On Monday (July 30), more than 200 students in Akron, Ohio, walked into a brand new school decorated with inspirational quotes, murals of historic black leaders, and 114 pairs of sneakers worn by LeBron James.
This renovated facility was created by LeBron, himself and was designed to meet the specific challenges that these kids face, both inside and outside of the classroom.
“I know these kids, basically more than they know themselves,” said James in a video statement. “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.”
The inaugural group included 240 third and fourth graders divided into classes of 20 students each. The non-charter school plans to expand each year, opening up to second and fifth graders in 2019 and, eventually, all grades between first and eighth by 2022.
The school, which will operate from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. July through May, will focus on accelerated learning to bring kids up to speed. It will provide students with intervention services, extracurricular activities to keep them busy, and bicycles, a tool that James has said played a huge role in helping him escape dangerous parts of his neighborhood. Additionally, the school will offer parents an on-site food pantry as well as educational, career, and emotional support.
“We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence,” said I Promise principal and Akron native Brandi Davis, according to USA Today. “We are letting people know it is about true wrap-around support, true family integration and true compassion.”