Montae Crawford

This September, Detroit Delta Preparatory School for Social Justice (Delta Prep), which is an independent charter school in Detroit, MI, opened its doors to its first freshman and sophomore classes. Its students come from varying socioeconomic sections of Detroit. The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) is the education partner for Delta Prep, supporting curriculum development and providing instructional and leadership coaching for the staff of Delta Prep.

When asked about his new school, sophomore Montae Crawford said, “Classroom sizes are smaller, which is better because you can have more one-on-one time with teachers.”

Crawford also explained that communication between students and staff is very good. For example, if students do something wrong, they are not immediately kicked out; rather, students are told why they are in trouble and given the chance to right the wrong. Students who are from larger, at-risk, inner city schools typically do not receive this type of guidance and are often suspended causing them to miss out on the thing they need most – an education.

The ISA model relies on a dedicated team of teachers and counselors to support students academically, socially and emotionally. Strong, long-term relationships among students, teachers, and counselors contribute to high levels of student engagement and performance. This structure personalizes the school experience and provides a safety net of care and support to ensure that no student falls through the cracks.

While a typical day for Montae includes physics, geometry, choir, and his favorite lunch time activity, basketball, it also includes advisory. It is during advisory that Montae and 12 of his classmates meet regularly with their teacher/advisor who gets to know them well and develops strong relationships with them in order to better support their academic and social-emotional development throughout their high school career. During advisory group time, the advisor engages students in such activities as regular transcript reviews to assess whether students are on track to graduate, college preparatory mechanisms which introduce students to the process of preparing for college, discussions on issues that are important to the students, and skill building in such areas as problem solving, taking responsibility, and fostering positive relationships.

“Our mission is to help students get to college and find them a perfect fit, so they can go as affordably as possible,” said Meagan Brown, founding principal of Delta Prep. “We aren’t just working with students when they are in high school; depending upon a student’s educational path, we make a ten- year commitment to our students and their families.”