A Detroit School is Turned Around in 14 Months

Dec 5, 2011 by

by Harry & Rosemary Wong – What results would you expect if you had over $15 billion to spend to effect change? Each year over $15 billion in Title 1 funds are made available to schools with results that are marginal. Now imagine a skilled teacher/consultant going into a dysfunctional school in the most impoverished school district in all of America with a mission to transform the culture of the school in one year.

This is a story of hope—where there is none, perseverance—where negativity abounds, and endurance—so that every child has the opportunity to grow, learn, thrive, and achieve in a neighborhood school. This is about Phoenix Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan, and how money is not the greatest asset of a school; it is its people.

Chelonnda Seroyer arrived at Phoenix Elementary School in Detroit in February 2010. What she saw was total chaos. First, students had to enter the school through a metal detector while lined up outside the school in freezing winter weather. Once inside, she saw students running up and down the halls, teachers were screaming at kids, and doors were slamming. There was no discernible start of the school day. There were no bells, no morning announcements, no Pledge of Allegiance, nothing except the humiliation and greeting of a metal detector.

Chelonnda, with the help of two school leaders and the staff, and with negligible Title 1 funds, turned the second lowest achieving school in Detroit from total chaos into a school that became safe, consistent, and nurturing after three meetings over a period of 14 months. There was no secret sauce involved. What Chelonnda did can be replicated at any school.

More can be accessed at www.teachers.net/wong/DEC11


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