Air date: October 17, 2013
IT BEGAN A DECADE AGO WITH 112 SIXTH GRADERS. TODAY, UNIVERSITY PREP GRADUATES 90 percent of its high schoolers and sends 90 percent of them to college. It does so with a simple philosophy… Ed: There is nothing wrong with the kids. The kids can do it and they have proven they can do it. Ed Parks is the board president of University Prep and a beloved figured around campus. But a decade ago was retiring from Plante Moran the accounting firm. Mitch Albom: How did you end up here instead? Ed: Well uh, I am not very good at golf Thanks to a huge grant from a Plymouth couple named Bob and Ellen Thompson, University Prep could focus it’s resources and teachers and talent. Parks says it is a short list that makes the big difference. Ed: Small class sizes, college prep type curriculum, and obviously teachers with passion. The place looks like a college campus, which helps the kids envision a college future. Extra curriculars help too. PARKS IS PROUD THAT HIS SCHOOL BUCKS THE STEREOTYPE THAT DETROIT SCHOOLS ARE SOMEHOW DOOMED TO MEDIOCRITY. Mitch Albom: What do you enjoy the most about interacting with the students? Ed: Graduation Mitch Albom: Is that your happiest day? Ed: Come on to graduation. When you watch those young men and women graduate and they are going onto college and you see their whole extended family in the Opera House just going crazy it, it beats the Lions. Mitch Albom: (Laughing)…well everybody beats the Lions you know what I mean. Shoot higher. ITS HARD TO SHOOT HIGHER THAN 90 PERCENT. PARKS IS SO BELOVED, THIS MONTH THEY RENAMED THE HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS IN HIS NAME. HE, THIS and UNIVERSITY PREP PROVE THAT EDUCATIONAL IDEALS CAN STILL FLY HIGH IN THE HEART OF DETROIT.