Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James opened his “I Promise” school in Akron, Ohio on Monday with an event full of excitement and fanfare.
Partnering with Akron Public Schools, the I Promise school selected some of the most underperforming students in Akron. These students are at least one to two years behind their grade level in school.
The I Promise school is unlike the schools we have seen before. The school year and school day will run longer than the norm and the curriculum is accelerated in an effort to bring kids up to grade level. The school also aims to address factors outside of school that contributes to their struggles in the classroom with trauma informed and restorative justice practices.
Parents of I Promise school students will have access to job placement services, a food bank, and adult education courses to obtain their GED.
One other unique feature of this school is all students received a bike and helmet on their first day of school. LeBron James emphasized this benefit touting his own upbringing and the fact that his bike was what allowed him to escape the more dangerous parts of his neighborhood as well as giving him the opportunity to get out and explore.
In addition to these benefits, the I Promise school is tuition-free, and so are the uniforms, transportation within 2 miles, as well as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Additionally, upon graduation, students are guaranteed admission and tuition to the University of Akron.
A few months ago, Laura Ingraham, Fox News talking head, told LeBron James to shut up and stick to basketball. Suggesting that matters outside of his sport are beyond his scope of influence and expertise. James immediately rebuffed Ingraham suggesting his platform is bigger than basketball and he wanted to and intended to use his influence to better his community. There could be no better rebuttal than this one of a kind school opening in his hometown.
James used his lived experiences to determine the design and benefits of this school for its students. He believes he might not have this school opening if he did not have the struggles he had growing up. In addition to his pledged $48 million to send 1000 Akron kids to school, James has asserted his dominance in securing the educational future of Akron kids at a greater level than the public school system in Akron.
Sports superstars come and go. There will always be debates around who was the greatest of all time, but Lebron James may have just secured the crown for his off-the-court contributions. One’s educational legacy can never be erased. Instead, it will be passed on from generation to generation. Those families that benefit from this school will go on to benefit other lives in some way, thereby ensuring his legacy outside of basketball is not up for debate.