Our Stories

Ms. Fiema’s Story

It was July 2007, and I was taking my mother to the school where I had just accepted my first teaching job. We jumped on the freeway, and I could tell that my mother was starting to wonder where we were going as I exited into an urban area twenty minutes from home. I looked out the window and saw abandoned buildings and crumbling homes. My mom asked if this was something I was comfortable with. I had done my student teaching in Detroit, and my mom had been to that previous school, which was housed in the second most impoverished neighborhood in Detroit, but she said this new neighborhood was rougher than she expected. We turned the corner, and there was the old hospital where many friends and family members were born. It was not until I took my mom inside my new school, B.E.S.T. Academy, that she could understand my decision. On the outside, B.E.S.T. is still a hospital, but as you enter the doors, students and families are welcomed by colorful murals, picture collages, and a friendly staff. B.E.S.T. is a sanctuary in the middle of distress and desertion. The students come from many walks of life. B.E.S.T.’s population is 100% free and reduced lunch and quite transient. Some of the children are homeless, others are living with guardians, and some walk miles to get to school, and still others come all the way from the suburbs just to attend B.E.S.T.
I find it so hard to believe that this first journey with my mother was over four years ago. As I look to the future, and my fifth year of teaching, I have found myself reflecting on my experiences. Teaching at B.E.S.T. was one of the best (no pun intended) decisions I have made both professionally and personally. I am one of the lucky people who knew at the age of 22 that I had found my calling: urban education.
My calling is what has inspired me to write this blog. Some of these stories may pull at your heart, and I hope that other stories will make you laugh out loud. The roughly one hundred students that have walked into Room 114 have taught me many lessons and taken me on an incredible journey. I feel that it is time to share our experiences, jokes, heartaches, and unbelievable adventures.

Ms. McDole’s Story

Everyone who knows me will tell you that they never expected that I would be the one who would choose a career that involved little children. Ok, I’ll admit that my patience with children used to be a little “non-existing,” but as I matured, I realized that I had an unexplainable love for children that willed me to want to make a difference in the life of every child that came across my path.  Here is my story:
I was working at Child Time Learning Center as a Lead Preschool Teacher. Every day was a new challenge and even though I enjoyed my job, I felt like there was something missing. Didn’t really feel like the job I was doing made a difference not only to the kids but to the Administration as well.  When a friend of mine left the job to work at a charter school in the outskirts of Detroit, she told me that as soon as she got there and got settled in, she would let me know when there were job openings. The day I got the call that the school was hiring, I was nervous and excited all at the same.
I was given an interview time and date, and mentally prepared myself without knowing what to expect. I have lived in Detroit my whole life so I was not shocked by what I saw in the surrounding neighborhood of the school.  B.E.S.T. Academy sits in the middle of heart breaking disaster. Crumbling homes, burned up buildings, homeless shelters and schools that were abandoned were all within view from the windows of the school. Pulling up to B.E.S.T., you did not know what to expect but once you walked thru the doors of the school, you were amazed. To say the least, the inside of B.E.S.T. is a safe haven for many of the kids that live in the neighborhood. Warm, welcoming, safe, and designed for academic success describes B.E.S.T. Academy. So 5 years later, I’m still here at B.E.S.T. Academy, determined to make a difference in the lives of every student that enters room 114. Along the way, I’ve came across some pretty extraordinary students that I will never forget. As much as I taught them over the years, I have learned just as much from them…never a dull moment in room 114!


  1. Stumbled upon your site from a Pinterest about your 100 chart good behavior incentive chart...I had been feeling discouraged about a handful of special needs/tough behavior students in my 2nd grade class this year. The 6 of them are interrupting and distracting continually. Needless to say, after reading your stories, I feel encouraged. My "Specials" have a lot of issues, but we have a brighter environment/neighborhood...I don't have to work where we need Security personnel. I do love my Specials and I will do my best to help each of them with their Next Steps this year!

  2. Audrey, I'm glad that we were able to encourage you. The "specials" in our classrooms are the ones that need the most attention, and we will make an impact in their lives - even if some days with them feel like a million in one. We're happy that you found our blog!