Last week was an important week in the growth of our school. A school accreditation team from AdvancED spent two days in the school reviewing our systems and practices. The end result was a report that will determine whether we will be accredited. While it will probably be about 60 days before we receive the official determination, the review process itself was educational to me.
Well before the visit, Ms. Rowe began organizing the paperwork that goes with all of the many activities that go one in the school. Ms. Valgoi and Mr. Simmer helped organized the stacks of documentation. It was a big task. The review process includes all aspect of the school. While the review places a great importance on academic processes and progress, the team was also interested in the support systems we have for our students and families. They wanted to know about the leadership and governance in the school.
During the visit, the team spent time in the classroom and speaking with just about everyone involved in the school – students, teachers, counselors, administrators, parent and board members. They were very thorough!
As I mentioned, it will be about 60 days before we learn the final outcome. Some of the feedback the review team did share was how impressed they were with our students – calling them the friendliest, most welcoming students they had ever encountered. They also admitted to being blown away by our work program. The team shared that they had no idea the level of responsibility our students have at their jobs. In fact, the review team was so impressed with our students and the family feel within the school, they requested to share their final report with the whole school, not just the staff. It was a compliment to our students and a great idea!
A lot of work went into the accreditation review – not just in the preparation for the visit, but with all of the labor that the Detroit Cristo Rey team has put in since Day 1, way back in 2008. As the review team summarized their observations, I could not help but think how far we have come in the past 5 years. I know we have a lot of work still to do, but I am grateful for the work that so many people have put into building our school. I have a good feeling about the final recommendation and I look forward to sharing it with everyone.
Last week was a very busy week at Detroit Cristo Rey High School – even by our standards. Mr. Nolan Finley from the Detroit News visited the school and two guests from Pittsburgh, interested in starting a Cristo Rey school in the Steel City spent time with us. A reporter from Model D was here preparing a story and friends from Masco, one of our newest job sponsors, stopped in to learn more about our school.
But it was two seemingly unrelated events at the end of the week that made me think about our mission. First, Manoj Bhargava spent time with our seniors on Thursday afternoon. You may not recognize Manoj’s name – but I am certain you have heard of the product he developed and sells – 5 Hour Energy. Manoj shared with the students how he went from driving a taxi 70 hours a week to growing a company valued in the billions. His message was simple, you have to work hard, but more importantly, you must find something you like to do, and then it’s not really work! Manoj’s passion for his work was clear and contagious. The students were clearly receptive to his message. What struck me most was not the fact that Manoj has made billions in his business – but the fact that he has pledged to give away 90% of his wealth prior to his death. In fact, he has already started giving significant sums to help the poor in India with medical care.
The second event was really a non-event. While almost every school in the greater Detroit area closed on Friday, Detroit Cristo Rey remained open. This was disappointing news to most students and maybe even a staff member or two. But the words of Manoj were still ringing in my ears – you must work hard, even when others aren’t, and if you love what you do…it’s really not work. Once we had determined that there was not a safety issue with the school being open, it was clear that we had to be at school, continuing our mission of preparing our students for success in college and beyond.
It is a gift for me to be with so many people who demonstrate their love of their work with the relentless enthusiasm they share in achieving our mission. While our passion may not yield the billions that 5 Hour Energy has earned – what it is achieving is much more valuable…young adults, optimistically moving forward toward success in college and far beyond.
Please share the Detroit Cristo Rey story with someone today.
Today marks the end of exam week at Detroit Cristo Rey. Students have been taking first semester exams for the past 4 days. As a college prep school, it is important that we prepare our students for this type of testing. Exams range in time from 75 to 90 minutes and are comprehensive in nature – exactly the type of exams they will take in college.
Since we returned from Christmas break on January 2nd, our teachers have focused their instruction time on preparation for these exams. The whole academic team is anxious to see the results of their efforts. Please keep our hard working students and staff in your prayers.
On a separate note, last week I spent 3 days with 19 other presidents of Cristo Rey schools. This was the first time the presidents had met for a Spiritual Retreat. We met in Atlanta (where it never stopped raining) at the Jesuit retreat house. It was wonderful praying and sharing with the other presidents. They are a great group of women and men and I am proud to be included in their group. In addition to the presidents, the founder of the Cristo Rey Network, John Foley S.J. was there. There is no one more inspiring to me than Fr. Foley and I left the retreat energized to work hard for the success of Detroit Cristo Rey.
Tell someone about Detroit Cristo Rey this week!
Not sure what the record is for the longest time between blogs…but I think I am getting close. I have tried to keep people up to date with our e-blasts. If you don’t receive the e-blasts and would like to, please send me a note at email@example.com.
My lack of blogging does not mean there has been a lack of action at Detroit Cristo Rey. In fact, it seems there is more happening than I can keep up with. Here are just a few highlights:
- I am delighted that 95% of our seniors have already received at least one college acceptance!
- We received our standardized test scores for our sophomores and they demonstrated solid improvement over the past year. Kudos to Mrs. Rowe and the entire faculty for their work.
- Ms. Leal is working hard at recruiting the Class of 2017. Prospective students have been here on Shadow Days and also taking the entrance exam. They are an impressive looking group.
- We are always on the hunt for more job sponsors and we are very excited that Chrysler is our newest partner and they are starting in a big way! We will have 2 teams starting work at their headquarters in January.
- Football All-American and All Pro Mike McCoy visited the school in November and spoke with our students about the importance of the choices they make. He is a great speaker who really connected with the students.
At present, our students are engaged in one of my favorite activities. Each Christmas our school adopts five families and raises money to help them enjoy the holiday. The generosity of the students and staff is always inspiring to me.
Best wishes to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.
Yesterday, I was on the campus of Michigan State University to speak to an Urban Education class. I was invited by the instructor, Ms. Fran Vitale. Fran happens to be a graduate of Holy Redeemer High School– which originally occupied the building we are in.
I took two of our current seniors who are interested in enrolling at MSU with me – Theresa and Eberardo. We were joined by two of our alums who are attending MSU – Chris and Sandy.
I explained to the class how the Cristo Rey model works and we discussed the challenges we face and the progress we have made. Theresa and Eberardo shared their experiences as students as well. Of course, the importance of the Corporate Work Study program was also discussed. It was a great discussion.
It was when Chris and Sandy spoke that I became a little emotional. They each talked about how well Cristo Rey had prepared them for college. They spoke of academic challenges andstrict rules. They also said how grateful they were to go to a school where so many people cared about them. I could not have been prouder of them and our team at Detroit Cristo Rey!