I have the privilege of supervising the PNC Grow Up Great Program for the Detroit Public Schools, which is funded by donations from PNC to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.

Now in its third year, the program supports 232 pre-kindergarten students from eight Detroit Public Schools. This innovative program allows 14 early childhood teachers to focus on the arts and sciences through the exploration of learning through teacher professional development, student engagement, hands-on experiences, and classroom materials.  Our community partners, Cranbrook Institute of Science and Music Hall Center for Performing Arts, promote students learning in a variety of contexts: field trips, Artist/Scientist-in-Residence Programs, and Family Fun Days. In addition, the classroom learning experiences have been enhanced with hands-on and creative experiences due to classroom resources purchased with funding from PNC.

As a program supervisor, I have the privilege of visiting the classrooms sponsored by PNC. I observe students learning and teachers teaching in new and innovative ways. Teachers are able to implement what they learn in professional development sessions to their classroom settings.  For example, during a recent visit to a classroom I saw students and teachers creating props for a set, writing a script, and reviewing terminology associated with the theater!  This concept was presented in a professional development session sponsored by the Music Hall. I am also pleased to see Data Walls in all of our classrooms that show growth over time to support learning about the arts and sciences.  This concept was also presented during a Coaching Session for the teachers in the PNC Grow Up Great Program. I am very privileged to work with a group of wonderful educators who are motivated by the mission of this program.

The opportunity to facilitate the PNC Grow Up Great Program for Detroit Public Schools is a rewarding experience. I have observed first-hand how an investment in early childhood education is an investment in Detroit families. On the weekends, thanks to transportation provided by the Detroit Parent Network, Family Fun Days allow students, siblings and parents an opportunity to enjoy the theatre, science museum experiences, and parent workshops.  These opportunities foster a love of learning about the arts and sciences.  Ultimately, children will be inspired to support the science and the arts throughout their academic careers.

According to the teachers in the Grow Up Great Program sponsored by PNC, due to the enriching opportunities the families experienced in pre-school, the student return rate for kindergarten has increased.

Thanks to the support of donors to the Foundation, we have a program in Detroit Public Schools that empowers children and their families centered around the arts and sciences. Programs, like PNC Grow Up Great, that support early childhood education inspire and motivate learning for a lifetime.