Leadership and Educational Vitality
Celebrating success is an integral part of the Gesu community. Gesu School has numerous ways of honoring student achievements from daily academic and behavior charts to yearly scholarships. Teachers’ accomplishments are recognized privately and by the community. We also take the initiative to recognize our families and friends of Gesu each year for their contributions to our success.
Gesu School has a long history of encouraging and recognizing student academic achievements. Teachers recognize the effort and academic progress of their students on a daily basis with everything from stickers to congratulatory notes home to special privileges. Our hallways are adorned with student work. We honor a wide range of academic achievements on a school-wide basis. For Honor Roll, students are honored by receiving certificates at all-school assemblies each quarter. Parents, families and friends are invited to attend the assemblies. Students who have a grade point average of 3.6 or higher receive First Honors Certificates, while students who have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher receive Second Honors Certificates. Both types of honors require the student to also maintain an overall conduct grade of a “B” or higher. To receive one of these honors for the final quarter, students in grades four through eight must also have successfully completed the reading of at least fifteen books from the school’s required reading list. Honor Roll awardees’ names are posted in the main hallway each quarter.
The following awards are distributed at the end of the year all-school assembly and the awards for graduating eighth grade students are repeated at the convocation ceremony:
- Fourth Quarter Honor Roll: See requirements listed above.
- Book Award: Students who read twenty or more books during the school year receive a certificate acknowledging this accomplishment.
- Sr. Bernice LaPorte, I.H.M. Award: Given in honor of Gesu’s former librarian to one student from grades 1–3, one student from grades 4-6 and one student from grades 7-8 who have successfully read the most books from their required grade level reading list.
- Loyola Award: Given to students who make First Honors every quarter and who stand above their classmates in honors and achievements as well as in outside recognition.
- National Junior Honor Society: Students who reflect outstanding accomplishments in the area of scholarship, character, leadership, citizenship and service may be invited to join this elite society of students. To be eligible for consideration, the student must receive appropriate recommendations from the teaching staff and have also attended Gesu School for at least one full semester immediately preceding nomination.
- Perfect Attendance Award: Recognizing the important correlation between attendance and academic performance, this award is given to students who have no absences and a limited number of tardies for the entire school year.
- Presidential Award: Awarded to an eighth grade student who has a 3.5-4.0 grade point average for the current school year and has scored in the 85th percentile or higher in math or reading on a standardized test that was administered during the current school year.
- Presidential Award for Educational Improvement: Given to a student who has shown outstanding educational growth, improvement and commitment.
- Principal’s Award: Bestowed upon an eighth grade graduating student who displays consistency, competence, concern, and outstanding cooperation in the daily execution of Gesu School’s Christian values.
- Blacksheare Award: Recognizing the relationship between a positive attitude and academic performance, a cash award of $100.00 is granted in honor of Armeshia Blacksheare, a former Gesu student who displayed an outstanding love of life, to a female sixth grade student who exemplifies Armeshia’s qualities and who is entering seventh grade at Gesu.
- Perry Deakin Scholarship: One female and one male student who were recognized as dedicated athletes during the school year and who had high academic performance are each awarded $50.00 in honor of Perry Deakin, a long-serving physical education teacher a Gesu.
- Lotze Scholarship: A monetary award in the sum of $500.00 is given to the graduating student with the highest scholastic performance and attending a Catholic high school in the fall. The scholarship is in honor of Father James Lotze, a much loved Gesu pastor who died on August 15, 1997.
- Sister Stella Rabaut, I.H.M. Scholarship: This is a monetary award in the sum of $200.00 that is given to the student who has earned outstanding achievement in mathematics and who has displayed dedication to Christian principles. The recipient must attend Gesu or a Catholic high school the following academic year. This scholarship is in honor of Sister Stella Rabaut, a former Gesu principal who died on January 2, 2002.
- Raymond Smith Award: Given to a male student who gives of himself, portrays Christian behavior and shows great academic promise. This award is in memory of Raymond Smith, the son of Samuel Smith, a former Gesu counselor, and his wife, Laura Smith. Raymond unfortunately died at a young age, but during his short life, he was open to challenges and managed to fulfill many dreams.
