|Re-Imagining Education. Children who attend the Boggs Educational Center walk to school each morning. Some walk with their parents, some with their siblings. This is easy to do; their school is located in their neighborhood.They play on the way, meet up with friends. They say hello to the adults they have come to know while walking this route since kindergarten. They pass gardens that they help senior citizens tend. They may stop to pick a weed or to filch a ripe cherry tomato. They pass art installations that double as functional play equipment and swing or jump or climb. They know all the tricks; they have helped design and build them.From the kids who have attended this school since its inception to the very new arrivals, everyone feels safe. They are surrounded by people who love them and who will look out for them and they know this to be true. They have risen to the high level of academic and social expectations asked of them at their school. The community has also risen to the level of support they need to be whole, healthy, and strong.
Their school does not open at 7am and close at 3pm. Instead there is activity all day and all year round. The school is known for its beauty. Flowers, murals and sculptures decorate the grounds. It is also known for developing the potential of both the children and the adults involved. It has helped to stabilize the neighborhood. Jobs at the school have drawn carpenters, electricians, and artists–who in turn, have wanted their own children to attend. Because of the school, families seek to stay in the neighborhood, passing along news of apartments with decent rents. Once vacant houses are being renovated as community projects to improve the safety and viability of the neighborhood. And there are after-school and summer apprenticeships for older students to participate in its revitalization. The school has improved the quality of life in Detroit.
Math and science concepts are learned from activities that serve the community, from the pond designed and built by the biology classes to the baseball diamond designed in geometry and built by the students. The community is the classroom and the classroom serves the community: trucks from restaurants come to pick up produce the children have grown in the working farm next to the school; peer tutoring sessions are being conducted in the outside classroom built by the students; local teenagers run a day care program so that parents can attend a resume workshop and look for jobs online in the parent resource room. Some kids are getting haircuts at the neighborhood barbershop that was started by a former high school dropout who took entrepreneurial classes at the school. Students and their teachers are finishing up a mural designed by the art class. This mural decorates the playground that was built by members of the community over a series of weekends. Bikes are being repaired in the neighborhood bike exchange garage. Older students teach classes in bike-ethics and safety. Students petition the city for bike lanes and safety curbs on major streets near the school. In the auditorium, kids are rehearsing for the school play. Outside, music is blaring as dancers prepare a routine for a morning assembly.
All around are examples of real-world learning and student engagement, laughter and camaraderie. When there is conflict, the kids are not just told not to fight; they are taught how to work through their emotions and solve conflicts peacefully. The school honors voices, from the youngest student to the oldest, and seeks their input in all decisions that affect the school.
Our students have the academic and emotional tools to create meaningful lives. We graduate young men and women who feel successful whether they attend elite universities or begin self-run businesses in their neighborhood. They view their careers not as a means toward building individual wealth, but as a way of actively creating a just and equitable society.
The school’s students and graduates feel successful because they believe that their existence alone entitles them to be respected; they learn their lives have meaning. Student’s lives reflect an education that respects their unique contribution to building our society. They are not seeking an education as a means to get out of Detroit; they see their education as a means to make Detroit a wonderful place to live.
To fulfill our goals, we have selected to implement a Place-Based Education (PBE) program. PBE is a nationally renowned and research-based model that has facilitated high student achievement in areas like Oakland, Louisville, Boston, Portland, and New York City. BEC will pioneer PBE for low-income students in Detroit. PBE immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the school and local community.
The following are the principles of the Place-Based Education model:
Learning takes place on-site, in the schoolyard, and in the local community and environment.