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Education Full Circle

“Education Full Circle – An Alum’s Return Home to Serve in Leadership at the U”

An Alum’s Reflection

As I reflect on the U Prep Schools network, I can only think of one word to best describe it – GRATEFUL. In 2007 I was introduced to this family as a 6th grade scholar. I quickly gained friends, grew fond of my teachers, and fell in love with exhibitions and the way of life at U Prep Middle School. Time flew and in 2010 I stepped into UPSM High School as a freshman. I knew my high school experience was different from most, as the school was located inside brand new state-of-the-art facility and we, the class of 2014, were the only youngsters in the building at the time. Each year the school added an additional grade, and by the time I reached senior year, the building was finally full and flourishing.

Even though the four years flew by, my high school experience was very memorable. I made great friends, gained the necessary skills and life experiences, and had exposure to committed, caring, and fun teachers. There are many amazing aspects of my life that I can attribute to my time as a student in the UPSM district. Some of my best and lifelong friends are people I met when we were students here. My first international trip to Greece was an opportunity I was afforded as a student at UPSM HS and the school’s focus on college prep introduced me to Michigan State University, where I entered following graduation in 2014, and shared my most memorable college experiences.

Once again time has flown, and it seems like a lot of time has passed since high school graduation and college days. I would often reflect on my time as a student in the U Prep network, but never in a million years did I believe I would return and serve as a leader in the very place that helped to mold me. This past August – four days before I was to return back from my maternity leave at my previous employer – an open position at my alma mater UPSM High was presented. I completed the hiring process and was chosen as the new School Operations Manager at UPSM HS. Talk about coming FULL circle!

Full Circle in Education and Community

It’s been eight years since I graduated and while coming back here feels like home, it also feels very different as an adult. My purpose as a leader is unique because I sat in my students’ seats, literally. I know what it’s like to walk through these halls and I know how intricate life becomes once you graduate and leave the place that’s been home for four years.

Being a student turned school leadership team member has been a beautiful experience thus far. Some of my teachers and school leaders from the past are still serving in this district. A number of my former classmates have also returned to the U Prep Schools network to model and pour into the next generation from our overfilled cup of knowledge and community. I also get the pleasure of serving on the same leadership team as my favorite high school science teacher, Mrs. Hubbard. While this experience has been very rewarding, it’s still new and I am still learning. A place from which I’ve already learned so much will continue to be a one where I will continue to glean and grow professionally, further adding to this full circle moment. My position as a leader in the district is even more critical because I am here to give back everything I absorbed as a young U Prep scholar.

Author: Dana Robinson-Hobbs is an alum from the first graduating class at U Prep Science & Math High School. She is an Eastern Michigan Eagle whose passion for children and being a change agent brought her back to the heart work of education. This is Dana’s first year as a member of the U Prep Schools – School Leadership crew.

Education Continuity Matters: A Valedictorian’s Perspective

A Student’s Journey through the U Prep Schools Village 

I’ve gone to the same school since the 3rd grade. Elementary, Middle, and High. Seeing as I just graduated, that’s a long time to be in the same space with the same people. In that time, I’ve seen many changes–with students, faculty, the school name, and even the lunch provider. So it’s an interesting experience to have favorite teachers outgrow a building before you do, to watch your 3rd-grade teacher become the principal of that elementary school, or have your 5th-grade math teacher be there all the way to 8th grade as an after-school Academic Games coach.

I found it was this routine, this year-by-year rhythm of education continuity, that was the most valuable in figuring out my life goals.

Though I’m slightly biased–coming from a family of entrepreneurs and entertainers–I’d been surrounded by many artistic freedoms for the entirety of my youth. Design Thinking classes engrained early the ideas of empathy, team collaboration, and prototyping. It was moving into Middle School (back when we were still called Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies), where I found it increasingly necessary to have a plan. So I determined my end goal from this schooling experience with an idea of what I want out of my life.

I’d always found comfort in drawing and saw it as more than just a hobby. The revelation that there were jobs where I’d get paid for drawing had me shook, and going to an Art-focused middle & high school located within the walls of an Art & Design college (The College for Creative Studies), it was clear where the scope of my interests had narrowed down. Throughout the U Prep Schools network, I experienced an expectation of excellence and the encouragement of personal accomplishment, not only in academics but in the community’s name as well. 

