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Dean's Corner

Greetings Marygrove families,

My name is Donald Watts and I have the distinct pleasure of being your Dean of Culture at The School at Marygrove. I served in the United States Navy for 4 years earning an honorable discharge and successfully completing the longest deployment in naval history. Upon completion of my service I returned to my home state of California and enrolled at The California State Polytechnic University, Pomona where I graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Finance, Real Estate, and Law. I moved to Detroit to work in the finance industry and enroll in a dual degree program to obtain my MBA and an intellectual property law degree. My career goal was to work with young minority entrepreneurs, inventors, and creatives in cities with large racial disparities caused by systemic racism in our nation’s past, such as redlining, and help them develop their intellectual property, bring their goods/services to market, and position them to receive the lion’s share of the profits that their products or services would generate. Those same entrepreneurs could then bring their wealth home and address the racial disparities in their communities in manners they recognized and felt were effective.

However, I discovered The School at Marygrove while attending my local community association meeting. Once I heard the mission statement and goal of the campus, an African proverb came to mind ““If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In that moment I knew this was the institution that I wanted to be a part of. The School at Marygrove has put me on the short path to accomplish my goals by positioning me to mentor and develop your students and their ideas from adolescence versus their early adult years. I am excited to share my vast knowledge and experience in the arenas of personal and corporate finance, real estate, business, and entrepreneurship with your students.

My approach to culture and climate building is data driven, based on the best practices in the industry, collaborative in nature, and rooted in servant leadership. I will always engage directly with students and families to determine the best path forward in establishing our school culture. I will use student attendance, academic, and behavior data to create meaningful incentives and effective behavior management systems. I will observe the practices and methodology of the most successful social justice and engineering campuses at every level of education in order to bring back and modify the best parts of their systems for our use. I will always strive to serve the needs of students, families, and stakeholders completely and directly.

My philosophy on behavior management is that in this safe environment, where we are all family and kindness is the foundation of our relationships, I want your students to make mistakes, because in this

environment they are not mistakes, but opportunities for improvement. I will strive to make every misstep a teaching moment for your student that leads to understanding and changed behavior. I will ensure that your students understand the ripple effect their actions or in-action can have not only on their classmates, teachers, and administrators but on their parents, family, community, and society. It is also personally important to me to dismantle the stereotypes that young men and women of color are bombarded with from notions of “good hair” to the inherent talents, or lack of, of black men and boys. I will create a climate and culture where students know, not think, that anything and everything they want can be, will be, and is for them. That they are not limited by their gender identity or race, but by their ambition

The core values of the United States Navy, honor, courage, and commitment inform every interaction that I will have with you and your students and serve as the foundation of my interpretation of The School at Marygrove’s core values of integrity, empathy, cooperation, social responsibility, craftsmanship, and perseverance. I will strive to create experiences that validate your student's life experience, to incorporate parents and community into our planning and execution, to model the expectations I set for students, and to empower students to dream big and strive for true excellence. Together we will create a culture where every stakeholder in the home (that’s students separate from parents, parents separate from students, and the family separate from them both) for their own reasons can wake up every single day and say, “I am so happy that I chose The School at Marygrove”, “I am so happy my student goes to The School at Marygrove”, and “I am so happy to be a part of the Marygrove family”. I am beyond excited to begin this work with you and to shape your students into critical thinkers who can and will embrace the challenge of creating a more just and equitable society for us all.


Dean Watts