A 'Bold Effort'

Promise of I Promise
Posted on 08/20/2018
Image of Editorial IconThe following is a letter to the editor published 8/19/18 in the Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com. Its author is the executive director of the Buckeye Associaton of School Administrators (BASA).

The opening of the 2018-19 school year brings not only the normal enthusiasm and anxieties, but it ushers in a bold experiment to address the needs of under-performing third- and fourth-grade students in Akron.

In many ways, the program at the I Promise School resembles a combination of proven strategies, best practices and bold innovations that one might more typically find in a charter or private school. However, I Promise is an Akron public school subject to the same Ohio laws and state rules as any other public school in the state.

The collaboration among the Akron Public Schools, the LeBron James Family Foundation and their many partners serves as an example of how a community can share programs and services to benefit its children.

An important element of the I Promise program is the wraparound services available not only to the students but also to their families. The impact of school-based physical and mental health services has been well documented throughout the nation in hundreds of schools, particularly those serving higher numbers of economically disadvantaged students.

At I Promise, such services will also serve families, but there will be many more opportunities (including employment assistance, GED preparation and an available food bank).

The instructional program, with its emphasis on STEM learning and tutorial interventions, incorporates social-emotional learning to develop positive life skills. The trauma-informed approach to engaging students is intended to assist students in coping with other events in their lives outside the school day.

We at the Buckeye Association of School Administrators salute the collaboration among the Akron city schools administration, board of education, the James Family Foundation, the numerous partners and the Akron Education Association in founding the I Promise School.

School officials across Ohio should monitor this bold effort occurring not in the private sector but in the bright light of public oversight. If its promise achieves the success envisioned by its founders, it will be a model worthy of duplication.

Kirk Hamilton
Executive director
Buckeye Association of School Administrators
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