School of the Week: Fisher Magnet Lower Academy

Fisher Lower Creed of Excellence
My EDUCATION is important to me.
To become educated, I must discipline myself. I will observe the school rules every day to make my school the best school on planet Earth.
I will listen to my teachers. I will treat my classmates kindly. I will work with all of my ability. I will work quietly and respect the rights of others to learn in peace.
Every day, I will do my best to respect others and to respect myself.
My EDUCATION is important to me. ~ Yvonne Stokes

Every single morning before the school day begins, the students of Fisher Magnet Lower Academy recite the Creed of Excellence written by Principal Yvonne Stokes.

This daily ritual speaks to self-discipline, determination to become highly educated and creating a learning environment of peace, respect and pride. It may also help to explain why the students of Fisher Lower appear to behave perfectly, as observed by guests in the building during a recent school visit in late November.

When jokingly asked if her students always behave this way – extremely polite, self-governing, quiet (even during gym class), and so naturally enthusiastic to learn – Stokes laughs and responds, “I didn’t even notice.”

Which means, the answer is yes.

Fisher Lower offers a unique Pre-K to 4 elementary grade structure with dynamic educators and support staff who are vested in ensuring students succeed and exceed academically and socially. The school is located on the same campus with Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, offering grades 5-8.

Housed in a beautifully constructed building on the city’s east side, Fisher guests are greeted by hand-drawn, black and white portraits lining the main hallways and walls meticulously painted in bright yellow, sky blue and lavender. Inside each classroom, colorful carpet and crafts made by teachers and students brighten not only the school, but the mood of anyone who enters.

“What’s so wonderful about Fisher Magnet Lower Academy is we’re a school of little kids,” says Stokes. “Our school is one of foundational learning and has five preschool and five kindergarten classes. It all happens in the foundation, much like it does when a building is being erected. The foundation at our school is laid in preschool.”

Fisher also has the added benefit of support from companies such as PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great program “where our students are exposed to the best of everything,” Stokes says. “From going to the Grand Prix, to being placed in the Guinness Book of World Records. How great is that?”

Each year through a partnership with the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, PNC Bank and the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, hundreds of DPS students attend Grand Prix Education Day as part of PNC Bank’s Fifth Gear and Grow Up Great programs. Fifth-grade and prekindergarten students participate in hands-on activities that use racing to teach lessons in math, science and technology.

Fisher students also participated in a recent world-wide vocabulary lesson where prekindergarten students helped set a new Guinness World Records® title. Roughly 250 DPS students were among more than 4,000 children in 37 cities across 15 states and the District of Columbia who participated in a simultaneous vocabulary lesson. PNC Financial Services Group hosted the event in support of Grow Up Great, a $350 million, multi-year bilingual initiative in early childhood education.

Proving to offer a dynamic prekindergarten program, Fisher was recently recognized by Excellence Schools Detroit as one of the best early childhood programs in the city.

Stokes credits passionate teachers and supportive parents for the school’s success. Engaging academic instruction is also a factor.

“We relate the things that they’re learning to their own lives,” says Teacher Anita Lyons. “They work cooperatively, they work independently, they work in pairs… They get a chance to formulate questions, seek answers to those questions, research things, write about it and discuss it as a group to ensure they are getting the most out of every lesson.”

“Our teachers are very passionate,” adds Stokes. “They have expressed contentment with being at Fisher Lower and they show it by their performance, and by the fact that they have children who will speak very positively about them.”

Some Offerings: Library/Media Center, Art, Physical Education, Tutoring, Accelerated Reading/Math, Conflict Resolution Program, Jump Start Advanced Reading Program for Pre-K, School Nurse, Social Worker, DHS Worker, Sports and more.

Something you didn’t know…
Fisher Lower was one of the top schools in DPS based on percentage enrollment increases from Fall 2013 to Fall 2014 thanks to school-wide participation in the district’s Summer Enrollment Campaign. Stokes, along with Emergency Manager Jack Martin, teachers and parents, walked the school’s neighborhoods to retain and gain students for the 2014 school year.

“It works,” Stokes says. “Sometimes parents just need to see you and speak to you personally to make a decision on the best school for their child. The Ground Campaign definitely worked for Fisher Lower.”

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