LeBron James’ school of promises

The I Promise School will educate 240 at-risk third and fourth graders. Illustration: Alex Gomez • The Sentry

A new hope for education
The I Promise School will educate 240 at-risk third and fourth graders. Illustration: Alex Gomez • The Sentry

In his small hometown of Akron, Ohio, NBA superstar LeBron James opened the doors to his newly founded I Promise School. Built through the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, the school will work to educate 240 at-risk third and fourth graders. Eventually looking to expand to other grade levels, James has already made a huge impact in the educational community and is paving the way for a bigger and brighter future for students and faculty alike.   

In addition to free tuition, uniforms, and guaranteed tuition for all graduates to the University of Akron, there are perks for both students and parents. The school will work to give families access to a food pantry and provide job placement services that will allow parents to acquire their GEDs. Centered around a STEM curriculum and year-round agenda, the I Promise School encourages the transformation of schools in urban communities where students have often been previously seen underperforming in school due to the underdeveloped environment. 

“I just think what [he] did was super thoughtful,” said nursing major Rubina Strestha. “Anyone who wants to go to school should be able to without the worry of financial stress, and those kids will always have something to look forward to.” 

Run under the motto “We are Family,” James has created an institution rooted in family values that have been shaped from his own personal experiences. According to USA Today, “As a kid, James, who attended Akron Public Schools for eight years, and his mom, Gloria James, had help from the community—people who looked after them and made sure they got what they needed.” Today, this school is a reminder of what he wishes he had in school while growing up. Even so, the executive director of the James Foundation, Michele Campbell, told USA Today that, “LeBron missed a lot of school in the fourth grade. It’s well-documented. We all know which path he took. He took the right path with some very good people around him, and now we know him as the world’s best basketball player. He could’ve taken the other road, and we would’ve never known LeBron James. He would’ve been a statistic like a lot of students who drop out of school.”

While this event represents a beacon of hope for students, it also reminds people about the importance of education. While some people might take education for granted, they also fail to realize that not everyone has the opportunity, better yet, a choice, to free and public education. It’s no question that education should be an equal opportunity for everyone, because for most, education’s value extends beyond moving up the ladder but rather a golden ticket to a life of opportunity and success. “Regardless of whether or not you like him, what he did was something that has been long overdue,” said sophomore Hanna Hyun.

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