School of the Week: Burton International Academy

Infusing multiculturalism into young minds to educate the next generation of global achievers

One of Burton International Academy Principal John Wilson’s favorite quotes is: It takes teamwork to make the dream work!”

With a mixture of top-notch teachers and a variety of ethnic and multicultural offerings, Burton International Academy prides itself on encouraging and preparing all students from diverse backgrounds to compete in a global society.

Nestled between historic Corktown and the bustling Midtown cultural district, Burton is an application school serving Pre-K to grade 8. To support the rich ethnic, racial and cultural heritage of his students, Principal Wilson and his staff tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of all students through offerings such as the popular Social Studies program.

In teacher Matthew Guyton’s Social Studies class, students have an entire month to research and learn about a new culture. Students also learn about a multitude of cultures at their own school such as African American Achievers. On a recent Monday afternoon, students were tasked with selecting a notable African American, researching that person’s background and presenting their findings to the class.

Eighth-grade students KaiLynn Taylor-Hawkins and Myaah Hart-Powell enthusiastically educated their classmates on the achievements of Alvin Alley and his successful dance career, and Michael Jackson and his musical journey that touched the lives of many people world-wide.

“Social Studies excites me because I am able to learn new things about the people that came before me,” says Rajwan Kadir, an eighth-grader at Burton.

Burton’s Diversity Club also aids in strengthening the students’ knowledge and passion for different cultures. This multicultural club provides students with an opportunity to explore other culture’s customs, activities and habits in order to become more aware of other ethnicities.

“I love being a part of the Diversity Club because it has really opened my eyes to see that there are so many different types of people in the world. Once you are open to learning about others, you have so many options available to you,” says eighth-grader Camryn Smith.

Smith, whose favorite subject is Math and aspires to become an engineer, says that because Burton is so diverse culturally and academically, she feels socially prepared to start high school and has already started researching colleges.

Burton scholars are encouraged to broaden their horizons not only culturally, but academically to become technology-savvy high achievers. Around every corner at Burton International, one can spot some type of advanced technology. From Netbooks to Promethium boards, students are fluent in their technology-infused curriculum. Kindergarten students are able to take you step-by-step when operating a Promethium board just as every other student naturally utilizes their Netbooks to regularly complete assignments.

The students of English Language Arts teacher Lynnette Martin kick differentiated learning up a notch by separating into groups and utilizing technology for each assignment. Group one researches the assigned task on the internet, while group two discusses the assignment using electronic books to quickly flip through sections.

“This method is very popular amongst the students because they all learn differently. The technology makes things so much easier and allows them to research and find things so much more quickly,” Martin says.

Because Burton is so academically advanced, the school provides an excellent college preparatory curriculum. Burton was recently adopted by Wayne State University and now has its very own army of Wayne State University Warriors in-house to help pave the way for Burton students.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions at WSU, with the help of several university departments, provides mentors, sets up parent meetings and classroom visits, and offers college and career information to incoming eighth-grade Burton International students with the adoption of Burton’s middle school wing.

The partnership aims to inform both students and parents about high school curriculum requirements and collegiate requirements while also highlighting a range of professional fields and careers that students can work toward.

Something you didn’t know…

Burton was named one of the city’s 20 top-performing kindergarten through eighth-grade schools by Excellent Schools Detroit in 2013 and ranked in the top 100 schools in the state by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in 2013.

Burton’s stellar academic program and its scholars have won distinguished awards from an array of prestigious organizations including: The Skillman Foundation, Greening of Detroit and the DPS Office of Multicultural and Bilingual Studies (Gold Cup).

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