04/05/2012 11:55 am ET Updated Jun 05, 2012

Inside DPS: If Only They Knew...

The age-old saying "What you don't know can't hurt you" must be the mantra playing in the minds of many nay-sayers in Detroit when thinking of quality schools.

Since joining the DPS family three months ago, I've come in contact with numerous awe-inspiring schools -- some of them being traditional general education programs like the beautiful Gompers Elementary-Middle School, on to application and audition schools like the African-centered Marcus Garvey Academy.

For the people who are unaware of these programs -- some are unfortunately parents -- I can't help but wonder if they've seen what I've seen. (All within a mere three months!)

Because if only they knew -- or rather took the time to learn -- about ALL of the great programs offered to students of all ages, perhaps we could dismiss this mind frame and focus on the Great Things Happening in DPS.

So, your son or daughter wants to become a doctor? We've got that covered at the Dr. Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine. At Carson, students can engage in the "Future D.O.cs" program presented by Michigan State University-College of Osteopathic Medicine to kick-start their careers in the medical field.

Maybe you noticed your child loves writing short stories or poetry? Check out Chrysler Elementary School of Journalism where students in grades K-5 have already published -- yes, I said published -- 11 books! Maybe I'm too old to remember, but I don't recall publishing books at the age of seven.

And after publishing those books, your student can transition to Communication and Media Arts High School where 21st century, multi-media resources prepare students for careers in journalism, broadcasting, web design, video editing, public speaking, and more. Not to mention, the school boasts a 98% graduation rate.

With just about any career one can think of, there is a school or program specializing in that particular field right here within Detroit Public Schools.

To meet the needs of Detroit's growing multicultural population, many of our schools provide dual language programs such as FLICS (Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School) for students in grades K-8, one of the only public immersion programs in Michigan offering dual language, partial immersion programs in French, Spanish, Japanese or Chinese.

If culinary arts is your calling, visit Breithaupt Career and Technical Center for a special tasting of New England Miniature Crab Egg Rolls with Ginger Honey Sauce, Oyster Rockefeller or Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Tomato Garlic and White Wine. Breithaupt also offers automotive programs, collision repair, cosmetology, electronics and much more.

Another school that prepares students immediately for the workforce is Randolph Career and Technical Center. Students are literally learning how to build houses; how to complete plumbing, pipefitting, and electrical repairs; and some are on their way to becoming certified interior designers.

If your child is less interested in masonry, and more in tune to playing the cello, enroll him/her into Detroit School of Arts. With over $6 million in scholarships earned by DSA band students since 2008, these individual student success stories speak volumes to what DSA has to offer.

Growing in demand across the district are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs offered at several schools, including the new East English Village Preparatory Academy set to open this fall.

The new $46.3 million school will accommodate up to 1,200 students in the 221,000-square-foot facility with four academic wings. It will include eight science laboratories, a high-tech media center, a performing arts wing, and an athletic complex with a community health clinic.

EEVPA offers three career-track pathways. The Career and Technical Education track focuses on Business Management, Marketing and Technology, Health Sciences, Engineering/Management and Industrial Technology. At the Middle College, students will have the unique opportunity to take college courses while they are in high school and earn an Associate's Degree or enter a four-year university as a sophomore or junior. The Fine & Performing Arts career pathway includes Instrumental Music, Theater Arts, Choral Music, Dance and Visual Arts.

While this may all sound great, perhaps what's even more important than knowing about all of the great things happening in DPS is sincerely knowing the interests of your child.

Parents, I strongly urge you to learn what your child enjoys and cultivate that joy into a future career.

We can offer every academic program under the sun, but if parents aren't engaged, those programs are worthless. We've all heard it a thousand times before, but the educational foundation really does start at home.

As a child, I hated my mother for making me write my spelling words over and over again. I felt like I was being punished. Now as an adult, I appreciate her for caring. If only I knew then what I know now, I would have said thank you instead of complaining.


All photos courtesy of Detroit Public Schools.

There is still time to enroll your child in a school suited to his/her individual interests. Open enrollment extends through April 16. To learn more about all DPS schools, visit or call 313-240-4DPS (313-240-4377).