School of the Week: Edison Elementary School!

Edison Elementary School continues to serve families in its community through organization, role modeling, and inventing

Well organized for success

“Let’s go, guys.” “Put your coat on.” “Keep it moving.” “Ladies, can we please continue this on the bus?”

Just after 3:40 p.m., a frenzied level of activity begins in the hallway leading to the exit door at the western end of the school’s first floor, continues along the walkways in front  of the Edison Elementary School campus, and picks up even more as cars, busses, a taxi van and two veteran crossing guards converge on the already bustling Grand River Ave./Lindsay St. intersection.

The cacophony and the crowds sound and appear even more spirited in the midst of the steam rising from young faces and tailpipes alike on this bone chilling, feels-like-8-degrees windy and wintry afternoon, but it’s all actually highly organized, when viewed alongside the bundled up but fast-moving first year Principal Marcus Davenport.

Dismissal is no less prepared, planned and structured than the overall educational program for the 338 PK-5 students at this school which earlier this year was recognized by Excellent Schools Detroit as one of the top organized schools based on the 5Essentials system developed at the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute. Such organization is more likely to boost achievement, attendance, scores and student and teacher retention, researchers state.

Leading a school situated on a main thoroughfare with a variety of external vehicle and pedestrian activity and commerce makes dismissal a special time to extend the staff’s care and concern for the students while interacting with parents and family members and making a difference in all of their lives, all focused in a safe setting.

“This is the most exciting part of the day. It’s definitely the most important part of my day,” Davenport says, noting that he makes a point to hurry back to the school after attending Principals meetings or other district programs to ensure never missing dismissal. The principal, academic engagement administrator Curtis Dunlap and several male teachers, along with a number of awaiting fathers, are on the scene that is notable among other things for its heavy presence of adult men.

Men are everywhere

In the first grade classroom. In the 3rd grade classroom. In the 5th grade classroom. In the hallways near the restrooms. In the gym. In this elementary school, a remarkable four out of 13 teachers, as well as both administrators, and several aides are men.

Parent Antwan Golden whose son enrolled in Kindergarten at Edison after the family checked out other area schools, says the school’s technology, customer service and staff professionalism, and outreach made the decision easy. “The bottom line is that learning takes place here every day.”

Edison is a truly multi-generational, neighborhood school with examples of two- and even three- generations of families having attended the school and now sending their children there, as well as school staff whose children are currently enrolled.

First grade teacher John Pierce was born and raised in the nearby Brightmoor neighborhood and has been at Edison for 16 of his 17 years as a teacher. The group of kindergarten students he had last year are with him again this year in first grade and will follow him to second grade next year. He says the new principal has added to concerted effort over many years to attract male teachers to Edison.

Regarding the school’s cadre of ever-visible  role models, third grade teacher Bernardo Wilson says , “Families tend to be extremely excited about this, especially if there have been past behavior issues.” Wilson, Davenport, Golden and others all agree that the role modeling is all about allowing the children to constantly witness the behavior of successful adults, both men and women.

“The students can see someone they can relate to, no matter where they come from,” Principal Davenport states.

Home of the Inventors

For Davenport, it’s about continually lifting up role models regardless of their gender or race. Edison School’s entrance area showcases posters of African American Scientists and Inventors and Female Scientists and Inventors, George Washington Carver as well as the life and work of its famous inventing namesake. The new school’s new theme, “Home of the Inventors” and its hallways lined with “Inventors Row” visuals, which the new principal was inspired to develop based on themes and programs developed by his mentor Principal, James Hearn at Marcus Garvey Academy, will expand to the naming of each classroom after a significant Inventor and additional projects and contests. Students will begin a school-wide design contest for a new logo, based on updating the classic light bulb.

Edison Elementary strongly believes children learn in different ways and that expectations directly affect achievement. The school has implemented the Success For All (SFA) reading program as a school-wide reading initiative designed to ensure success for all students in reading. The program is researched-based and emphasizes a balance between phonics and meaning in beginning reading, and uses cooperative learning extensively throughout all grade levels. The school also exposes its students to computer-based programs such as Accelerated Reading and Math to enhance their skill development. The classrooms are equipped with interactive white boards to promote student engagement and intensify students’ learning experiences.

Other unique programs include its Friday Electives — special classes selected by students, taught by teachers of excellence, including Foreign Language, Public Speaking, Music Theory, Pottery/ Painting, Creative Writing, Paper Weaving.

AEA Dunlap says this year’s  addition of a third classroom for four-year olds under the district’s expanded Universal PreKindergarten program brought in 16 new students and is based on a strong educational foundation while allowing the families to become acquainted with the upcoming Kindergarten and other teachers as part of an overall smooth transition program.

The school also has strong arts partnerships including a longtime association with Art Road. Art Road led the effort to replace a signature artwork on the front lawn removed last year.

As a truly Neighborhood-Centered, Quality School, Edison takes pride in its location and involvement with the Grandmont-Rosedale Neighborhood Association which each summer immaculately maintains the park/playground adjacent to the school, which is also the site for school activities and art activities.

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