The school year for many children in the area of Akron, Ohio, started very differently than it has in previous years. The children filled the halls of a newly renovated school made possible by none other than LeBron James, a former resident in their community.
It doesn’t go without saying the athlete was immediately faced with backlash due to the opening and some complaints that the school was nothing more than a glorified public school. Now that I have said what goes without saying, even Jesus had haters, we can talk about the key things that makes this school important and why it is necessary in many other areas.
The mission behind this school, which is in fact a public school ran in conjunction with James’ foundation, was designed as a preventative plan for at risk children. Those kids who fall behind before they ever have a chance. This first year the facility will house third and fourth graders with intentions to expand year by year until grades one through eight are on campus in 2022.
The school looks to be a private school but this is a public institution with a unique process of enrolling students that focuses primarily on improving academic performance. The school will receive the same amount of state funding as any other in the Akron area yet holds close to seeing the investment show fruit along the years. The effort will provide for not only children who attend but the communities surrounding. Looking deeper into the set-up, the school year and even the school days are longer. Students and teachers will meet from July 30th 2018 to May 17th of 2019 with each day starting at 9am and ending at 5pm. Sound like a lot? Good! Summer courses are offered for 7 weeks for those who may need additional support and encouragement.
Most important, as a personal observation, is that parents are not left out of this rise in importance for educational access. Parents who need to do so, can complete their GED as well as find support and resources for career counseling and job locating. Whether we realize it, what has happened with or is happening in parent’s lives effects the lives of their children and what a parent lacks leaves some children at a higher risk of never obtaining or achieving.
Other provided services and additions that are worthy of being spoken of are fitness trainers and a fully stocked lounge for the teachers and a food bank for families that will most likely need the added support throughout the year. These are just a few of the ways this school is attempting to alleviate pressure and concerns, not only for the students but the adults responsible for molding them. The entry has a split staircase and a corridor filled with notable African American athletes and activist. It probably isn’t a bad thing for the students’ self-esteem to breeze by a few of the King’s game worn shoes. These shoes will be split in the future and sold to add additional funding for the schools efforts going forward.
Passion is what moves so many people and I think it is safe to say that LeBron has looked at himself a thousand times over and committed to being someone who can shine a light into the darkness. This is not his first effort at ensuring a sound education for kids who grew up in conditions similar to his. He has also created opportunities for at least one thousand kids to go to college and those who are graduates of the I Promise School will receive 4 years of free education at the University of Akron. I believe LeBron James is one of the few people who took his dream and made it a reality and brought that back home, where it mattered most, to be a great example.
“I know these kids, basically more than they know themselves. I’ve walked these same streets. I’ve rode the same bikes on the streets they ride on. I went through the same emotions — the good, the bad, the adversity. Everything these kids are going through — the drugs, the violence, the guns, everything they’re going through as kids, I know. For me to be in a position where I have the resources, the finance, the people, the structure and the city around me — why not?” –LeBron James
He shoots! He scores!