You may have noticed the ongoing progress of the Flint Cultural Center Academy (FCCA) as it is being constructed on the grounds of the Flint Cultural Center (FCC). The new public charter school will open for its first full year this fall and its new principal and CEO, Eric Lieske, can’t wait to meet the first students. “I’m very eager for the fall of 2019! The school is going to be very different from most of the schools that adults are accustomed to,” he emphatically states. “I have a strong desire, when the school is up and running, to know every child’s name, greet them at the door and set the tone for a school where kids can have a great opportunity to grow. We want to make learning relevant and, in the end, quite rigorous.”
Eric Lieske started his career in education 22 years ago as an elementary school teacher in the Davison School District. He ascended the ranks in the district and spent the last eight years as superintendent. In the end, it was the opportunity to create the FCCA from the ground up that attracted him. “Davison is a great community to work in and it’s very supportive,” he says. “I was happy working in Davison. The district has been very good to me and my family. The chance to create a unique learning environment at the FCCA was just too intriguing to pass up. I’m no different than anyone else in education in that I’m very passionate about teaching children and making a positive impact on their lives.”
FCCA students will find something truly unique at the new school. They will be immersed in the fine performing and visual arts with the institutions of the FCC, as well as STEM curricula. “Kids will receive voice and instrumental instruction with the FIM, learn the visual arts at the FIA, engage in STEM-related opportunities in science, engineering, mathematics and technology at Sloan/Longway, and partake in performances and theater at The Whiting and The Rep,” informs Lieske. Classes held at the Applewood Estate will include horticulture, gardening and environmental science. Children will also have opportunities to learn digital literacy, print literacy and computer coding at the Flint Public Library.
“In five years, I believe this will be a school
that kids feel really special to be a part of …”
The FCCA curriculum will be state-of-the-art, also. The school has adopted the award-winning EL Education curriculum protocols for literacy in grades K-5. This program received the highest literacy score from EdReports. It includes aspects of science, social studies and community/civic engagement with a strong character focus. To learn more about it, visit ELeducation.org. The FCCA will also provide education opportunities for Special Education students.
Extracurricular activities will be determined at a future date, but Lieske expects them to include arts, music, engineering, robotics and athletics. The FCCA will work with the programs that already exist in Flint. “It will depend on the best fit,” he says.
Learning at the FCCA will not be a passive endeavor, but a very active process. Children will be engaged in hands-on learning and instruction in the types of skills that make successful adults. “Think of a classroom and it’s easy to think of it as a boat – the teacher drives the boat and the kids are along for the ride. That’s not what we want,” explains Lieske. “We want the kids to be part of the crew – raising sails, dropping anchor and navigating with the teacher.”
FCCA enrollment will be taken February 11 through April 26, and is open to children in grades K-5. Maximum enrollment for the first year is set at 300 students or 50 students per grade, with class sizes of approximately 25. If more children apply than there is space for in any grade, an outside auditing firm will conduct a blind lottery for placement. Those not accepted in the first year will be placed on a waiting list. The FCCA wants to keep siblings together, so if a child is accepted into the school, that child’s siblings will also be accepted. In year two, the school will expand to 6th grade and add approximately 25 students to each grade, K-5. The school’s third year will include a 7th grade and the next year, 8th. Parents can apply at fccacademy.org during the enrollment window. The FCCA will be tuition-free, as it will operate as a non-profit, public charter school and will follow the same requirements and guidelines.
Eric Lieske is extremely excited to begin the new endeavor. He believes that it will be an exceptional opportunity for amazing education and bring yet another great thing to the city of Flint. “In five years, I believe this will be a school that kids feel really special to be a part of, and where the staff really enjoys going to work every day,” he continues. “They will feel like they are making a difference and are part of something unique and very special. I believe that people from all over the country will come to visit to see all of the amazing work that is being done in Flint, Michigan.”
For more information, visit fccacademy.org.
Photography by Kayce McClure