University Prep Art and Design School

UPAD – Middle School

Open Seat: 0
Enrollment: *
Est: 2009
Grades: 6-9

Creativity. College. Career.

It all starts here.

University Prep Art and Design School (UPAD: MS), Detroit’s premier art and design middle school, serves students in grades 6-9. UPAD: MS is built on the idea that learning needs to be hands-on, connected to the real world, and should develop not only students’ academic knowledge and skills, but also their potential as creative thinkers and innovative problem solvers. As a public school academy all enrolled students attend all enrolled students attend tuition-free.

Our focus is on engaging our middle school students and preparing them for the future through our college preparatory curriculum, career exploration, and real world experiences that focus on innovation and creativity. Through our partnership with the College for Creative Studies, UPAD: MHS students are ensured intensive art and design preparation with access to are ensured intensive art and design preparation with access to world class instructors, resources and facilities. UPAD: MS also provides students with:

  • Inspiring teachers and other caring role models in an environment that is nurturing, safe and secure
  • Immersion in a college-going culture
  • Small class sizes, targeted support for student success
  • Project-based learning that incorporates community resources and technology
  • Structured workplace experiences in the community, such as internships and job shadowing
  • Seamless transition between middle and high school
  • Gymnasium, sports program and state-of-the-art facilities
  • And so much more.

UPAD: MS is a Thompson Foundation 90/90 school, committed to graduating at least 90% of our students and sending at least 90% of those graduates on to college.

Clare McKenna headshot

School Director: Clare McKenna

School Operations Manager (SOM): Click to email the School Director and Operations Manager

Dear UPAD Middle School Families, 

Welcome to University Prep Art & Design Middle School! We are so excited that you have chosen to educate your child at our middle school for the 2019 – 2020 school year. Our entire team has been working hard to ensure that this is a great school year for our students and families, as we embark on our first year as a separate middle school and high school within the same campus! 

UPAD Middle is a culturally responsive community that immerses students in the Deeper Learning skills and mindsets to creatively transform their world. We are rooted in developmentally appropriate, culturally responsive, and restorative academic and culture rituals that focus on learning and joy and celebrating our students and their excellence. Our ultimate aim is for our students to advocate for themselves, each other, and their community. 

Our primary goal this year is to build a positive community. Within that overarching goal, we see three specific goals for our community:

  • Student Achievement: Every grade level will increase overall proficiency by at least 5% on their MSTEP and PSAT Math and ELA end-of-year state tests
  • Student Development: Crew is a meaningful and safe space that builds community, so that 100% of harm can be addressed using restorative practices through our restorative support system, which includes the appropriate community members 100% of the time
  • Family Engagement: Our families are partners within our community as evidenced by consistent communication, monthly CommUnity Crew, and our Families as Partners group

In addition to looking forward to the start of a new school year and our first official year as UPAD Middle School, our leadership team, teachers, and staff are excited to continue to build upon the great things that have been happening at our school: our phenomenal Art and Design program, student performance growth on their state M-STEP testing, and the many community partnerships that enhance student engagement and real world learning. 

We are committed to working together with you to ensure this is the best year it can be! 

We can. We will. We must. 


Clare McKenna, School Director


November 2019

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  • University Prep Art & Design HS- Career Fair
  • Family as Partners Meeting
UPrep’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 UPrep 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.

Frequently Accessed Curriculum Resources

Creativity. College. Career. It all starts here.

UPAD: MS is the only tuition-free school in Detroit created for teens who are passionate about visual arts. Today it is Detroit’s premier art and design middle | high school, where young people develop the foundation they need to be successful in college and dynamic careers, including those in visual arts and design.

Our Curriculum

The world is in need of creative problem solvers, innovative thinkers who can produce new ideas and come up with new solutions. Students at UPAD: MS study everything required by the State of Michigan as outlined in the Michigan Curriculum Framework. In addition, they learn the processes and ways of approaching problems of “design thinkers.”  This means that they have many experiences exploring real-life problems and learning a specific way to understand and solve those problems.  This allows students to apply the skills and information they are learning in their other studies in an interesting and real way.

Art and Design: Each year, every student takes art and design as a part of the core curriculum. Our partner, the College for Creative Studies (CCS), provides dual enrollment opportunities for our most advanced students who are interested in pursuing post-secondary art studies. Students also have the opportunity to incorporate art and design in to their other subject area classes through various projects.