- Estrella Viletta Literary Writing Award: A certificate and $100.00 is given to the student who displayed exceptional literary writing skills in honor of Estrella Viletta., a teacher for twenty-four years and assistant principal for nine years at Gesu School.
In addition to those awards given at the end of the school year, there are academic events that trigger recognition during the year. Here are a few of them:
- Student of the Month: Each month beginning in September, teachers chose a student from their homeroom who exhibits the behaviors required to be named Student of the Month. Those behaviors included turning in all homework on time, maintaining an “A” in conduct, being cooperative, following directions and demonstrating a willingness to learn. The students” pictures are displayed on a bulletin board in the main school hallway along with their teachers’ explanation of why they chose those students. The students are announced over the public address system and treated to an ice cream party.
- Leadership Camp: This is a new honor that was created in 2006 by Trinity Vicariate for 7th and 8th grade students who have exhibited leadership qualities, exemplary behavior and high academic standards. Eight students (four from each grade) are nominated by their teachers to attend a two day, one night leadership camp at Camp Howell, in Howell, Michigan with students from the five other Trinity Vicariate schools. All expenses for the trip are paid by the vicariate. Students who complete the camp are given certificates of completion and are encouraged to continue leadership roles in their schools upon their return to Detroit. At Gesu, we further honored these students by creating a bulletin board in the main school hallway to exhibit a leadership poster that they created along with photographs memorializing the event.
- Declamation Contest: The winners of our school’s annual Declamation Contest are immediately recognized on stage and presented with certificates acknowledging their success.
- Science Fair: At the annual Science Fair, all students who submit a project receive a Participant ribbon acknowledging their effort in assembling a project. The winners receive First, Second and Third Place Ribbons and their names and placement are announced over the public address system.
- IOWA Test Improvement Party: The grade that accomplishes the greatest increase in IOWA test scores from the previous year enjoys a free pizza party.
- Math Counts: Students who participate in this after-school program have an opportunity to win recognition at the regional event.
- City of Detroit Angels’ Night Oratorical and Poster Contest: Students at all grade levels are encouraged to participate in this annual event. In October 2006, approximately forty Gesu students participated and three of them won prizes for placing first, second and third place in the junior high division. First prize this year was a computer, second place was an ipod and third place was $100.00.
- Young Authors: Gesu students are encouraged to submit original literary works to Young Authors. Students who work meet the criteria of this program are rewarded by having their piece published in the annual Young Authors’ book.
These student recognitions also are a reflection of the care and dedication of our staff, the student’s families and all those who support our students and school. Therefore, it is equally important to recognize their accomplishments too so that they know that they are truly a part of the Gesu community and that their efforts are appreciated. Teachers and parents, other family members and friends of Gesu are always recognized for their accomplishments and support at our annual end-of-the year all school assemblies. Seven scholarships are given out annually to our students in honor of deceased members of our community who significantly contributed to the academic excellence of Gesu School over the years.
We recognize the academic accomplishments of our alumni, many of whom are now parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of our current student body. The Wall of Fame in the main hallway of the school showcases the numerous occupational fields our alumni have chosen to pursue. This Wall of Fame serves as reminder to all of the importance of the hard work ethic and high academic standards that are a vital part of the philosophy of Gesu School.
Teacher accomplishments are generally recognized directly to the individual teacher through our staff social committee and at faculty meetings by our principal. Last year one of our teachers received a Toyota Tapestry Environmental Science Grant in the sum of $10,000 to enable her fourth, fifth and sixth grade science classes to construct and maintain a community fruit, vegetable and flower garden. The culmination of that grant and project was celebrated this fall with a “Salsa Party” to which the Gesu community was invited. Students, families, parishioners, staff and neighbors came together to enjoy delicious foods made from fruits and vegetables that were grown in the garden. The entire community honors our teachers at a special Mass at the beginning of the school year and during Catholic Schools Week.
One of our proudest moments was the result of the efforts of our entire community; our school became fully accredited several years ago by the Michigan Association of Public Schools. The rigorous review of our school, and in particular our academic standards and achievements, by the accreditation team brought to fruition the dreams and hard work of Gesu. We celebrated our success with a party inviting the entire Gesu community to enjoy the festivities and be honored. Our accreditation plaque is displayed in the main hallway for everyone to see.
