Deputy State Superintendent Delsa Chapman rewards Para-educator Ypsilanti

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Deputy State Superintendent Delsa Chapman visited Achieving College & Career Education, a magnetic school in the Ypsilanti Community School District on Thursday. The school has 169 students in grades 6 to 12 and accepts students on a referral basis. During the event, Chapman presented the 2021 Michigan Education Support Staff Professional of the Year award to ACCE Para-educator Carla Whitsett.

Prior to being a central office administrator, Chapman worked in the Lansing School District for nearly 30 years, as an elementary and secondary school principal in science, technology, engineering, and math.

As a para-educator, Whitsett’s primary responsibility is to help administrators and teachers in their tasks.

During the awards ceremony, ACCE Director Chelsea Harris-Hugan fondly recalled Whitsett’s support when she first became Director.

“(Carla was) one of the first people I met here, and (she) sent me different bible verses and was always very supportive,” said Harris-Hugan. “I have young men and women here who are drawn to you all the time because of who you are.”

In an interview with The Daily, Whitsett said she was happy with the opportunity to bring the students back in person this year.

“One of our biggest challenges is that a lot of our kids don’t trust people, so you have to build relationships with them,” Whitsett said.

Whitsett also pointed to the boardroom as an example of the educational innovation adopted by the school during the pandemic. The plush seats were arranged in a circle and the light was subdued to create a calm environment, Whitsett said.

“My furniture is relaxed, you walked in here and everyone could see each other,” Whitsett said. “This common framework creates the power of the environment for students so that they can be more productive in meeting each other.”

Whitsett also introduced ACCE’s project-based pedagogy, which picked up through in-person experience.

“During a class, we took students to downtown Ypsi to test the water to learn science in a hands-on way,” said Whisett. “We also had a Regional Career Technical Center (RCTC) program where students could cook and do bodywork outside of the classroom. I expect them to learn a trade because I want them to be successful in life and for some of our students to take care of their families as well.

After her visit, Chapman told The Daily that her advice to ACCE is to improve her learning by project.

“When we can provide the problem that leads to a project that students could participate in directly, we take their learning to another level,” Chapman said. “Cinema is one of the educational strategies that could help students in science, technology, engineering and math.

Daily News contributor Chen Lyu can be reached at [email protected]


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