Creativity. College. Career. It all starts here.

HFA: SCS is the only tuition-free school in Detroit created for teens who are passionate about visual arts. Today it is Detroit’s premier art and design middle | high school, where young people develop the foundation they need to be successful in college and dynamic careers, including those in visual arts and design. 

Our Curriculum

The world is in need of creative problem solvers, innovative thinkers who can produce new ideas and come up with new solutions. Students at HFA: SCS study everything required by the State of Michigan as outlined in the Michigan Curriculum Framework. In addition, they learn the processes and ways of approaching problems of “design thinkers.”  This means that they have many experiences exploring real-life problems and learning a specific way to understand and solve those problems.  This allows students to apply the skills and information they are learning in their other studies in an interesting and real way.

Art and Design: Each year, every student takes art and design as a part of the core curriculum. Our partner, the College for Creative Studies (CCS), provides dual enrollment opportunities for our most advanced students who are interested in pursuing post-secondary art studies. Students also have the opportunity to incorporate art and design in to their other subject area classes through various projects. 

Science: At HFA: SCS, science concepts and skills are taught by “doing science.” Based on the State of Michigan Curriculum Framework, these science units are organized to allow young people to carry out investigations, talk and write about their observations and understandings, and discuss ways to test them. They learn scientific concepts by doing what scientists do.

English Language Arts: HFA: SCS students develop their reading and writing skills using the Oakland MAISA Common Core Curriculum. This curriculum embeds students in a Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop framework where lessons are student centered and focus on explicitly taught strategies, teacher modeling, peer collaboration, focused practice, self-reflection, and student-teacher conferencing.

Math: Our middle school curriculum is Connected Mathematics, a problem-centered, inquiry-based program which focuses on developing students’ ability to reason and communicate proficiently by strengthen math knowledge, understanding, and skill through mathematical discourse and problem solving. Our high school math curriculum is Carnegie Learning, which is designed to raise students’ math knowledge through a combination of classroom activities, adaptive software, and teacher professional development.

Social Studies: Social studies at HFA: SCS is based on the Oakland Scope/MAISA Common Core Curriculum. The units build upon each other and provide opportunities for students to make arguments about cause-effect relationships, turning points, and continuity and change over time. We also offer an AP Government course for students who excel.

Physical Education and Health: In health, students learn through the Michigan Model for Health, a comprehensive, skills-based health education curriculum that addresses the major youth health risk behaviors at every grade level, with age-appropriate instructional activities. In physical education, students learn and practice movement and motor skills, content knowledge and vocabulary, and personal/social behaviors and values.

Spanish: High school students take two years of Spanish with the opportunity to take a third. They learn Spanish language and culture through experiencing both components. Hands on activities are frequent. Students also have the opportunity to speak, read, and write Spanish daily. Students participate in several cultural events throughout the course of the year such as Cinco de Mayo and Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Design Thinking: HFA: SCS students learn Design Thinking through a variety of experiences and challenges each year. These activities give students the opportunity to innovate solutions to real-life human problems while at the same time applying concepts and skills from other disciplines. These experiences will, over time, develop students’ understanding and ability to use Design Thinking processes, Design Thinking mindsets (ways of thinking) and Design Thinking dispositions (ways of being).

Focus on College and Careers

We are committed to graduating at least 90 percent of our ninth grade students and sending at least 90 percent of graduates on to college. A full-time College Transitions Counselor, college tours, college speakers, career speakers and fairs, career exploration courses, and on-site admissions are just a few elements that create a school environment where college is an expectation. Collaboration with CCS enables HFA: SCS to have a focus on Art and Design careers and exposure to professionals working in these fields.

All students complete the Senior Mastery Process (SMP), which includes a deep dive into career and college pathways, a 60-hour internship in the career of their choice, and a doctoral defense style presentation of their experience and research to a panel of adults and peers. This capstone Henry Ford Academy experience cements the link between what is learned in high school and the world of work and college.

School Culture                                               

HFA: SCS students participate in daily forum activities because getting along well with others and cooperating and following established behavioral guidelines is so fundamental to a productive and positive learning experience.

This approach uses the following key strategies to develop social competence:  daily routine, rule creation, interactive modeling; goal setting, positive teacher language, logical consequences, learning studio design that promotes independence and responsibility; working with families; and collaborative problem solving.

Restorative Practices: The use of Restorative Practices has been shown to be a highly effective way to build and maintain positive school culture that supports a safe, productive and high performing learning community for students and adults in school settings. This approach allows HFA: SCS students to experience some of these important aspects of community: respect and safety; consideration and appreciation; encouragement and belonging; and, empathy and inclusion. 


Download the long version of our Curriculum Overview

Download a list of our Design Thinking Challenge Sequences 

View our Technology Plan and Technology Protection Measures & Internet Safety Policy

View the Curriculum Plans on file with our authorizer and school board:        HFA: Elementary School      HFA: SCS