In a few years, there may not be any students taking jewelry class in Detroit Public Schools Community District. Fewer and fewer teacher credential programs offer jewelry making as a class, and as a result teachers do not have the necessary training to teach a jewelry class.
Cass Tech offers the only jewelry class in DPSCD. This class is offered to interested tenth, 11th, and 12th graders.
For the last 17 years under art teacher Mindy Mitchell, jewelry students at Cass Tech have had the opportunity to create various jewelry pieces throughout the year. At times opening students' minds to various career paths.
“There are so many careers that students aren’t aware of like prosthetics," Mitchell said.
She clarified that the same thought process students are taught to use in the class while designing jewelry could be used in working with designing prosthetics..
For some students, jewelry class was the first opportunity that they got to work with metals like copper, silver and gold and tools like torches, sawblades and files.
Senior Sheridan Wheeler said that prior to taking Mitchell's class she had never wielded metals before.
Student Chole Owens said jewelry class gave her the opportunity to build on her existing jewelry designing skills.
“I was interested in making my own thing cause I feel that I can design my own stuff. I think it was a good class for me,” Owens said.
Mitchell said that watching students grow in their design skills throughout the years has definitely been a highlight for her in the classroom.
“It's empowering to see the kids say ‘I get it’.and then it makes my job a lot easier,” Mitchell said.
When Sheridan found out that jewelry class wouldn’t be offered in the years to come she was deeply saddened.
“Wow, I didn't know that. I think it is a really important class. It is different from everything other schools offer and Cass offers. … that's sad," Wheeler said.