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A New Type of School Teaches Skills for the Future

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Ypsilanti STEMM Middle College & Grizzly Robotics

FIRST School District | FIRST Robotics Competition Team

Ypsilanti STEMM Middle College, an innovative, dual-enrollment high school created in 2014 based on FIRST ethos, together with Grizzly Robotics, its robust after-school FIRST program, is enabling students to succeed and seeing dramatic improvements to attendance, graduation, and suspension rates, as well as state test scores.

Background

In Ypsilanti, Michigan, when school officials were searching for innovative ways to engage high school students in math and sciences, they based an entire high school on the FIRST philosophy.

Bringing STEM to Ypsilanti

The Ypsilanti STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Manufacturing) Middle College incorporates the FIRST emphasis on hands-on, problem-solving engineering and manufacturing skills into an innovative curriculum that provides students with exposure to college academic courses while still in high school. Grizzly Robotics, the school’s robust extracurricular FIRST Robotics Competition program, reinforces these skills in a fun, engaging way.

Enabling vulnerable youth to succeed

Together, the programs are enabling students to succeed. Daily attendance is up from 84 percent to 92 percent, graduation rates have soared from 69 percent to 97 percent, and suspensions have plummeted from 35 percent to the low single digits. The school has also significantly improved the percentage of students meeting proficiency level in science on the Michigan Merit Exam.

A combination of high expectations, discipline, mentoring, and kindness have worked powerfully on young people in Grizzly Robotics, some of whom have faced unstable home lives and other challenges to success.

“If I were to have one wish, it would be that schools would get FIRST as more than just an athletic team or after-school activity – that it really becomes infused in how they do business.” -- Scott Heister, FIRST Mentor, Ypsilanti STEMM Middle College Academic Director


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