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Planning and Progress: Preparing for the Next School Year

Excellent Schools Detroit's CEO Dan Varner discusses the second edition of Education, enrollment deadlines, the city’s educational options and much more

With the arrival of winter it's time to start planning for the next school year. Yes, really! Take time now to peruse GreatSchools.org to find out about enrollment deadlines, open houses, and more for all of the city's educational options.

This issue features three phenomenal people working in different ways to improve educational outcomes for kids in Detroit. I was so glad when I learned that Zina Davis' early learning program received the highest rating (five stars) available for early childhood programs from the State of Michigan. This means that her school, Children of the Rising Sun Early Childhood Institute, meets the very highest quality standards, the only one of its kind (for now) in Detroit. Another formidable advocate for quality education is Roquesha O'Neal. Roquesha, who sits on the Excellent Schools Detroit board of directors, is a parent advocate who has dedicated her life to ensuring that kids in the Osborn neighborhood get the support they need to achieve. Thirkell Elementary School art teacher Linda Rice has one of my favorite quotes in this issue: "I tell them to sketch lightly whenever we're drawing something. We don't use erasers in here. Then you can draw right on top of it, and that's where a lot of our creativity comes from," she says, adding, "Mistakes aren't really mistakes. They're just challenges to make us better."

Every issue of Education Detroit features On the Go Learning, ways to make learning happen beyond the classroom. This month, get hands-on with learning, learn about the healing power of touch for your littlest ones and take an arts and scraps family field trip. We've also packed our parent pages with ways you can help your student master math using video games and apps.

Mission Possible! In this issue we've included a step-by-step guide for getting your baby to college, from day one. And especially for the families of high school students, find out why the "FAFSA" is so important to complete and about the many resources available, many free, to Detroit parents and scholars.

When the news broke in December 2013 that Michigan received Race to the Top funding for early childhood education, there was a resounding cheer in the Excellent Schools Detroit office. The state won $51.2 million to benefit 182,000 children in Michigan ages 3 to kindergarten from low-income families. We hope this grant, along with state leaders' commitment to early learning, combines to create an increased sense of urgency in our state and in our communities about the power and importance of educating our youngest scholars.

This month, Excellent Schools Detroit is getting a few roommates. Along with the Detroit Area College Pre-Engineering Program and Linked Learning Detroit, we're moving to the Palms Building in Detroit's Central Business District. We're looking forward to creating a collaborative space for education-related organizations in the city.

Come visit us in February, when we've gotten unpacked and settled in. Or, just drop me a line. I want to hear what you think about this issue of Education Detroit.

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