When most people think about Detroit Public Schools, they think about debt and the school district’s challenges with keeping students in school. However, a brighter subject that is often overlooked is the way that many educators, student, and members of the community are working toward a common goal: strengthening the schools and improving the quality of education that the students receive.
This effort to improve the school district has been going on since the 1990s. In 1996, alumni from an elementary school formed the Pasteur Elementary School Alumni Foundation in order to improve the lives of the students who currently attend the elementary school. They do so by providing books and funding field trips and scholarships for the students. Last year, the foundation sent 28 students and their parents to Florida to visit the Kennedy Space Center. The trip cost was paid for with donations that were made to the school by alumni in 2011.
The members of Pasteur Elementary School Alumni Foundation do not only donate money to the school, they also donate their time. There are currently 231 members in the foundation and it has a database of 1,300 alumni. These alumni encourage students to stay in school by sharing stories of their own successes and how an education helped them achieve their goals.
Last year, the fifth-graders at Pasteur Elementary School wrote about themselves in journals that were then mailed to alumni who lived around the world. The alumni wrote about themselves and their careers, and then mailed the journals back to the students. This project helped the students improve their writing skills while also forming a relationship between the students and their newfound-mentors.
The overall goal of the Pasteur Elementary School Alumni Foundation is to have an impact on the lives of current students while also helping them realize that their education can lead to a fulfilling future. In my opinion, this is a really great idea and I’m glad to see it happening in Detroit, a place that is not known for offering such opportunities to students.