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The secret to her child’s success in Detroit schools was getting involved, letting teachers know ‘that we were partners.’

Shawness Woods-Zende, a Detroit parent and instructional coach, shares her experience in the Detroit schools story booth.
Shawness Woods-Zende, a Detroit parent and instructional coach, shares her experience in the Detroit schools story booth.

While most of the headlines about Detroit public schools focus on the district’s many challenges, Shawness Woods-Zende says her daughter “reaped the benefits of being a student in Detroit.”

The secret to her daughter’s success? Making sure her parents were involved in her school.

“One of the most important things that we did when she was a student was to make sure we were very involved in the schools that she attended,” said Woods-Zende, an instructional coach whose daughter graduated and went on to Howard University.

“We wanted to build a relationship with the teachers,” she said. “We wanted to assure them that we thought her education was important and we wanted to let them know that we were partners.”

Woods-Zende shared her Detroit school experience in a story booth outside the School Days storytelling event that was sponsored in March by Chalkbeat and the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers at the Charles H. Wright Museum.

The event brought educators, parents and a student together to tell their stories on stage at the Wright but it also invited other Detroiters to share their stories in a booth set up by Chalkbeat and the Skillman Foundation. (Skillman also supports Chalkbeat. Learn more about our funding here.)

If you have a story to tell — or know someone who does — please let us know.

Watch Woods-Zende’s full story here:

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