I have a confession to make and some of you may dislike me when you hear it.
I do not like the movie, Field of Dreams. There I said it. At the end of the movie, I was unimpressed and feeling, well meh. When the voice kept whispering, if you build it they will come, I kept thinking to myself, everyone but me. Now you are wondering what does this have to do with Lebron James and education?! Everything!
Lebron has proven, if you build it they will come. At the end of July, in conjunction with Akron City Schools, he opened the I Promise School. There was nationwide media coverage of course, I mean he is Lebron James! At the same time he was able to shine his spotlight on the need for a school like this.
The school boasts a roster of 240 third and fourth grade students. Over the years, Lebron has shared that as a fourth grade he missed over 80 days of school while moving from house to house with his mother. He credits mentors that he found in the school setting with helping him to get to school everyday in the fifth grade.
Students are selected from students who are at least one or more grade levels below their peers. It also has a longer school day and an extended school year that goes from July to May. Students even received brand new bikes! I know, I know, what does this have to do with parental involvement?!
Students are provided free breakfast, lunch and snacks. Gone is the worry of providing a meal or paying for school lunch. Free breakfast and lunch are provided at other schools but not many offer a free snack. At my school I buy snacks for students out of my own pocket. It’s a simple thing that goes a long way. If a child (and a parent) know there is a meal coming soon and they don’t have to worry about it, the more they can be focused on their education. Students are also promised full tuition to University of Akron if they complete the program and graduate from high school. Another load off the shoulders of families who may not be able to pay for it.
The I Promise School also believes that education is not just important for the students but parents as well. Parents are given free GED classes. They can also take advantage of job placement services. Lebron and his team are showing us that in order to educate children we need to educate the family too!
What services does your district offer families and parents?