Category: Community Written by G. Strand
Carleton Elementary School focus on the basics pays dividends
Detroit Public Schools (DPS) investment in its Universal Pre-K plan designed to invest early in students through expanded preschool programs for all eligible four-year-olds is already showing promise at Carleton Elementary School, where students are excited to learn. And that, according to published studies, leads to improved academic success and higher graduation rates. - Editor
Educators and parents who are searching for the secret to make students absolutely love coming to school—look no further. Carleton Elementary School kindergarten teacher Marla Nenninger offers her top-secret tip for molding children into life-long learners: lots of smiles.
Nenninger said her main strategy with any lesson plan created for the district’s early learners is to “make sure they’re having a blast with every single assignment, and if you see lots of smiles, that means they’re enjoying learning.”
“We are the start of their education, so you want to make learning fun for them,” she said. “Every day, I hear kids saying ‘I love school.’ That, I feel as a kindergarten teacher, is my job—to make them love school starting now so that when they’re in first grade, second grade and beyond, they’ll continue to love learning.”
Investing early in our youngest learners
District leaders had that same mind set when Detroit Public Schools launched a Universal Pre-Kindergarten initiative in July by adding Pre-K classrooms across the district, vastly expanding early childhood offerings to eligible students.
Carleton is one of nearly two dozen schools to add a new Pre-K classroom during the 2013-2014 school year under the district’s five-year Strategic Plan. In total, DPS now operates Pre-K classrooms at nearly 70 schools with a capacity for 3,530 young learners.
As part of a recent science unit for Carleton’s early learners, a kindergarten class explored the five senses through rotating stations set up in the school’s cafeteria. The activities were also tied to Halloween.
At the sight station, students made small Halloween-themed headbands. They were required to use various shapes and colors like bright blue and orange stars, yellow rectangles and green circles in the design and then accurately identify each item before adding it to their headband.
At the hearing center, the students excitedly grabbed their headphones to listen to stories on a CD. To make the project even more interactive, each student was provided with a handout showcasing different body parts. They were instructed to record what they were doing by circling the body part they were using and drawing a picture of themselves illustrating the activity.
The smell center featured tiny cups with different scents for student to guess, causing scrunched noses and tiny giggles as they smelled some “stinky stuff,” as one kindergartener proclaimed. At the touch center, each student took a turn at reaching their hand into a large decorated bag to guess which slimy, cold, rubbery or rough object they were feeling.
Perhaps the most fun of all was the taste center, where students used miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and pretzel sticks to make a witch’s broom and fudge striped cookies with a Hershey’s Kiss to make the witch’s hat.
“Look at these kids; they’re having a blast,” Nenninger said. “They’re having so much fun that they don’t even realize their learning.”
Three E’s for success: ‘Expecting Everything Excellent’
The positive, enthusiastic demeanor of dedicated teachers starts with the head educator at Carleton: Principal Lachelle Williams. With an entirely new staff—more than 90% of the teachers and administrators were hand-picked by Williams this year—Williams said Carleton is headed in a new direction where all staff members share the same mission.
“We are a highly effective group of educators who have a passion for teaching, learning and having fun,” Williams said. “We work very hard to follow the mission and the goals as stated by the leaders of our district. Therefore, our students receive a quality educational experience from teachers who are experts in their content areas and who work very hard trying to engage and involve parents in all aspects of their child’s teaching and learning.”
Williams said she expects nothing less than excellence from her team, something that is evident upon entering the school. As you walk the hallways of Carleton, there is a common theme of expecting excellence plastered on the walls.
The words “Expect Excellence” are painted in bold black letters above a glass showcase welcoming visitors to the school. A banner that reads “Soaring to Excellence” hangs in bright green letters above recent MEAP test scores in the main hallway.
On an adjacent wall, “Making Excellence a Necessity” sprawls above smaller posters with photos and messages that teach students about attitude, generosity, perseverance, goals, strength, discipline and—of course—excellence.
To ensure students are performing at excellent academic levels, Carleton teachers utilize differentiated instruction that is focused on testing data.
“We looked at MEAP, MAP, DIBELS, Star Reading and Star Math assessment scores. We also looked at formative and informative assessment data,” Williams said. “We have weekly Grade-Level Team meetings and we do lots of planning. We also made sure our teachers received training in the areas of Response to Intervention and Differentiation of Instruction.”
Nenninger added, “Every single teacher here at every grade level is so dedicated to making sure students enjoy learning,” she said. “I feel very fortunate to be working with them. And I can’t tell you enough how much our principal works for the students. Her number one priority is to get the students here, and make them want to be here. She also gives her staff everything that we could possibly hope for to help us help our students.”
