How LeBron James’ new public school really is the first of its kind

The I Promise School is unique — but it’s also building from a successful model.

Akron’s public schools have a major problem; its at-risk students are falling well behind the rest of the K-12 population in the classroom. The question the district faces now is whether LeBron James can fix that.Image result for lebron james school images

James’ I Promise School opened Monday to serve low-income and at-risk students in his hometown, and the public school could be an agent of change in the eastern Ohio city. The institution is the intersection of James’ philanthropic Family Foundation and the I Promise Network he helped kickstart. I Promise began as an Akron-based non-profit aimed at boosting achievement for younger students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Now the movement has the means to educate these students year-round.Image result for lebron james school images

There are aspects of James’ school that are wholly unique. There are others that build on a tested network of educational reforms. Here’s why the I Promise School stands out.

I Promise is building from a model that’s shown success

I Promise will feature longer school days, a non-traditional school year, and greater access to the school, its facilities, and its teachers during down time for students. That’s a formula aimed at replicating some of the at-home support children may be missing when it comes to schoolwork. The school has also anchored its curriculum in math and science-based teaching, dipping into the STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — curriculum that prepares students for the jobs of the future.This interweaving of community-building and future-focused learning isn’t new and has succeeded at other innovative schools across the country.

Christian D’Andrea,

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