School of the Week: Bagley Elementary School

If there is one commonality among most Bagley Elementary School students, fourth-grader Ryan Langford would proudly say, “We’re all pretty smart.”

They also love math and science. And the majority know exactly which career fields pique their interest by the fourth grade. Ryan, who is 9 years old, has a list of “top three” careers that he plans to narrow down by sixth grade.

“My favorite subjects are science and math. I’ve always been interested in Earth Science and how the earth should be getting colder…,” Ryan says. “I was thinking a scientist. I was also thinking maybe a doctor. And I was thinking maybe an architect because I’m really good with Legos. Those are the three things.”

Bagley, a Pre-K-6 school of nearly 400 students, is one of many Detroit Public Schools that offer programs such as Lego Leagues and Science Fairs to support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects to strengthen its overall academic curriculum. Bagley’s sixth graders also participate in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), which operates middle school-level programs in over 20 DPS schools and provides workshops to help teachers and students prepare for the Annual Science and Engineering Fair of Metropolitan Detroit held at Cobo Center.

Through the district’s strong science partnerships, students regularly enjoy visits to the Cranbrook Institute of Science and the Michigan Science Center to explore exhibits focusing on prehistoric animals, space travel, engineering, physical science and more.

Kelly Richardson, also a fourth-grader at Bagley, loves math and science. She aspires to become a nurse because she loves to help people. Although Najha Perry, a third-grader, enjoys doing science projects, she plans to become a lawyer. As for 8-year-old Serenity Dillard, she has her heart set on becoming a doctor.

“I want to operate on people,” says the third-grader. “You get to do surgeries. That’s kinda cool.”

After hearing her students share their joy of science and math, and their career goals, Principal Cheryl Price couldn’t help but smile with pride.

“We’re really trying to build a legacy of excellence here at Bagley,” says Price. “Many of our students have a new found interest in science. We decided to take it on full force with lots of science fairs and hands-on activities in the classrooms, and our teachers have just embraced the science curriculum to try to make it come to life for the students.”

From the enthusiasm shared by Bagley students regarding their love of science, it sounds like the hard work of administrators to make science a core subject is paying off.

“Science branches off to all of the other subject areas,” Price says. “So teachers have the opportunity to do some cross-categorical teaching in terms of matching science with their reading assignments, math, and social studies. It really broadens their horizons. We even connect science to gym class.”

The science programs are not only extended to students, but also to parents so that they are constantly learning with their children. Bagley hosts monthly Math and Sciences Bees, Science Nights, Math Game Nights, Family Academic Nights and Literacy Nights to ensure parents are engaged.

“All of these events are opportunities for parents to see their children in the process of learning, to see the kinds of activities that they can practice at home,” says Price. “And in most cases, they are able to leave with something that they can work on at home. When parents are excited about the learning, that excitement transfers to their children and they too will become excited about learning.”

Parent involvement is a staple of Bagley’s success with increasing MEAP scores and consistently being recognized by the Michigan Department of Education for meeting Adequate Yearly Progress. Strong emphasis is placed on academic achievement by meeting the needs of students where they are and challenging them to accelerate.

Curriculum highlights include individualized instruction, flexible grouping for achievement and “educating the whole child” to eliminate barriers to learning.

Bagley students also benefit from strong community partnerships such as Marygrove College, the University of Detroit Mercy, Bagley Alumni Association, faith-based partners and others who donate school supplies for students regularly.

“All of our community partners are really behind us,” Price says. “Bagley has a long history of excellence, and I think that all of those who have come before us are really looking for Bagley to be that star that they know we can be. And I’m sure they are pleased to see Bagley is indeed a school of excellence.”

Some offerings: Library/Media Center, Accelerated Reading and Math, Award-Winning Music Program, DAPCEP, Technology, Volunteer Reading Corps, Tutorial and Enrichment Programs, Basketball, Baseball and Cheerleading, Bagley Book Brigade, Bagley Newspaper, Building Community Schools Program, Fruit and Vegetable Program, Before and After School Latchkey and more.

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