This year, Michigan Humanities had the great opportunity to partner with the Muskegon Community Education Center (MCEC) for our Poetry Out Loud program. Through this partnership we learned about the important work that this Center is doing for supporting Muskegon’s youth to complete their high school education in an environment that seeks to meet the different needs of their students. In order to get the word out about this crucial work, Michigan Humanities asked the Center to tell us about their work in their own words. We invite you to learn more about this awesome program by reading below and also check out this video to see their work in action.
About MCEC’s Work
The Muskegon Community Education Center (MCEC) is a unique alternative high school to prevent high school dropouts. This program is an important step to earning a high school diploma, identifying a career path, and/or transitioning into college/credentialing. The program participants are in grades 9th-12th who are committed to excellent attendance and high school completion.
Our MCEC Opportunity Youth may face many challenges, but they remain optimistic about their future. Having clear goals and a dependable support system is essential to students feeling confident about the future. Therefore our staff, counselors, and administrators focus on offering opportunities for youth to build and strive to create a viable, achievable education and career planning.
MCEC Mural Initiative
The MCEC Mural Project was constructed as a group project in collaboration with Muskegon Public Schools Art teacher, Sally Purchase, and MCEC students before the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic. As an administrative team, we noticed MCEC had an image of academic difficulties and deficiencies in employability skills. As a result, our MCEC administrative team stressed that every student should graduate high school and become fluent in Employability Skills and have opportunities for career exploration. In order to accomplish these objectives, our team constructed MCEC Flex Days. The MCEC Flex Day program was created to help students identify an improved self-image, learn how to celebrate skills, understand career pathways, meet career readiness standards, and develop student portfolios. Eventually leading to a signing day where the students have accomplished the HIGH 5 of MCEC: Resume/E-Portfolio, Entrepreneurship, Awards/Certificates, Mentorship/Volunteerism, and a Defined Career Path.
The MCEC mural was created to give students a swing space on campus where they can feel free to have conversations around social-emotional learning, meet with mentors/community partners, and career exploration. This year, MCEC Flex Day program has been selected to receive an Education Excellence Award from the SET SEG Foundation in partnership with the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB). This is an incredible achievement as only 10 programs were selected from the many outstanding applications received from public schools across Michigan. The images that were created for the MCEC Flex space are the following:
- High Five: Resume/E-Portfolio, Entrepreneurship, Awards/Certificates, Mentor/Volunteerism, and a Defined Career Path. Give me a High 5 instead of a handshake when you graduate or complete a task in the MCEC Flex Day Program.
- The R.A.CE. I.S.Yours to Run: This mural is based on John Holland’s Theory of Career Choice (RIASEC), and maintains that in choosing a career, people prefer jobs where they can be around others who are like them. They search for environments that will let them use their skills and abilities, and express their attitudes and values while taking on enjoyable problems and roles. The students created their own acronym to help make a connection with career readiness, running to display high-activity towards goals and a global worldview to explore opportunities that they can put their hand on.
- MCEC Puzzle: MCEC stands for Muskegon Community Education Center. The place where a child’s education is enhanced in a collaborating community. The words on the puzzle pieces are located on the Employability Skills framework to identify what is necessary to form true partnerships with community members and businesses.
- I AM: This mural is a symbol of completion. Our students find themselves either apologizing for being raised in poverty or they find themselves constantly asking permission to be Qualified, Certified, Responsible and Willing. This was created to be an affirmation for them to see their potential.
Poetry Out Loud Partnership
DiaTribe-Poetic Aspirations Workshop in partnership with Muskegon Community Foundation, Poppen’s Program, Poetry Out Loud -Mrs.Bray’s, and the MCEC English Language Arts class, worked for nine Fridays to explore the different emotions experienced by our students and how these could turn into poetic work. During this time the Diatribe worked as co-teachers of Poetic Aspirations, Diatribe’s spoken word curriculum. Within this workshop, students had opportunities to be vocal and express their cares, concerns and worries without judgment. As there is no “wrong” way to express how you are feeling when you put your emotions on paper. The workshop gave MCEC students the chance to write about topics that interested them. Through this platform we discovered students had strong feelings about their topics. They started to write longer artistic pieces and do their best work. As a result of this partnership, the students were given an opportunity to submit their poems, artwork, and essays from class to the Poetry Out Loud annual contest. This was a great opportunity for our students to relate to their emotions in a different way and to be able to express and process them through an artistic channel.