BKBA in the News
Catherine Ferguson Academy Charter Approved
The board of Wayne RESA voted unanimously to approve a new charter for Catherine Ferguson Academy...
Read the press release
BKB West Student Embraces Reading With Read 180
When Markis Johnson entered BKB West as a 10th grade student he was vocal
about his plan to change the course of his academic future. He mentioned that
he had spent most of his school time focusing on other student’s activities
and not his own studies. He was looking to change the way he approached his
After a short time of instruction and evaluation, Markis’ biggest obstacle
regarding school was revealed. He could not read. Due to struggles with dyslexia
and other personal challenges, Markis had not developed the fundamental skills
that are vital for academic growth.
Armed with Markis’ determination to learn to read, his mother’s
support and the BKB West staff, Markis was placed in the Read 180 program.
Read 180 is utilized throughout the BKB district and is facilitated by Jane
Varner. The program is a researched reading intervention program designed to
raise reading achievement for struggling readers in grades 4-12. Hundreds of
studies, peer-reviewed journals, and the federal government’s What Works
Clearinghouse have documented its effectiveness on student achievement across
multiple grade levels and student populations.
With the help of this program, Markis has made great strides in becoming a
reader. He reflects on his situation before becoming a student at BKB West
and entering the Read 180 program. “I barely knew how to read because
I was on the streets and got locked up.” He admits that he tried to write
while in placement but succumbed to the difficulty. Yet in just the last two
quarters of school, he has made steady progress in not only the reading program
but in his other coursework as well. Reading has opened a whole new world for
him. He says, “I can now read signs and things around me, (well) most
things.” And he admits that he’s most excited about now being able
to send text messages.
Markis recently demonstrated his reading growth by confidently reading 10
full sentences during his exhibition - a feat that serves as a testimony for
the effectiveness of personalized learning.
To learn more about the Read 180 program contact Jane Varner at 313.656.2600.
We are encouraging our students to read daily during the summer months
In an effort to prevent “summer slide” (losing the reading progress
made during the school year), our Read 180 instructors provided a selection
of their favorite books for students.
• The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
• Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
• The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
• Slam! by Walter Dean Myers
BKBA East Student Premiers Sketch Art at Gallery Exhibition
Dezjuan Smith, also known as Dez, is an Artist. He is also a student at Blanche
Kelso Bruce Academy East. His passion is putting pencil to paper to create
works of sketch art.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, as part of his personalized learning plan, Dez
participates in the Learning Through Interest Internship program. Internships
are a major component of the education model at BKBA East. The internship allows
students to apply their academic knowledge and learn twenty-first century skills
that prepare them for career and college.
This quarter, Dez interned at the Grosse Point Art Center under the mentorship
of Amy DeBrunner. As part of his internship and in honor of Black History Month,
Dez created sketch portraits of African Americans who have given him inspiration.
The diverse works include sketches of President Barack Obama; director, Spike
Lee; activist, Malcolm X; music mogul, Jay-Z; and the late rapper Biggie Smalls.
Dez’s work was later showcased in an exhibit at the Grosse Point Art
Center where he became an entrepreneur and sold 2 sketches.
To learn more about the Blanche Kelso Bruce Academy Internship program contact
Deitra Covington at 313.656.2600 extension 214.
BKBA Students Travel To Ethiopia To Help A Developing Community Generate Energy
Produced and narrated by Kaeta Ribbron
Photo credits: Kaeta Ribbron
Imagine not being able to receive medical care because the sun has set. In
rural Ethiopia where many medical facilities don’t have access to electrical
power, the sun is the major source of light. Under these conditions, not only
are some services performed in darkness, these facilities lack the appropriate
resources to store blood and medicine because of a lack of refrigeration. These
are obstacles in the way of health, safety, and efficiency. These are the types
of challenges to developing communities that students from BKBA West, BKBA
East, and Catherine Ferguson Academy seek to resolve.
This January, BKBA students traveled more than 7,000 miles to help Tulla,
Ethiopia (a rural community 10 miles outside of Hawassa) resolve issues of
energy generation. The students were part of E-Three Lab’s International
Knowledge Transfer (IKT) program that focuses on community development through
sustainable practices. Each year, the IKT program identifies communities that
face tremendous barriers – barriers less likely in the United States
because of access to resources and the growing knowledge of sustainability
practices. This year, the IKT program partnered with Incite Focus and the Ethiopian
North American Health Professional Association. Together, these organizations
identified the community of need and prepared BKBA students to become change
The preparation required of BKBA students in the IKT program is extensive.
Students are expected to not only help provide solutions to community challenges;
they are also expected to transfer knowledge by training community members
to replicate applications. In the case of Ethiopia, the application was photovoltaic
solar energy systems. Leading up to travel, students spent months building
skills in solar energy principles; environmental and food justice; cultural
competency; solar energy module parts and assembly; and tools and safety procedures.
In addition to earning school credit for participating in the program, each
student’s growth potential is limitless. Students gain the capacity to
develop academic, technical and job readiness skills.
Once in Tulla, BKBA students partnered with students from Tulla High School
for a 10-day intensive knowledge exchange where they focused on PV-Solar Technology
and designed applications of PV-Solar systems. By day eleven, Tulla High School
students had the educational and technological knowledge to replicate solar
installations throughout their communities. The ability to install these systems
will tremendously increase the quality of life for the Tulla community. Health
clinics gain the capacity to provide services in a lit environment. Physicians
are able to maintain patient information with fully powered computers and patient’s
comfort levels increase because of the facility’s ability to provide
stored blood and medication.
BKBA students arrived in Ethiopia determined to help a community create a
sustainable solution to a problem. Yet, year after year, students describe
their IKT experience as having received far more than they have given. Students
gain the true meaning of community, a great sense of accomplishment, and a
global view of problems solving.
The following students participated in the 2013 Ethiopia - International Knowledge
Octavia Rodgers (West)
Dayana Purdy (West)
Tiychina Wilbourne-Little (CFA)
Raeven Locke (CFA)
Micah Thompson (CFA)
De Andre Woods (East)
Eann Stokes (East)
Kaeta Ribbron (Home Schooled)
For more information on the Learning Through Interest and International Knowledge
Transfer programs contact Susan Matous at 313.656.2600 extension 213.
Catherine Ferguson Academy Featured on the Today Show
Read the article on The Huffington Post