Retirees help Detroit schools

From the May-June 2017 issue of News & Letters

Detroit—At least two communities in Detroit are forging new relationships with schools that have been labeled failing or low-performing or simply referred to as bad. The idea is that communities, neighborhoods surrounding the schools, can provide support to schools in ways that have only begun to be explored.

Teacher to her class-graphicAt Southeastern High School, parents, alumni and supporters have organized a 5K run fundraiser. At Henry Ford High School, retired teachers and community residents will assist a “Credit Recovery Program,” in which one teacher is helping 43 seniors who need to make up credits in order to graduate.

Earlier this spring Henry Ford asked community members to attend meetings with three different agencies sent to evaluate the school. All of the agencies asked, “Why are the test scores so low?” We told them that years of chaos, changing administrations and characterization as a “bad school” were a tremendous drain on the morale of students, parents, teachers and staff.

We also helped them see that, despite this, the school had fostered a strong family atmosphere. We pointed out student posters in the hallways telling the world what the school meant to them: “This is my family,” “The teachers care about us,” “Proud to be a Trojan.” Community members are arranging to provide ongoing support during the summer and the next school year. Residents, businesses and churches can all support the work of the school and promote the good things that are already happening.

—Retired Detroit teacher

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