BY ERIN EINHORN – MAY 30, 2018
A year ago, it was hard for teacher Rynell Sturkey to believe that life in her overcrowded, understaffed, poorly equipped classroom would ever improve.
Sure, her school district, the Detroit Public Schools Community District, was taking what seemed like positive steps. It had a new locally elected school board — after years of state-appointed emergency managers. It had a new superintendent who’d arrived making bold promises about transforming city schools.
But veteran Detroit teachers like Sturkey had been disappointed by hopeful promises before.
This past school year, however, Sturkey has been pleasantly surprised by the improvements. Her first-grade class shrunk to 23 students from a high of 38 two years ago. The district now provides substitutes for absent teachers. Her school, the Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy, has given teachers time to plan lessons. She got a raise. And the new superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, is making a real difference, she said.
“He’s listened to the problems and concerns of the teachers, which has definitely made it better,” she said.
Chalkbeat first met Sturkey last year on May 23rd, Vitti’s first day on the job.
At the time she was dealing with 37 first-graders who never got a break for art or music or gym.