THE UPA COMMUNITYTHE UPSM COMMUNITYTHE HFA COMMUNITY

THE UPA COMMUNITY

High School graduation and post-secondary education are the surest pathways to a stable and fulfilling life. At University Prep Academy, we believe that it is the responsibility of a great school district to partner with families, to provide students with everything they need to graduate and succeed in post-secondary education. We strongly believe that all students can succeed, given personalized education and a relentless commitment to their success. We have studied successful schools around the country and around the world, and have drawn upon their lessons to shape the University Prep model, a clear alternative to the mass produced, factory-based model of most urban schools.

OUR MODEL IS BASED ON THE FOLLOWING LEARNING PRINCIPLES:

AUTHENTICITY
Research shows that students learn best when the learning activities focus on real-world issues and problems. This finding guides the selection of all curriculum materials and programs at UPA. Whenever possible, we select the materials and approaches that give our students the opportunity to apply concepts and skills in real-life situations. At the High School level, all students participate in internships each year, connecting their academic learning to work in the real world.
INDIVIDUALIZATION
Each student brings different learning styles, interests, and levels of skill to school. UPA staff work with each student and family to create individual plans that fit the needs of the individual student and assure his or her success. A Learning Team, composed of the student, parent or guardian, and teacher/advisor, meets multiple times each year to design and monitor each student’s Learning Plan.
ENGAGEMENT
Curiosity, focus, and effort are critical to student learning. UPA uses personal relationships, a culture of success, integration of technology, and interest-based projects to ensure strong student engagement.
FUN
When learning is fun, learners invest much more energy and imagination in getting through the hard work.
RIGOR
To prepare students for success in college and beyond, learning must result in the mastery of basic skills and concepts in reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, and critical thinking. The UPA curriculum has been designed to achieve the benchmarks set out in the State of Michigan Curriculum Framework and the ACT College Readiness standards.
RELATIONSHIPS
We do our best work in communities of people who demand our best, support our efforts, and appreciate our results. The UPA model has many design features to build and maintain strong relationships between and among students, parents, and teachers including small schools, small class sizes, working with a primary teacher/advisor for multiple years, and individual Learning Team meetings. All UPA teachers/advisors give their personal contact information to students and parents, and encourage calls outside of school hours whenever necessary.
REFLECTION
Being able to think, talk, write, and speak about what we are learning is crucial to becoming the self-directed learner that is demanded for success in college and the world of work. All UPA students, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, present public exhibitions of their work several times each year. These presentations showcase examples of their work, descriptions of what they have learned from their work, and goals for future learning.
MONITORING AND INTERVENTION
The most successful schools closely monitor student progress and intervene immediately when students struggle. UPA uses multiple measures that include state achievement tests, the Measures of Academic Progress, ACT practice tests, and a wide variety of classroom-based and building-based assessments to monitor student achievement. The results of these measures are reviewed continuously throughout each school year and are used to identify students in need of supplementary instruction. All UPA schools have designed robust supplementary instructional programs that involve additional learning opportunities offered within the school day, after school, and throughout the summer.

THE UPSM COMMUNITY

Built on the foundation of its sister district, University Prep Academy, UPSM is driven by a belief that it is the responsibility of a great school district to partner with families to provide students with the tools they need to achieve success in post-secondary education. It is because of that belief that Excellent Schools Detroit ranks UPSM Middle School as the seventh highest performing middle school in the region—which includes the city of Detroit and the near ring suburbs. It is because of that belief that UPSM High School students are posting ACT/Explore and ACT/Plan scores between 15 and 16 in the 9th and 10th grades, which is comparable to what many other local schools post by a student’s 12th grade year.

OUR MODEL IS BASED ON THE FOLLOWING LEARNING PRINCIPLES:

The UPSM model is rooted in the belief that work habits and attitude matter.  
These are the habits of work and the habits of mind that we teach throughout the school community:

HABITS OF MIND (SPECS):

  • Significance: Why is it important? Why should you care?
  • Perspective: Who says? How do the author’s experiences influence the ideas presented? What prior knowledge am I bringing to the problem?
  • Evidence: What argument is being made? What facts are used to support the argument? How do you know they are facts versus opinion?
  • Connections: How does this work connect to the real world? How has it been influenced by the past? How could it affect the future?
  • Supposition: How would life be different if this wasn’t true or never happened? What would happen if you changed part of the problem?

UPSM HABITS OF WORK (COSTS):

  • COLLABORATION
  • ORGANIZATION
  • STICKTOITIVENESS
  • TIME MANAGEMENT
  • SELF-MONITORING

THE HFA COMMUNITY

School Culture

HFA: SCS students participate in daily forum activities because getting along well with others and cooperating and following established behavioral guidelines is so fundamental to a productive and positive learning experience.

This approach uses the following key strategies to develop social competence:  daily routine, rule creation, interactive modeling; goal setting, positive teacher language, logical consequences, learning studio design that promotes independence and responsibility; working with families; and collaborative problem solving.

Restorative Practices: The use of Restorative Practices has been shown to be a highly effective way to build and maintain positive school culture that supports a safe, productive and high performing learning community for students and adults in school settings. This approach allows HFA: SCS students to experience some of these important aspects of community: respect and safety; consideration and appreciation; encouragement and belonging; and, empathy and inclusion.