Meet April #MICharter Hero: Nicole Wells Stallworth from MacDowell Preparatory Academy

Kyra Biscarner
Apr 5, 2023 12:25:31 PM

In her roles as Board Chair at MacDowell Preparatory Academy (MPA) and the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and Vice President for Public Advocacy, at Planned Parenthood of Michigan, advocacy is something Nicole Wells Stallworth has dedicated her life to. 

Nicole has been a board member at MPA since 2012 and in the last 11 years, she has striven to ensure the school provides an opportunity for those in her community. 

At the time I was appointed, I thought it would be a good way to be a part of ensuring a school in a community and in a time in Detroit where people were leaving and we were experiencing a lot of vacancies in school buildings, that I did my part to ensure this school remained a community school and also provided a meaningful curriculum and educational opportunity to this community.That’s my journey becoming a board member, now what do I do?

Public School Academy (PSA) board members provide the governance structure for the school they oversee. Nicole said creating the mission and vision for MPA was one of the most important aspects to create. 

We had a lot of intentionality around deciding who we would be as a school: community school, accessible to the community etc. and we also refined our mission. We wanted to be a college prep school so we created a mission of instilling in scholars the skill and will to be successful in college and in life. One of the components of our vision was that after 3 years at MacDowell, every scholar would outperform state standards on any state standardized test, which is something we are actively working toward.”

Although PSA board members have a responsibility not only to ensure the academic program is delivered with fidelity but also a fiduciary responsibility to the State of Michigan, Nicole says it goes further than that. 

We want to ensure our scholars are surrounded by a community to support them in their academic, social and emotional areas of need.” 

Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer at MPA,  Dr. Brian Banks, said Nicole has really led this charge in engaging the community to be a part of MPA. 

Nicole has been that anchor in making sure that MacDowell remains a pillar in our community and making sure our scholars receive a quality education with all the services they need. Nicole has also worked hard to make sure the community understands they have a role here as well and we welcome them into our school.

Because of Nicole’s efforts and the vision that she and the board have had, it has really given us a broader approach and a broader presence not just in this community but in the state. We’ve had state legislators and Local 4 TV personalities in and that’s because of the work Nicole and the board have done to make sure we have a community presence. 

Nicole said she takes pride in her role as Board Chair at MPA. What does she enjoy most? Knowing she is helping students to be successful in their futures. 

I recognize that this is a very important component of public education delivery in our state and I personally advocated for that. This is not a job that we show up for, this is a purpose and a calling. This is work that we are doing and laying the foundation for these scholars, their lives and their futures. We are developing them so that they can be successful in their next stage of life. They will never forget their experience they had here whether it was good or bad and it will serve them well into their future. That’s our role and that’s our purpose and I enjoy that. I think that’s part of why I’m here. Service is the price you pay for the space you occupy and I’m grateful that I’ve had this opportunity for so long to be able to chart a path. Now that we’ve gone through many changes in my time at MPA and now that we’ve set goals and are meeting them, we are creating a sustainable place that scholars can look forward to coming back to as alumni and scholars can look forward to planning their time here.”

MacDowell Prepatory Academy is a K-8 public charter school serving children in the heart of Detroit’s northwest side. Established in 1924, today, MacDowell proudly serves over 350 scholars. 

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