Champions of Wayne Blog
Much like fellow Spartan and Champions of Wayne Blogger Sharon Carpenter, Arion Logan is a 2016 graduate of Wayne Memorial who has overcome significant obstacles to get where she is. Her persistence in pursuing the Spartan Advantage Scholarship, which is awarded to economically disadvantaged students, has resulted in a full scholarship and a previously unforeseen array of opportunities. This is her story in her words.
By Arion Logan
The day I’ve anxiously awaited is finally here, my first day as a student at Michigan State University. As I sit alone in the cafeteria while typing this, I realize this is not high school anymore, it’s a whole new ball game. What’s so different? I am no longer the outgoing and “popular” girl that I once was known as in high school, I mean I’m eating lunch alone. I’ve never been nervous for my first day of classes before, but on a campus with over 50,000 students, how could I not be?
What is there to be nervous about? How will I make my college years worth it, I have many plans for the next four years, and my biggest fear is not accomplishing them. The end of my high school career was full of regret, I didn’t participate as much as I’d wanted and I hadn’t left my mark on the school that I had envisioned. I refuse to let college leave me with any regret.
Other than not accomplishing all my goals, my biggest fear is the freedom and unknowingness that come along with going away for school. I have no idea what this year will have in store for me at Michigan State, but I can only hope that Wayne Memorial, my parents, and my mentor Sean Galvin have prepared me to take on the huge university with confidence, caution, and passion.
Here I sit, in a cafeteria of many full of some of the best and brightest students throughout the U.S. and beyond, I realize that I have made it, although Michigan State is not my destination, just a pathway to something far greater, I have made it. Being a first generation, low income student, this dream was something far out of my reach but with the help of many I have made it my reality, and I refuse to mess up this opportunity, I will be as successful as my fullest potential allows me, because #spartanswill.
Sharon Carpenter is a 2016 graduate of Wayne Memorial High School. At the end of her senior year, she was uncertain of where she would attend college and how she would afford it. Now, she is attending Michigan State University and receiving a full scholarship. Sharon is the first in her family to attend college and is no stranger to challenges. Please check out her two-part podcast here to hear her backstory.
By Sharon Carpenter
So here I am, riding in a 2 door f-150 on my way to East Lansing. How do I feel? Excited, anxious and like everything is unrealistic. In one hour I will be home in a small room with Kaylie (my roommate). It will be a change, considering I have never shared a room before.
I was never nervous, I was more excited than anything but now that I am on my way to Michigan State I can feel the nervousness. What am I nervous about? Time management, I think is so key in being successful in college. At home I was not too worried about time management because everything was planned out for me. Now, I am an adult and can make my own schedule. I think that's what scares me the most, everything that is waiting at Michigan State is unknown.
Why fear the unknown? I think it's good for me to admit that I am a little scared for the unknown, but I think that's what keeps us going. For example, like at the exact time I was in Sean Galvin's office deciding if I wanted to attend Michigan State University or Schoolcraft Community College. I had no idea what to expect from Michigan State University, but Schoolcraft college was more in my comfort zone. DON'T STAY IN YOUR COMFORT ZONE! I knew that I would live in the same house with the same room and the same colored walls. Schoolcraft would be 20 min away from home, easy drive means saving money on gas. Also I would always have my grandparents to rely on. But I decided to face my fear, which is what I'm doing currently at 9:03 am. My fear of how I am going to unpack and be able to meet new people and finding a job is building up. Facing my fear is not only the best part, it's when you accomplish so much more from the day you face your fears.
When I chose to go to Michigan State I never thought I would have any roadblocks. I didn't want to imagine what can happen in the future that could potentially bring me down. I believe now that I have so much passion for who I am going to become that I will not let anything get in my way. I am so thankful for this opportunity that I do not want to mess this up. Although, many things can get in my way I will gain experience on how to handle certain situations.
So here I am an anxious freshman at Michigan State University, ready to move in and get my college life started.
In keeping with my spring 2016 declaration that I will establish one new good habit each semester as a part of my ongoing Champions of Wayne goal, my new habits of reading and eating spinach on a regular basis have guided me to this conclusion: although my diet is healthier than it was before, it is still an embarrassment when compared to the ideal diet I have recently come to understand and can no longer deny.
