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Bethune Leads Wave of DPSCD Schools Exiting State MDE List

For the leaders, students, teachers, and staff at Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary Middle School, being one of 35 Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) schools to exit the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) lowest performing schools list in December was the culmination of Persistence, Performance and Passion, the three cornerstone themes of Bethune’s educational culture for the 2022-23 school year, said the school’s principal, William Jackson.  

“Oh my goodness,” exclaimed Jackson, recalling the moment late last year when he made the announcement to his team. “For them to be able to see our data move up the state school index, it just gave them a fire and incentive to work harder,” reflected Jackson, a former US Marine who broke into a broad smile. “They are now seeing that all this stuff we have been talking about is real. This hard work, working together, supporting one another in spite of difficulties, it works,” he added. “It gave all of us a refocused sense of energy and synergy that we are able to build off of.” 

Three P’s Serve as the Drivers at Bethune  

Persistence, Performance and Passion are the filters through which Jackson, his teachers and staff address concerns as well as areas that need improvement in order for students to feel loved, challenged and prepared. Using data as well as direct feedback from students, Jackson and his team developed a plan to improve literacy rates by thinking outside of the box.  

“We are working to be more proactive, with a lot of support in second grade reading this year and first grade next year and so on,” said Jackson, noting with their strategic approach, the whole K-2 student ensemble will have an opportunity to become stronger readers going forward. “So by the time they (the students) are in the third grade, we are not doing a lot of catch up.”  

And it is working, says Latashia Simpson-Burroughs, a fourth grade reading and social science teacher at Bethune, sharing one of her many strategies to help improve reading success.  

“I have the students in a small group,” Simpson-Burroughs said. “With small group instruction, you are helping them where they are. It is really an enjoyment when the students say to me, can we keep reading, even though it is time for the next lesson,” she added, noting that she also has her students practice typing to improve their reading abilities as well as prepare for state tests such as M-STEP.  

Regular Attendance Equates to Math Success  

For DPSCD students and teachers, Every School Day Matters. Just ask Bethune's fourth grade teacher, Linda Jackson, who says regular attendance and activities that help make learning fun are yielding positive results for her math students.  

“This year has been a really good year so far,” said Jackson. “I feel that my students are progressing so much,” noting how one of her students is “killing it” now in fractions, a far cry from where she used to be.  

Meanwhile, for fourth grader Morgan Anderson, a student of both Simpson-Burroughs and Ms. Jackson, she loves her teachers, learning and being at school.  

“I get to know new things and things like I never knew,” she said. “It inspires me to do other things in the world,” citing examples such as being able to help people when she grows up.  

The improvements in math and reading along with a nurturing and family atmosphere at Bethune is another example of how DPSCD incorporates its Core Values and Priorities district wide. Whether at Bethune or another of DPSCD’s more than 100 schools, you too can also find the programming, educators, teachers, leaders, and staff to meet your students’ needs. Visit the enrollment page of the DPSCD website for more information.  

DPSCD, the Future is Rising!