LeBron James’ new school is much more than a school.
It meets the basic definition, of course, but not only will James’ I Promise School help some of Akron’s most challenged students with education and support, it will provide educational, career and emotional support for parents.
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. James knows what it’s like to be an at-risk student himself. As a fourth grader, he missed 83 days of school while he and his mother moved from one couch or spare room to the next.
He credits mentors, some of whom he met at school, with a turnaround that helped him attend every day of fifth grade — which was also the first year he played organized basketball.
The jitters before the first day of school are real right now!!! Tomorrow is going to be one of the greatest moments (if not the greatest) of my life when we open the #IPROMISE School. This skinny kid from Akron who missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade had big dreams… https://t.co/PwmRaHRfng
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 29, 2018
?? “LeBron James Opens His I PROMISE School”https://t.co/XOrh227CUz
— LJ's Fam Foundation (@LJFamFoundation) July 29, 2018
Opening a new public school isn’t easy without population growth or rapidly developing areas of a district, but James didn’t let obstacles get in the way even as Akron shut down other schools.
According to USA Today, the building is a renovated school, coincidentally located just down the street from St. Vincent-St. Mary, where James attended high school. School officials didn’t have access to the building until seven weeks ago, and staff has been working seven days a week to get the school ready for Monday’s opening.
The entrance to the school features a split staircase with the IPS and LeBron James Family Foundation logos. High on the walls at the entrance are 114 sneakers worn by James. The corresponding pair will be sold by Upper Deck and proceeds will help fund the school and the foundation.
The bottom floor of the building features a mural of James, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Martin Luther King Jr.
The walls of the school are lined with photos of James and children at foundation events. Students will be stocked with school supplies, and teachers will have the tools they need, including a faculty lounge stocked with snacks and beverages and access to workout trainers.
- The classrooms will hold 20 students for every teacher, and 12 teachers have been hired for the 2018-19 school year.
- There are 43 academic staffers, including a principal, assistant principal, four intervention specialists, tutor, English as a second language teacher, music instructor, and a gym teacher.
- IPS is a certified STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) school.
- The school day is long – 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and so is the school year, last July 30-May 17 – and there will be a seven-week summer school.
- Students will be served breakfast, lunch and a snack daily.
If LeBron James does not go down as one of the best athletes this generation has ever seen, something has to be wrong with one’s outlook on life. This is the work of a true king.