Homo Sapiens have roamed the planet for 100,000 years, and lived as hunter-gatherers for the first 90,000. Seeing as how genetic adaptations take roughly 25,000 years to appear in humans (per my boy Sebastian Junger), I've concluded that my body is that of a hunter-gatherer and that I need to treat it accordingly. A few notes on our foraging ancestors:
Another note on hunter-gatherers, they did not eat bread, pasta, bagels, Rice Krispies, or Power Bars. From what I understand (and will put to the test), the idea that carbs and sugars are a good source of energy is a myth. Consider an excerpt from Christopher McDougall's Natural Born Heroes:
Think of your body as a furnace...Fill it with slow-burnding logs and it will run smooth and strong for hours. But fill it with paper and gas-soaked rags and it will burn hot, rattle the pipes, and die out until it is fed again.
Carbs are a puddle; fat is the Pacific. At any time, your body has some 160,000 calories on tap: about 2,000 from sugar, 25,000 from protein, and nearly 140,000--87 percent--are fat.
The plan is to condition my body to burn fat instead of carbs and sugar. To do this, I will need to completely eliminate sugar from my diet (including fruit, beans, grains, soy, wine, beer, and low-fat milk) for three weeks, then slowly reintroduce natural sugars (fruit). My days of added sugar are over (minus the occasional cheat day).
Keep in mind, this is not a weight-loss diet (although I'm guessing I'll shed a couple lbs). The purpose of this endeavor is to determine what the impact of such a diet is on ol' Joe Six Pack over here. I can stuff myself silly all day, but only with meat, fish, eggs, avocados, vegetables and nuts. Fortunately, I have maximum love for cashews and will undoubtedly keep tubs of them at work, home and in my car.
I'll be headed to the grocery store this weekend to load up on the above items and to begin the challenge. Next blog post will include a plan for the upcoming week (each breakfast, lunch, dinner planned out) and pics of my food for week. Damn it feels good to be a gangster.
By: Sean Galvin
As a lifelong Michigander, I have long been aware of the Kalamazoo Promise and have had a layman’s understanding of its effect on the community. Having attended PromiseNet 2015 in Kalamazoo, I am now aware of the burgeoning network of Promise communities:
The programs differ in structure. Some (Kalamazoo, for instance) are "first dollar" programs, while others are "last dollar" programs. Programs also vary in terms of student eligibility requirements (minimum GPA, attendance rates, etc.).
Not Just Another Conference
After randomly meeting a couple guys from the New Haven Promise who told me about the event, and with generous support from Champions of Wayne donors, I attended PromiseNet without expectations. A riveting welcome speech by Mr. Wes Moore rallied altruistic enthusiasm, and we moved to plenary research session in an effort to obtain answers to the question: What is the impact of Promise programs?
Impact on Enrollment
It came as no surprise that Promise programs boost student enrollment. Interestingly, however, most enrollment growth is due to greater retention and has less to do with new students moving in. The Kalamazoo Public Schools saw a large jump in enrollment due to new students only during the first year of the Kalamazoo Promise, and has consistently retained students at much higher levels over the past 10 years.
The enrollment numbers speak for themselves, and it is difficult to argue that the enrollment increase is due to other factors.
Impact on College Enrollment and Completion
This is where things get tricky. Overall, results are positive. During the Kalamazoo Promise era, significantly more Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) students (women and minorities in particular) have enrolled in, and graduated from (with some sort of credential), college. Researchers from the Upjohn made this clear:
What is still not clear to me is if these changes are due to causation (change in behavior/motivation of KPS students) or correlation (college-bound students moved into the district to take advantage of the KP). The Upjohn researchers did point out that new students to KPS in 2006 were less poor and had higher test scores than previous new students. This trend continued in 2007, but not afterward.
This was a well-organized event with many passionate contributors, and it is evident that communities can benefit greatly from Promise programs. I am curious as to how surrounding communities and school districts are affected by Promise programs. More than half of new enrollment to Kalamazoo Public Schools in 2006 came from other districts in Michigan.
One speaker at the conference referred to the Kalamazoo Promise as a modern-day version of the Emancipation Proclamation. I wonder if stakeholders of neighboring districts feel the same way.
