School of the Week: Amelia Earhart Elementary-Middle School

“Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.” ~ Amelia Earhart

To claim the name of the first-ever female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart Elementary-Middle School provides a multicultural and historically-rich curriculum to its students and serves as a modern day artifact to its community. Take for example the airplane propeller anchored right in the front of the new $22.2 million LEED Silver Certified state-of-the-art building. That’s not just any propeller, it came from one of Amelia Earhart’s original planes! Students are reminded daily as they enter the school doors the significance of their school and that they are already geared up for a future of success.

The motto at Earhart is a school “Where the Sky is No Limit” and Principal Gerlma Johnson says that her and her team have brought together a culture and a climate that will meet the needs of the entire child while upholding a seamless connection to the community.

Principal Johnson proudly leads a bilingual school community that operates as one of the district’s 21 Community Schools, which serves as a hub of the community, and is one of six Detroit Public Schools’ Promise Neighborhood Schools that engages the whole family as well as the community.

“I’ve enjoyed every opportunity that I have been given on my educational journey that has led me to where I am today. I think I’ve learned just as much as my students have,” Johnson explained.

Earhart is a STEAM-based school that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with an art-infused curriculum.

“We really focus on the STEAM-based curriculum because it is the way of the world. We want to make sure our children are fully prepared for a global society, not just prepared for what is in Detroit in the present, but what they will focus on in the future,” Johnson said.

Fifth grade Math and Science Teacher Amy Ostroski has taken the meaning of STEM education to a new level. Ostroski created the fifth grade running club which preps students to run the Detroit Riverfront 5K in June sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

“This was my neighborhood growing up and I didn’t have opportunities like this,” said Ostroski. “Some students have never been to the riverfront and don’t realize Canada is right there. This is a huge learning experience for them and allows the students to exercise their brains and athleticism.”

Earhart is also home to an award-winning art program and students’ art work have been featured throughout the city.

Art Teacher Barbara Nichols explains that the school’s program is so successful because of the variety of art mediums that are provided at the school. Starting in kindergarten, students are exposed to pottery, painting, sculpture, sketching, design, acrylic, water ceramics and more.

“Art brings out imagination and creativity in students while fully engaging them in all core subjects,” said Nichols. “I also explain to students that art is a process just like anything else and it helps the students to gain confidence as they witness themselves improve.”

Currently at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Earhart students’ art work wraps the building in celebration of the 78th Annual Detroit Public Schools Student Exhibition on display April 18-May 31, 2015. Also, Earhart student Naomi West won the 23rd Annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest on November 19, 2014. West’s design “Children’s Pet Cuddle & Care Club” was a featured float during the 2014 America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade presented by Art Van.

Earhart also houses an award-wining sports program including: soccer, track, baseball, football, basketball, cheerleading and golf.

“We offer our students social, emotional, and academic support, and they are held to a high standard in order to play,” Johnson said.

Earhart continues to matriculate talented students and Principal Johnson always credits her talented and highly skilled staff and more than 80 partnerships, but especially recognizes her dedicated and extremely hardworking parents.

PACSA President and Girl Scout Troop Leader Erica Negron is one of 80 Earhart parents who proudly supports her children’s school by wearing many hats and volunteering daily whenever and wherever needed.

“We are our child’s first teacher,” said Negron. “When children see their parents actively volunteering in their school they will know their parents are serious about their education, and they in turn will take their education serious too.”

Earhart also has a fully functioning library run by volunteer retired teachers, and features The Acosta Center, which offers full ESL services for parents and the rich heritage and diversity of the Southwest Detroit community where Earhart is located.

Student Ambassador and sixth-grader Virginia Casique says she loves Earhart and the many opportunities that are offered for students. She feels confident that she is being provided the educational excellence that will prepare her for high school and beyond.

“I want to attend Western because most of my family has graduated from there and I want to continue my family’s legacy,” Casique expressed.

Principal Johnson and her team continue to provide all necessary pathways for her school and community to guide them on their flight to success.

Something you didn’t know

The authentic propeller in front of Earhart Elementary-Middle School was purchased from the Earhart family by fundraising spaghetti dinners for a year! Earhart students were empowered by Principal Johnson to suggest the name of the new building and chose to keep the name Earhart due to its historical significance, and pioneering spirit of excellence.

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