Boggs School

The James and Grace Lee Boggs School

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Charter schools are public schools, which means they’re supposed to educate any kid that walks in the door.

But a new bill making its way through the Michigan legislature could make it so that charters can give enrollment preference to certain students.

Which ones? Well, the answer might surprise you. 

Andrea Claire Maio

Over the last year, Zak Rosen and Andrea Claire Maio have been following students and educators at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. 

Maio and Rosen have done pieces in the series about control in the classroom, two young students at the Boggs School who are best friends, and about making school more human

For the series' last piece, Maio focused on the Principal of the Boggs School, Julia Putnam -- a cornerstone of the school.

Julia from andrea claire maio on Vimeo.

Putnam met Grace Lee Boggs, the school's namesake, when Putnam was 16 years old.

Making an education vision real in Detroit

Jun 18, 2014
The James and Grace Lee Boggs School

The James and Grace Lee Boggs School just wrapped up its first year. It’s a K-4 charter on Detroit's eastside that hopes to grow to a K-12.  The school had an ambitious, community-based vision, that’s being tempered by the day-to-day reality of running a school.  

A few weeks ago, the students and staff at the Boggs School took a walk.

They ended up at the corner of Heidelberg and Ellery Streets, just about a mile from school. When they got there, they saw that polka-dots and naked dolls and charred houses had taken over the block.

Here's a video of their trip to The Heidelberg Project:

Plant your soul: The poetry of a Detroit elementary school

Jun 17, 2014
Andrea Claire Maio

Whitney Walker has had a lot of jobs in her life. But she was never content until she landed at her current gig as the office manager at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School, a K-4 charter on the east side of Detroit. Walker wears many hats at the school. She’s an administrator, a nurse, a poet. What follows is a poem by Walker, mixed with her ruminations on the school.

Whitney & Zoe from andrea claire maio on Vimeo.

Boggs School


(This story originally appeared on Michigan Radio on Sept. 6, 2013.) 

What if something other than jobs could rebuild Detroit?

What if the purpose of education was to help children reach their highest human potential?

What if we had a conversation about the meaning of service to our community?

These are just a few of the many questions being raised at a new charter school in Detroit. It’s called the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. They opened their doors this week.

What kids with disabilities bring to the classroom

Apr 9, 2014
Zak Rosen


Bentley loves people. He’s usually wearing a big smile.  He’s a joy. But his mother, Adrienne Crawford, admits he’s a lot of work, too.

“I took a three-minute shower" the other day,  says Crawford. "And I came back and his bedroom was covered in baby powder. I don’t know why he did it.  I guess it looks fun, just pouring white powder on the floor.”

Bentley has Down syndrome.

Shortly after he was born, Crawford remembers reading a book that forecast everything that could possibly go wrong in her young son’s life.

Making school more human

Jan 22, 2014
Detroit Future Schools


Do the Right Thing

It’s the second week of January.  Students have just returned from winter break.  With the bonus snow days, they haven’t been in school for three whole weeks. To get back into the swing of things, the third and fourth graders are revisiting their social contract.

It’s something they wrote themselves, with orange marker, on a big sheet of white paper at the beginning of the school year.  The contract lays out over a dozen characteristics they hope to embody both inside and outside of the classroom.  Stuff like:

Helping kids at The Boggs School step into their best selves

Jan 15, 2014
Andrea Claire Maio / Series: Back to Your Senses


Every Morning, Every Night

Christopher Gaston is usually the first kid to arrive at school every morning.  And he’s almost always the last one to leave at night. 

In fact, “It’s tough to get Christopher to leave the building everyday,” says Marisol Teachworth, the Boggs School’s program director and co-founder.

Christopher has volunteered for every possible after school opportunity, including, but not limited to African drumming, creative writing club and Scrabble Club.

user alamosbasement / flickr

 If you were a teacher, what would you do you do if a second grader won’t quiet down during story time? What if a third grader wants to go home sick, but she’s not actually sick?  What if one of your students hits one of his classmates?  How would you handle that?

The Boggs School is brand new.  It’s a K-4 charter on Detroit’s east side.  They’ve got small classrooms but a big, unique mission, which is, in principal Julia Putnam’s words, “to nurture creative, critical thinkers who contribute to the well-being of their communities.”