Road trip reflections: charter impact reaches far & wide across the Mitten

Grace Noyola
Aug 27, 2018 12:14:57 AM

At the beginning of the summer, the MAPSA team set out on one mission: visit five diverse Michigan cities and uncover the meaningful impact charter schools are driving in their respective communities. Many, many miles, photos, stories and memories later, we're reflecting on the results. From the shores of the beautiful Soo Locks to the bustling streets of downtown Ann Arbor, charter school success is inescapable. 

Over the course of our trip, we visited Ann Arbor, Flint, Grand Rapids, Sault Ste. Marie and Detroit, featuring one amazing charter story in each city - from oustanding charter alumni who are giving back to their communities, to charter programs that are redefining emotional support for students.

While each story had its own unique background and features, one very prevalent theme emerged: charter schools enable educators and families to prioritize unique learning opportunities that embrace the things that are most important to them, in a way that simply isn't possible in a standard district school.

For charter alumni Zach Jodoin, that meant integrating grandfather teachings from his Native American culture into his schoolday. And for charter alumna V'Lecea Hunter, it meant defeating the odds in Detroit to pursue college and later become an advisor for underrepresented students at Grand Valley State University. 

In Ann Arbor, we found refugee and immigrant families who depend on their charter for help integrating into the local community - reaching far beyond academics. And in Flint, we experienced a brand new in-school health center for charter students, removing access barriers to healthcare services.

Last but not at all least, we sat in on a mind-blowing chess practice with Charisse Woods in Detroit, who at the ripe age of 12 years old will compete in the World Youth Chess Championship in Greece this October.

As we look back on our travels across the Mitten, we are reminded how diverse our learning spaces are, from small rural cities like Sault Ste. Marie, all the way to the Motor City itself. In each of those spaces, charter schools have found a way to infuse culture and opportunity into education, ensuring students have ample opportunities to succeed - no matter their passions or backgrounds.

Learn more about our summer road trip. 

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