This public charter school in Midtown Detroit is committed to preparing students for college and career. Here, the school's principal offers insight.
High standards, collaboration, and commitment are terms commonly used when a learning environment of distinction establishes standards for students. But at Plymouth Educational Center, these expectations extend beyond the students to include their families, too.
Since the early 1990s, Plymouth Educational Center (PEC), a non-profit public charter school in Detroit’s Midtown, has provided education for students whose families recognize that collaboration and engagement from everyone involved – teachers, administrators, families, and students – is critical for success on a student’s path to college and career. Recently, the PEC Board of Directors made a decision to partner with Distinctive Schools, a Charter Management Organization, to manage the day to day academic and operational components of the school beginning this fall.
The mission of Distinctive Schools is to support each child in becoming an engaged and curious learner, a confident self-advocate, and a creative problem-solver by setting high expectations and nurturing a positive culture that honors diversity, collaboration, and optimism. Distinctive Schools is a 501(c3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and accelerating the work of charter schools. Distinctive Schools provides intensive supports that accelerate achievement, performance, and college-preparedness. Through their innovative personalized learning model, coupled with dedicated social-emotional learning coaching and development, Distinctive Schools has a proven record of highly successful schools in both Metro-Detroit and Chicago.
“We are working to ensure that our learning environment is collaborative, challenging, and filled with love for allof our students” says Schranda Battle, principal at Plymouth Educational Center. “Every adult in our building is committed to providing a learning environment where students become engaged and curious learners who are prepared for success.”
Steeped in a “village” model, Plymouth Educational Center, offers a rigorous kindergarten through eighth grade educational environment for families who want their students to be engaged in enriching opportunities. Central to the learning process for each of the school’s 500 students is self-inquiry. Teachers and staff use a Social Emotional Learning framework and Personalized Learning framework to help students discover who they are as individuals and how they learn best.
“We do a lot of identity-affirming activities so students can hone into their own creativity, learn what they are naturally good at and thrive,” Battle says.
The role of reinforcement
Plymouth Educational Center’s faculty, staff and administrators are committed to helping parents and families learn how to recognize the important role reinforcement at home plays in the learning process.
“Parents should know there is no judgement, no blame being placed, but if we are looking for our students to become creative problem solvers, confident self- advocates, and productive members of their community, they need these skills and capabilities. The concepts and ideas taught in school must be reinforced at home. A strong relationship between school and home helps parents feel comfortable speaking up about what they need, and we want them to feel safe allowing the student to grow and learn and be nurtured,” Battle says.
When students and families feel confident in the support provided by their learning community, students thrive, Battle says.
With an emphasis on Personalized Learning, the curriculum at Plymouth Educational Center is user-friendly, and progress is regularly shared with families. “We are a distinctive educational community that is all about social justice, achievement, equity, and students having access to any environment they want to enter into,” Battle says. “To promote the concept of college, career and life, we have created a learning space where our children can identify themselves, overcome challenges and problem solve sufficiently.”
PEC encourages flexibility and broad-based learning in order for students to succeed in a future work environment consisting of jobs that largely don’t exist today. “Students need to have an entrepreneurial mindset as well as the ability to show competence in regular standardized testing,” Battle says. “School must be flexible to include an individualized learning path and include a level of creativity.”
In addition to art and music, students at Plymouth Educational Center gain from enriching opportunities through mentorship programs and partnerships that focus on college and career readiness, even at the youngest level. “We foster what we call ‘Itty Bitty Greatness’ that focuses on what is great within each student, and that grows to ‘Greatness Camp’ for older students,” Battle says.
Basketball, volleyball, and track and field all offer competitive opportunities to contribute to and balance academic experiences.
The Plymouth Educational Center student
With the support, encouragement, and commitment from PEC, every student will thrive at Plymouth Educational Center. The student best suited to this unique learning environment is one that asks a lot of questions, Battle says.
“That natural inquisitiveness is important. This is the child who constantly asks why. The problem solver. The child who takes apart the toaster just to see how it works. This is the child that will flourish in our learning model.” Goal-driven students collaborate with instructors to co-design their learning paths as they grow. In this way, Battle says, the students take ownership of their educational experiences.
Battle invites prospective families to visit Plymouth Educational Center to see the collaborative spaces and learn more about the intentional learning model that is unique to the school. Convenient for students with families who work in Detroit’s Midtown, Plymouth Educational Center is home to a safe, secure, challenging environment for young learners. The school has limited seats available for the fall and families can register students now at the school or by visiting the school website.
“As a parent and as an educator, I pride myself on creating a learning space that is one I’d expect my own children to be in,” Battle says. “I believe in making sure students in urban areas have every opportunity that students in suburban areas get, with tangible resources and people they can count on in an environment where they will be challenged. Our goal is to make sure all of our students are ready to compete against the best of the best.”
PEC is located at 1460 E. Forest in Detroit. For more information and to learn more about how to enroll your child at PEC, please visit www.plymouthed.org, or visit them on Facebook @plymoutheducationalcentercharteracademy, Instagram @plymouthedcharter or Twitter @plymouthed.