I had difficulty starting conversations with other students when I was younger. Looking them in the eye or voicing my opinions didn’t come easy to me unless it involved someone I blatantly knew wouldn’t judge me. After joining after-school clubs, participating in school assemblies, and being elected to the student council, I began to flourish socially. In 7th grade, our then photography teacher, Mrs. Magarosi, approached me when she found out I was interested in the arts. She appeared quite intimidating among the students in her stare and finality with instruction, so I was hesitant with her suggestion of joining the National Art Honor Society. As a middle school student, I would not technically qualify to join the club until I advanced to high school. But from her simple suggestion to apply, I would later serve six years in the NAHS, dramatically increasing my portfolio work. I am proud to share that I graduated as Club President this month.

These accomplishments have not come by my merit alone. I mentioned my former art teacher, though many have impacted me significantly. Two math teachers stand out:  Ms. Ragland, who taught 8th-grade algebra and was also the coach for most of the girls’ sports teams, helped inspire my path. I joined her during the basketball season in all my asthmatic glory and stayed through to softball season. This 4’8 bundle of energy and enthusiasm for the sport and our success in enjoying it as much as she did, was what kept me coming back. I will never forget in 10th grade the disappointment on her and many of our faces after two months of pre-season conditioning. Sadly, the day of softball tryouts was when we shut down for COVID, but the joy I experienced during my time as a team member under Ragland’s tutelage will last a lifetime.  

Another excellent math teacher has been one I’ve known since the 3rd grade, having been sent up to his class to learn long division. Mr. Waston started the Academic Games team at the then HFA: Elementary (now UPAD Elementary) for any new players who wanted to learn. Over 20 trophies sit in the UPAD elementary and middle school front windows from our team’s wins over the years. I distinctly remember in the 4th grade, when we returned from a four-day trip to the super tournament, we were dropped back off at the school. Class was still in session as we lugged in suitcases, but the literal second we came through the front door, every single student and teacher was standing and cheering in the main front desk area, congratulating the ten students who went for that first year. It’s one of the memories those of us who stayed years after like to reminisce about. 

I actively avoided going home in middle school due to my parent’s divorce and the grief that came with it. Academic Games provided a couple of hours of peace filled with complex mathematical equations to stress over rather than unwanted emotions. I also met my best friend through that club. I would have continued with academic games in 8th grade; however, Mr. Waston advanced to a new position at another campus. 

As fate would have it, this year – our senior year – there were five of us who had played in elementary school, which is the exact number of players needed to make a team. We came back from the Super tournament this March victorious, with two first-place trophies for our district! 

There are so many moments and long stretches of time with people who indirectly raised me within the U Prep Village that I hold dear and who, in my pursuit of a career, helped me find myself. With the excitement of being twelve steps closer to where I want to be, I know nine steps were taken in shoes I doubt I’ll ever outgrow. So it takes a village. Thank you, U Prep Schools! 


Micah was a founding student at U Prep Art & Design Elementary and matriculated through the district. She ended her U Prep Schools journey as the 2021-22 Valedictorian at U Prep Art & Design High School and was awarded scholarships to attend the School of Visual Arts. She will join that community in the Fall with plans to become a Director of Television Animation. 

Moving from High School to College During COVID

How has COVID impacted students going to college? On January 20, 2020, the United States of America was turned upside down. This first case of COVID-19 was reported in the state of Washington.

For months leading up to that day, many of us had heard about this looming threat and how fast it was spreading overseas. In March of 2020, the world stood still, as the then President of the United States began the process of shutting down the country to prevent the spread of the virus. After more than a year of businesses closing, racial injustice, loss of friends and family, and transformation on a global scale, the country is now attempting to make sense of the changes brought by the pandemic — and our high school students are no exception. Students graduating during the pandemic are having to pick up the pieces left from the pandemic and make choices about their lives after high school.

College Plans Evolving Due to COVID 

Over the course of the past two years, we have seen a shift in the number of students who pursue 4 or 2-year degrees after high school. Total undergraduate enrollment dropped 3.1% between the fall of 2020 and the fall of 2021, bringing the total decline since the fall of 2019 to 6.6% — or 1,205,600 students.

