Holiday Learning Fest is a big hit!

Some 150 community and parent volunteers, in addition to two Teachers-in-Charge per building, are devoting their time to Detroit Public Schools’ Holiday Learning Fest, a first-time program that kicked off December 27, where 18 participating schools will provide academic support and remediation, free meals and food baskets over the holiday break to more than 1,000 students who have registered to date. The district also will offer special parent workshops in seven Parent Resource Centers.

Said Harms Elementary Principal Karen White: “One father commented,  ‘I bought all these games and toys for Christmas and you would think she would want to stay home and want to play with them but my daughter wants to be here (at Harms)!’  The children are having a ball!”

Through the brand new Holiday Learning Fest, a program sponsored in part by the Office of Food Services, 18 schools will remain open to students for six days (December 27, 28, 29, 2011 and January 3, 4, 5, 2012) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to provide learning, fun activities and nourishment for students. At two of the participating schools, Marcus Garvey and Osborn Academy, DPS has partnered with the St. John Health System to offer clinics, which include free immunizations and health screenings.

Seven Parent Resource Centers are open, offering special workshops and take-home academic toolkits.

Check out our latest BLOG on our volunteers!

Inside DPS: Faces of Volunteers Tell the Real Story

 Some of the stories we’ve heard:

Ann Crowley, Beard Elementary School Teacher

“Many teachers from this building are volunteering, as well as community partners and parents,” Crowley said.  “There are just a wealth of people who are volunteering to help our students stay on track during the break. One main goal of this program is to help them stay fresh so that they don’t forget over the course of two weeks all they’ve been learning throughout the school year.”

*65 children are registered to attend the week-long event, all kindergarten and first-graders.

Sabrina Evans, Principal at Beard Elementary School

“I’m so excited about this program and what it means for our students,” Evans said. “But I’m even more excited about how our teachers have stepped up to volunteer their time during the holiday season. It’s amazing how dedicated they are to helping their students in any way possible.”

Tom Watkins, Business Education Consultant for the U.S. and China, and former State Superintendent

(Served on school board from 2001-2005)

“There are a number of great teachers in the state and the Detroit Public School District,” said Watkins. “When they’re willing to volunteer their time, I’m more than willing to step in any that I can. … Coming into a school like this and seeing all of these bright, beautiful, smiling facing—how can you be a Grinch?  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Christmas break.”

Watkins convinced friends, family members and the Northville District Library to donate more than 400 age-appropriate books to the Learning Fest.

Some of the events at Beard:

*Academic activities included reading and performing plays, as well as math Bingo

*Dozens of students participated all with matching t-shirts provided by the Office of Food Service

* The students also engaged in healthy-choice activities. The physical education teacher also organized a large motor skills game with a parachute in the hallway.

James Tate, Detroit City Councilman

“I’m really appreciative of Detroit Public Schools for providing this opportunity for our children and families,” Tate said. “I understand the importance of a program like this. … If you could have one second that can change your life, imagine what six days can do to change the lives of these students.”

Rebecca Nadis, Volunteer with City Year Americorps Service Organization

“When the opportunity is offered to be involved with anything that involves Detroit youth and education, I’m in!” said Rebecca Nadis, City Year Volunteer. “This program is very important to our organization, and serving the youth of Detroit is very important to me. I can’t think of a better way to spend my day than with these children. They’re so cheerful and just happy to be learning.”

City Year has about 80 17-24-year-olds who have dedicated a year of service through targeted intervention programs to keep students on track to graduate. Nadis said her program promotes the “ABCs of Learning”—Attendance, Behavior, and Course Work.

“I love working with students,” Nadis said. “The Learning Fest is giving students the opportunity to get extra learning and have extra fun.  It’s a wonderful program and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

During the six days of the Fest, DPS will run a Service Response Center for volunteers or parents who have questions regarding the Holiday Learning Fest at 313-578-7100.

Post your stories, tidbits, photos of the Fest on the  Official DPS Facebook Fan Page or email them to



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