By Paula Barrantes
Image via Kulture Hub
Over the summer, Lebron James opened up the “I Promise” public school in the city of Akron, Ohio. Through partnering his foundation, The Lebron James Family Foundation, with the city of Akron Public Schools, James was able to open the elementary school designed to assist at-risk children. An Akron native, James wanted to help kids that are having difficulties attending school due to their living situations. James recalls missing 83 days of school because he and his mother were bouncing from home to home. Like James, the 240 students that will attend this school have been identified as “behind in critical academic areas and other factors.”
The name, “I Promise” is a combination of James’ quote saying he “promised to never forget where he came from.” Another essential part to the name of this school is how students and faculty begin each day with their “I Promise” pledge. The words to this pledge are also written in amongst two posts in the main lobby of school, where James’ game worn shoes also decorate the walls.
The structure is a bit different than traditional schools. To begin, the school runs an 8-hour school day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will run from July through May all designed to assist students lacking at home support when it comes to school work. Staff is made up of 43 people, including tutors, English as a second language teachers, music instructors, and even four intervention specialists. Classes are made up of a 20 to 1 student to teacher ratio.
I Promise students will receive free uniforms, school breakfast, lunch and snacks, free transportation for students who live within a two mile radius, a free bicycle and helmet, and starting 2021, a guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron for every student that graduates. James wants the school to be involved in every aspect of a child’s life, not just academics.
James hopes to create a nurturing environment for the students, and hopes that each child is “inspired, and to come away with something that they can give back.” James received praise from famous athletes, celebrities and even former first lady Michelle Obama who took to Twitter to express how “proud” she was of James’ accomplishment.
The inaugural class will begin with 240 third and fourth graders. By 2019 it will add second and fifth grade, and hopes to offer first through eighth grade by 2022. I Promise school may be the first of its kind because it goes above and beyond to improve each child’s life by being involved in every aspect, and also ensuring that each student has a guaranteed future once he/she graduates.
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