Inside LeBron James’s I Promise School in Akron, Ohio

LeBron James opened a school for at-risk youth in his home town of Akron, Ohio
LeBron James opened a school for at-risk youth in his home town of Akron, Ohio | © LARRY W. SMITH/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Basketball star LeBron James has unveiled the I Promise School in his home town of Akron, Ohio. The public, non-charter school was developed to provide at-risk youth with opportunities James didn’t have growing up.

LeBron James may have left the Cleveland Cavaliers twice, most recently signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, but the National Basketball Association (NBA) star never forgets where he came from.

In July 2018, James unveiled the I Promise School in his home town of Akron, Ohio. The public, non-charter school like the one James attended growing up is a facility for 240 at-risk third and fourth graders. The school plans to expand by adding grades each year until it houses first through eighth grade by 2022.

A collaborative effort between the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Akron Public School District, the I Promise School was developed to provide Akron’s youth with opportunities that James, a three-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP, was denied growing up.

It’s non-traditional

The school day runs from 9am to 5pm and the extended school year is from July through May. Camps focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects will be provided during a seven-week summer session. There are 43 staff members, including a principal, assistant principal, four intervention specialists, a tutor, English as a second language teacher, music instructor and gym teacher. Classrooms will hold 20 students per teacher.

Students, who each get a Chromebook to complete their homework, will spend time on “social-emotional learning” and participate in a “supportive circle” after lunch.

Nutrition is a major focus

Each day students will receive free breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks. Those enrolled will also have access to a fitness trainer. Each incoming student will receive a free bicycle because, as James says, it was something he used as a kid to explore different neighborhoods around town.

Free college tuition

Should a student complete the school program and graduate from high school, James will provide free college tuition to the local University of Akron for him/her.

Teacher benefits galore

Teachers around the country fight for adequate classroom resources and will even spend their own money in an effort to properly stock their classrooms. The staff at the I Promise School won’t have that issue as all supplies will be provided by the school.

Staff members are also given access to psychological services and each Wednesday afternoon is reserved for career development. Teachers are also given access to a personal trainer.

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