Dr. Christine Johns

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The Power of Partnerships

We read a lot about the power of social influence these days, but I am struck by the power of community partnerships. A key educational reality is that strong schools are linked to powerful and positive community partnerships.

At UCS, I see the passion and power of these partnerships daily. An example is Tommy Haji and the new Vision Empowerment Academy. The Academy is a partnership between Wireless Vision, The Chaldean Community Foundation and Stevenson High School.

Though he is a busy and successful entrepreneur, Mr. Haji has been willing to share both his time and expertise with our students. As part of the Vision Empowerment Academy mentoring program, Mr. Haji, along with other mentors, are paired with high school juniors from Stevenson High School to help guide them toward achieving their goals.

Mr. Haji challenges students to use their education to both dream and achieve in their future. “Education is the foundation of everything,” he notes. “Once you are educated you are able to find your passions in life and pursue them. You should never limit yourself to one thing.”

Both the foundation and company, through owner Saber Ammori, invested not only their time, but also awarded $20,000 in student scholarships.

This type of partnership reflects the Utica Community Schools educational mission – preparing students for successful post-secondary experiences. It also reflects the powerful difference that community partners make as students discern their future.

As a UCS partner, the academy’s mentors are not alone. Parents, grandparents, community members, business and industry leaders model and share the values of our community.

These partnerships also provide strong financial support for our students. Some examples include:

• Partners such as Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars, the UCS Foundation for Educational Excellence, the United Shore Professional Baseball League, local community foundations and service clubs all invest in our graduates and their academic future through scholarships.

• Business mentors give their time and resources to support classroom innovation. Most recently, an anonymous business leader provided more than $1 million in a private grant for a new Career and Technical Education academy. Local business leaders – including the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce and the cybersecurity initiative at the Velocity Center – also play an important role in working with teachers to promote the skills needed for the future workforce.

• Our community approved a $155 million bond issue that will affect every school and every student over the next five years. We appreciate the trust and support of the community to use these funds toward our educational mission. Several projects are now under way and the pace will only accelerate as classes end for the summer. For progress updates on bond improvement projects visit: http://www.uticak12.org/2018bond/updates.

• Parent and community members invest literally thousands of hours in our classrooms and serve on booster clubs, parent volunteer organizations and advisory boards. By directly sharing their time and talents, our schools truly represent the very fabric of our community. As a whole, our students gain generational knowledge and witness first-hand the importance of community involvement.

These strong partnerships are producing great results. We know that a student’s academic success is strengthened through involvement with other adults. Through community partnerships, students excel both within Utica Community Schools and after they graduate and become citizens and leaders across the state and the world.

Thank you for your continued support. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me, or your building leadership, with questions, suggestions, or affirming stories of the good work that our teachers and students are doing.

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