In the end, however, it is difficult to argue with private donors increasing access to higher education for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity.
By: Sean Galvin
The Champions of Wayne staff is proud to announce this year's intern, Ms. Lindsey Breslin. Lindsey graduated from Oakland University earlier this year where she received her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Lindsey heard about the Champions program through a family friend and was instantly interested in getting involved. Lindsey is a great addition to the Champions staff and we look forward to putting her skills to use!
Why she chose to intern at Champions of Wayne
Lindsey loves the concept behind Champions of Wayne and what it has to offer to the students. " I think this program can benefit not only students, but staff as well. It gives everyone a chance to form a new, trustworthy relationship."
What she hopes to accomplish with her time at WMHS
"I hope to gain stronger relationships with the students and understand the program better. I hope to stay involved with the program as long as possible and to get my "foot in the door" of a field that I want my career to be in."
What she does for fun:
Lindsey is a big time Red Wings Hockey fan. She enjoys attending Red Wings games, playing fantasy hockey, and watching the games at home. Lindsey also enjoys drinking coffee, going to concerts, hanging out with friends, and playing disc golf.
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." -Aristotle
The Champions of Wayne Staff is thrilled to have Lindsey on our team. We know that her positive and upbeat spirit will fit in perfectly with the culture at WMHS.
While some may think that the title of this blog post is shameless self promotion and an effort to increase awareness of my recently earned PhD (and it is), "What's Up Doc?" has another, perhaps more exciting meaning. For you see, doc can be short for "doctorate" as well as short for "documentary".
For those interested in a 130 page analysis of the impact of the Champions of Wayne program, my dissertation can be found HERE.
For those more interested in the Champions of Wayne documentary that is in the works at Wayne Memorial High School, please read on
Mr. Kevin English waits while the lights are set up.
Mr. Dave Kangas gives director Michael Stokes his thoughts on education in America.
Ms. Lynnette Cain and Ms. Kimberly Brannon discuss their involvement with Champions of Wayne.
Dr. Sean Galvin explains his research to producer Sally Helppie.
As you can see by the pictures of Mr. English, Mr. Kangas, Ms. Cain, Ms. Brannon, and myself, we had a film crew at WMHS last week, and we conducted interviews with several staff and students for the upcoming documentary.
The film, which is being directed and produced by Michael Stokes and WMHS alum Sally Helppie, will provide an inside look at Champions of Wayne--how/why it got started, the impact of the program, and where the program is headed.
Champions of John Glenn
Also new for this school year is the Champions of John Glenn program. CofJG has found a donor in Mr. Glenn Shaw, who is making a generous contribution for this school year. Champions of Wayne wishes nothing but the best for Champions of Glenn, and looks forward to some sort of competition with them in the future. Perhaps an academic decathlon a la Billy Madison?
Bring it on, Glenn!
By: Sean Galvin
Ever since Ms. Phillips was a little girl, she wanted to “teach people”. “My best friend was not surprised at all when I told her I wanted to go to college for education.” she said. Ms. Phillips has been a Spanish teacher at WMHS for two years. From holding after school study groups, to attending games or performances, Ms. Phillips is truly passionate about all of her students. She studied at Grand Valley State University where she was inspired by her AP Spanish professor to pursue her degree in education and to teach Spanish. Ms. Phillips has a record-breaking 18 Champions this semester and finds the time to stay actively involved in each student’s academic and extracurricular activities.
Ms. Phillips and her Champion, Jake Scott.
What was your most memorable experience with the Champions program?
“My most memorable moment would have to be last year when one of my students wrote a scholarship essay for the “Z-PAC Turn It Around Scholarship” and his essay was about how I had impacted his life. That really meant a lot to me.”
How did you begin the Athletic Study Tables program?
Ms. Phillips holds a daily after school program in her classroom for any student or student athlete that needs help with their homework, or just needs a place to hang out before they go to their practice for the day. The program began when one student came into Ms. Phillips’ classroom before practice to get homework done and relax. This student started bringing some of his teammates to do the same and eventually this became an actual after school study hall. Ms. Phillips teamed up with Ms. Ware and the two now provide homework assistance, snacks, and a fun and safe place to be after school. Occasionally tutors from the National Honor Society attend the after school program to help in any way they can. Currently there are about 20 students that come to Athletic Study Tables each day. Way to go Ms. Phillips!
