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Posted on Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Work Skills Corporation opening new charter alternative high school in Ypsilanti

By Katrease Stafford

Work Skills Corporation will be opening a new alternative charter high school, WSC Academy, in Ypsilanti this fall to service “underprivileged” youth on the south side of the city.


Work Skills Academy charter alternative high school will be located at 855 Jefferson St. in Ypsilanti.

Courtesy Photo

Work Skills is a private nonprofit corporation that was established in 1973 to provide employment services to individuals with barriers to employment.

Tina Jackson, senior vice president of Work Skills, said the company began discussing the possibility of opening a charter school in Ypsilanti last year when news came that the charter school cap for authorizers would be lifted.

Things didn’t officially get under way until Work Skills submitted an application to the state of Michigan in January for a planning grant.

Jackson said when Work Skills received word they would be given a grant for $110,000 they began the process of securing an authorizer.

Lake Superior State University became the academy’s authorizer in April.

“Work Skills had already been running education programs for eight years so the opportunity to start a big school in Ypsilanti was a natural move,” Jackson said. “We really want to have a presence in Ypsilanti.”

The school will be located in the old Victory Academy charter school building located at 855 Jefferson St. Victory moved in 2009 to a new location at 1715 E. Forest Ave.

Victory Academy closed earlier this month after the school failed to secure a new authorizer. With the closure of Victory, there are now four charter schools in Ypsilanti including the new WSC Academy.

The building is nearly 14,000 square feet and has eight classrooms, four administrative offices and a full high school-size gymnasium.

Work Skills already has two other academy locations in Brighton and Hazel Park. In 2011, 54 of the students at those locations progressed to a level of graduation or GED preparation. Of that number, 14 graduates are planning to enroll in college or vocational training programs. The remaining students planned to enter the military or enter the work force.

WSC Academy Principal Portia Davis-Mann said the school already is in the process of accepting applications but she declined to say how many they have received thus far. Jackson said WSC began receiving applications in May.

Davis-Mann plans to have 150 students enrolled at the school.

”There’s a greater need,” Davis-Mann said. “We have a lot of students that have dropped out. The need is to get these kids graduated. That’s what WSC is all about.”

Deb Mozurkewich, Northfield Township supervisor and WSC Academy board member, said the school will serve a “major purpose.”

“The goal is to get them to move onto even higher education after that,” Mozurkewich said.

Davis-Mann said the academy is an opportunity for students who are in a variety of situations to recover credits to graduate and obtain a high school diploma. The academy also will be offering a GED prep program.

“We’re working with students who are behind because of medical issues, students who had bullying issues and some who just don’t do well in big schools,” she said.

The academy does not have residency requirements, so students living in different cities can register.

“It’s imagined the bulk of people would be from nearby, and the Ypsilanti school is slightly different population based than Brighton,” Mozurkewich said. “The school in Ypsilanti will be serving more underprivileged children and children with special needs.”

Students are required to have finished the eighth grade in order to enroll and must be between the ages of 14 and 19. Qualified students must be non-graduates under the age of 20 as of Sept. 1.

The staff will cater to students, Davis-Mann said, and the student ratio will be 1:10 per teacher to assure each student gets individualized attention.

“We don’t plan to be in the office just doing paperwork,” she said. “Every person will bring their own gift.”

The school has seven staff members including two certified teachers and a guidance counselor. In addition to the paid staff, the school has 15 “business professional” volunteers that will assist in teaching. They will contribute two to four hours per week.

Davis-Mann said she has been the local community since 1968 and has acquired a number of contacts willing to help young adults.

“I approached a lot of different business people and organizations I know and asked if they would be involved,” she said.

Davis-Mann is hoping to strike a relationship with the area colleges and universities such as Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College.

“We have so many colleges that are close to use and yet we don’t have a lot of opportunity for our students to connect with that,” she said. “Our hope is those (college) students come and invest. I’m hoping to have some collaborations there. I think these (WSC) kids are going to be the ones to come back and open doors in Ypsilanti.”