Word of Carleton’s strong academic program is spreading quickly throughout the community. Williams said she started the school year with an anticipated enrollment of 182 students. The school now has more than 300 students enrolled.
Parents make the difference
Educators and administrators admit they aren’t making such strides alone. Parent involvement plays a crucial role in both student achievement and maintaining the day-to-day operations at Carleton. Two parent volunteers are known on a first-name basis by Carleton students and staff as they help out daily at the school.
Michael Jackson, president of the Carleton PACSA (Parent Advisory Council on Student Achievement), and John Fitzgerald, a grandparent at Carleton, provide daily support to teachers, office staff members, students in the classrooms and even on the fields during after-school athletic programs.
Fitzgerald, a retiree, is a full-time volunteer for not only Carleton, but also the M.A.N. Network which patrols several DPS schools to help support the district’s Safe Routes program.
“My main goal is to be a presence as a man because we don’t have a lot of men in our schools,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s always the women who are volunteering, and I feel deeply in my heart that men should have a presence in their kid’s lives. Having men around makes a big difference, especially with discipline.”
“Any parent should volunteer—just to be a presence in your child’s life,” Fitzgerald added. “It makes them feel proud to have their parents in school helping. The students need you. They really need you to be here. The teachers can’t do it all.”
John Fitzgerald’s grandson Jay’Ante Fitzgerald, 9, is a fourth-grader at Carleton. Grandpa’s giving spirit has rubbed off tremendously on Jay’Ante. During the School of the Week visit, he was busy in the cafeteria helping the kindergartners complete their five senses project. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Jay’Ante responded, “A doctor or a police officer because I like to help people.”
Even when sharing what his favorite sports programs are at the school, such as basketball and soccer offered through the district’s new Elementary-Middle School Sports League, Jay’Ante shared that he likes to help his teammates score more points.
“Even if we don’t win, we have fun together,” he said proudly with a grin. “That’s called good sportsmanship.”
In addition to basketball and soccer, students also enjoy flag football, dance, cheerleading, science club, drama and drill team as after-school activities.
As for having his granddad around all the time, Jay’Ante had this to say: “I like that we both get to be here. I would be happy for other kids if their parents were here all the time too. Maybe they would be smarter like me. My teachers love me. I get all A’s and B’s.”
Editor’s Note: Carleton Elementary School is located at 11724 Casino Street, Detroit MI, 48224-1173. For additional information, call: 313.866.8322
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 15:09
Category: Community Written by Eugene Jenkins
Heavy equipment, dump trucks, and construction workers will be a normal scene along the Woodward Avenue corridor while M-1 RAIL builds a 3.3-mile modern streetcar system between Downtown and North End, but before that can happen they need qualified local contractors to bid on the work.
On Monday, Nov. 18, M-1 RAIL’s Construction Manager Stacy and Witbeck in partnership with the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) will host a “Pre-Bid Meeting” for local contractors from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at NextEnergy, 461 Burroughs, Detroit, MI 48202.
“It is a top priority of our leadership and the entire M-1 RAIL team to have as many local, Michigan and Detroit-based businesses as possible secure work on this project,” said Paul Childs, chief operating officer for M-1 RAIL. “We are regulated by very specific federal guidelines pertaining to contracting services, but we feel hosting meetings like this will help to prepare our local companies to bid on the millions of dollars of work that will be made available through this project.”
A visit to the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council online registration for the pre-bid meeting provides a quick snapshot of the types of sub-contractors, service providers and material suppliers that are needed to complete the streetcar project. From trucking companies and rebar installers to saw-cutting experts and security, there are plenty of needs that are just waiting for a local company to fill.
“When it comes to major civic projects, it is critical that local residents and community members have a stake in its success,” said Louis Green, president and CEO of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. “Local involvement adds a layer of trust and accountability to civic projects, a factor that cannot be understated.”
The “Pre-Bid Meeting” is open to any local area contractor and MMSDC members. Registration can be done online at www.minoritysupplier.org/event/m-1-rail-pre-bid-meeting/ or by calling 313-481-4782.
The bid packages for various portions of the construction work will be released before the end of the year.
A California based company, Stacy and Witbeck is considered to be the premier construction manager /general contractor for building streetcar systems in urban areas. Together with local contracting partners from each city, they have successfully constructed more than 250 miles of track for rail transit systems across the United States.
“Stacy and Witbeck has an excellent tradition of working with minority vendors on their rail and civil construction projects around the country,” said Green “As they entered the Michigan market, it made perfect sense to formalize a partnership that would help them to connect with Michigan’s talented pool of certified minority business enterprises.”