What is your favorite part of being a mentor?
Ms. Phillips says that being a mentor encourages her to go that extra mile. By being involved in her Champions’ extra curricular activities such as going to sporting events, performances or fundraisers, she has been pushed out of her comfort zone and has created strong and positive relationships with her students. “ Being involved gives me a chance to know each of my kids outside of class and know them as the person they are.”
Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to the WMHS students, Ms. Phillips!! Way to go!
Consider the recent happenings at Wayne Memorial High School:
• Record high ACT scores (breaking last year's record year)
• Another student accepted to Harvard University
• Another student selected for the Gates Millennium Scholarship (for those scoring at home, that's four in the past three years)
• A substitute teacher recently told me he'd rather sub at WMHS than at any other school in the area
How can this be? Shouldn't educators be downtrodden this time of year? What about the budget cuts and the pay freezes? Aren't our seniors supposed to be apathetic? What's the explanation for this?
Strong leadership? I'm sure that's part of it. Excellent teachers? Of course. Champions of Wayne? Upward Bound? Bright Futures? Man, there sure is a lot going on at WMHS these days. The more I think about it, it all boils down to one ambiguous word: Culture. We have quite a positive culture at Wayne Memorial.
I looked up culture in a dictionary and got this: The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular people.
Ok...then I google-imaged culture and found this:
After considerable thought and some half-arsed googling, I have concluded that there is no simple answer to the culture question. There's no one person or program at WMHS that can be credited for these amazing achievements. Instead, it truly is a collaborative effort from everyone. Off the top of my head, the following are cool things about WMHS culture that I'm not sure other schools have:
• Staff Fantasy Football League(s)
• Friday Golf League after work
• Friendly and positive teachers/administrators/counselors all in the hallways during passing times
• A Champions of Wayne 5K Walk/Run (coming up soon, everyone! May 6th!)
• An August Leadership Camp that people actually want to attend (I'll be there this August, Rousseau)
• Goosby (seriously, can you imagine anyone else in his role?)
• NCAA March Madness Pool every year (I'll take credit for that one. Congrats to D-Nice Brennan, by
• Teachers that are very, very intelligent
• Approachable and friendly administrators (all of them)
• An unrelenting counseling staff that pushes a college-going culture despite the fact that the term
"Kha-llege Thursday" is beyond ridiculous
• Staff meetings that are actually fun to attend (Weber's "laser" analogy comes to mind)
I'm proud of our school, proud of our accomplishments, and--most importantly--proud of our culture here at Wayne Memorial.
We are proud to shine our first “spotlight” on Mrs. Stephanie Niedermeyer! Mrs. Niedermeyer has been a science teacher at Wayne Memorial High School for 16 years…17 if you include her year of student teaching.
Mrs. Niedermeyer will be taking on roughly thirteen Champions this semester! Seven of those students are Champions “high-achievers” who are required to set a separate goal for themselves, in addition to their academic goal. This semester , Mrs. Niedermeyer’s high-achievers are working together to plan a 5K-run/walk fundraiser for the Champions program. We are very lucky to have Mrs. Niedermeyer involved!
Why she chose to become a teacher:
She didn’t originally want to be a teacher; she wanted to be Dr. Niedermeyer, which is why she pursued a degree in biology at The University of Michigan. She loved helping people, but didn’t like the death part of the medical field. With inspiration of her mother, who was also a teacher, she had the opportunity to shadow a high school classroom and fell in love with teaching. She knew then that this was her calling.
Where did the beginning thoughts of the 5K come from?
Mrs. Niedermeyer was struggling with what would be a worthwhile goal for her high achievers. There had been talk about possibly constructing a 5K in the past and she really wanted to give back to the Champions program. That’s when she decided to have her students be the ones to plan and organize this event and make it a fundraiser for the program as well. Mrs. Niedermeyer feels that having her students in control of this event will teach them about life skills, planning, talking to adults and following through!
What is her favorite part of being a mentor?
“I realize that education is more than learning textbook stuff, kids need guidance through all aspects of life and I love being someone’s person.”
Mrs. Niedermeyer’s kindness and passion towards her students never fails to show. Thank you for being such a great asset to the Champions program!