At Catherine C. Blackwell Institute, students are taught beginning with the earliest grade levels that your character changes the world. A 20-year Detroit Public Schools educator, Blackwell Prin-cipal Patricia Hines focuses her curriculum on three basic concepts: culture, 21st century learn-ing, and being able to express oneself artistically.
Hines is determined to help her students become dynamic contributors in the multicultural envi-ronment in which they live. One of DPS’ premier African-centered schools, Blackwell was named in honor of the late Cath-erine C. Blackwell. Mrs. Blackwell’s deep passion and long-time advocacy for the African culture car-ried over to her teachings, resulting in the school keeping her tradition alive by continuing to infuse the African culture within the curriculum.
“We keep a display dedicated to Mrs. Blackwell where all of the students and our visitors can al-ways see it. It has her photo, mu-sical instruments, art and other artifacts that constantly remind our students of the meaning be-hind the Blackwell name,” Hines said.
Daily, students and staff participate in an Af-rican activity known as “Harambee,” which aids in bringing the community together and provides encouragement through reciting chants, pledges and songs. Through Harambee, students are able to interact with their own culture as well as get a better understanding of the African culture. Principal Hines prides her school on being a close-knit community as many generations con-sistently matriculate back to Blackwell.
Hines’ own children attended Blackwell and she current-ly has a granddaughter in first grade. “We have that family-link here at Blackwell. It is not uncommon to have current teachers who were once students, as well as current students whose parents once were Blackwell students,” Hines said. Thriving literary and musical artists A common activity shared by generations of Blackwell students is writing poetry. Blackwell has two published editions of student-written poetry books.
Principal Hines says that through these books, students have improved their self-confidence as well as their academic writing. Under the instruction of writer Dr. Suzanne Scarfone, an opportunity provided by the Inside- Out Literary Arts Project, Blackwell students de-velop the Blackwell Poetry Book, now in its third edition. Each book incorporates real-life experi-ences such as anti-bullying and confidence boost-ers.
Blackwell also has a thriving music program where Chorus Teacher Glenda Jones has provided students the opportunity to perform with artists including award-winning Aretha Franklin. Black-well music students had the pleasure of visiting Motown Studios to record tracks for a holiday edition album with Franklin. Blackwell’s travel-ing gospel group has toured locations including Florida, Washington D.C. for President Barack Obama’s inauguration, and Toronto.
“Jones is a Wayne State University alumnus with a degree in music. She brings not only the gift of song to our school, but knowledge as well,” Hines said. Jones, who is fluent in multiple languages, is often utilized in other areas to help tutor students. Lunchtime Learning Extending beyond the traditional classroom setting, learning is present everywhere at Black-well—even during lunch. Lunchtime Technology Workshops are avail-able for all students to enjoy, which complement the three technology labs at Blackwell. “Students love Lunchtime Learning.
At this time, they are able to participate in a variety of workshops that cover everything from ELA to Math,” said Willie Jenkins, Educational Techni-cian. “Students can also gain exposure in areas including film and photography.” Something you didn’t know… The Blackwell community will soon join the growing list of DPS Go Green schools! The school will soon be home to a beautiful garden where scrumptious fruits and veggies will be grown. Cur-rently, Blackwell is part of the Fresh Foods Pro-gram which enables families once per month to access fresh fruits and vegetables available at the school.
Catherine C. Blackwell Institute
9330 Shoemaker Detroit, MI 48213
Phone: (313) 866-4391
Principal: Patricia Hines