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A Beacon of Light in the 48205: How One Detroit School is Beating the Odds

Despite facing various life challenges and obstacles, one Detroit school is beating the odds with grit, endurance, and a desire for excellence. In this geographical area, there are plenty of assumptions about what goes on inside their school because of what goes on outside of it. The work being done by staff at Regent Park Scholars Charter Academy is admirable and a story of victory.

“Our demographic and zip code are rough,” shared Donell James, middle school dean at Regent Park Scholars Charter Academy. “In the midst of that, parents truly care about their student’s education. I’m proud of the partnerships and resources we provide to parents and students to give them what they need.”



Arthur Bouser, achievement and behavior support specialist at Regent Park, explained that these kids are coming from serious circumstances and school staff want to be a beacon of light. “At Regent Park, students are safe and are able to receive a quality education. They have a shot at the education they want,” he said.

The students at Regent Park embody what it means to perseverance. Take a look at twins Jada and Jayden. “Their mom passed away when they were in sixth-grade and they had to live with other family members,” shared James, “They are a success story. They even got into the best high school in Detroit, Renaissance High School. When students can go off to a good high school, that is powerful.”

According to Public School Review, “While many teens, in both middle and high school, fall prey to the temptations of peer pressure, fitting in, and the lures of popularity, oftentimes these pressures can pull teens towards disruptive and negative behaviors that are evident both in and outside of school.” Knowing this, staff at Regent Park has worked intentionally day after day and year after year to beat the odds and invest in students in the middle school wing, both academically and personally.

This exists as a pride point for Regent Park leadership.

Students graduate to high school and continue to come back and visit. In the beginning of November 2020, two Regent Park alumnus came back and shared that they are exceeding in their performance in high school. “That’s why we get up and do what we do,” said James.



To uphold a strong school culture, Regent Park has a school-wide behavior system in place and has worked diligently to curate quality relationships with their parents. “I share that I come from similar, if not worse, circumstances. I’m not ashamed of my story and I share it,” explained Bouser. “I show pictures from my past. They can see me as the end result of hard work. I let them know you may be from it, but you don’t have to be of it. What you do with what you’re given is what matters.”

Students are able to see the end result and that is hope. Bouser shared that what he does for kids is what he wishes someone had done for him.

To illustrate the great work taking place at Regent Park, meet Tenise Binns. Tenise is a powerful student voice in her school community. Academically, she is on top of her classwork and is a great communicator with her teachers, all while staying involved at school. She participates in student council, the safety team, sports, and even established clean-up crews to help run the lunchroom.

Tenise is a student who exemplifies the Moral Focus virtues emphasized at Regent Park. For example, school leaders hang up behavior reports during lunch and she went above and beyond to develop a system around feedback for teachers and students. James shared that Tenise can be placed anywhere and help out. She truly cares about the culture of the school.

In addition to contributing to school culture and excelling in her academics and extracurriculars, Tenise is always able to keep her eye on her prize. She maintains a character of discipline. “She has friends from all walks of life, and she doesn’t allow herself to get drug down into the swamp, for example when other kids get caught up on social media,” shared Bouser.



With valuable leadership at the student level, none of this could have been done without the leadership and guidance of Crystal Byse, principal at Regent Park. “Principal Byse has a vision and that’s to do everything that is best for the kids,” explained James. “With her leadership and guidance, students and staff continue to strive to be better.”

With the odds stacked against them, Regent Park students and staff are tearing down barriers and conquering their circumstances. Through perseverance, authenticity, and an emphasis on school culture, this school community is on a mission of excellence.