. They learn independent living and employability skills in real-life environments, both within the school site and out in the community.

The renovated school combines the best programs of DTC East and DTC West in a bright, well-equipped facility that features a Main Street retail promenade that includes a new wheelchair-accessible theater, along with a working bank, laundry facility, beauty salon, retail clothing store, convenience store, gym and post office. Life-sized images of real banks and post offices and even the new Drew Store, along with benches and trees add realism to the facades along Main Street.

The renovated building features:

  • 32 classrooms
  • 11 life skills labs that teach work skills in packaging and light assembly, landscaping/horticulture, cosmetology, clerical and custodial, so students can obtain employment. There are also two simulated apartments and a personal grooming lab for teaching independent living skills.
  • 10 Main Street simulated environments: a bank, fitness center, copy center, government center, post office, retail store, convenience store, theater, salon and Laundromat
  • A gymnasium
  • Nurses clinic
  • Occupational therapy/physical therapy room
  • Speech and language therapy room
  • Psychological services / School Social Work services room
  • Student and teacher lounges

“We strive to give our students an experience that closely mirrors what they will encounter when they are on their own,” said Principal Rita Footman. “Our goal is to have students leave us equipped to live on their own, obtain employment and support themselves. The new building provides a more realistic environment and will ease their transition to life after Drew.”

The former Detroit Transition Centers included simulated environments, including a personal grooming lab, convenience store and caf

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