Ronald McDonald House Charities recently approved a grant in the amount of $5,000 to Pewabic Pottery. The grant will support Pewabic Pottery’s in-patient Bedside Art program, “Fun With Clay,” as well as its High School Apprentice program.

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. The Vision holds the belief that when you change a child’s life, you change a family’s, which can change a community, and ultimately the world. RMHC strives to be part of that change and part of the solution in improving the lives of children and their families by providing programs that strengthen families during their most difficult or challenging times.

 Pewabic’s Bedside Art program, Fun With Clay, currently serves 200 children per year at Detroit’s Children’s Hospital of Michigan. This weekly bedside ceramic arts program is designed to provide creative activity as well as an outlet for expression beneficial to hospitalized children. The program is currently provided to pediatric inpatients ages 7-18 at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

 Pewabic’s High School Apprenticeship program serves the inner-city youth of Detroit, supplementing high school curriculum in Detroit Public Schools. In the school year 2009/2010, Pewabic provided ceramic art instruction through its programming to 8,000 underserved Detroit youth who do not have access to the arts. Pewabic programs are focused on underserved Detroit youth who do not typically have access to the arts through their schools. Pewabic’s underlying belief is that ceramic arts are a powerful vehicle for youth development; this is much needed in a disinvested community with a high rate of youth poverty.

Pewabic Pottery’s Tudor Revival style building is a National Historic Landmark, located at 10125 East Jefferson Avenue. The mission of Pewabic Pottery is to engage people in learning experiences with contemporary ceramic art and artists while promoting and preserving its historic legacy. Pewabic offers visitors an exciting glimpse of a little known part of American history. Founded in 1903 during the Arts & Crafts Movement, Pewabic is nationally renowned for its tile and pottery in unique glazes. Today Pewabic Pottery is a non-profit ceramic art education center that welcomes 40,000 visitors to the Pottery, as well as 100,000 web visitors annually.

 Pewabic youth education programs are offered free to Detroit youth in public and charter schools, offering opportunities for quality after-school programs for youth that take place in healthy, safe, and supportive environments. These programs teach real-life skills using ceramic arts while supporting creative self-expression, career exploration for youth, and helping participants develop self-confidence. Pewabic also teaches 1,000 adults each year through varied courses from beginner to advanced levels.
The traditional K-8 class scheduling model of students in one grade moving through all the same classes as their peers has been turned on its head at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy (P3A), a new K-8 school in the Detroit Public School District. P3A launched a ground-breaking pilot program in late December in which seventh- and eighth-grade students receive customized instruction based on comprehension level.

This month marks the start of the first full semester when students follow individualized class schedules based on data pulled from three years of reading, writing and mathematics MEAP assessments in Data Director, a digital assessment tool developed by global education leader Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and implemented in partnership with DPS.

The schedules place students into English Language Arts and Mathematics classes with peers who tested at similar learning levels in each subject, allowing teachers to develop tailored instructional programs. Students will follow this new, individualized schedule through the remainder of the 2010/2011 school year, though a student could be moved to a different level of English Language Arts or Mathematics if needed during the year based on their performance without having to change their other teachers. To date, this innovative approach of using technology to improve student outcomes has only been used at a select number of schools in New York City.

“Traditionally, K-8 schools have operated under the notion that students should receive ‘one-size-fits-all’ instruction based on grade – but the truth is that students learn at different paces and within different modalities, and we need to respect the learner as we create the learning environment,” said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Chief Academic and Accountability Auditor of DPS. “By filling classrooms with students who share similar learning levels, teachers can offer customized instruction that engages students based on their individual needs – and that makes them more successful. We hope P3A will be a model to implement in other K-8 schools at DPS.”

Replication of the program is being considered as the district designs new schools and reviews its School Improvement Grant school plans, Byrd-Bennett said.

The pilot program at Palmer Park Prep Academy builds on the individualized program at the school, which for the first time is being run by a group of highly-qualified Detroit Public Schools teachers who are focused on excellent teaching under the guidance of an Executive Administrator. The new school has extended hours and a robust curriculum, including arts, sports, clubs, Math Games, Science Projects, Current Events and Music. Foreign languages are offered to the youngest students in the PreK-8 school, and character development is woven throughout the curriculum.

Because research has shown having an effective teacher improves student learning, the school places a heavy emphasis on excellent teaching and high standards in every classroom. The teaching staff meet routinely to assess and build programming based on the needs of children they see every day in their classrooms.

The program also provides students with an additional period of English Language Arts, a mandate DPS is trying to implement in each building as part of the district’s rigorous 5-year academic plan.

Additionally, the pilot program restructures the classes teachers are assigned to and the way teachers prepare lesson plans. P3A English Language Arts and Math teachers are no longer assigned solely to one grade level; rather, they now transition between seventh and eighth grade classes throughout the day. The program also allots 45 minutes per day for a common planning period in which all teachers meet to collaboratively develop lesson plans, share best practices and discuss adjustments that need to be made to provide the students with the best possible educational experience.

