Ben Mitchell grew up in a devout household in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan where emphasis was placed on helping others.
He traveled with his father to places such as Kenya and Peru on short-term medical missions. When he was in Kenya, a missionary explained that engineers have the greatest potential to influence the largest number of people. During high school, Ben participated in a youth mission trip to Tijuana. A result of the mission trips, his family decided to adopt three Vietnamese children when he was a junior.
All of these experiences had a great influence on Ben’s outlook on life. He decided to major in mechanical engineering and enrolled at Lake Superior State University. Near the end of his senior year, he decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps to help others.
His two-year commitment began in the fall of 2007 and took Ben to Burkina Faso in western Africa. He resides in the village of Tansila, population 3,000, approximately 10 km from the Mali border. His host organization is the local cotton growers union. It works cooperatively with other villages to improve and expand their production techniques. He serves as an agribusiness advisor as a part of the Small Enterprise Development program which helps create market linkages and assists with the advancement of business skills.
WAY Academy of Flint
Changing lives by creating engaging and
encouraging educational opportunities for all young people
WAY offers an alternative approach to education;
one that encourages self-esteem, independence, and the development
of 21st century global and career skills. We aim to make every young person a hero.
Celebrating First-time Events at WAY Academy West Campus!
Students took the Northwest Evaluation Association
(NWEA) MAP assessment for the second time this
school year. The amount of growth made the need for
celebration a must! Student growth was outstanding,
with many doubling and tripling their projected
targets. The entire school celebrated with an Ice
Cream Extravaganza. The choices of Oreos and Chip-
Ahoy Cookies, Butter Fingers, Chocolate, Strawberry,
and Caramel Syrup, Marshmallows, Whipped Cream, M&M's, Sprinkles, and Vanilla and Chocolate Ice
Cream, gave everyone the opportunity to create an
Ice Cream Sundae of their dreams! One student when
asked what contributed to their 16-point increase in
Mathematics stated, "I really paid attention this year,
and working with Veronica (math teacher) helped a
lot." The same student also stated that they enjoyed
working on the math projects.
It has been overwhelming - the amount of excitement
and pride students have expressed in getting their
hands dirty. While the work has not been easy, with the
guidance of teacher Stephanie Current, both middle
and high school students began working diligently to
establish our first school garden. Mrs. Current feels,
"Students are learning how to be responsible and take
ownership of something that can impact them in the
future. They are learning a skill that is being forgotten
in many communities. This experience will stay with
them for many years."
The experience is pairing well with our Project-
Based approach to learning, by providing real-world
connections for the entire teaching staff to plan crosscurricular
projects. We are thankful for the Don Bosco
Community Group, Ready-Set-Grow, headed by Carl
Thomas, for sharing the area with us. The group
has partnered to share the costs involved in making
the garden a point of pride for the Cody-Rouge
Middle and high school students held the First
Annual Poetry Night on 3rd of June, remembering
and honoring the late-great Dr. Maya Angelou.
Students read their original poetry in person, while
others participated by having their poetry presented
through a digitally recorded slideshow. Students
were able to sit and observe audience reactions, while
maintaining a sense of anonymity. Many of these
students were so overcome with pride at the audience
reactions that they have since created a poetry club.
The club is entirely student-led and headed by middle
school student, Leniya Young. English-Language Arts
teacher, Kim Clark, who organized the event stated, "I
have no doubt that this event created a new passion
for the spoken word."
Detroit Parent Network: Creating a Network of Support
for Students and Parents
Detroit Parent Network is a
premier parent organization that
transforms parents to make
Detroit a better place to raise and
educate our children.
WAY Academy is excited
about their new partnership
with Detroit Parent Network.
Detroit Parent Network offers
workshops to our students
and gives them practical tools,
written materials and leadership
development. DPN works with
our young parents to instill selfesteem
and the core parenting
skills that will help them to
create a better future for their
children. The organization has
serviced 28,000 parents this year
alone and is rapidly expanding.
This month at WAY Academy
our researchers attended a Love
and Logic training that focused
on raising responsible children
and identifying individualized
solutions for parents. Students
learned how to teach personal
responsibility and respect, how
to avoid enabling and begin
empowering, and how to set
enforceable limits. WAY has
partnered with Detroit Parent
Network to create a culture for
parent involvement, both from
our students as parents and also
from the parents of our students.
Part of WAY’s mission is to help
parents to remove barriers in
their lives. We believe that this
partnership will be powerful
for students moving forward.
In order to gain the support of
parents, it is important to be a
good listener, to considerately
schedule parenting workshops
and to help parents remove the
barriers in their lives that keep
them from moving forward.
Parents are better caregivers
when they are able reflect and set
personal goals for themselves.
WAY Academy believes that
families are the best advocates
for their children. Improving the
leadership skills of interested
parents will help them give
more to their neighborhoods
and schools. After attending
a recent workshop, one of our
parents stated, "WAY's parent
sessions have helped me to
reduce the stress in my life
and in my home. I feel more
confident in preparing my
children to apply for and attend
college. I also feel like I have
stronger relationships with the
teachers here at WAY Academy
than I have at any other school."
Having a powerful network of
parents behind our students
is essential to their success.
WAY works with Detroit
Parenting Network to provide
small grants for parenting
projects as well as internship
opportunities with a small paid
stipend. Parents consistently
provide positive feedback
regarding these workshops.
With such high parental
involvement and support for
students to concentrate on their
individual goals as parents, we
are investing in the continued
success of WAY researchers.
A Cirque Experience of a Lifetime
Roll right up and see before your very eyes how a
woeful widget factory becomes a frolicsome funhouse
in Birdhouse Factory, which ran at The Whiting in
Flint, as part of the Health Alliance Plan Family Series.
Created and directed by Chris Lashua, the originator
of the German Wheel act in Cirque du Soleil’s
Quidam, and featuring veterans of the Pickle Family
and Moscow Circuses, Birdhouse Factory uses a
decidedly fresh aesthetic to showcase their highflying,
mind-boggling talent. Birdhouse factory
has wowed audiences worldwide from a critically
acclaimed off Broadway run and US tour to highly
successful European tour and performances in Dubai
and Hong Kong.
Assembly workers became ecstatic with aerial
ambition, crane operators twist and transmute
into strange and silly shapes, and gravity-defying
mechanics ignite endless "oohs" and "aahs" when
unexpected inspiration flies into their world.
Birdhouse Factory was in part by the masterful
industry murals of Mexican artist Diego Rivera, the
outrageous illustrations of cartoonist Rube Goldberg,
and the slap-stick style humor of Charlie Chaplin's
film "Modern Times."
Researchers from the WAY Academy of Flint never
experienced a cirque quite like this one! The day
after this phenomenal and exhilarating performance,
approximately 25 researchers were captivated as
they witnessed first hand a contortionist perform on a
turntable powered by unicyclists, a high-flying trapeze
artist sail through the air, and a trampoline wall artist
seemingly defy the laws of physics.
Working collaboratively with the cast, each researcher
was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform
themselves into high-flying trapeze artists, unicyclists
At WAY Academy of Flint, we provide an amazing
opportunity for all kids. We will continue to offer a
personalized, engaging, high-quality curriculum that
is project-based that inspires our kids to be creative,
innovative, and successful.
Sharon L. Miller, Director
WAY Academy of Flint
Political Science ...
"The study of political science/law is basically the path of least resistance for me. It is a subject that has always interested me, and one that I have proved to be naturally insightful in. Studying political science isn’t just the study of how governments function or how it is composed, but the study of why it exists and to what ends. In short, it is the study of what makes everything else possible."