Flint’s “Lighted Schoolhouse” model recognized

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 8:49 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (5/12/2021) - Kerry Downs, the executive director of the Flint Community Education Initiative (CEI), was featured on a recent statewide series about innovation in Michigan classrooms, the BRIGHT series, about her belief that every school should be a community school, supporting the education of the ‘whole child’ together. According to a press release from Michigan Virtual.

According to the release: “Communities have worked tirelessly to lift students and families across Michigan through the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “Kerry’s success, with the backing of a community who actively made the decision to invest in a truly inclusive environment, fills me with hope for the future for students post-pandemic.”

Michigan is home to so many outstanding leaders. The new podcast and blog series from Michigan Virtual — BRIGHT: Stories of Hope & Innovation in Michigan Classrooms — features inspirational Michigan educators or educational leaders known for their innovative approach to learning, what their classrooms look like, how these changes impact students, and what advice they have for others looking to try something new.

“For so many years, we have asked teachers to be the answer to everything and to wear 10 different hats. We ask them to be a teacher and a counselor but also a family engagement specialist,” says Downs. “What happens is it really takes a toll on our teachers. They should get to focus on being this lead educator and focus on making sure kids do great learning.”

In the 1930s, C.S. Mott and Frank Manley originated the concept of a “lighted schoolhouse” where the local schools were envisioned to serve as vibrant centers of community life. Today, the Flint CEI has brought this “lighted schoolhouse” model to 13 schools in Flint. At their elementary schools, community school directors stay after-hours until 7 p.m., and at high schools, they stay even later until 8 or 9 p.m.

“We know that when we support the whole family,” Downs explains, “the whole family thrives and kids do better. When the neighborhood is strong, we know that schools are even better supported.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on the opportunities for improvement in our educational system, and the perspectives highlighted in the BRIGHT series will help propel Michigan students and communities forward.

By discovering new ways to grow, Michigan Virtual is committed to learning from local educational leaders and making a difference in education. This means learning how best to leverage face-to-face, blended, and online learning innovations to meet the needs of everyone involved: teachers, students, parents, and schools alike.

“Teachers are working harder than ever adapting their methods to meet students’ needs, and they can look to leaders like Kerry and the model of Flint CEI as we navigate the new normal,” continued Fitzpatrick.

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