School of the Week: Coleman A. Young Elementary School

“I want to be a scientist!” – Brett Brown, 5th grade student
“I want to go to Harvard!” – Isabella Gibson, 4th grade student
“I want to go to Howard University and study English so that I can write poems!” – Chinyere Amaisat, 5th grade student

Principal Melissa Scott believes the young scholars at Coleman A. Young Elementary School are incredibly moldable, and by starting them off right, they will be prepared for middle school, high school and beyond.

Coleman A. Young holds the namesake of the first African-American mayor of Detroit, who went on to serve an unprecedented five terms. Young’s thirst for knowledge, coupled with exemplary academic accomplishments, is an inspiration to the students at CAY.

Remaining true to Mayor Young’s legacy of academic achievement, the students of CAY hold themselves to targeted goals that they must achieve in every course offering.

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At CAY, data results are visibly displayed around every corner. Principal Scott believes in positive reinforcement and awards students when they are on target and reaching their goals in accelerated reading and math courses. Students are eligible to select prizes out of the incentives display case, which is packed with school supplies, toys, games and other fun activities to get the students motivated.

Make learning an adventure

Along with instruction in core subjects, students are able to gain one-on-one instruction time through Burst Early Intervention. Burst delivers highly differentiated reading instruction based on assessment data, which puts every student on the right path to efficient reading. CAY teachers and specialists deliver additional instruction to small groups of students during each session.

“I always tell my students that reading is not a chore; it can be an adventure,” said English Language Arts teacher Lessie Jabari. “When I am reading with my students, I like to really get into character. I change my voice and act out scenes, whatever it takes for them to visualize the author’s ideas in their heads.”

Fourth-grade art teacher Catherine Hernandez is another CAY educator who uses creativity to engage students. In Hernandez’ class, students are taking trash and transforming it into treasures.

The students reduce, reuse and recycle products such as water bottles, cardboard material and paper bags to make a connection to what they are learning in their curriculum.

Students have made pencil holders out of reused bottles and are currently working on making a replica of one of Dale Chihuly’s — an American glass sculptor — famous blown-glass chandeliers. Here is the twist… students are solely utilizing recycled pop bottles to imitate the look of the blown glass. Visitors can also find other water bottle art pieces throughout the school, such wreaths in classrooms and trees in the foyer.

“Gimme One”

CAY is not only home to future artists, scientists and poets, but also to the dynamic sibling duo Kameana and Marreon Washington, who are in the second and fourth grades, respectively.

All they need to hear is “Gimme One,” and the Washington siblings will instantly turn a perfectly placed back handspring. John Hardenbergh, the CAY Physical Education teacher, said this brother-sister duo started to hone their athletic skills with CAY’s highly active physical education program.

“The kids here at CAY are excited and willing to learn anything,” Hardenbergh said, and with their introduction to gymnastics at CAY, the Washington siblings are now top gymnasts who are nationally known for their gymnastics skills.

To help ensure students receive a well-rounded educational experience at CAY, extracurricular offerings include: gymnastics, softball, track, flag football, Detroit Children’s Choir, 21st Century after school program, Academic Games, Battle of the Books, Volunteer Reading Corps, Belmont Community mentors/tutors, Coleman A. Young Booster Club, and partnerships with the National Council of Jewish Women, Mobile Dentist, Student Ambassadors, Male Mentoring and more.

Something you didn’t know…

CAY has an Imagination Station! The Imagination Station is a hands-on science lab where students are able to experiment with new and exciting science projects every day. Kindergarten students built an underwater diorama consisting of colored rocks, seaweed and an array of tropical fish.

Something else you didn’t know…

The Detroit Pistons and Farm Bureau recently adopted CAY and renovated the school’s media center. The media center now houses 30 brand new tablets, a smart table and multiple shelves of books.

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