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Tools for success: DPS alumnae reflect on district’s influence on their careers


Contact: Rachel Esterline Perkins, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, 989-330-1201

Tools for success: DPS alumnae reflect on district’s influence on their careers

College prep courses and Career and Technical Education programs provide real-world experience, establish solid foundation for student success

DETROITDetroit Public Schools Community District prepares its students to compete in the global marketplace with college preparatory courses, Career and Technical Education and hands-on co-curricular opportunities.

Cass Technical High School alumna Kylee Mitchell Wells and her sister, Dannis Mitchell, an alumna of Renaissance High School and Randolph Career and Technical Center, built solid educational foundations in high school that prepared them for their future careers.

“My high school experience was immensely rewarding,” said Wells, executive director of Ballmer Group’s philanthropic efforts in Southeast Michigan. “My freshman and sophomore classes provided the support I needed for the college prep courses I completed in accounting, marketing, business and finance during my junior and senior years.”

Through a business partnership, Wells gained real-world experience working with a Detroit company in their accounting department – taking classes at Cass Tech in the morning and working afternoons at an automotive supplier. These experiences helped her build her successful career.

“The business program at Cass Tech gave me the knowledge and business acumen to be able to lead a philanthropic organization for Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft,” Wells said. “That started with the marketing and business courses and the internship I completed while enrolled in Detroit Public Schools. Now, I’m thrilled to be leading an organization that invests back in the school district and in community nonprofits, so more kids can access a path to a career.”

Mitchell, Wells’ younger sister, has nearly two decades of experience in the construction industry – and that started with her internship with a minority commercial contractor, which was offered through the vocational program at Randolph Career and Technical Center.

“Renaissance High School helped prepare me for college and Randolph Career and Technical Center prepared me for corporate America,” said Mitchell, manager of client and community engagement at Barton Malow. “I started my career using what I learned through DPS to become successful and my internship allowed me to gain my footing in the construction industry.”

In 2016, Mitchell created the Barton Malow Boot Camp, a pre-apprenticeship program now run in multiple states. She wanted to ensure students could better understand how they could enter the skilled trades – especially as the United States faces an unprecedented skilled labor shortage.

“DPS changed my life and I’m thankful to help create opportunities to grow talent in Detroit and provide opportunities for students to learn about the skilled trades and how to enter apprenticeship programs,” Mitchell said. “This is personal to me. In order to create opportunities for our youth, you have to put them in the position to actually obtain those opportunities.”

Both Wells and Mitchell are avid supporters of DPSCD and public education.

“It’s my responsibility as a citizen of the City of Detroit to provide information and knowledge and shepherd young Detroiters through the process,” Mitchell said. “It’s important to fund public education – including college prep, Career and Technical Education and co-curricular activities that help students learn leadership skills that make them successful in life.

“I support DPSCD because it has been the foundation to my career,” Wells said. “Superintendent Vitti is the real deal and parents, community leaders and businesses should invest in our schools and trust the leadership as DPSCD makes changes to ensure students get a high-quality education that prepares them for 21st century careers.”

Career and Technical Education for Detroit’s students

Randolph Career and Technical Center currently serves 266 Detroit students and offers programs in carpentry, heavy equipment operations, marketing/entrepreneurship, masonry, pipefitting, welding and more.

DPSCD’s Breithaupt Career Technical Center and Golightly Career and Technical Center provide additional hands-on learning opportunities for students in automotive, aeronautical flight training, cosmetology, computer networking and PC repair, CNC machining, graphics and printing, hospitality/culinary arts, and more.