Math in MUSE
Math in MUSE
Throughout the six-week summer enrichment program, both the coaches and the students were met with challenges, and triumphs. As the MUSE math instructor, it was my responsibility to decipher a common ground for the multiple students who came from various math backgrounds. In short, I found a creative way to mix both algebra and geometry, in a fun and challenging way. It was my goal to expose the MUSE students to typical math concepts students in the Detroit Public School (DPS) district struggle with as well as help them develop logical and critical thinking skills; furthermore, I often pushed them to “think outside the box.” In turn, I was usually the one facing the greatest challenge of forcing them to understand how higher level thinking would be beneficial in the long run. Were they always up for the challenge? Of course not! Did they pass the challenge? At the end of the day, yes!
It’s always great to know that I’m making a difference in the lives of young people, especially from the city of Detroit where positive role models from minority backgrounds are few and far between. Though I often went home stressed, I know the impact that I made on my student’s has been significant. The DPS district, which is predominantly African American, is faced with low graduation rates (24.9%), and the 75% of students who do not graduate usually face poverty, or worse, jail time. Surprisingly, MUSE 2011 was comprised of majority males, which was totally unexpected. However, it was beneficial for my personal and professional growth to work with young men, who often presented a challenge and some even admitted to venturing down the wrong path because they tested my patience and my ability to connect to their lifestyles. I found that it’s important to relate to students if you want them to gain respect for not only a teacher, but learning as well. Even if I can’t be Superman, and save the world, I know that I did my best to present myself as a positive, educated, African American male, role model to eight young men. I will walk away from MUSE with eight more brothers because they leapt into my heart.
From George Hardy (UPenn ’12), Math Instrcutor for MUSE
MUSE Student Field Trips
This year, we were able to take the MUSE children on the following three field trips: the Horizons-Upward Bound College Fair at Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School, the University of Michigan, and the Holocaust Museum. Each trip was educational in its own way, and the children were able to garner a wealth of information about different topics.
One of the nation’s largest Upward Bound programs (Horizons-Upward Bound outside of Detroit, MI), invited the MUSE students to attend its annual college fair, which hosts a plethora of colleges from Michigan and other Midwestern states, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and a small number of liberal arts colleges on the East Coast. Although my students range from grades 8-10, all of the teaching staff thought that it was never too early to start preparing them for college. At the college fair, students wereable to engage in meaningful conversation with several recruiters, and as a result, were able to gain insight as to which aspects of college life (e.g. small class sizes, a top ten sports team, a specific major or concentration of study, etc.) were most important to them. After the college fair, students were given a tour of the historic Cranbrook Kingswood campus. Many of the students were happy to venture outside of their urban dwellings in Detroit to explore both the architecture as well as the natural beauty of the ponds, lakes, gardens, and forestry that comprised the boarding school’s campus. Upon returning back to our school, one of our students proclaimed that the trip had been the “best day of [his] life”.
Our second trip was to the University of Michigan’s campus. While on campus, students were given a tour of the libraries, science center, student union, and more by a rising senior at the university. They were able to engage in dialogue with her about traditions on campus, admissions expectations, and the pros and cons of attending school in-state. None of the students had ever visited the college campus before, and unanimously agreed that the trip was as informative as it was fun.
Last Thursday, we took our students to their last field trip, which was to the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, MI. The museum is well known throughout Michigan as the first freestanding museum dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust, and houses an array of exhibits to shed light on horrors that the Nazis and their allies brought upon Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Again, because the majority of our students attend school in the Detroit Public School district, they have not yet had an opportunity to learn in depth about the Holocaust, and we thought that this would be an excellent opportunity for them to learn about the history of a group other than their own. At the museum, the students were able to listen to the narrative of a Holocaust survivor, and ask him questions about his life in concentration camps and how he reconnect with a few of his family members. The students were visibly touched by his very remarkable story of survival. The students were given a tour of the museum by a docent, and saw pictures, videos, and exhibits that gave them a deeper understanding of the Holocaust.
All of our field trips turned out to be rewarding experiences for both MUSE Coaches and students alike. Next year, we plan to increase the number of field trips we take so that we can expose the students to more than what is within their immediate living vicinity.
Midwest Heatwave: Ruining My Week In More Ways Than One :(
By now, many of you may have heard about the powerful heatwave that has spread across the Midwest this week. As a result of record breaking temperatures (today it is supposed to be 100 with a heat index of 110, when average temperatures here in Detroit are usually in the 80s or low 90s), most of the schools that hold summer school had an early release yesterday and will be closed all day today. Although many students and teachers alike undoubtedly jumped for joy at the announcement, I have to admit that the announcement left me a little -well- sad.