 “This customized schedule already has made a huge difference in our students’ lives – we’re already noticing the students are happier because they are in the right place,” said Ann Crowley, a lead teacher at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy.   “Teachers appreciate the additional planning period to collaborate around meeting the needs of our students.  In our school, we ‘own’ the children together. A common planning period gives the teachers time to share best practices, plan lessons together, and even mentor one another around each other’s areas of expertise.”

The pilot program is part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s multi-year partnership with DPS to provide a unique integrated education solution that combines advanced technology, customized lesson plans and educator training and development that will improve student learning. DPS is implementing individualized student-centered schedules first at P3A and will evaluate its success for future rollout at other DPS schools.  The individualized scheduling program was developed by Cimple, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt partner who used its Web-based platform with advanced tools to design different scheduling structures and models to produce the individualized student schedules.
Skateboarding Magazine







Grub Street Chicago

We agree that grocery stores are crucial, but is it necessary to hate on urban farms?

In general, the attitude toward inner-city Detroit's urban-farming renaissance over the past few years has been ebullient. Sure, it's deplorable that poor city residents found themselves in the position of being without reliable access to fresh food, but props to them for growing their own! A documentary chronicling the city's hundreds of community gardens has won numerous awards, and it seems every few months we read another article celebrating Motor City's conversion to Farm City. But now along comes this recent story in Good, provocatively titled "Forget Urban Farms. We Need a Wal-Mart."

Richard Longworth, a fellow at the policy think tank the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, argues that residents of inner-city Detroit growing their own produce is anything but positive: "Urban farms are nothing less than a symptom of civic catastrophe, a desperate last measure for people trapped in destitute neighborhoods that have become food deserts." These kind of small farms are not the future of agriculture, he rails, but merely "niche" producers that "will never meet global demand," and are costly enough to price out all but urbanites with lots of money and the resources to figure out how to prepare haricots verts.

As we see it, though, urban farming in Detroit isn't about meeting global demand; it's about meeting local demand, and community gardens most definitely help with that. What's more, if people are raising their own food (or buying it affordably from neighbors), it's a different matter than privileged urban dwellers going to the Greenmarket and paying $5 a pound for biodynamic fingerling potatoes. It seems like Longworth (who has written a book that, in part, examines the disappearance of family farms) is using Detroit to make a complicated point about agriculture that, to our ears, isn't totally a fit.

Longworth's next argument, that the city of Detroit should allow Wal-Mart free rein to open stores in the suburbs if the megaretailer agrees to put local grocery stores into the shuttered supermarkets that dot inner Detroit, is an interesting one. Clearly, having grocery stores within city limits — accessible even to people without cars — would be a tremendous step forward. In fact, wouldn't it be great if a person could complement her haul of Swiss chard by easily being able to buy some chicken and rice to go along with it? Longworth might be right that what inner Detroit really needs is grocery stores, but he makes a mistake in discounting the urban farms that are, at this moment, giving many people fresh food and a source of income. Instead of thinking in terms of either there's urban farming or supermarkets, wouldn't the ideal scenario involve having both?

Forget Urban Farms. We Need a Wal-Mart

Photo: Courtesy Brooklyn Grange
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time, will deliver the keynote address at Wayne State University's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a fellow member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, will introduce Abdul-Jabbar at the event.

The program will begin at 11 a.m. at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, located at 3711 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. Tickets for the program only are $10; tickets that include a strolling luncheon are $65.

A 10-pack of program/luncheon tickets is $500. For more details, visit www.govaffairs.wayne.edu, or call (313) 577-0701. Reservations are required and may be submitted at http://govaffairs.wayne.edu/community/mlk/tribute2011.php.

Net proceeds from this year's event will be donated to select Detroit schools through the Adopt-A-Classroom program. Adopt-A-Classroom is a nationally recognized organization that raises funds to help teachers purchase resources for their classrooms. Last year, Detroit schools received $10,000 from Wayne State's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute.

The Wayne State tribute program includes special recognition for community leaders who exemplify King's goals and philosophy. It also highlights WSU's role as a bridge-building institution that keeps King's vision of racial harmony and community service alive.

A Rebirth for Detroit's Big Three Automakers

Chris Isidore
CNN Money

What a difference a year or two makes!

As the auto industry gathers for the annual Detroit Auto Show, the outlook is for strong sales gains ahead, both domestically and globally. In 2010, U.S. sales rose 11%, and they're expected to be up at least that much in 2011.

Gains could be even bigger overseas, with China, now the world's largest market for auto sales, leading the way.

Most forecasts are for sales increases to continue until at least 2015, even if overall economic growth remains modest.

