“The building used to be a tomato factory. This space was where the trucks would pull up to unload the produce,” Ralph Bland said as he gestured around the large, airy room that is now the cafetorium — the combined cafeteria-auditorium — of Detroit Edison Public Academy School, a PK-12 public charter school in Detroit, Mich.
Bland is DEPSA’s superintendent. This campus he leads consists of one building for pre-K through eighth grade, a separate building for the high school, and a community garden.
It’s picture day. Elementary school students wearing uniforms file by. The kids wave to Bland or reach out to shake his hand.
“The pre-K to second graders wear red ties, the rest of the elementary school wears plaid, and the middle school wears black,” Bland explains. “It makes it easy to spot someone who isn’t in the right place.”
This type of thoughtful design permeates the entire school. The environment is deliberately crafted to encourage excellence through structure and rigor. It’s a warm place, but it’s also an environment designed to promote scholarship.
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