Partnering with local organizations to provide engaging recreational opportunities for students
At Woodhaven-Brownstown School District (WBSD), we value the community partners that step forward to collaborate with us as we bring growth and development opportunities to our students. Sometimes our partners provide us with funding to purchase materials for classroom activities while others, like the Brownstown Recreation Department and Woodhaven Recreation Department, organize events and after-school activities to keep students’ minds and bodies active.
Brownstown Recreation Department
WBSD and the Brownstown Parks and Recreation Department have a long-time partnership that extends over three decades, from working together to host activities for students to offering part-time jobs and volunteering opportunities.
“We value the partnership with the school district because we can share great programs with all students,” said Brownstown Parks and Recreation Director Teresa Graves. “Students are also able to be involved with us in a bigger way. For example, Woodhaven High School’s National Honor Society members volunteer at our Halloween events. It’s special to see students grow together while supporting their community.”
The Brownstown Recreation Department offers several programs popular among WBSD students, including teen archery, karate and little league.
As a school district split between two cities, the recreation departments also collaborate.
“Collaborating with the Woodhaven Recreation Department gives us a greater connection to the community,” Graves said. “We are able to work together to advertise programs the departments may not offer. As a result, we reach more people and offer a larger selection of opportunities for all community members.”
Woodhaven Recreation Department
The Woodhaven Recreation Department has been a trusted partner of the district for more than 40 years. Most notably, the department works with WBSD to organize summer programming for students. In the early years of the summer program, Woodhaven Recreation Department organized the events while borrowing buildings and fields from the district to use as activity spaces. In 2021, the partnership between WBSD and the recreation department grew as the school district developed its own summer programming initiatives to give students even more options for their summer programming. Today, instead of only providing outdoor activities, classrooms are open for intervention.
Before joining forces, the summer programming had about 350 participants. Since 2021, there have been upwards of 850 students participating from WBSD and other students in the area. The new program combines outdoor activities with indoor intervention to decrease learning loss and increase understanding, friendship and community. Students identified by the district as needing summer intervention are able to attend summer programming at no cost. There is a registration fee for all other students to attend the program.
Mike Schmittou, director of the Woodhaven Recreation Department, said the summer program has been so successful he is getting inquiries from across the state with requests to share how the program works and what makes it successful.
“It’s great because, in addition to serving hundreds of students during the summer months, we also get to employ WBSD students,” Schmittou said. “Many of our workers were once enrolled in the summer programming themselves. The teenagers we hire can match the younger kids’ energy and relate well.”
In addition to the summer program, the department and WBSD also join forces to host a youth basketball program. In six years, the program has grown from 80 to 300 WBSD students. These teams are comprised of students from the same school building.
“We built the basketball teams to resemble that of the students’ community,” Schmittou said. “Students get to play with their classmates and friends rather than against a group of kids they might not know. Doing so helps builds community and school spirit among students.”