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LeBron James announces plan for new Akron school

4/20/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

EAST AKRON — Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James hopes to take his effort to support young students one step further with the creation of a new Akron school aligned with existing programs he has backed.

The I PROMISE School (IPS) could be open for students in third and fourth grades as soon as fall 2018, according to officials with The LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) and Akron Public Schools (APS). The two announced the partnership that will result in the new school April 11 at the Goodyear Theater.

Foundation officials said the proposed school would feature an expansion of the APS curriculum with a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), hands-on, problem-based learning focus infused with LJFF’s “We Are Family” philosophy to create an innovative and supportive learning environment for its students and their families.

Committees of local leaders, educators, parents and experts are now forming to determine many of the logistics of the new school, according to foundation and APS officials. One committee will work over the next six months to determine how students will be selected for the school, using multiple criteria, officials added, noting that a lottery system is likely to be used. As proposed, the targeted eligible population will be similar to LJFF’s current students: pupils who are at-risk in reading and who need additional academic intervention before falling further behind their peers.

“This school is so important to me because our vision is to create a place for the kids in Akron who need it most — those that could fall through the cracks if we don’t do something,” said LeBron James. “We’ve learned over the years what works and what motivates them, and now we can bring all of that together in one place along with the right resources and experts. If we get to them early enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families.”

Plans call for the school to feature an intentional effort to engage the entire family to create a supportive environment both in the classroom and at home. In addition, The University of Akron’s LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education is aligned to potentially provide integrated curricular support, research and continuous assessment, officials said.

“We are excited about the potential of the I PROMISE School to provide specialized programming and invaluable resources for our students,” said APS Superintendent David James. “We’ve seen the positive influence of the LeBron James Family Foundation on our students and we look forward to continuing to do everything we can to put our students in a position to be successful.”

Once the planning committees complete their work, they will submit a master plan to the APS Board of Education for approval in October. If approved, the IPS would open its doors the following fall with newly identified third- and fourth-grade classes while adding first and second grades the following year. By 2022, the school would be complete with first through eighth grades, officials said.


Kathleen Folkerth contributed to this report.

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