“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council to host this pre-bid meeting,” said Tom Gilman, CM/GC Project Manager for Stacy and Witbeck. “Their talent pool runs deep with local expertise and it’s our hope to be able to work with many of them to construct the Woodward Avenue Streetcar system.”
The $140-million streetcar project is a unique public-private partnership that has received significant financial backing from foundations and the private sector, which has freed-up city government to focus its resources on core services. Construction activities in the area south of Adams to Larned are expected to begin before the end of the year.
When it’s all said and done, officials with M-1 RAIL and others believe the streetcar will accelerate the transformation of the Woodward Avenue by becoming the economic catalyst needed to spur investment, create jobs and connect residents, employees and visitors to other mode of transit that travel across Southeast Michigan.
To learn more about M-1 RAIL’s effort to build the Woodward Avenue streetcar, visit www.M-1RAIL.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 15:02
Category: Community Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
A state panel approved the 30-year state lease of Belle Isle, according to reports in Crain's Detroit.
The state panel Board met in Lansing Tuesdy afternoon. The board, all appointees of Gov. Rick Snyder, did not consider Detroit City Council's counterproposal for a 10-year lease, and passed the 30-year lease unanimously.
On Oct. 1, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Snyder signed the proposed 30-year lease of Belle Isle to turn it into a state park.
Included in the announcement of the proposed lease was the promise that the state would invest $10 million to $20 million in the 985-acre park within the next three years.
Read More: Crains Detroit
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 10:14
Category: Community Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
Michigan Education Savings Program’s new holiday e-gifting plan makes it easy to add to a college savings account
Just in time for the holidays, the Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP) has unwrapped a new program that allows family and friends to contribute toward a child’s college education with only a few stirrings of a computer mouse.
MESP’s e-gifting program allows account holders – such as parents – to send a tactful, prewritten email inviting grandparents, aunts, uncles and other gift givers to contribute to a child’s existing MESP college savings fund.
The email contains a link that, when clicked on, takes the family member or friend to a secure web page, where he or she can use a credit card or e-check to make a gift of $25 or more to an existing MESP account.
The e-gifting program conveniently allows family and friends to make contributions without having to know or enter the number of the account or the investment option to which they’re contributing.
“We’re proud to make it as easy as possible for people to provide a gift that can literally last a lifetime,” said Michael Noone, president of TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., which manages MESP on behalf of the state of Michigan. “A contribution to a college education fund will continue to make a difference in a loved one’s life long after he or she outgrows clothes or wears out a toy.”
Noone notes that, if preferred, family and friends can also send a check or money order (with the account number and investment option they’re contributing to clearly indicated) or even open their own MESP account for a child.
The entire process of making an e-gift requires only a couple of minutes to complete, and account holders receive a confirmation that a contribution was made. Also, family and friends who contribute can download and complete an MESP Gift of Education Certificate, which they can wrap, frame or place in a card to present to a child as a gift.
All contributions are invested according to the investment allocation the account owner has established. Friends and family members can only contribute to the account; they can’t choose how the money is invested.
Contributions to an MESP account may also qualify for estate and gift tax benefits as well as state of Michigan income tax deductions. Those making contributions should consult a tax adviser for details.
MESP is administered by the Michigan Department of Treasury, which chose TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., to manage the plan in November 2000.
Today, the plan manages more than $3.5 billion on behalf of the nearly 114,000 families who are saving for college with an MESP account. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., is one of the nation’s largest 529 program managers and currently manages 11 state programs, including Michigan’s.
MESP is one of three Michigan Section 529 plans, all of which offer Michigan taxpayers a state income tax deduction on contributions and potential tax-free growth on any earnings if account proceeds are used to pay for qualified expenses.
MESP can be used at any eligible college, university or trade school in the nation and some abroad for a variety of qualified expenses, including tuition, mandatory equipment, fees, certain room and board costs and books. Limitations apply.
See the MESP Disclosure Booklet for details.
To learn more about MESP, visit MIsaves.com or contact us at 877-861-6377.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 14:07
Category: Community Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
The Detroit City Council will host an evening community meeting on Tuesday, November 19, from 7 - 8:30 p.m. at Wayne County Community College District Eastern Campus, located at 5901 Conner Avenue. All residents and community or neighborhood organizations in the area are encouraged to attend the meeting.
Citizens and organizations have the opportunity to submit by phone, prior to the meeting, their specific concerns, addresses of problem locations, or other community-related issues. An interpreter for the hearing impaired will be available if requested at least 48 hours in advance.
To arrange for an interpreter, call 224-4946. For information about the evening community meetings, or the process to submit questions and concerns, call (313) 224-4946.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 09:52
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