Warriors for lifelong learning
At Wayne State University, we firmly believe in academic equity, and we are committed to providing positive higher education experiences for everyone — starting at an early age. Preparing students for college is indeed a process, so we remain dedicated to the ongoing support of our K-12 education partners in Detroit. Whether children wish to pursue a bachelor’s or an advanced degree, we want them to grow up knowing that there is a place for them here.
Providing a college experience
For Steve Kahn, Math Corps isn’t just about teaching Detroit youth algebraic equations. It’s about helping them succeed at life.
“At the beginning, it was, ‘Let me see if I can help a few kids out,’” says Kahn, co-founder of Math Corps and director of the WSU Center for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics. “Now it’s, ‘Let me see if I can teach kids to care about themselves and each other.’”
A Wayne State faculty member since 1981, Kahn started his after-school tutoring with high school dropouts. After five years of working with 20 students, he realized that the need stretched further. That’s when he was introduced to Leonard Boehm, who was working for Detroit Public Schools. Boehm spent Saturdays teaching fifth- and sixth-graders, and he was looking for assistance — and the rest is history.
For Steve Kahn, Math Corps isn’t just about teaching Detroit youth algebraic equations — it’s about helping them succeed at life.
“I went to this school, watched this class of regular kids and was amazed,” Kahn says. “I saw a class with everyone on the edges of their seats — every kid totally into it. I was stunned. I was moved. And I was in.”
Together, Kahn and Boehm founded Math Corps in 1991. A combined academic and mentoring program, it reaches Detroit Public Schools Community District students in grades 6-12. Today, Math Corps features a summer camp, year-round Saturday programs and enrichment courses for elementary schoolchildren.
Since 1995, best estimates place the high school graduation rate for Math Corps students at about 90 percent, with nearly 90 percent of those students going on to college or the military.
As Wayne State University School of Medicine student Hasan Naserdean pointed to the various segments of a real human brain, 9-year-old Brooklyn Wrightbarber recited their names and functions, captivating her audience of four medical students.
“I think we have a neurosurgeon,” one of the students quipped.
Under the guidance of WSU medical students and faculty, Wrightbarber and other young minds participated in hands-on workshops and activities at the 2018 Reach Out to Youth event presented by the School of Medicine’s Black Medical Association. The event — which was themed “Fitness and Nutrition: Don’t Just Think About It, Be About It” — seeks to introduce children ages 7 to 11 in underrepresented populations to the possibility of careers in science and medicine.
It’s important that children see someone who looks like them in the field of medicine.Destiny Stroman
“It’s important to give back to the community and that these children see someone who looks like them in the field of medicine,” says Destiny Stroman, a second-year medical student who taught sessions on the brain, nutrition, and how exercise can positively affect the brain and memory during the 29th annual event.
The interaction between medical students and attendees is a critical component of Reach Out to Youth, which attracts several hundred children and their parents (who attend their own workshops on a variety of topics) each year.
“If we want to be good doctors, we have to have strong ties to the community,” says John Orelien, a third-year medical student. “We don’t often get that chance because we spend so much time studying, so this is a way to give back to the community. And I love to see how the kids react and have a great time.”
Supporting our schools
Serving students in grades 9-12, C2 Pipeline is a Wayne State University College of Nursing program designed to improve academics, increase graduation rates, and help ensure that students are both college- and career-ready. It achieves this through 19 after-school programming centers across metro Detroit, annual summer programs, and the Innovation & Curiosity Center, a WSU lab offering facilitated STEM activities to local school groups.
After-school programming runs for two and a half hours Monday through Thursday for 32 weeks during the academic year. During this time, students have the opportunity to work on projects, homework and other school-related tasks in a small-group setting.
Serving metro Detroit students in grades 9-12, WSU’s C2 Pipeline uses an innovative approach to help high schoolers become college- and career-ready.
In the summer, C2 Pipeline offers six weeks of campus and residential programming to those who are interested in health care careers. Known as the Warriors College Experience, the residential program invites rising juniors to fully immerse themselves in college life with 11 days on WSU’s Midtown campus. Here, students live with classmates in residence halls, eat together in cafeterias, and learn from WSU faculty members in lecture halls and laboratories through hands-on lessons in nursing, medicine, engineering, social work, pharmacy and health sciences, and dentistry.
“The faculty has written some really cool lessons focusing on experiences usually reserved for upper-level undergrads,” says Don Neal, College of Nursing instructional training grant project manager and C2 Pipeline project director.
The C2 Pipeline Warriors College Experience returns for its sixth summer July 21 through August 1, 2019.
Bright and early
In 2011, faculty from the Wayne State University College of Education and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute launched the Woodward Corridor Early Childhood Consortium to respond to the needs of a few Midtown child care centers.
Today, the alliance impacts a broad range of care and education for little ones. Using a collaborative network, the Woodward Corridor Early Childhood Consortium provides professional development opportunities for nearly 20 early childhood centers with support from the Kresge Foundation and First Children’s Finance.
What the Wayne State University College of Education and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute began in response to the needs of a few child care centers now impacts a broad range of care and education for young children across metro Detroit.
“The consortium is an opportunity to bring more evidence-based teaching strategies into preschool classrooms,” says College of Education faculty member Anna G. Miller, who has worked with young children and their families in the Detroit area for more than 30 years. “We also invite consortium members to visit our own early childhood centers to see how we implement best practices.”
Participating child care centers employ approximately 200 preschool teachers and assistant teachers and collectively serve more than 1,300 children from birth to 5 years of age.
The College of Education and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute Early Childhood Centers participate in the consortium and serve as demonstration sites for center teachers to observe best practices that they can put into action to help young minds continue to grow. As Miller says, “High-quality early childhood care and education programs provide children experiences and tools to go to school ready to learn.”