School of the Week: Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy

At Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy, students are engaged in virtual learning in one of DPS’ small, self-governing high schools that is focused on college-readiness. Felicia Cook, fourth-year principal at Osborn Evergreen, has transformed the school that she says “used to be rough around the edges” into an outspoken, confident community that prides itself on being eco-friendly with state-of-the-art technology.

Osborn Evergreen 11th and 12th grade students have already started this journey with a program called E2020. E2020 is a virtual classroom that enhances each student’s ability to learn online as all class material including lectures, assignments and homework are readily available at the click of a mouse or swipe of a finger.

With one of Osborn’s core components being design, the school’s art program plays a critical role in shaping the students’ creative eye. Through Osborn Evergreen’s art program, students create ceramics, pottery, web design, paintings and free-hand drawings. Students have even used technology to design some elaborate car sketches.

Pierre Hawkins, an 11th grade student at Osborn Evergreen, expressed his enthusiasm toward art and design as he proudly shared a sample of his work on his Smartphone. “I think every student should have the opportunity to experience art,” he said.

Student-designed showcase windows are displayed throughout the school, many showcasing recycled material. Each month, several students are designated a window and act as ‘artistic directors’ in designing and executing the completion of the showcases. Students can use the showcase as a creative muse and paint, draw and assemble a masterpiece. Students have even designed three dimensional showcase displays.

Teaching students to be eco-conscious through science

Biology and Environmental Science teacher Ashley Marderosian infuses real-world concepts into her classroom by utilizing the 5E (engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration and evaluation) Lesson Plan Template, which allows students to explore the material before she reveals the answer.

The 5E Lesson Plan:

  • The teacher will engage students with a topic.
  • Students explore the topic with hands-on activities.
  • Students explain their findings.
  • Students elaborate on their findings.
  • The teacher will evaluate the students’ conclusion.

“It’s easy to get involved with real-world practices such as eco-conscious activities when you teach science,” Marderosian said.

Working with the environment and getting the local community involved is something Osborn Evergreen students do best. This year, the students worked with the Conner Creek Elderly Living to design and build flowerbeds that were installed around the Osborn campus.

“The students, as well as our community, have done a great job at cleaning up our campus and giving it a great look and feel. In the spring time, students will be designing and displaying their recycled sculptures to aid in the beautification of our campus,” Cook said.

Osborn Evergreen also has a highly active Recycling Program led by Marderosian. The Urban Farming Club and Environmental Club meet regularly to discuss what new and innovative projects students and staff can get involved with to help make their school more ‘green.’

“You wouldn’t believe what these students can do with an old bicycle or a few pop bottles. With these materials, they can design and construct a totally new object similar to the ones you see around the city of Detroit,” Cook said.

Teaching students to become leaders

Aside from helping them learn how to have a better appreciation of the environment, Cook is in sync with her young scholars and realizes communication is what drives her students to work hard.

Osborn Evergreen’s Student Council members have been deemed the “heartbeat of the school.” They are the “eyes and ears” on campus and take on many responsibilities at the school.

“Here at Osborn, we want to make sure our students are educated on character, integrity and accountability,” Cook said. “That’s why open communication between staff and students is so important.”

Osborn Evergreen 11th grade student Kitara Hamilton previously attended a different school and said there was no connection for her there.

“The school was so big it was to the point where the principal didn’t even know me, and you just had to get to your class,” she said. “I love Osborn because here they communicate with you and actually make you want to go to class.”

Hamilton was featured on FOX 2 to represent the Osborn Safety Station, an after-school program at Osborn open to 9th, 10th, and 11th graders. The Safety Station is committed to fostering a violence-free culture where young people can thrive. The Safety Station executive board members are often called upon by Cook and other teachers to rally students for assemblies and other activities regarding safety, violence prevention and positive youth development.

A critical part of Detroit Public Schools new Strategic Plan has been the Safe Routes Program and a Call to Action to generate more volunteers to help ensure all students get to and from school safely.

“There are many kids, teenagers and little ones who walk to school by themselves. We need adults and other authoritative figures to look out for us so that we get to school safely,” Hamilton said.

In early August, Detroit Public Schools announced a broad expansion of its Citizens Patrol programs to vastly increase Safe Routes for Detroit children and their families going to and from school. The expanded citizens patrols, which are part of a comprehensive, multi-agency program that has helped already to spur a sharp reduction in incidents, was one of the first initiatives to be implemented under the district’s new comprehensive five-year Strategic Plan.

A new target of 14 key school zones —including the Osborn community— was also announced as part of the five-year Strategic Plan. The additional volunteers will build upon highly active men’s patrol groups now watching routes and bus stops near the Cody High School campus, where Brothers on Patrol has a presence, and the Osborn High School campus, where MADE Men patrol. The M.A.N. Network also patrols several DPS schools. Those interested in volunteering should call 313-748-6008.

Something you didn’t know…

Dean of Culture and Special Education teacher Phillip Miller has become a role model and father figure to many Osborn Evergreen students. With Miller being so passionate about his students and their futures, he was essential in forming the 101 Men Tie opportunity.

Miller wanted at least 100 male students to wear business attire on October 10, 2013. The Evergreen males met their goal and hit 101 male students! On this day, shirt and tie donations poured in from students, staff and community supporters. Many male students learned how to tie a tie for the first time.

Read the full story in the Detroit Free Press »

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