March 10 Voices of Michigan Education Confronts Homeless Stereotypes

PE-281-0114If you think that the Michigan homeless population is best defined by the guy stuffing all his earthly belongings into a stolen grocery shopping cart, think again. On the March 10 edition of the Voices of Michigan Education heard on 760 WJR in Detroit, as well as across the state on the Michigan Education Network, our guests weighed in from the front lines of the state’s homeless issue who dispel what many believe to be the factors definining homelessness.

Based on statistics from a number of private and government sources that show the typical homeless person in the state being a 7-9 year old child, we talked about the dymanics of homelessness and how those who are displaced are surviving. From “couch surfers” to young families living in cars, we were able to put a face on today’s “homeless statistic” and what citizens of the state need to do to lend a hand.  

Joining us in expanding the dialogue were Lighthouse of Oakland County CEO, John Ziraldo, Linda Forward of the State of Michigan’s Office of Education for Homeless Children and Youth, some incredible stories of formerly homeless families who have turned their lives around in Pontiac and Michigan Education Association Vice President, Steve Cook who has done some life-changing work with transient students in the state.  

The March 10, 2009 broadcast is now available in our podcast section.

He was almost a dropout himself…now, he is making it his mission to make sure students succeed in school.

Eric Wood didn’t fit in in high school.

When he wasn’t hiding behind long hair and heavy metal music, he was–he  admits–regularly getting into trouble with his teachers. When he ended his sophomore year suspended and not sure he was welcome back in the fall, his principal told him to look into Mott Middle College High School.

Eric’s decision to enroll there sixteen years ago changed everything, and put him on a path he never could have imagined. No longer the “bad kid” who rarely turned in his work,  Eric found himself embraced…and challenged. At MMC, his teachers weren’t satisfied with him getting enough credits for his high school diploma–here, like everyone else, he was required to take college courses at the same time.

Eric ended up going on for his BA and earning a Master’s degree… quite a turnaround for someone who figured he was destined to become another high school dropout.

So how did it happen? How did Mott Middle College take an at-risk teen and turn him into a highly educated teacher with a passion for giving back? And what can we learn from his story that could help us with the dropout crisis our state is facing?

Listen to WJR Tuesday night at 8pm to hear Eric’s story, and hear how this unique program is turning thousands of lives around…one at a time.