Royal Oak working on new after-school education opportunities for students

By: Mike Koury | Royal Oak Review | Published July 12, 2023

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


ROYAL OAK — In the midst of summer break, school districts often will take time to make changes to improve buildings and curricula.

Royal Oak Schools is no different, though the district isn’t making any big building changes or improvements as in years past.

Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick said there still is some work from the district’s 2017 $59.9 million bond that’s being finished up. The work is smaller than what’s been worked on during the last couple of years, but she said it’s important work, such as installing new boilers in some of the buildings.

“It’s necessary to keep the buildings running appropriately and, again, it’s not as visible to the community, but certainly is absolutely necessary to keeping the buildings up to date for the winter months,” she said.

Outside of infrastructure improvements, Fitzpatrick said the biggest project the district is working on this summer is using the section 11t equalization funds for at-risk students that were given to address the learning loss from COVID-19.

“We’ll do as much as we can during … the school day to provide support for students, but we know that actual tutoring, partnerships with some of our community agencies, like the Science Center and Cranbrook or the DIA, will help us create partnerships to enhance student learning.”

One such partnership the district has is with Lego. The district is using Lego sets for STEM programming.

“We’re running after-school workshops for kids learning how to program and code and build systems using the Lego products,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re continuing that for next year.”

Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Joe Youanes said the district is working on a full week of STEM for a camp focused on Lego. He also said that the district is working with the Cranbrook Institute of Science on after-school opportunities.

Youanes said a big part of what they’re doing is trying to create opportunities for students outside of school, including with the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“We’re kind of in the midst of planning and organizing things (with Cranbrook and the DIA),” he said. “We don’t have official dates yet, but we’re hoping to follow the same pattern that we did with the Lego STEM robotics program, (which) is to bring a community partnership program into the schools to give kids an opportunity at each of our elementary buildings to ... engage with this work.”

Right now, the only program running, said Youanes, is the Lego robotics camp, but the aim for the district is to roll out plans with Crambrook and the DIA in the fall.