After 43 years in Detroit Public Schools, Mrs. Susan Dropiewski has touched the lives of so many students, often under some really tough conditions.
From the moment you enter her kindergarten classroom at Marcus Garvey Academy, it’s clear the room is filled with love.
“These are my children and they are always my children,” she says.
For most of her students, this is a time where they could easily fall through the cracks.
“I want every special needs child to have a quality education and to do the very best they can with their life,” Dropiewski says.
Which is why after more than 43 years she stays, conducting each interaction with a calm voice and a smile seemingly speaking to the children in a way others can’t.
“There are so many things I still want to do teaching and I’m part of this family and it would be like punishment for me retiring if I had to right now,” she says.
She’s fought daily for her students since she was 21 years old. Many don’t receive proper or consistent medical care - leaving Mrs. Dropiewski to take the reins.
“I just feel as though we’re a family, they’re my children and I teach them as such,” she says.
“Despite the problems, I want the viewers to understand it’s the people, it’s the educators like Mrs. Dropiewski who come to work every day despite financial challenges, despite scandal and all kinds of things- they’re here for the children, that’s the bottom line,” Principal James Hearn says.
A lifelong Detroiter, Mrs. Dropiewski’s passion spans from her own childhood.
“I was raised by a mother with some special needs of her own so I always appreciated the special needs children in Detroit,” she says.
Giving decades of student’s hope, a voice and more importantly being that one person who reminds them of all they can do in a world that often focuses on what they can’t.
“They believe like she believes, that they can do any and everything,” Hearn says. “They have somebody that believe in them and that starts with a teacher.”
“Every child has potential,” Mrs. Dropiewski says. “It just melts my heart, that’s why I’m here, it keeps me going.”