Educators will tell you there is no substitute for hands-on learning. That’s why several high school students and their college student mentors from Marygrove College and Albion College are getting together each semester to study newly-restored wetlands just outside of Detroit.
This two-year collaboration, called the Third-90 Wetlands Restoration Program, allows University Prep High School, Detroit students to benefit from direct exposure to college students and faculty in a collegiate setting. University Prep Detroit prides itself on being a Third-90 high school, which means 90 percent of their students will graduate from high school, 90 percent of those will attend college, and 90 percent of those college students will earn a degree. This effort is particularly important in the City of Detroit, where high school graduation rates are among the lowest in the country.
The conference begins on Friday evening, March 18, 2011 with keynote speaker Dr. Grant Wiggins presenting on Authentic Performance Assessment in Urban Education.
The conference will continue on Saturday with keynote speaker, Dr. Betty Overton-Adkins, Provost, Spring Arbor University. She will present on Assessment As Truth-Telling, Learning Who We Really Are.
DETROIT, Mich., Feb. 4, 2011—Marygrove College’s Department of Business and Computer Information Systems has been awarded funding for the inception of the Comerica Scholars Program (CSP). The selected recipient will receive a scholarship toward tuition and fees at Marygrove and will be recognized at the College’s annual Honors Convocation in March.
The author of five books of poetry, Harryette Mullen has taught at Cornell University and now teaches creative writing and African-American literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has received the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry, a PEN Beyond Margins Award, and the 2010 Jackson Poetry Prize, and she has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Mullen was born in Alabama and raised in Texas. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas, Austin and her master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Marygrove College’s Art Department understands how small steps can sometimes lead to larger ones. Together with the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), they are helping people who have experienced great loss make that first stride to positive change and recovery-- by learning something new.
Twelve students have successfully completed their first course of digital media and video production, through a grant that helps the underserved in the city of Detroit. With the encouragement of Art Department Chair Jim Lutomski and Dean of Fine Arts Rose DeSloover, a syllabus was created by Tim Gralewski, Assistant Professor of Art. Gralewski prepared a 14-week hands-on computer and video skills program, with projects that allow for self-expression and reflection.
DETROIT, Mich., Jan. 18, 2010 —Detroit artists Eric Froh, Jennifer Quigley, Chris Turner and Jean Wilson showcase new and rarely seen three-dimensional collages, paintings and installations at The Gallery of Marygrove College. “Process and Form” reexamines the artists’ use of salvaged and repurposed materials in the Detroit aesthetic. The exhibition opens Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 and will remain on view through March 4, 2011.
Marygrove’s president, Dr. David J. Fike, will present on a panel called “Serving the Local Community: An Approach to Civic Engagement” at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities’ (ACCU) annual meeting, Jan. 29-31 in Washington, D.C. In addition, Amata Miller, Andrea Lee and Sharon Holland—all Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHMs)—Marygrove’s sponsor and founder, are involved in the conference’s plenary sessions.
Marygrove College was one of 30 organizations to receive a 2011 Martin Luther King Day Mini-grant. The grants were distributed by The Michigan Community Service Commission, Michigan Nonprofit Association, Michigan Campus Compact, and Volunteer Centers of Michigan to support 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service projects across the state. Service projects are intended to tackle critical challenges in their communities, including education, economic opportunity, supporting veterans and military families, health, clean energy and environmental stewardship, disaster preparedness, and public safety. Grants range in value from $200 to $1,000.
An excellent example of their efforts happened during the Michigan Arts Education Association Annual Conference in November. The Fine Arts Department hosted 50 arts educators from around the state to get acquainted with Marygrove. “Since the conference was in our neighborhood this year, we thought it would be important to showcase what we have to offer here,” Greene said. “It was a rare opportunity to bring arts teachers inside our doors to see what we do—and how well we do it.” The event was a success.
Guests from all levels of pedagogy, K-12 and up, were treated to a day of dynamic sessions by Marygrove faculty, including a hands-on, multi-media presentation on creative change/creative solutions by Chris Seguin, Dean of Education; a workshop on contemporary photography without the darkroom by Nicole Parker, Assistant Professor of Art; an easy application of printmaking for the classroom by Tim Gralewski, Assistant Professor of Art; and an overview of arts-infused education as social justice by Greene herself. The sessions also allowed them to show off their beautiful art galleries featuring the Marygrove Faculty Art Show and be welcomed to campus by the Chair of the Department, Jim Lutomski, and Dean of Fine Arts, Rose DeSloover.
“We hope that the take-away from this one-day workshop was that teachers can make a difference with art virtually anywhere,” Greene says. “We have been making great strides, energizing students and giving instructors the tools and training they need for arts-focused activities.”
Greene stresses that “we aren’t just preaching arts-infused education—we’re living it.” The difference here is community outreach. It can mean anything from making an art project the bright spot in a child’s school day, to offering fresh ideas for teachers looking to inject something new into their coursework. Art matters.
Recently, the Institute partnered with Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, offering up Marygrove instructor, Tim Gralewski, to teach a 14-week video production class. Enthusiasm is high for this course, as students learn new skills in a field with growing popularity.
In addition, a massive mural project based on the work of esteemed Detroit sculptor and painter Charles McGee is underway, uniting several community groups, Detroit schools and civic organizations. “This is an ongoing project, organized by Dean DeSloover,” Greene said, “which you will see a lot more of in the coming months.”