High school graduates have expressed fears and concerns about being on a college campus during a pandemic. Safety from COVID became a top priority for parents and students when choosing higher education. Many chose to stay close to home in case the transmission of the virus hit their campus. While others mention they didn’t feel they would get the “college experience” learning from a computer screen, they decided to push their college start date back until the pandemic ended.

“I just didn’t feel like I was learning anything, ” says Sarah Stevenson, a graduate of UPAD class of 2020. I decided to take a year off because virtual learning didn’t fit my learning style. I preferred to be in class so that I have direct access to my professor and peers. I didn’t get the unique support I needed.”

Due to the pandemic, colleges and universities were forced to move all of their courses to an online modality. This encouraged many students to take a gap year after high school or not pursue higher education at all. Students cited emotional stress, health concerns, and financial worries as some of the biggest barriers to going to college during the pandemic.

Trading College for Other Options

The pandemic has also caused students to look at other options besides four-year college for their postsecondary success. In the past two years, we have seen an increase in the number of students considering trade schools after graduation. Students are looking to earn certification and credentials in shorter programs that will give them skills to obtain well-paying jobs.

To accommodate this shift in students’ needs, the counseling department has created partnerships with Focus Hope, Grow with Google, and ISAIC apprenticeship programs. Focus Hope offers free certification training in IT and manufacturing. Grow with Google allows students to gain industry-recognized credentials in areas of UX Design and Data Analytics (for free with our partnership). And the ISAIC programs offer graduating seniors a paid apprenticeship in industrial sewing.

Each of these programs can be completed in under a year. The 2020 graduating class of UPA and UPAD had three students start in the Focus Hope Program the summer after they graduated. By fall, they were working in the career of their study. 

“I think a shorter training program is a better fit for me,” says Ericka Lockhart, a senior at UPSM High School. “I would prefer to go to a short training program, get to work, and start to make some money.” This year seniors had the opportunity to attend information sessions about various trade school opportunities and take a tour of the ISAIC training center near the UPA and UPAD High Schools.

“The pandemic opened students’ eyes to other opportunities, “ says Tim Ossman, High School Counselor at UPAD.  “A lot of students saw trade and apprenticeship programs as more attractive and a better return on their investment.” 

HBCU vs. PWI Decisions

The vicious murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have led many to believe that we are also in the middle of a racial pandemic. Students watched on social media, television, and other platforms as each of these (and other) tragic events played out.

Protest at the University of Virginia 2021

On the campus of the University of Virginia, hundreds of white nationalists protested the removal of a confederate statue. The group waved torches and chanted “White lives matter” as they marched through the university, which resembled a KKK march. These and many other events have caused students to reconsider attending predominantly white institutions (PWI) for higher education.

Since the pandemic upended our lives, we have seen more students interested in attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). An HBCU can offer an inclusive community that embraces and celebrates our students’ culture. In addition, HBCUs have a rich history that can help our students build on the concept of Black excellence.

“The virtual modality allows more students to study and learn more about HBCUs,” says Ashley Woolen, college prep coordinator at UPSM. “As a result of the virtual accommodations, two students from the class of 2021 were able to attend their dream school of Tennessee State University.”

The HBCU schools offer high-quality academic programs, with the personal support and a vibrant campus life that helps students succeed.

Looking Forward

Despite the many obstacles that the pandemic has brought, we have seen some positives. Students have identified alternative options for postsecondary education. Many colleges have gone test-optional (not requiring ACT and SAT test scores) in their admission policies and more students are considering HBCUs.

Kennedy Walter, a graduate of UPAD, will graduate from Michigan State University this spring, after attending college during a pandemic.

These are all factors that can improve our students’ abilities to gain postsecondary credentials after high school.

The pandemic also taught us that we have to change the way we facilitate the college-going process at our high schools. We must move away from the reactive college-prep model that engages students in their senior year of high school and adopt a proactive model that starts in each student’s freshman year of high school, or even earlier.

I also believe that the pandemic helped colleges and universities realize the need to create more support, programs, and resources to aid and direct students to college. During the pandemic, many universities saw a drop in enrollment causing them to create sustainable partnerships in the K12 sector.

