Mott Middle College (MMC), Flint, MI does it right, both in education and in celebration. In May, MMC celebrated its 20th anniversary with an afternoon and evening ceremony and reception. In addition to Principal Chery Wagonlander, the Superintendent of the Genesee ISD, the President of Mott Community College, President of the State School Board and the Executive Director of MCNC participated in the program. Parents and students were a vital part of the celebration. The MMC Concert Choir and the famous Steel Drum Band provided exciting musical tributes. Students in video production presented a documentary highlighting MCC and the new Associates Degree in film production. Dozens of alumni returned to help commemorate this accomplishment. At the celebration, MMC proudly announced the completion of its story, The Differences that Make a Difference. It will be available this summer on line and in print.
Twenty years does not just represent the passage of time, it represents change in both the school and in its students. The school that started as an experiment to help at-risk students finish high school now graduates students with college credits. In 17 graduating classes, students typically start with a D+ average and finish with a B average. In over 5,200 college courses completed, MMC students average a 2.9 GPA. Students no longer have the choice whether to take college classes — it is a requirement. This year six students, including 4 African American males, graduated with enough college credits to earn an associate’s degree.
According to Wagonlander, “It’s an all-school effort. Staff has specific training in working with their particular population. Skills and college knowledge are pre-learned and relearned individually and in seminars. It’s a slow process, you must learn to blow on the ice, because you can’t crack the ice. Our graduates have not only the credits, but an entire way of viewing their lives and their possibilities.”