And, don’t forget the Institute for Arts Infused Education, led by Greene, that partners with area arts organizations to impact learning at high-needs schools in the city. Their continuous work with teachers and students has been part of a six-year research study that shows that the program is responsible for a high degree of impact on academic success.
The Fine Arts Department also serves to expose the arts to prospective students, and even existing ones, who may want to rethink how arts can enhance their academic careers. Greene adds, “We keep saying to students—you can make art your minor, if you aren’t willing to commit to an art major.”
A Marygrove minor in art, fine art or art history is roughly 20 hours of coursework, and complements many fields of study, such as humanities, language and history. “An art minor will give you the well-rounded education that future employers are looking for,” Greene says.
Studies show it.
When the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities looked at best practices around the country in 1999, their research showed that young people who study the arts have heightened academic standing, a stronger capacity for self-assessment and the ability to plan and work for a positive future. This applies to all students, regardless of socioeconomics.
The National Governor’s Center conducted a wide-spread study of the arts in education in 2002, examining multiple case studies. They found overwhelmingly that diverse arts education programs in and outside of school have proven to be valuable for states seeking to develop advanced workforce skills.(NGA issue brief 2002).
“Corporations are looking for workers who want to work collaboratively, as part of a team,” Greene says. “…Industry is looking for creative thinkers…that’s the kind of student Marygrove turns out; our students are design-thinkers.”
She also cites the New York Times best-selling book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, as a good way to put it all in perspective. The book asserts that “the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind.” It is predicted that so called ‘right-brain’ qualities such as inventiveness and empathy are going to give ‘left-brain’ dominance a run for its money. Fortunately, Marygrove’s Institute for Arts Infused Education is already in the race.
It all began little more than a decade ago. "In the 1990's, our department was organized like most other small liberal arts colleges," says Jeanne Andreoli, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology and Co-chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics. "We offered the typical majors in biology, chemistry or mathematics." But Andreoli and Welch had begun to immerse themselves in Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), an undergraduate STEM organization sponsored by the National Science Foundation. PKAL advocates strong, integrated undergraduate programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. "PKAL showed us how important it is to use an interdisciplinary approach to learning...it was like rediscovering the world is not flat!" Andreoli said.
PKAL also positions educators as facilitators, rather than the traditional notion of teachers as "managers" of a student's learning. "We were so inspired by what they had to say...PKAL completely changed the way I viewed teaching," said Sally Welch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry and Co-chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics. Their students are the lucky beneficiaries of an energized faculty.
'Energized' is probably an understatement when you realize the leaps and bounds the department has made in recent years. "With the support of our leadership team, and the help of Dr. Barbara Johns, IHM, we co-wrote and received a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education," Welch said. Title III-A grants are awarded to colleges and universities for academic improvements, and are not easily achieved. The time commitment is significant, but definitely worth it.
Transforming a department required a major overhaul in every sense of the word. Labs were built; classrooms became "smart" with updated, state-of-the-art computers and equipment. Faculty members who had been teaching their own way for years, were now challenged to embrace newer, more integrated teaching methods. It sounds a little daunting, but not to these two. "It wasn't scary at all—it was a dream." Welch says. "We were given the chance to realize our dreams for our faculty and our students, it has been amazing."
Andreoli agrees. "I feel it was a lot like working on a jigsaw puzzle from the inside out—we didn't know where the borders were, we just knew what the core should be. There should be no limits for students who want to reach as far as they can. Learning in a supportive environment where boundaries are stretched and broken down fosters better learning...that's 21st century scholarship."
Today, the Science and Math Department at Marygrove is a place where students are given the tools to learn, to carve out their own path. Curriculum enhancements are numerous, with built-in flexible tracks for students interested in industry or teaching. By design, there is a social science component in every course offering, so that students graduate with an appreciation for how the real world operates. They are prepared to be compassionate, productive workers in their chosen fields.
Consequently, field experience like internships and volunteerism is not only encouraged, it is required. Welch says it's a cultural change that has opened doors for unprecedented partnerships—just the type of change needed for a city like Detroit, where Marygrove's human service mission is deeply rooted:
Marygrove partners with the Detroit Science Center for teacher enrichment courses. The premise is common sense. Expose primary and secondary school teachers to new science and math concepts, and students gain greater preparation for college coursework.
As a means to get students interested in the environment, an important partnership through the Michigan Colleges Foundation brings students from other colleges together to problem-solve, such as the current Michigan wetlands project with Albion College. Welch serves on the board of the River Raisin Institute and would like to see more freshmen get involved in environmental issues.
In January, Marygrove will be sending its first cohort to Oakland University for the accelerated nursing program—a vital partnership that arose out of a collegial appreciation for how Marygrove addressed the underserved student in science and math.
The programs are gaining momentum as capacity for them grows.
"Our department's new Health Sciences major is rolling along quickly because of the local need for jobs," Welch says. "Plus, through the vision of Dr. Steve Scribner, Associate Professor of Chemistry, we have redesigned our Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies program and a four-class certificate program which seems to be getting a lot of attention." Forensic Science at Marygrove is also relatively new, offering up exciting career options on a national scale, as in border patrol or white collar crime.
What it all boils down to, truly, is the organic chemistry of Andreoli and Welch, which has a magic power of its own. Their strong partnership sets the tone for the entire department, and eventually cascades throughout Marygrove's hallowed halls."You have to model good behaviors," Andreoli said. "We never wanted to approach this reform as telling anyone what to do—we just wanted to provide a way for all involved to do it better."