This year U Prep created a partnership with Lawrence Tech University that expanded dual enrollment options for our students, created access to pre-college programming, and offered a 50% tuition scholarship to any students graduating from a U Prep School. Also, starting in the fall of 2022, the partnership with Lawrence Tech will create our first Early Middle College. The program will give students the opportunity to graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associate Degree. This gives students the head start they need to be prepared for college and beyond. 

I had a chance to talk to Kennedy Walters, a 2018 graduate of UPAD. In less than two weeks she will be graduating from Michigan State University (GO GREEN!) with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A big part of her collegiate experience happened in the middle of the pandemic. During the time of the pandemic she was unable to attend sporting events, go to weekend parties, travel abroad, or even take advantage of campus resources like student groups or the writing center.

For many students, this would have convinced them to take a break from college, but that’s not Kennedy. “The best way for me to deal with the effects COVID had on my college experience was to disconnect from what the experience was supposed to be and make it my own in the best way possible,” says Kennedy. “The pandemic showed me that time is precious and to make the best of any situation, even if it wasn’t what you imagined. It’s all about prioritizing your goals and staying focused despite the obstacles. The world may have stood still, but I didn’t!” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for educators and college-going students. However, the pandemic has not prevented U Prep from achieving our goals.

Even during the pandemic, U Prep has maintained 90% graduation and 90% accepted to college rates at all three high schools. In 2021, each of the three high schools garnered over $3 million dollars in scholarships. Lastly, many of our students who went to college persisted to graduation despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic. We have not seen a decline in the number of students who persist in college despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic.

This tells me two things.

1. U Prep is a network of schools with amazing educators, administrators, and staff that are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure students in our networks have a chance to achieve their dreams/goals once they leave our space.

2. Our students are much more resilient and powerful than even we know. Their ability to keep moving forward even when the entire world stood still is remarkable and encouraging. 

Our Author: John Johnson is the Director of Postsecondary & Alumni Affairs at U Prep. He has over 12 years of experience helping students to and through college working at both the high school and collegiate levels. He graduated from Michigan State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. He also has a master’s degree in Education and Training. He is a 2020 Detroit New Leader Council Fellow and currently a 2021 San Diego State University Equity in College Counseling Fellow. In 2020, he was awarded the Influential Educator Award by the Michigan Chronicle, and most recently, was given the 2021 Fred Martin/Coleman A. Young Educator of the Year. 

John Johnson, College Coordinator at University Prep Art & Design High School
John Johnson, U Prep Director of Post-Secondary and Alumni Affairs

The Science Behind Learning to Read

For many years, education influencers led teachers, administrators, and parents to believe that learning to read was a natural process that all children would easily achieve if the conditions were right. 

These influencers wrote compelling books that sounded both promising and passionate, encouraging educators and caregivers to help their children learn to read naturally by giving the little ones lots of books, reading to them often, and teaching them to love reading. 

The truth? Reading is a complex process, and while exposing your child to reading and books early in life is helpful, many other pieces need to be in place for anyone to become a proficient reader. Believing in promises that were not grounded in brain science left generations of students underprepared for the reading challenges of middle school, high school, and beyond. 

Pretending that reading is natural and straightforward also creates a false and damaging narrative for students who don’t achieve proficiency as quickly as their peers. If a person did not learn to read based on the conditions created for them, they might surmise that there must be something wrong with them.  Worse yet, a teacher may have told the child or their parents that the kid is not a “good reader.” In reality, it may be that nothing is farther from the truth.  

Elementary literacy is complex

Learning to read takes more than just the right conditions. The human brain is not actually wired to read or write.  The intricate processes that it takes for the brain to translate letters and words on a page into thoughts that we can understand are unbelievably difficult. 

Using an alphabet and spelling rules to write down our ideas so that we may communicate them can be even harder. Our brains were meant to communicate orally, speaking words to share our thoughts and listening to others in order to receive information.

For most children, learning to talk is like learning to walk. Our brains are actually set up to make both of these processes happen naturally. We see this clearly when infants begin making sounds, imitating the language they hear around them. When parents speak English, the baby begins trying out a garbled version of English. The same is true of Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, or any other spoken language a child is immersed in. 

