Educators know that when kids build strong relationships with their teachers, they learn better and are more invested in their education. That’s why — from PreK through high school — teachers at Mount Clemens Community Schools work hard to connect with their students to build those relationships.
“Children learn through love and affection and patience. That’s why relationships are so very important,” says Monique Beels, superintendent of Mount Clemens Community Schools. “Our teachers understand that.”
In early childhood and throughout elementary school, teachers at Mount Clemens Community Schools emphasize social-emotional learning. Through this, students learn how to build relationships with their teachers and collaborate with their peers.
They have ample opportunities for social-emotional learning from the earliest age at M.L. King Jr. Academy, Mount Clemens Community Schools’ early childhood center. Here young learners engage with the research-based Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), Michigan’s state-funded preschool program for 4 year olds. As they move on to Seminole Academy, K-5 students grow together, continuing to practice the skills they learned in preschool and discovering their own potential in an environment of kindness, dignity and respect.
Growing lifelong learners
As they reach middle and high school, Mount Clemens Community Schools scholars benefit from the small size of the district, which allows teachers to get to know their students for individualized instruction.
“Our teachers really honor each child’s individuality,” says Beels. “They work very hard to reach students where they are and move them forward from that point. Being small really helps us to do that. You are not just a name here.”
At the high school level, teachers help kids see potential in themselves as future college students and career-ready workers. Beels, a former high school physics and chemistry teacher herself, watches as teachers recognize gifts and talents in their students in the same way she did.
“Kids know what their teachers dream for them and what they believe they are capable of achieving,” Beels says, adding that positive role models and strong relationships with supportive teachers can make a big difference in kids’ lives.
“Because they have developed close relationships with their teachers, kids see this potential in themselves and it becomes a part of who they are, too,” she says.
Supporting families, too
Parents who call to speak to the superintendent often get her on the phone directly — a big surprise when they expected only to get as close as an assistant or secretary. “Families learn that we are here and are responsive and that we really want their kids here, which is so important, especially in the time of COVID,” Beels says.
Mount Clemens Community Schools has added additional social workers and trained teachers and staff in trauma-focused support to help students who are struggling. School board members, administration and leadership recognize the importance of this level of support, too. “We have created outreach for students and parents so they know we have the programs they need,” she says.
One positive from the pandemic that will continue is the ease of meeting with families over Zoom. “We’ve seen more participation in parent-teacher conferences and even in our school board meetings because of Zoom,” Beels says. “We will continue to do what is easiest for parents, many of whom are working two or three jobs to make ends meet.”
Ultimately, Beels wants families to know how much the district cares about them and their children. “We want to build relationships,” she says. “We are here and we are not going anywhere.”
Learn more about Mount Clemens Community Schools at mtcps.org.