Katrease Stafford covers the city of Ypsilanti for Reach her at You can also follow her on Twitter.



Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 7:16 a.m.

Ok so most of these "comments" have some-what insilted me, I go to the brighton campus and so far its the greatest school ive been to, i am along with everyone else are completely capable of getting help on anything we need it on, its the first school i have actually enjoyed going to, the teachers are great and not all the students but most of them are nice to be around, the whole school is a pleasent envirement to be in, and its a great fix to mine and many other students attention problems, instead of sitting in kne classroom listening to a single teacher and have to wait till they are free to get help, we sit on a computer listening and actually taking in what we see and hear, if i could rate this school between 1-5 id give it a perfect score

greg, too

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

"We really want to have a presence in Ypsilanti." Sounds like it's a McDonalds, not a school.

Bianca Victor, Education Coordinator

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

WSC Academy-Ypsilanti Campus is working with a student population NOT currently served by ANY state funds. Educating youth is critical to our community, our economy and our future as a whole.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

I am confused. The article states that they hope to have 150 students enrolled by fall and will provide a 1:10 per teacher ratio to assure each student gets individualized attention, yet it also states that they have only 7 staff members including 2 certified teachers and a guidance counselor. By my calculations that is about 21 students per staff member or 75 students per certified teacher. 15 volunteer "business professionals" contributing 2-4 hours per week only adds a maximum of 60 hours of additional adult mentoring. I must be missing something. Willow Run and Ypsilanti Schools have both begun offering state-of-the-art New Tech STEM programs which, given a few years to take root, will truly provide our students with a competitive edge.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

And people want to know why students are leaving Ypsilanti and willow run schools?

Basic Bob

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 3:28 a.m.

It's good to see the kids have a place to go when the public school system gives up.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

I would caution Work Skills to be very careful with the State's Planning Grant. It's not what it seems and the process will take forever. It will become more of a hindrance than a help.

Dog Guy

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

"The school will be located in the old Victory Academy charter school building." A charter school can quickly fill a need as well as an empty building. In contrast, with its stratified Balas hierarchy, union rules, and increasingly hereditary teaching staff, AAPS lacks the flexibility necessary for efficient and effective educating. But, because children have a basic need for consistency, the torpitude (I do not mean turpitude this time.) of AAPS administrators is of benefit. No child will attend the same Work Skills Academy or Victory Academy that his parents attended and there will be no homecoming dance.

Angry Moderate

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Children have a basic need for safe schools with competent teachers. They do not have a basic need to attend the same school as their parents (huh?), especially when that school is failing.

Glen S.

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 11:21 a.m.

At the very same time our public schools are being starved for funds by the state, why is a private group able to apply for (and receive) $110,000 of OUR taxpayer dollars to facilitate opening another "charter" to compete with YPS? Madness ...

Basic Bob

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

Public schools never send money to private companies for things like textbooks, supplies, building maintenance, consultants, insurance. At least not more than 15% since the rest goes to the unions.

Tom Todd

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

not for profits still funnel lots of money to contractors for work performed services rendered

Angry Moderate

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

P.S. - your tax dollars support private groups every time union dues are withheld from a teacher's paycheck, not to mention every time the government orders an airplane or a pencil sharpener.

Angry Moderate

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

Did you even read the article? The second sentence says "nonprofit."

Glen S.

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

If so-called "charter" schools want to compete with public schools, fine. But I don't see how I should have to support these private, for-profit corporations with my tax dollars.

Angry Moderate

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

The government is giving money to a non-profit school for disadvantaged children, to compete with their horrible, failing school district? What a tragedy!

Tom Todd

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

the buzz word PRIVATE,money to the rich,less trickles down to the staff people who pay little or no tax feel better that the middle class are not getting rich and never were,now have less.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

Because Mr Free Market Rick Snyder is running the asylum.