When a baby gains the muscle control to grasp the edge of the sofa, they experiment with pulling themselves up and tentatively placing one foot in front of the other.  Anyone who has cared for a toddler knows that these talking and walking experiments are not without frustration, along with bumps and bruises. Nevertheless, they are natural and our brains are primed to make them happen without instructions.  

Learning to read is a complex process that takes guidance and practice.

When temperatures around Metro Detroit warmed earlier this month, kids were out in our neighborhood shooting hoops and skateboarding. My own children dragged everything out of the garage in search of their bicycles.  Watching them find their helmets and check their tires had me thinking that if talking is like walking, learning to read is much more like learning to ride a bike. 

If helping someone ride was just about creating the right conditions, we would simply make sure that person had access to a bike and had seen someone ride a bike. We might also tell the learner how fun it is to ride, how much faster it is than walking, and how many places they could go if they learn to ride on their own. However, if you’ve ever taught a child how to ride a bike, you know there is so much more to do. 

For starters, a bike needs to be the right height for the child. Just as my eight year old daughter wouldn’t hop on her dad’s bike, we should consider starting kids on books that are the right size for them. We also need to explain some of the processes that are involved in pedaling and steering.  Of course, there are training wheels to help with balance, a steady hand to give a beginning push, and lots of repeated practice.

Ways to practice reading at home

In school, your child receives daily instruction on how to read and coaching on the word patterns and reading standards they are working to master.  Just as with walking, talking or riding a bike, the more targeted practice the better.  Below are some activities you can incorporate into your at-home reading routines to keep your child moving.  

Read to your child or listen to books together

When I was an upper elementary teacher, I always made it a point to share this interesting fact: Children benefit from being read to at least until the age of thirteen. That’s right. Thirteen. Years. Old.

Sometimes we think of listening to reading as an experience for younger children, something they outgrow once they are able to read on their own. I’ve heard other parents worry that if they read to their kids, the child will not practice reading to themselves. As children become more independent with their bedtime routines (showering and brushing their teeth on their own), parents typically find that reading aloud to them naturally wanes. Regardless of the age of the children, caregivers are overwhelmingly busy with work, cooking, chores, and all of the other demands of raising little humans. Whatever the case may be, setting a routine for reading aloud or listening to audiobooks is great for children’s literacy development and can be quick and easy. 

In our technology-assisted world, there are many terrific options for children to listen to books (with or without an adult).  In my house, we do a little of both. My husband or I read to our kids from books that we loved as kids or new books that we want to explore together. My daughter is currently hooked on the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls books and my son loves Tristan Strong

Both of my children also adore audiobooks.  My son, a history buff, loves to listen to World War II stories on the way to practice or in the shower.  My daughter tucks in most nights listening to a Harry Potter book or the Son of Neptune.  Audiobooks take some of the pressure off busy parents by making it easier to listen anywhere or to multitask as you enjoy a story. 

What to do

Grab a piece of writing that you and your child are interested in, find a comfortable spot, and just read.  Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect reader. In fact, when you stumble on a word or reread a sentence or two, you model for your child ways that they might need to react when they face a similar challenge. If there’s a plot twist and you find you want to go back to read a pivotal part again, you show your child that good readers return to pieces that they have already read to clarify their understanding, get more details, or just to enjoy a really entertaining part.  

Remember that you can read from books, magazines/newspapers (online or in print), blogs, anything you and your child will enjoy together.  My son is also a sports fanatic and from an early age, we have read selections from Sports Illustrated and ESPN together to indulge his passion.

Check with your local library for audio resources.  The Detroit Public Library system uses Overdrive and Libby and has curated collections based on interest. Many other metro area libraries use Hoopla.  All of these programs/apps are free with a library card and can be accessed on phones, tablets and computers.

Why reading aloud is so critical to reading development

When children listen to others read they’re hearing models of fluency, learning new vocabulary and pondering ideas that are more complex than what they can read on their own. They’re building their brain as a muscle so that when they do start to read independently, they are even stronger.

Reading aloud to your child helps them develop strong reading habits.

Listen to your child read aloud

Admittedly, this one can sometimes feel tougher and I get a lot of questions (see below) on how to best approach having your child read to you.  I promise the best way to do this is to keep it really simple.

Which books should I start with?

