"I firmly believe that, within this group of children, we do have some Langston Hugheses, some Maya Angelous, and some Duke Ellingtons."
The three Cornerstone Schools of Detroit (two elementary and one middle school) are firmly committed to both academic and religious goals. Supported by a coalition of mainline churches and business, industry, labor, community organizations, foundations, parents and citizens, the schools explicitly place "as much importance on learning gospel values and the teachings of Christ as on learning the multiplication tables." The aim: to "turn out good students and good people."
Designed to be interdenominational, the Cornerstone Schools were a response to a challenge issued to Detroit's business leaders in October 1990 by Catholic Archbishop Adam Maida who called on Detroit to reclaim its children and set them on a strong track for life.
Just ten months later, the three schools opened. By 1993-94 they had expanded on a site donated by a Lutheran congregation to an enrollment of 363 students.
The heart of the Cornerstone philosophy is found in its curriculum, its organization of time, and community involvement:
With funding from the Genesis Foundation and partnership income, Cornerstone is able to keep the annual tuition to $1,875. Students are never turned away based on the family's inability to pay. About 60 percent of the enrollment is unable to cover the full tuition and students enroll with their families paying according to ability. Annual per student costs are about $4,000.
Janine Terrell, the mother of two girls attending Cornerstone, told the Commission that her daughters "love going to school here." Her children are not bothered by the fact that they are in school throughout the year since, "they don't know any other way." Dr. Henry told the Commission that public schools could succeed with the Cornerstone model, even without an underpinning of religious values, by "affirming the distinctiveness of every child and inculcating a sense of responsibility in every child."
According to Norma Henry: "I firmly believe that, within this group of children, we do have some Langston Hugheses, some Maya Angelous, and some Duke Ellingtons. We simply need to develop that right side of the brain that allows all of that creativity to emerge. One day, we'll all benefit from the talents that we find."
For more information:
Dr. Norma Henry
12090 Washington Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226