Although I am grateful for one of the only days this summer that I have gotten to sleep in, I cannot not feel completely happy because I miss my MUSE students. As the 4th week of MUSE winds up, I can honestly say that we have all grown closer to each other and despite our disagreements, students and “coaches” alike have become a family.
This year, MUSE has an extremely diverse array of students, with very unique personalities. One of our students is obsessed with Lady Gaga, and uses every opportunity he gets (current events, poetry, creative writing, etc) to pronounce her greatness. He even has aspirations to attend New York University- because Lady Gaga attended (now I know that that isn’t the best reason but we’re working with him to actually learn more about the school, lol)! Another one of our students considers himself a budding athlete, and uses the word “swag” behind every sentence (unfortunately, he has even the coaches using this word :/). Yet another appears to be a poet far beyond his years- he writes and speaks with so much fluidity that it seems like his thoughts should be those of an undergraduate English major, not those of an 8th grade adolescent. One of our girls, though very smart, is the epitome of “laid back” and “relaxed”, while another (with her vibrant personality and outspokenness) is the complete antithesis. The undergraduate “coaches” are equally as unique, but we (students included) somehow find a way to appreciate each others’ differences and personality traits in order to make the classroom learning environment as effective as possible. On any given day, if you popped in on room 120, you would probably find me reprimanding students for talking or not completing an assignment on time. However, even though I have endured a few rough patches throughout the summer, this (forced) off-day confirms for me that I would not trade my position with MUSE for anything.
MotorCity Urban Summer Enrichment (MUSE): Become Absorbed in Thought!
Hi everyone, and warm greetings from the Motor City! My name is Iman Taylor and I am interning at two educational nonprofits in Detroit this summer. The first one, MUSE, is an academic summer enrichment program for the youth of Detroit that I co-founded in 2009, and currently direct and teach for this summer. Secondly, I intern with Horizons-Upward Bound, which is a much more established summer enrichment program in the Detroit metropolitan community. Because of my opportunity to gain insight as to how a nonprofit should be run from an administrative viewpoint, and transfer information I learn from interning at Upward Bound to my own nonprofit, I honestly believe that I landed the two best positions that I could have possibly dreamed of having this summer.
The MotorCity Urban Summer Enrichment program, or MUSE, was founded in 2009 by George Hardy (UPenn, ‘12), Kyla Taylor (Denison University, ‘13), and myself after we realized that there was not another program in Detroit of its type. I was inspired to present this program to my two co-founders by two other academic summer programs: SUP and Upward Bound. The Summer Urban Program (SUP) is run primarily by students at Harvard and allows undergraduate students to formulate their own curriculum and actually manage their own classroom. Horizons-Upward Bound is one of the nation’s many Upward Bound programs, and because I participated in this program during my four years of high school (summers included), I was a true believer in the power and importance of academic summer learning programs. Although many students in Detroit -and across the nation- attend summer school, far fewer are enrolled in optional summer enrichment programs; what is more, the existing optional summer learning programs in Detroit only service 7% of the students that could actually benefit from them. Lastly, we realized that while summer programs like MUSE exist in other large, urban cities (e.g. Boston, New York, Chicago, etc), the difference in Detroit was that the largest universities (University of Michigan, Michigan State, etc) were approximately an hour outside of the city; with limited public transportation, there are not as many programs led by college students in Detroit as there are in other cities. With these facts in mind, George, Kyla, and I worked vigorously during the summer and fall of 2009 to come up with a business plan, a name for our program, tentative locations, fund-raise, file for Articles of Incorporation and 501(c)3 status, and more. Finally, in the spring of 2010, we received 501(c)3 status (which we were all very proud of, seeing as that lawyers in our area were looking for $3,000-$11,000 to complete the paperwork for us, and we ended up doing everything on our own), and started our first summer session last year (during the summer of 2010).
This summer, MUSE is hosted at University Central Collegiate Academy in Detroit, MI. We are very thankful for the support of the principal, Mr. Stephen McGhee, the Assistant Principal, Mr. Damon Sewell, and the College Counselor, Mr. Watson. College students (who all happen to be former Detroit Public School students) who have volunteered their services this summer attend many top universities including Michigan State, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University. As one of our most important goals is the concept of “youth helping youth”, we are elated to introduce our students to undergraduates who grew up in many of the same neighborhoods that they do now, and have gone on to attend some of the top institutions in the world. I have been working to prepare for MUSE 2011 since I got home in mid-May, and although the summer has been long and strenuous at times, it all pays off when I’m in the classroom teaching my students.