The student and teacher disconnect: Learning in Michigan Schools

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By Stephanie Hernandez McGavin
The Meridian Times

While constant debates surround the finances and tested measurements that contribute to student success, the teachers and students themselves sat down to talk about what actually goes on inside school walls.

Everett High School senior Matthew Mercado said that any education, despite a lack of resources or new technology, is successful because of teachers. Mercado said success is based on student aspiration which, he said, is the result of receiving an equal education in resources and teacher efforts.

Mercado said, “I don’t think students value education because of the distribution of the resources. If we’re getting raggedy books and the teacher is not really engaging us, of course I’m going to have an attitude. I don’t feel like I’m being cared about. I don’t feel like I’m being respected.”

Mercado said that the line between passion and apathy is drawn between students on the Advanced Placement track and students taking the core classes. He said engaging teachers and better resources tend to not be used on students who show little interest in higher education and remain in basic core classes.

“In AP classes, I feel like I’m held in a very high esteem. The school is like, ‘OK, you guys are it. You guys are the good group. You guys are the golden crop and the rest of them are sewn in there as well,’” said Mercado. “In my AP class, we have more than enough books, but there almost wasn’t enough students to make the class actually exist.”

Hear what Matthew has to say:

Davison High School senior Jeremy Gartee agreed with Mercado saying a lot of the success of students depends on the students’ willingness to learn and the teachers’ ability to carry students along.

Gartee said, “Teachers try and motivate their students and the majority of students aren’t very enthused about school, but the students that want to be the best see it as a way to become better each and every day.”

Gartee used his English teacher as an example of an engaging and exciting teacher. Gartee said she managed to engage her students not only on a personal level through her kindness, but also on an educational level by teaching them material with real-life connections.

Everett high school math teacher Deborah Carl said a lot of the things that contribute to this worthwhile teaching and learning environment are priceless.

Carl said the number one things that matters in a student’s life is having a family that values education. Carl said, in addition to the pricelessness of family, is teacher training and experience.

“That takes years of experience to be able to handle all the myriad of things that you have to handle during the day. You’re supposed to be the parent, the counselor—you take on every hat possible for that student,” said Carl.

For Carl, giving every student the opportunity to make their high school years important, even if they do not want to continue onto higher education, is of utmost importance. Carl said this means letting the students know they are valued.

“I make my concerns and expectations known. In those first weeks I let them know that I am there if they need me.” said Carl. “They see you during the year and they know that you care about them. A lot of the kids that don’t want to be in high school will come to your class because they know you care about them.”

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