I Promise School

 

 

 

 

The “I Promise School” is a great story. Lebron James catches a lot of flack from people for no reason. What he has done with this school hopefully resonates around the country. Please enjoy the article. Remember school is more than learning. One size fits all Government Education never works. It doesn’t work in a single school system, much less an entire nation like the Democrats and the Republicans preach in the US. You never let school get in the way of your education….

 

LeBron James opened the I Promise School to help at-risk students. One year later, not only are they thriving but they’re also bringing the community with them. Could the school set a blueprint for others across the country?

photo of Hanif AbdurraqibHanif Abdurraqib

July 17, 2019

For someone who has never seen the early-morning rush at the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, it is a joyful sensory overload at first. It feels like being in close proximity to the floor of a basketball court when the home team’s starting lineup is announced. Kids spill out of cars and into the school building, where they are greeted by a line of adults and older students who clap them into the building. The radio version of a DJ Khaled hit blares from speakers, pouring down the winding staircases at the entrance. Mostly, the students run through the line of clapping hands, jumping up for high-fives or strolling confidently, brushing off a white sneaker or a T-shirt in the process. On average, the whole ritual takes more than 30 minutes.

It’s just a glimpse of the way in which LeBron James is trying to change public schooling in Akron for children labeled “at risk.” Warmth is key: If a student entering the building seems distressed or unresponsive to the enthusiastic ruckus, someone gently pulls him or her aside to check in. The people who work at the school know these kids well enough to decode a smile or lack thereof. “At the I Promise School, everything is different,” says Ciara DeBruce, who has a daughter heading into the fourth grade there. “Everyone genuinely cares.”

The word “family” is peppered throughout the school: on walls, on shirts, on its materials, on a large black flag that sits at the school’s back door. Everything the school does is done to foster the idea that everything within the walls of the building is an extension of the family unit a student left behind to come to school that day. Everyone at the I Promise School has a nickname, Michele Campbell, the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, tells me. She rattles them off matter-of-factly as each adult passes by. There’s Kit Kat, Tyga, someone who is simply nicknamed “No. 1.” Everyone calls Campbell “Boss,” though in a way that is not necessarily tied to any rigid hierarchy. It’s more playful, endearing. “If you stay here long enough,” Campbell says, “we’ll get you a nickname, too.”

LeBron, of course, is adorned with the most famous nickname of all. The one that echoes both within these halls and far outside of it. When King James was a fourth grader, he missed 83 days of school. He moved constantly, burdened by instability at home. Through a network of people who believed in him and who saw the potential his future held, he flourished. Speaking with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in 2018, he explained what might be considered a guiding philosophy of the I Promise School: “I think that’s what kids ultimately want: They just want someone to feel like someone cares about them. And that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

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