DPSCD Earns Top Honor in 2021 Magna Awards Program for Equity Work
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has named Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) a grand prize winner in the 27th annual Magna Awards program. The award recognizes the district’s commitment to providing educational equity to students in the horticulture program at the Charles R. Drew Transition Center, a pre-vocational center for special education adult learners.
The year-round horticulture program provides educational, vocational, and life skills for students with special needs. The produce grown through the program is available to students, families, food banks, farmers markets, an on-site market, and is sold to local restaurants.
DPSCD special education teacher and horticulture instructor Michael Craig created the program eight years ago. Today, Craig’s classroom is a large indoor and outdoor space with 12 hydroponic growing systems, 140 production growing beds, a 23-tree fruit orchard, and a hoop house.
“Everything we grow, we start with the seed, “Craig said. “We take those seedlings and put them in the hydroponic systems or the raised beds outside. We take care of the plants to produce the fruit.”
With five classes a day, and 15 students in each class, Craig adapts activities to each student. “The simple act of filling a raised bed with soil can have different applications. The students with cognitive impairment do things repeatedly to build muscle memory. With students in wheelchairs, I have to be innovative and bring the work to them.”
While finding employment is not guaranteed to all students, Principal Robert Avedisian said the program does send out 135 students to different employers every day. “Our goal is to integrate the students. We want them to benefit.”