"We are in a growth industry," said Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, chief economist of Ford Motor, in a speech to the Society of Automotive Analysts Sunday night.

The profit outlook, shaped by the painful restructuring of recent years, is even better, with several experts saying this is the best competitive position for U.S. automakers in decades.

Higher profits ahead

A few years ago, Detroit automakers spent an extra several thousand dollars per vehicle on production compared to import brands. But that disadvantage has largely vanished, mostly due to the closing of 19 auto plants in recent years, and new labor contracts that trimmed costs.

"Certainly in terms of getting their footprint of production to match the market, they're probably in the best position we've seen in 20 or 30 years," said William Strauss, senior economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. "That bodes well in terms of profitability."

In the sales boom years, the Big Three took losses on many of their car models due to weak demand. But experts say that new cost structures and more attractive offerings in car models position them to weather changes in the market.

Rebecca Lindland, director of strategic review for IHS Automotive, said even conservative estimates of sales growth to 15 million vehicles a year in 2015, should be enough to drive significantly higher profits.

"It's been decades since they made money on something other than trucks and SUV's," she said. "But they're structured well now."

General Motors (GM) and Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) have already reported their best net profits in more than a decade, while Chrysler Group is reporting operating profits. And all three gained U.S. market share in 2010, and are well positioned to keep making inroads in the years ahead.

More than half of the 200 senior auto industry executives surveyed by accounting firm KPMG expect GM and Ford to gain global market share in the next five years, and most believe Chrysler will at least hold onto its market share, if not make gains. That's a radical departure from a year ago, when the majority were forecasting continued declines for GM and Chrysler and expected Ford to hold pat.

"It is quite a remarkable change in opinion," said Gary Silberg, national auto industry leader for KPMG., who said he was particularly surprised by the change of opinion among overseas auto executives. "It's not easy to convince outsiders to take a positive view of the U.S. industry."

And U.S. auto plants are finally hiring again. Overall factory employment at U.S. plants was up 37,000 at the end of the year, or about 6%. But most of the 300,000 auto plant jobs lost in the industry since 2007 are not likely to be recouped for the foreseeable future, even as sales rebound.

While most experts agree that the outlook is vastly better than it was two years ago, when the very survival of the U.S. industry was in question, not all are convinced that Detroit has completely turned the corner.

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Edmunds.com, said the industry still has to prove it won't fall back into its old habit of overproducing vehicles, only to have to cut prices and raise incentives to move the cars. While Detroit made many tough decisions to get to this better outlook, some of it was simply luck, Krebs said.

"It didn't hurt [the U.S. automakers] to have Toyota (TM) recall a lot of vehicles," she said. Toyota's recall woes in 2010 resulted in it being the only major automaker to suffer a U.S. sales decline.

But other experts are convinced that Detroit has learned from past mistakes, and that strong profits should continue for the foreseeable future.

"The age of going blindly after sales, no matter the cost, is over," said Jesse Toprak of TrueCar. "We are now seeing a new emphasis on profitability."
Movie Web

Warner Bros. revealed earlier in the week that The Dark Knight Rises would shoot on location in Los Angeles and the UK, with a third location not yet decided. Fans of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise have long hoped that the third location would be Chicago, which was utilized to great effect in The Dark Knight, giving Gotham City a very distinct, dark, industrial, and textured look. But that doesn't seem to be the case, as a local Chicago report indicates The Dark Knight Rises has chosen to shoot in Detroit instead.

The city of Detroit is very industrial and rundown, and should provide The Dark Knight Rises with the proper atmosphere it needs, though some fans still worry that the look of the new movie will not fit the continuity set up with the first two installments. But hey, if Maggie Gyllenhaal can replace Katie Holmes, a town swap shouldn't be too big of a deal, right?

Detroit is simply offering better incentives at this point, and it is quickly becoming the premiere destination for location shooting, with Real Steel and A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas having both just wrapped there.

Christopher Nolan recently made the press rounds, but instead of talking about the locations he has chosen to shoot in, he decided to further expound upon his decision to forego 3D for this third installment of his Batman franchise. Here is what he had to say:

In the case of Batman, I view those as iconic, operatic movies, dealing with larger-than-life characters. The intimacy that the 3D parallax illusion imposes isn't really compatible with that. We are finishing our story on the next Batman, and we want to be consistent to the look of the previous films. I've seen work in 3D like 'Avatar' that's exciting. But, for me, what was most exciting about 'Avatar' was the creation of a world, the use of visual effects, motion capture, performance capture, these kinds of things. I don't think 'Avatar' can be reduced to its 3D component, it had so much more innovation going on that's extremely exciting. 3D has always been an interesting technical format, a way of showing something to the audience. But you have to look at the story you're telling: is it right?"

The Dark Knight Rises comes to theaters July 20th, 2012 and stars Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan.
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