You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Learning will get more hands-on, technology-based at Ypsilanti Middle School

By Danny Shaw


New Tech High School Director Cory McElmeel talks during an assembly of 10th-graders on the first day of class on Sept. 6 at New Tech High School in Ypsilanti.

Angela J. Cesere |

Ypsilanti Middle School students will have the option to participate in a more hands-on, project- and technology-based curriculum this fall.

YMS will be among the first middle schools in the nation to adopt New Tech Network’s national education model, which is the model used at Ypsilanti’s New Tech High School at Ardis.

Cory McElmeel, New Tech at Ardis director, said the project-based learning is quite a bit different than the traditional school model.

“Students are problem solving on their own,” McElmeel said. “We’re thinking forward and wanting to enhance our educational practices, and this is it.”

New Tech Network, a national nonprofit organization, guides the school’s curriculum; it is interactive project-based learning with an added emphasis on technology. Classroom instruction is more group-oriented and classrooms will have iMac workstations for student use.

Students will have access to NTN Echo, a Web portal where they can receive and turn in assignments online and share instructional materials. Teachers will also have the option to use videoconferencing, through programs like Skype, to coach students off-site.

McElmeel said students and teachers also will use iPads for educational applications, video and audio recording and video editing, which they could share on Echo. Interactive whiteboards, digital overhead document cameras and use of New Tech at Ardis' video production room and equipment also highlight the tech-centric changes.

According to the New Tech Network’s 2009-2010 national statistics, 42 high schools in nine states use the education model and they project to have nearly 90 by the end of 2012.


Ypsilanti's New Tech High School was named one of 30 national demonstration sites in 2011 and will serve as a model school for districts considering implementing a New Tech school.

Angela Cesere |

Jennifer Martin, Ypsilanti Public Schools assistant superintendent, said there are only two New Tech middle schools in the nation. Ypsilanti Middle School will be one of two in Michigan beginning this fall.

Ypsilanti parent Daisy Mull has a child going into the middle school this fall, and said she couldn't be more excited to see the New Tech model coming to YMS. Her older daughter attended New Tech at Ardis as a freshman.

“We had such a good experience at the high school with the teachers and the staff,” Mull said. “It’s a bigger opportunity for the students. I’m really optimistic.”

Mull said she thinks the hands-on learning experience coupled with the project-based assignments “give the students a renewed interest and a renewed energy in learning.”

Superintendent Dedrick Martin said he thinks the district will be setting a trend and paving the way for other area schools to start a program he considers the educational model of the future.

The technology-centric learning model better matches the tech-savvy generation in schools today, Martin said. He said starting students in the New Tech model at a younger age creates an easier transition into New Tech high schools.

New Tech at Ardis adopted the national model in fall 2010 and has shown enrollment growth every year, he said. The school will be adding an additional 125 freshman and 20 sophomores this fall.

The current budget for the 2012-2013 school year will not increase to allocate for the program, according to Jennifer Martin, and will have a budget of $15,000 for the first year of the program.

“This is not increasing expenditures in any way,” she said. “We are redistributing the technology, budget and grant dollars so it doesn’t cost anything more.”

The New Tech program will be lottery-based for enrollment, allowing 75 seventh-graders and 45 eighth-graders the first year. Jennifer Martin said applications will be available in March.

The program will take over one of the school’s three wings and will be supplementing the current YMS education model. She said the district expects to have a K-12 New Tech alignment plan in place by 2016.

Contact reporter Danny Shaw at 734-623-2544 or



Tue, Mar 6, 2012 : 6:39 p.m.

This sounds like a great opportunity for children who are more hands on then fact based. Wish mine was heading into middle. I might consider it. But alas, more into the throes of hi school. Good luck to the incoming 6.