Dear Governor Whitmer,
About 70% of Central Academy students are English Language Learners and more than 78% are on free or reduced lunch. Learning the language and academics are not the only needs we work on meeting. Many of the students exhibit post-trauma behaviors as a result of living in war zones and refugee camps prior to coming to Central Academy.
Meeting the language and academic needs is a given in the school culture to prepare all students and make them ready to face the challenges of the real world after graduation.
On top of that, the school implemented several programs to meet the social emotional needs. An SEL program has been implemented in every class K-12. The school partnered with nearby universities to create programs that help students cope with their social emotional issues. Five different student organizations also come to school to coach, mentor and prepare our high school students to college.
We also founded an Exchange Station, where parents and community members and organizations donate clothing and food item to the needy parents. We also pair up all seniors with community professional for a whole semester and that experience is presented as a graduation project requirement.
The school stays connected to all graduates, too. Last year, our Job Fair was run mainly by Central Academy graduates; 21 students came back as doctors, nurses, engineers, police officers, actors, technology and many other professions and shared their experiences with the middle and high school students at Central Academy.
The school is also partnering with surrounding organizations to educate the parents. Washtenaw Literacy is hosted at Central Academy to teach English as a second language to parents as well as community members who need it.
About half of the staff at Central Academy have been working for 10 years or more. Several have been with us for 20 years and turned down many opportunities in the traditional school system even though every school district is hiring in this tough market to find teachers.
Teachers have established the culture school-wide that meeting the needs of students is not limited to teaching them language and content. They go way beyond that to make sure students have a smooth transition to the mainstream culture and are well prepared the increasing demands of the 21st Century. Behavioral issues in a class are never looked at as THE problem – they are looked at and treated as symptoms of other problems that the child might have and they all partner with their parents to deal with these problems. Three of our teachers graduated from this school and relate to the students’ issues very well.
Please restore the funding increase for my Central Academy students, and all the other charter student across MI.
Luay Shalabi, Principal @ Central Academy