It’s been almost two years since Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS) were given a historic $51 million grant by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.   The district is having public meetings on Monday to give a progress report and address a couple of specific initiatives.  Three staff members of BCPS were guests on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins to talk about some things the school district is doing.

Tim Collins, Anita Harvey, Brandon Phenix, Della Uekert BCPS Photo

Anita Harvey, Director of District Transformation, Brandon Phenix, Coordinator and future Principal of Fremont International Academy, and Della Uekert, Career Coach at the High School were on the program, and you can see the interview on the YouTube video.

The district is holding two public information sessions on Monday where the community can come and learn about two key initiatives, approved by the board in late 2018, in BCPS’s transformation process:

  • A new, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focused middle school.
  • The reopening of the beloved Fremont Elementary as an academically rigorous magnet school.

Harvey explained that the Battle Creek STEM Innovation Center will open next year to sixth graders, and will expand by one grade over the following two years until it is a sixth through eighth grade middle school.  It will be centrally located in downtown Battle Creek, in its own wing of the BCCHS building. The school will focus on encouraging and developing an engineering mindset in students, by offering hands-on experience, project-based learning and the development of critical research skills.  She says, “It blows up the traditional way of learning and is more about project-based learning and helping students solve problems in a way that is designed thinking and totally outside of the box.”

Phenix said Fremont Elementary will reopen as a new, academically rigorous Magnet School with an International Baccalaureate (IB) focused curriculum. The revered building will reopen for pre-kindergarten through second grade in the fall and will also add one grade per year, through fifth grade by 2022-23.  “A lot of the focus for the students, when it comes to learning, is about world cultures, being internationally-minded, thinking at how you learn, and there will be a daily foreign language component,” said Phenix.   Harvey says they’ll be hiring three new STEM teachers to start, and looking for “out-of-the-box thinkers.”

The new school will open on August 21st, 2019.  Harvey says the application window will open February 25th,  through April 5th.  Overall enrollment will be about 180 students, and a computer will randomly select the students to be admitted from among the applicants.

Della Uekert ,Anita Harvey, BCPS Photo

Uekert talked about Friday’s Career Exploration Fair, happening at the High School.  BCCHS freshmen are attending the Career Fair as part of the High School's new Career Academies.  There are going to be about three dozen area businesses represented there, including DENSO, Duncan Aviation, Grace Health, BCPD, and WMU Aviation. She says the students will have a chance to ask questions about exactly what type of training or schooling is needed for particular jobs.   Uekert says the students have completed an interest survey and answered about 125 questions, such as “Would you rather build a book shelf by yourself, or would you rather lead a meeting.”   She says the questionnaire helps student understand their personality traits and interests to help them find a specific career pathway.

“Bold change is underway at Battle Creek Public Schools, and we’re excited for this watershed moment of the district transformation when these two schools open in the fall,” said Superintendent Kim Carter.

The Monday sessions are scheduled for January 21st at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the McQuiston Center inside Battle Creek Central High School (BCCHS).  Each session will feature the coordinator and future principal of each of the new schools, who will be available to provide information on the vision of each school, describe the enrollment process and answer any questions from the community or parents interested in enrolling their children.

Check out the schools’ web pages to sign up for email updates about eligibility requirements, selection processes and other developments.

To Learn more about the new Fremont International Academy, visit www.battlecreekpublicschools.org/FremontInternationalAcademy

Or to learn more about the new Battle Creek STEM Innovation Center, visit www.battlecreekpublicschools.org/BCSTEMInnovationCenter