LeBron James' Influence is Felt by Students

Warmth and IPS Make for Summer at APS
Posted on 07/16/2019
Image of We Are Family Sign(Courtesy: Bleacher Report)

For someone who has never seen the early-morning rush at the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, it is a joyful sensory overload at first. It feels like being in close proximity to the floor of a basketball court when the home team's starting lineup is announced. Kids spill out of cars and into the school building, where they are greeted by a line of adults and older students who clap them into the building. The radio version of a DJ Khaled hit blares from speakers, pouring down the winding staircases at the entrance. Mostly, the students run through the line of clapping hands, jumping up for high-fives or strolling confidently, brushing off a white sneaker or a T-shirt in the process. On average, the whole ritual takes more than 30 minutes.

It's just a glimpse of the way in which LeBron James is trying to change public schooling in Akron for children labeled "at risk." Warmth is key: If a student entering the building seems distressed or unresponsive to the enthusiastic ruckus, someone gently pulls him or her aside to check in. The people who work at the school know these kids well enough to decode a smile or lack thereof. "At the I Promise School, everything is different," says Ciara DeBruce, who has a daughter heading into the fourth grade there. "Everyone genuinely cares."

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