American International Academy is bringing education back to Inkster by revitalizing and opening new schools in the Michigan community. In 2013, the Wayne RESA Board of Education took an official vote to dissolve Inkster Public Schools and made the plan to divide the district four ways, sending students to neighboring schools in the Romulus, Wayne-Westland, Taylor, and Westwood communities.
This decision was made because of the large amount of financial issues the Inkster District was having. In 2014, Thomas White took the job position as School Leader at American International Academy in Westland, a K-8 Charter school, to help restore the school by increasing test scores, involving families in activities and programs, and reaching out to the community. This 2016-2017 school year, American International Academy opens new doors in Inkster. The school formerly known as Gaudior Academy is now American International-Inkster servicing grades 6-9. Both American International Academy-Westland and American International Academy-Inkster threw back to school bashes where parents were able to register their students, meet new teachers and the new school leaders of both locations, and receive book bags for their children. The students enjoyed free barbecue, races in an inflatable obstacle course, played video games in a mobile video game truck, receive health screening provided by Beaumont Hospital, and much more. The school leaders of both schools announced that they are now creating a district and are currently working on opening a high school leading up to 12th grade.
Rolling out sat down with the school leaders of the district and here is what they had to say.
What is the mission and vision statement of American International Academy?
Thomas White (district school leader): Our mission is to provide high-quality, relevant and varied educational programs and opportunity for the intellectual, cultural, and personal growth for all stakeholders. Our vision statement is to promote cross culture awareness by honoring and valuing individual differences and supporting the strengths of all individuals to ensure that instruction reflects the realities and diversity of the world. A.I.A. strives to provide a stimulating learning environment with technological orientation across the whole curriculum, producing successful and productive citizens of high morals.
What is your school’s belief statement?
LaQuanda Nevins (Westland School leader): Our belief statement is love, laugh and learn. We believe that students should be shown love by experiencing great relationships with the school’s staff in a safe, nurturing, and needs fulfilling environment. The school should provide a positive, enjoyable, and engaging educational experience that promotes laughter in the classroom. We believe every student can learn and we do not accept failure.
What were some of your goals for the school?
White: I grew up in Inkster and once upon a time, Inkster had pride. This city has a lot of good history and some great people in it. The district was closed a few years ago and now we are trying to get the educational piece back into the community. We don’t want our students to have to go to different school districts to get education. When I came in 2014, we were a poor performing school. We came in as the turn-around specialist to turn the school around, help save it, and implement some 21st century strategies to turn it into a high performing school. So now we’re on an upward track. We found the opportunity to purchase some educational facilities that were left in Inkster and now we are forming a district already holding an elementary and middle school and we just started 9th grade. We plan on opening an official high school building as well.
Jeff Wilder (Inkster School leader): We plan on bringing that pride back to the community. Not only having activities in the school but also have activities that the community can participate in together as a whole.
What types of educational programs are you offering the students?
White: We plan on offering the students of Inkster 21st century classrooms which involves blended learning where the use of technology is used, flip learning where students are presented with a standard before they come to school and it is taught at the beginning of class. They use programs such as Flocabulary, Brain Pop, and other programs then the teachers teach on that. We also have centers and different intervention labs so that we can keep the students engaged. We have a STEM and STEAM program as well. STEM is Science Technology, Engineering, and Math and STEAM is Science Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Our SWAG program is Small Whole Achievement Group which is a Montessori, all-age learning style designed for the learning setting. The children test into this program and they must have good work ethics.
What are your expectations for this school year?
Nevins: My expectation is to be better than we were in previous years. We will give the students a great learning experience and I really want our K-5 to be praised in all the great things that they accomplish this year. I want all unanswered questions that they have to be answered and I believe that they deserve the same learning experience as suburban students and that’s what we plan to give them.
Wilder: I expect to see everyone at our new Inkster location continuing in our love, laugh, learn belief statement and not only carry out the statement in our school but in the community as well. We want to build this community back up into an educational community.
For more information about American International Academy or to register your student, please visit their website at www.AmericanInternationalAcademy.com
Photos credit: Treasure Smith