Berrien Springs Public Schools

Berrien Springs Public Schools is rich with diversity. Located in a rural area of Michigan and less than two miles from Andrews University, one of the most diverse universities in the country, Berrien Springs serves over 2000 K-12 students in the surrounding rural farming community as well as children from over 30 different countries and those from other districts who entered as part of the “Schools of Choice” program. More than half of the student population comes from economically disadvantaged homes.

In 2010, Berrien Springs Schools was the first district in the United States to pilot the GrapeSEED program, introducing it in Mars Elementary School for English Language Learners in kindergarten through second grade. Seeing immediate improvement in the children’s language skills, the district expanded GrapeSEED to preschool students participating in the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) provided by Berrien Regional Educational Service Area (RESA), a support agency for local schools, and then to all kindergarten classrooms.

The Challenges

The educators of Berrien Springs knew they needed something different to help all their young students build a foundation in oral language and quickly reach language and reading proficiency. District challenges include: 

  • Many students start school with a lack of foundational language skills because: they come from a low-socioeconomic background, English is not their native language, or a combination of both
  • Improving oral language skills to help the growing ELL population reach state proficiency targets at a rate faster than the standard span of 5-6 years
  • Finding a program and material to supplement their literacy curriculum that fits more than one or two students at a time

The Results

Berrien Springs Schools Principal Darla Campbell at Mars Elementary is thrilled with the positive results the district has seen with GrapeSEED over the last several years.

“The students learn how to speak in complete sentences, learn how to have polite conversations and are able to choose extension activities related to the learning in GrapeSEED. The best part of GrapeSEED is the level of student engagement it fosters. The students demand their GrapeSEED time. I have not seen another tool that engages students as fully as this program does while growing language skills.”

Watch a GrapeSEED Classroom in Action!

Independent Research 

In 2011-2014, Oakland University conducted independent research studies to evaluate the effectiveness of GrapeSEED for the school's preschool and K-2 students. 

  1. At-Risk Preschool Results: Students grew faster than national peers in every category of language fundamentals!
  2. Preschool to Kindergarten Results: The more GrapeSEED, the better the results!
  3. ESL Kindergarten-Grade 2 Results: GrapeSEED students reached reading proficiency in half the time of the national average!