Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Pontiac charter school focused on the arts

     In some states, what the Michigan School for the Arts is doing would be called a magnet school. They would also be focusing on high school students instead of the K-8 students that recently started at the school. While many charter schools drain funds from taxpayers and put them into the hands of owners who under pay teachers and provide the bare neccessities, magnet schools focus on on type of curriculum in order to develop students talents.

New Pontiac charter school focused on the arts

A new charter school in Pontiac supported by Oakland University aims to integrate the arts into students’ everyday learning experience.

The Michigan School for the Arts opened in the fall of 2012 on the campus of the former Midwestern Baptist College on Golf Drive, with 350 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school plans to add a grade every year until it offers grades K-12.

As local school districts have cut back on their art programming, “We wanted to offer that to the community and give students an opportunity to be creative and to establish self-esteem through the arts,” said Dr. Carl Byerly, whose Creative Schools Services Inc. founded the school.

When students play music, paint, dance and more, “they learn to love school, and that’s our objective,” Byerly said.

Retired Oakland County Circuit Judge Fred Mester was the master of ceremonies at the school’s Jan. 31 grand opening ceremony.

“This, the Michigan School for the Arts, is to discover through the arts, integrated with language, math and science to become a builder of the empires of the mind,” Mester said.

“Education through the arts makes one alive to the universe in which the student lives, thus opening the windows of the mind.”

The school has a 50-piece orchestra made up of students grades two through eight, as well as a 30-piece band, six choruses and dance classes in every grade level.

The majority of students at the Michigan School for the Arts live in Pontiac, but come from Waterford, Bloomfield, Troy and Auburn Hills as well, Byerly said. Any student who lives in the state of Michigan can apply to the school.

The charter school’s authorizing institution is Oakland University.
“With the opening of the Michigan School for the Arts, we are fulfilling two mega-goals in the School of Education and Human Service by chartering a school that is devoted to the Arts, and, at the same time, utilizing our resources for the citizens of Pontiac,” said Dr. Louis B. Gallien Jr., a dean and professor at the university’s School of Education and Human Services.

“This school is the beginning of these two intertwined goals, and we look forward to a long and beneficial relationship,” Gallien said.

Byerly and Dr. Jackie Wiggins, the chairwoman of the Department of Music, Theater and Dance at Oakland University, worked together to create the school’s curriculum.

Deputy Oakland County Executive Phil Bertolini also was present at the school’s grand opening.

“Oakland County is fortunate to have such a top-notch charter school within our borders,” Bertolini said. “The Michigan School for the Arts provides the necessary formal education for children while focusing on their ability to express themselves in the arts.”

Dan Quisenberry, the president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, said the new school is something to celebrate.

“I congratulate the Michigan School for the Arts on becoming a partner in the development of this community. Dr. Byerly has believed in choice and the arts in education for a long time, and we can now celebrate one new innovative public school and the opportunity it will provide to many students and families in this community,” Quisenberry said.

“I look forward to your success as the parents of this community and Oakland County continue to embrace you.”

Byerly said Creative Schools Services, Inc. plans to open five more schools in Michigan over the next 10 years