University Prep Academy

UPA Elementary School – Ellen Thompson Campus

Open Seat: 0
Est: 2005
Grades: k-5
Enrollment: 424

University Prep Academy (UPA) Elementary School-Ellen Thompson Campus offers students a stellar academic experience that cultivates future success in middle school, high school and college. The program at UPA Elementary School- Ellen Thompson Campus is rigorous, comprehensive, and personalized to meet the individual needs of students. Providing students with a wide range of engaging experiences helps us work with students to begin to identify their passions, which is a critically important engine for future success.

School Director: Tamara Johnson
School Director: Tamara Johnson
School Operations Manager: Autumn Dailey
School Operations Manager: Autumn Dailey
Click to email the School Director & Operations Manager

Dear U Prep Families;

It is our pleasure to welcome to you UPrep Schools – Ellen Thompson Campus. We feel very fortunate to be a part of such an incredible network of schools. Ellen Thompson Elementary is the first of the elementary schools within our network and we are proud to have over 11 years of service toward educating Detroit area scholars under our belts.

Our school is built on the spirit of our network mission; “we exist to give students the courage to pursue a future full of possibilities.” We are a place where all staff build relationships with students first; by teaching and living our C.A.R.E.S. (Cooperation, Accountability, Respect/Responsibility, Enthusiasm, Service) values to engage every student and to encourage the social and academic success that we know that each of them can attain. It is through these values, high expectations and our rigorous curriculum that students are able to grapple with concepts about which they are curious and that students gain the stamina and courage to try things outside of their comfort zones.

We accomplish these things through what we call “joyous rigor.” That means that we provide an environment that is fun and safe for our students physically, allows them to take risks socially and academically and to unequivocally be the best person that they can be on their journey. In this environment our students know that their job is to learn and that learning is fun!

Our high expectations extend to parents, teachers, support staff, and administration as we work together to monitor our student’s active learning and expand opportunities for them to acquire the skills to not only to be magnificent scholars, but great people who contribute to their communities and to the greater society in a positive and productive way.

We are proud of the community that we have built at the Ellen Thompson Campus and invite you to visit and learn more about us. Please visit our site often for updates about upcoming activities and goings on at our school.

Educationally yours,

Tamara Johnson


July 2019

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U Prep’s core values are developed and harnessed as a means of contributing to the community. Our students take pride in their community and demonstrate their pride through their actions and words. Our visible environment is a reflection of our values.

We ensure our students will be college ready through the development of strong work habits and a growth mindset. Our students understand the significance of a college degree and align their efforts in school with a college-bound trajectory.

Students internalize and value the culture of high expectations within U Prep schools. They reflect on how this culture manifests itself through their academic and character development. Key moments- serve as capstone projects for students.

You can learn more about our curriculum if you visit the academic model page.


The M-STEP is the state of Michigan’s primary test to measure student achievement in English Language Arts (ELA), math, science, and social studies.  Students in third through eighth grade complete the test every spring, and parents usually receive results the following fall.  Students’ scores provide information about how well they have mastered grade-level material.  This is a computerized test.


Students in grades two through eight are required to take the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) in reading and mathematics.  This test is administered three times per year.  In the fall, students take the assessment to receive a baseline score.  They take a winter test to monitor their progress.  After taking their final test in the spring, students’ scores are compared against their fall scores to determine how much growth they have demonstrated throughout the year.  Each test takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Interim Assessments

Administered 3-4 times per year, interim assessments provide information for students and teachers about how well they have mastered grade-level material.  These results give teachers valuable information about how to tailor their instruction to students based on their needs.  Tests generally take about 2 hours per test to complete.

Early Literacy Assessments

The early literacy screeners are used for students in grades K-3 to identify potential reading challenges.  They are a required component of our assessment program, and the results are used to inform conversations between administrators, teachers, and parents about student’s’ progress.  The tests are administered in two phases–an initial screening test and a diagnostic test to help identify specific areas for support.


For students who are learning English as a second language, the WIDA test is administered to determine progress in the acquisition of the English language.  The test is formatted differently for different ages, and it generally includes reading, writing, speaking, and listening components.  The results from the WIDA inform a student’s placement and level of services for English language learners.

At UPA Ellen Thompson, students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities early on in their academic career. Learn More
Note: We offer breakfast from 7:30 am to 8:00 am

Food Service Quick Links

Dear University Prep Parents,

As the new Food Service Director for University Prep Schools, it is my mission to ensure we provide a high-quality school lunch program to every student every day.

As a parent with two children, I understand how difficult it can be to make lunch on the fly or wonder if they are even going to eat what you pack them. While I support your any parent who chooses  to prepare their children’s lunch, I also want you to have confidence in the school lunch program that we are providing in the building.

With this in mind, for the 2017/18 school year and I am proud to announce some exciting enhancements to our University Prep food service program! This year our organization has selected Variety Food Services Inc. to serve our young scholars nutritional meals.

Variety has over sixteen (16) years experience providing meals in child nutrition programs that include breakfast, lunch snacks and after school supper. Variety has consistently met the strict USDA nutritional standards for each meal type via annual SMI Nutritional Reviews conducted by the Michigan Department of Education.

Variety’s K-12, breakfast and lunch menus strictly comply with the USDA’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and they consistently incorporate the use of fresh fruits and vegetables (both hot and cold) every week in monthly menus. Additionally, variety has never introduced any fried foods into their programs.

I take tremendous pride in my job and believe school menus are an opportunity to model good nutrition and encourage healthy eating practices. I will work with Variety to provide our U Prep scholars with nutrition information such as an explanation of calories and intake, the dangers of fad diets and nutrition, and the importance of a balanced diet.

In regards to quality assurance I will conduct quarterly food service progress reports, monitor delivery standards, provide lunch staff with robust training and be vigilant about special dietary needs for individual students.
Also, this year our University Prep school menus will contain the following important food nutrition facts:

  • Calories
  • Calories from fat
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat grams
  • Fat percentage
  • Saturated fat
  • Protein

I thank you for your continued support of our program, and I welcome feedback and ideas throughout the year.

Sandra Collier
Director of Food Services
University Prep Schools

To view and download our handbook, code of conduct, and other important schools documents click here.


UPA Elementary School – Ellen Thompson Campus
957 Holden
Detroit, MI 48202

Phone: (313) 874-9800
Fax: (313) 874-9822
School Director: Tamara Johnson
School Operations Manager: Autumn Dailey