Though it can take many forms, innovation is the name of the game for schools. Every parent is looking for something different, from a heavy emphasis on STEM to a back-to-basics foundational approach to a deep understanding of social justice and individual responsibility.
More and more, schools offer much more than a typical classroom setting. School is now a place for deep inquiry, social-emotional development and individualized learning. Many are expanding their reach to take on the role of a community hub, where whole families can participate and grow.
What every parent wants is a school where their child can dig in, engage and thrive. One thing is for certain: parents have many choices. Here, we share top Education Innovators we think are worth a look.
Young students at The Roeper School are learning creative problem solving, collaboration and resiliency in outdoor classrooms right on the Lower School’s Bloomfield Hills campus. This immersive outdoor learning experience is based on the European “forest school” concept that provides numerous benefits, especially for young learners. Outdoor, self-guided exploration contributes to increased self-esteem, self-regulation, physical and mental health and a host of other benefits for children.
This COVID year has been especially rough on parents of preschool children. With many early childhood education sites closed or in virtual mode, parents worry the disruption to their child’s educational and social-emotional routines might have a negative long-term effect. Rather than stress about the day-to-day, take a long view and be reassured that ultimately, your child will get through this experience. An early childhood expert from Oakland Schools shares positive, no-stress ways to support your preschooler right now.
At Academy of the Sacred Heart, students of many cultures and faiths gain a Catholic, college-preparatory education for girls (infant-grade 12) and boys (infant-grade 8). To educate the whole child, Sacred Heart’s five goals build a foundation of academic, spiritual and social life. Through personal and active faith in God, respect for intellectual values, social awareness that impels to action, the building of community as a Christian value and personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom, young women in the Upper School (Grades 9-12) benefit from a holistic framework for their world, their communities, their choices and their lives.
With technology and family resource hubs, grab-and-go meals and a variety of enrollment options, the Detroit Public Community Schools District is rising so that students have the resources they need to grow academically, socially, and emotionally. Whether face-to-face or online, DPSCD knows that every school day counts for students’ development and success. DPSCD recognizes it takes a community effort to ensure as many students as possible are engaged and eager to learn. Participation in class is essential in preparing for students’ rise.
Relationships and trust between students and teachers are the foundation for successful experiences at Aim High School. At Aim High School, a tuition-based private school in Farmington Hills for sixth- to 12th-grade kids with learning and social differences, the most important goal is building strong trust between students and teachers. At Aim High School, relationships are everything — so critical that they are a top priority for success in school and in life.
How does a school nurture socially aware, responsible children who are engaged in their learning environment? At Creative Montessori Academy, a tuition-free K-8 public school in Southgate, students learn according to the Montessori Method by leading their educational exploration, building success after success through personal engagement with academic content to build high-level thought and real-world applications. Check out the school’s fee-based preschool, too!
At Ivywood Classical Academy, a tuition-free public school academy in Plymouth, moral and intellectual leadership stems from a classical and rigorous liberal arts and sciences education. Here, students study Latin and Greek, read classic novels, recite poetry and engage in respectful dialogue through the Socratic method. Ivywood is currently a K-6 academy, adding one grade each year until it becomes a full K-12 school.
Building character is commonplace in Livonia Public Schools, where students, staff and administrators know when students feel respected, cared for and confident, they will do their best learning. The state’s 10th largest school district — which serves more than 14,000 students and employs nearly 2,000 staff members — embarked on its Community with Character initiative a few years ago and has watched it blossom throughout its 23 school communities. Here, students and staff deepen their interpersonal skills while achieving academic excellence.
When Grosse Pointe Public School System created a strategy to return students and staff to school last fall, they put innovation at the heart of their plan. Because the future of the coronavirus pandemic was still uncertain, they knew flexibility would be important, but even more critically, they wanted to retain relationships and connections in ways that worked for all. And, in some cases, innovation provided the district the opportunity to learn new — and better — ways of getting work done.
In Ypsilanti Community Schools, the words “you belong” resonate throughout every action to wrap around not just students, but families, teachers, staff and the whole community. YCS is a great place to be, particularly for PreK-5 families who are just beginning their educational journey, or who are looking to make a change. That spirit of belonging echoes again and again throughout many district initiatives, including supported academic rigor, learning labs, a resiliency center and proactive support for all families.
Last fall, the youngest students in Farmington Public Schools opened the doors to the new Farmington Early Childhood Center, a renovated and expanded facility that replaces two previous early childhood centers in the district. Here, children in all programs — the birth to 3-year-old Early On program, the Head Start program. the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) and tuition-based preschool program — engage with highly skilled instructors who undergo continual professional development. Each program is designed to provide the very best early childhood educational experience.
Through its commitment to diversity, Detroit Waldorf School exposes children to a wide pool of global ideas, stories and historical figures, embracing universal concepts far beyond the typical units of study. At this PK-8 school in Detroit’s Indian Village, students engage with multicultural and multisensory experiences designed to challenge and inspire the whole child. Innovative teaching methods motivate the gifts and talents of every student to meet the goal of building independent, confident thinkers ready to apply their skills to future challenges.
The year just before kindergarten is when a 4-year-old learns about the routines of the classroom, learns to recognize letters and numbers and begins to share toys with friends. By all accounts, this is a year that shouldn’t be missed. M.L. King, Jr. Academy, a center for early childhood education in Mount Clemens Community Schools, has spaces available for 4-year-old students in the Great Start Readiness Program. Students do not have to live in Mount Clemens to attend school, making King Academy a wonderful option for students in nearby communities and for students whose parents work in or near Mount Clemens.