‘Emerging Leaders,’ Mercy Education Project Program, Preps Young Girls For Future Success

From their home base on the second floor of the Commerce and Finance Building at University of Detroit Mercy, 33 sixth- to eighth-grade girls are learning the ins and outs of college life, exploring careers that might match their interests and personality, and seeing firsthand what real success and happiness looks like for educated women who have fulfilling, well-paying careers.

These young girls are part of Mercy Education Project’s Emerging Leaders program, a four-week program that runs for the entire month of July, helping girls who live in southwest Detroit learn about college and careers.

“Most of the girls in our program do not know people who have gone to college,” says Melanie Ward, director of the Girls’ Programs at Mercy Education Project and coordinator of Emerging Leaders.

She says that most of the girls have a lack of knowledge about college, how it can benefit them and what to expect. But after spending weeks on a college campus and visiting other campuses around the region, the fears quickly melt, and they become more knowledgeable about the choices they have.

“We visited a lot of colleges,” says Analisa Alvarez, 15, who attended the program last year. “It gave me a view that you can either go to a small college or to one that’s really big with a lot of people. It made me think about what kind of environment do I really want to be in. Do I want to be in small classrooms like I am today in high school or do I want to go to 200 or 400 student study halls?”

Before she attended the program, both she and her mother, Monica Alvarez, were mostly familiar with well-known state schools, like Michigan State University and University of Michigan. It was beneficial to them both to learn about other options, including Schoolcraft College, Eastern Michigan University, University of Detroit Mercy, and Oakland University. (Read more.)

Via Melinda Clynes, Huffington Post – Education.

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How to Fix the Mess We Call Middle School

Elementary schools and high schools are tough enough to run, but middle schools are a problem unto themselves. Nobody quite knows what to do with students who are of age to be in what we call middle school. What we know about the developmental profile of kids from age 11 to 14 tells us that a traditional academic classroom experience is not the best option.

Puzzled educators have experimented for decades with the K-8 model, junior highs, middle schools (different from junior highs because they have earlier grades), and then back to the K-8 model. Nothing seems quite right.

In recent years many school districts have returned to the K-8 model,including in Washington D.C., where former schools chancellor Michelle Rhee promoted the model in part, she said, because kids performed better academically, though the research she cited is widely disputed.

In 2008, she created 17 PreK-8 schools, but, alas, the standardized test scores are no better than they were before, my colleague Bill Turquenotes in this story. (Yet another Rhee reform that didn’t quite turn out as great as all that.) Now D.C. schools officials are trying to solve, yet again, the middle school puzzle.

Here’s some of what we know about kids in this age group — and why it is past time to do something radically different:

* Students in this age group are known to be egocentric, argumentative, and — this is not small thing — utterly preoccupied with social concerns rather than academic goals, driven by the swirling of their hormones.

* They don’t always have solid judgment, but they find themselves in position to make decisions that can affect them throughout their lives.

* They enjoy solving real life problems with skills.

Via Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post.

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