Award Year: 2020

Bemis Elementary School

3571 Northfield Parkway
Troy, MI, 48084-1459

(248) 823-4120

Mr. Jeremey Whan, Principal at time of Nomination

Troy School District

School Website


"All students will learn in a motivating and nurturing school community..."

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 2%
  • White: 29%
  • Hispanic: 3%
  • Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 1%
  • Asian: 64%
  • Native American: 1%
5th Gr. Socratic Seminar: Engage 2 Change Their World

5th Gr. Socratic Seminar: Engage 2 Change Their World

Bemis Elementary School, located in Troy, Michigan, is a school that celebrates diversity as over 40 different languages are spoken. We are a school that is receiving it's second National Blue Ribbon award in the past decade as we have shown 10 years of growth in Math and Literacy from 2010-2020. We attribute this growth to the support from our community, district, students and our approach to create a culture of collective efficacy where all teachers are rooted in best practice through world class professional development. We have partnered with Columbia University Teacher's College, Harvard University Project Zero and New Pedagogical Practices for Deep Learning. These practices have helped us create a cognitively vibrant community for all learners (staff, students and parents) who are immersed in inquiry that provides opportunities for them to be engaged in the world by exploring their questions, developing these ideas and then changing their world by taking action.

It is common at Bemis to see students in Socratic Seminars debating their inquiries and real life issues around multiple topics like "Is America still the land of opportunity?" One would see students studying colonial history, comparing it to current events, interviewing immigrants on why they chose to come to our great country and then observe them in debate sharing their perspectives. One would see our youngest learners leading by connecting incoming Kindergarten students/parents to school via public speaking, sharing their writing and by creating videos that explain their world. Likewise, one would see students exploring our local rivers to study the human impact on our water system and interviewing our local House of Representatives about policy to protect our waterways. They would see students looking through the lens of empathy and to literally step in the shoes of others. Our 4th graders felt the burden of having to walk and carry water around the school to help them understand the challenges of other children from around the world. Our focus is on helping our students learn to take perspective, to build understanding and value all voices.

Our families are supportive and partner with us to create extended learning opportunities. We have innovative parent led programs that has connected our community to our school. Together we create laboratories for exploration. Students learn how to collaborate across networks, to be engaged citizens, to communicate at high levels, to be critical thinkers who are creative problem solvers and finally our students are focused on being great kids of character. All of these things have helped us to create a passionate community of learners who are committed to helping our students become leaders who are engaged in their help them change their world.