Science: At UPAD: MS, science concepts and skills are taught by “doing science.” Based on the State of Michigan Curriculum Framework, these science units are organized to allow young people to carry out investigations, talk and write about their observations and understandings, and discuss ways to test them. They learn scientific concepts by doing what scientists do.

English Language Arts: UPAD: MS students develop their reading and writing skills using the Oakland MAISA Common Core Curriculum. This curriculum embeds students in a Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop framework where lessons are student centered and focus on explicitly taught strategies, teacher modeling, peer collaboration, focused practice, self-reflection, and student-teacher conferencing.

Math: Our middle school curriculum is Connected Mathematics, a problem-centered, inquiry-based program which focuses on developing students’ ability to reason and communicate proficiently by strengthen math knowledge, understanding, and skill through mathematical discourse and problem solving. Our high school math curriculum is Carnegie Learning, which is designed to raise students’ math knowledge through a combination of classroom activities, adaptive software, and teacher professional development.

Social Studies: Social studies at UPAD: MS is based on the Oakland Scope/MAISA Common Core Curriculum. The units build upon each other and provide opportunities for students to make arguments about cause-effect relationships, turning points, and continuity and change over time. We also offer an AP Government course for students who excel.

Physical Education and Health: In health, students learn through the Michigan Model for Health, a comprehensive, skills-based health education curriculum that addresses the major youth health risk behaviors at every grade level, with age-appropriate instructional activities. In physical education, students learn and practice movement and motor skills, content knowledge and vocabulary, and personal/social behaviors and values.

Spanish: High school students take two years of Spanish with the opportunity to take a third. They learn Spanish language and culture through experiencing both components. Hands on activities are frequent. Students also have the opportunity to speak, read, and write Spanish daily. Students participate in several cultural events throughout the course of the year such as Cinco de Mayo and Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Design Thinking: UPAD: MS students learn Design Thinking through a variety of experiences and challenges each year. These activities give students the opportunity to innovate solutions to real-life human problems while at the same time applying concepts and skills from other disciplines.These experiences will, over time, develop students’ understanding and ability to use Design Thinking processes, Design Thinking mindsets (ways of thinking) and Design Thinking dispositions (ways of being).

Focus on College and Careers

We are committed to graduating at least 90 percent of our ninth grade students and sending at least 90 percent of graduates on to college. A full-time College Transitions Counselor, college tours, college speakers, career speakers and fairs, career exploration courses, and on-site admissions are just a few elements that create a school environment where college is an expectation. Collaboration with CCS enables UPAD: MS to have a focus on Art and Design careers and exposure to professionals working in these fields.

All students complete the Senior Mastery Process (SMP), which includes a deep dive into career and college pathways, a 60-hour internship in the career of their choice, and a doctoral defense style presentation of their experience and research to a panel of adults and peers. This capstone University Prep experience cements the link between what is learned in high school and the world of work and college.

School Culture

UPAD: MS 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 UPAD: MS students to experience some of these important aspects of community: respect and safety; consideration and appreciation; encouragement and belonging; and, empathy and inclusion.

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.

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.

Learning must extend beyond the four walls of a classroom. UPAD: Middle High School offers its students a variety of extracurricular opportunities. Learn More Here.


UPAD: MS offers both male and female students the opportunity to participate in a variety of competitive sports and be a part of our Mustang athletic program. Learn more about UPAD athletics programs here.

Clubs and After School Activities

UPAD: MS provides a range of after school activities for students. All students in the building after the end of a regular school day must be involved in a specific club, activity, athletics, or other program. Learn More

As a school on a college campus, students have the privilege to eat in a college cafeteria, where they held to high expectations for behavior and maturity. We provide free breakfast and lunch for all students. As a part of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, our school participates in the Community Eligible Provision Program; each year our school eligibility for additional state funding and grant programs is dependent on the completion of Household Information Surveys collected from each family. 

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 UPrep 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

Student Handbook
The UPAD: MS Student Handbook is a guide to assist students and parents in understanding our school’s policies and procedures. It is the responsibility of all staff, students, and their parents/guardians, to become familiar with the Student Handbook. Download the 2019-20 UPAD District Student/Family Handbook here.

Frequently Used Documents

Click here to access our digital campus and find additional important school documents.


University Prep Art and Design – Middle School

485 W. Milwaukee
Detroit, MI. 48202

Phone: (313) 481-4000

School Director:
School Operations Manager: