What if 90 percent of the children in Detroit graduated high school and 90 percent of them went to college? The effect would be immense. That standard is the goal of Detroit 90/90, but the work needs to start early in a child’s schooling for that happen.
University Prep Science & Math Elementary School has announced that beginning in the fall of 2013, incoming students will learn from an innovative curriculum model called STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit will provide the arts component of the educational model through a joint venture.
Located on Detroit’s eastside, University Prep Science & Math Elementary School – Sidney D. Miller campus (UPSM) is in the historic Miller High School building. School leaders say the addition of an arts component to the curriculum will give students enhanced learning skills for their future.
Geneva Williams, Interim CEO of Detroit 90/90 which oversees UPSM and University Prep Academy (UPA), says they have had five successful graduating classes throughout the two systems. “We believe success for children starts in kindergarten,” she says. “UPSM is making a difference.”
“The new UPSM Elementary School-Sidney D. Miller Campus is focused on not only developing students who do well on standardized tests, but also students who have the habits of work and habits of mind necessary to succeed in our charter school district’s middle and high school and, more important, who are fully prepared for college and careers,” said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, superintendent of UPSM Schools. “UPSM will celebrate Miller’s historic and powerful past as we introduce and ignite enthusiasm for its future with expeditionary learning and a powerful arts-infused approach supported by Marygrove College.”
In addition to providing the solid arts foundation for K-5 students, the partnership provides a 20-year rehearsal and administrative home for Mosaic Youth Theatre, which was founded in 1992 by Rick Sperling. In addition to this new partnership with UPSM, Mosaic works each year with more than 165 children from 50 schools in the area with its award-winning Youth Ensemble. Another 1,000 youth participate in its First Stage programs in schools and community centers across metro Detroit.
The historic Miller High School building was Detroit’s first predominantly African American high school. The $13.5 million renovation project is part of the more than $110 million investor Bob Thompson has put into UPDM and UPA.
“I saw a need and decided to do something to make a difference” said Thompson. “It’s not the buildings, but the great people that do the work.” Thompson says his only requirement for the large donation was “’I had to see results in the kids.” A significant gift that is changing the lives of a lot of young people.
Marygrove College Institute for Arts Infused Education also played a role, granting the charter for the new school.
The new UPSM Elementary School will be the primary feeder school for UPSM Middle School, which opened in 2008. The middle school is the single highest performing free-standing charter middle school in the state of Michigan. UPSM says 90 percent of incoming 9th graders graduate and go on to college.
“This partnership with the Thompson Foundation and UPSM is an exciting opportunity for Mosaic to empower many more Detroit young people through the arts while also providing a long-term home for our city-wide programs,” said Mosaic’s Sperling. “The history and significance of Miller High School and its active alumni association are tremendous assets for student learning, culture and community building and community engagement.”
Williams pointed out that the school, which has a capacity of 450 students, still has room. Anyone interested in enrollment should call (313) 806-9486.