For K-2 Students: Our young readers all start on books known as “decodables.”  These small paper books are training wheels, written to help children practice the phonics rules that they are learning in class.  That means almost all of the words are sight words or words they can sound out.  Encourage your child to bring their decodable books home, or you can access them electronically on the UPrep Schools Elementary Literacy Parent Site.  Other sources for decodable texts are available here as well.

For 3-5 Students: Explore your child’s interest and let them guide you.  Chapter books and series are great because they build stamina and keep you from having to find something new every night. 

How to help when your child gets “stuck”

I am officially giving you permission to just tell your child some of the words they get stuck on. Educators don’t expect caregivers to be phonics coaches and trying to sound out words that don’t follow patterns can be really tough. Additionally, giving your child the word is more fruitful than having them guess the word or use picture clues; those prompts are not the best for reading development. Instead, try this:

When your child is stuck on a word they don’t know, read the word to yourself first. Ask yourself if you can help your child sound it out based on the letters. If you can help them sound it out, do so. 

Keep in mind that sounding out a word has no relation to how long the word is, but whether or not the letters in the word say the sounds that you would expect. For example, the word “remember” is a bit on the long side and might look intimidating when a child sees it on the page. However, all of the parts of the word make the sounds according to phonics rules that most kids have mastered by the end of second grade. 

You can help your child by saying, “What does r-e say together?  What does “m-e-m” say together?  What does “b-e-r” say together?  Once you have the pieces, say the word “remember” a few times. 

On the other hand, take a word like “was.” A much shorter word, “was” seems like it should be less intimidating but if we are going on letters and sounds, “was” should be spelled “wuz.”  If you try to sound it out you may find yourself looking crazy over three little letters that you never thought about that hard before. I promise, in the moment it’s not that deep. Tell your child that “was” is a tricky word because the letters don’t make the sounds we think they should make, then move on. Keep your kid reading. Yes, we address these things in school with phonics rules and lots of practice, but that’s not what I’m suggesting at home.

Why listening to your child read is important for literacy development

Parents and caregivers are often very concerned about comprehension; after all, the goal of reading is to understand the ideas and information from the page. Because of this desire, some parents feel like they need to ask a lot of questions. I am giving you my blessing to pull back here as well. If we return to the bike analogy, asking comprehension questions is a bit like checking the air pressure in your tires. It is important to do it once in a while or if you suspect there’s something wrong.

However, if you squeeze your tire and feel that it could use some air, you don’t usually get a pressure gauge out to get an official reading. You certainly don’t get two or three gauges out. Instead, you go to the solution: put some air in the tire. Listen for leaks or inspect for a hole.

In the reading scenario, stop periodically to ask your child a question about what’s happening in the story or to check if they understood an important idea. If they are missing something critical, don’t ask a bunch more questions. Instead, direct them to reread the part of the text that will help them gain a better understanding.  After they’ve re-read, ask your question again. Praise them for rereading and remind them that good readers read more than once and go back in the text to deepen their understanding.

Reading fluency (reading smoothly and with expression) is one of the best predictors for reading comprehension. When kids sit too long trying to figure out a single word or are interrupted by a lot of questions, it interferes with the thoughts they’re constructing about the text. At home, reading time is limited and precious, so consider these guidelines to keep it moving, preserving your child’s fluency and aiding their comprehension.

You CAN help your child learn to read and become proficient

The above practices are important and helpful for your child’s literacy development, but your sanity is also key. Like an enjoyable spring bike ride, reading together should be a fun part of your day. If you’re working on new reading routines at home, it’s okay to start small (a few days a week, 10-20 minutes each time) and build a consistent schedule. If you have a routine that makes you and your child happy, reflect on what’s going well and consider adding in some fresh ways to work on fluency and comprehension together.

Our Author: Kristin Venier
Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Elementary Literacy, U Prep Schools

Kristin Venier firmly believes that literacy is equity. As the Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Elementary Literacy at UPrep Schools, Kristin works to ensure that reading and writing instruction are grounded in research and give students ample opportunity to meet their personal goals.   A native of metro Detroit, Kristin began her career as an elementary school teacher in West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia before joining the UPrep Crew more than ten years ago.  Kristin earned bachelors’ degrees in journalism and Spanish from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in education from The University of Pennsylvania.