News of our accomplishments, like the accreditation, is disseminated to the community through various mediums. They are often mentioned in the school newsletters, web site, and classroom letters and even in the Gesu Parish bulletin. Articles have been written in the Detroit newspapers and the Michigan Catholic publicizing the achievements of Gesu. And, news of our school has appeared on the Detroit Archdiocesan web site.
Our principal, John Champion, encourages risk taking and excellence in all that we do at Gesu. He has been the driving force behind our goal of maintaining high standards and having all students be successful at Gesu School. He keeps us focused on the schools mission of providing each student with a quality education in a Christian atmosphere.
When he first came to Gesu four years ago, his first task was to revamp the school’s curriculum by aligning it with the national standards in Math, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. Using a program called Curriculum Planner, he created a curriculum based on national standards for not only Gesu School, but all the Detroit city Catholic schools. He has guided us through the process of understanding and effectively using the standards in our lesson planning.
Realizing that curriculum can sometimes be overwhelming for teachers, Mr. Champion began working on ways to make lesson planning and keeping track of what standards were taught and when they were taught easier for our staff. He has created a software program called Curriculum Champion that gives teachers the ability to align their lessons with our curriculum with the simple “drag and drop” feature of a computer. The Archdiocese of Detroit was so impressed with the program that they purchased it for their other city schools. In addition, his program received state-wide recognition when he was invited to have an exhibitor’s booth to present his software to the public and be a guest speaker on curriculum at the annual MANS (Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools) conference in October 2006.
But, it is the input and feedback from the Gesu staff that is helping to make our curriculum stronger and better aligned with the national standards. And, it is this same input and feedback that helped Mr. Champion create and perfect his software. The teachers have tested the various prototypes of his software over the past two years and have given him suggestions on how to improve it. This is just one example of the kind of teamwork that facilitates problem identification and problem solving at Gesu.
Our principal also understands the need to keep current with technology to help keep our academic program strong. With the help of Department of Education of the Archdiocese of Detroit, he has found resources to enable the school to purchase laptop computers for all our teachers and palm pilots. We also have two Smart Boards, and two projectors. One of those Smart Boards came to us through the efforts of our eighth grade teacher. John Champion also helps his staff become comfortable with technology and encourages the staff to help one another troubleshoot problems. You can walk through our building after school and see teachers and staff members helping one another with everything from computer hardware issues to how to find certain information on the internet to how to create a teacher page on our web site.
The administration’s office has an open door policy. As a result, the staff feels comfortable bringing issues and concerns to the immediate attention of the principal. The administration firmly believes in bringing all the concerned parties together as quickly as possible to attempt to resolve or reach a consensus on how to address the matter. But, it also believes in empowering the staff to take on leadership roles and attempt to resolve issues on their own first.
Students are involved several ways in school operations and activities. First of all, our eighth graders have chosen the following types of service jobs: assisting in the preschool and kindergarten during lunch time, helping teachers by making copies, setting-up classroom materials, organizing classroom supplies, etc., playing with younger students during recess, eating with younger students during lunch, and cleaning tables after lunch. The administration and teachers talk with the students to get their feedback on how the service job is going. The program helps build community and gives these students a real sense of what it takes to make a community work. Another example of student involvement is the mission of our students who attended the leadership conference this year; they have decided to take on school spirit. They started with making public address announcements several times per week to get students excited about selling raffle tickets for the school’s annual fundraiser known as G.A.L.A. (Gesu Academic Learning Auction).
The G.A.L.A. was developed by a group of Gesu parents in response to a need to find additional funding to bridge the gap between tuition and the actual cost of educating a student at our school. This is a great example of parents feeling empowered to help find a solution and carry the project forward to its conclusion. The organizing committee alone consisted of over 28 volunteers. The third annual G.A.L.A. will be held in early December, 2009.
The process of putting together this grant application was the result of collaboration between administration, teachers, parents and parishioners. The application was broken down into sections, and the parties were surveyed to get their input into what evidence should go into it. Then the assistant principal met with the parties to get further clarification of the evidence. She then used the information to assemble a rough draft of the application. She also spoke with various students about such items as student recognition, service and their impressions of our community involvement piece. The rough draft was critiqued and revised by the parties. The final draft was then submitted to the principal for his review. Final revisions were again made by the assistant principal and copies of the final application were disseminated to all the parties and the entire Gesu staff.