This week, reporter Erica L. Green wrote an encouraging feature in the New York Times about the “I Promise” public school NBA superstar LeBron James opened last year through the LeBron James Family Foundation in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. To quote the article:
“This time last year, the students at the school — Mr. James’s biggest foray into educational philanthropy — were identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems. Some as young as 8 were considered at risk of not graduating. Now, they are helping close the achievement gap in Akron.
The academic results are early, and at 240, the sample size of students is small, but the inaugural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted extraordinary results in their first set of district assessments. Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.”
To read more about the school, its current impact and see photos from it, click here.
Nancy Wilson, whose skilled and flexible approach to singing provided a key bridge between the sophisticated jazz-pop vocalists of the 1950s and the powerhouse pop-soul singers of the 1960s and ’70s, died on Thursday at her home in Pioneertown, Calif. She was 81.
Her death was confirmed by her manager, Devra Hall Levy, who said Ms. Wilson had been ill for some time; she gave no other details.
In a long and celebrated career, Ms. Wilson performed American standards, jazz ballads, Broadway show tunes, R&B torch songs and middle-of-the-road pop pieces, all delivered with a heightened sense of a song’s narrative.
“I have a gift for telling stories, making them seem larger than life,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1993. “I love the vignette, the plays within the song.
Some of Ms. Wilson’s best-known recordings told tales of heartbreak, with attitude. A forerunner of the modern female empowerment singer, with the brassy inflections and biting inflections to fuel it, Ms. Wilson could infuse even the saddest song with a sense of strength.
In her canny signature piece from 1960, “Guess Who I Saw Today”(written by Murray Grand and Elisse Boyd), a woman baits her husband by dryly telling him a story in which he turns out to be the central villain. In her 1968 hit, “Face It Girl, It’s Over” (by Francis Stanton and Angelo Badale), Ms. Wilson first seems to throw cold water in the face of a deluded woman who fails to notice that her lover has lost interest in her. Only later does she reveal that she is the benighted woman scorned.
“Face It Girl,” an epic soul blowout, became one of Ms. Wilson’s biggest chart scores, making the Top 30 of Billboard’s pop chart and Top 15 on its R&B list.ing News
Her biggest hit came in 1964, when “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am”(Jimmy Williams and Larry Harrison), a rapturous R&B ballad delivered with panache, reached No. 11 on Billboard’s pop chart.
Three years later she became one of the few African-Americans of her day to host a TV program, the Emmy-winning “Nancy Wilson Show,” on NBC.
Ms. Wilson released more than 70 albums in a five-decade recording career. She won three Grammy Awards, one for best rhythm and blues recording for the 1964 album “How Glad I Am,” and two for best jazz vocal album, in 2005 and 2007. In 2004, she was honored as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. Nancy Wilson’s album “How Glad I Am,” from 1964, won a Grammy Award for best rhythm and blues recording.
For her lifelong work as an advocate of civil rights, which included participating in a Selma to Montgomery, Ala., protest march in 1965, she received an award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta in 1993 and an N.A.A.C.P. Hall of Fame Image Award in 1998.
In 2005, she was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, also in Atlanta.
“As an artist then, taking such a political stand came with professional risks,” she told the blog Jazz Wax in 2010. “But it had to be done.”
As he drove to the school he was helping open in his hometown, LeBron James’ emotions brought him back to when he was the same age as the kids who were starting school there Monday.
He remembered school meaning nothing to him. He remembered it being too far away for him to get there, especially when his mother didn’t have a car. He missed 83 days of school in fourth grade. “It was a surprise to me when I woke up and I was actually going to school,” James said.
As he got older he learned about the value of an education, and how important that was to break poverty cycles. That’s why Monday mattered so much to James, the NBA’s biggest star who recently left Cleveland for the Lakers.
At 8 a.m., 240 at-risk third- and fourth-graders started at the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. It is a public, non-charter school, just like the ones James attended as a child, but it seeks to offer all the things kids growing up like James did need to succeed. The LeBron James Family Foundation is the top donor and worked with Akron Public Schools to meet all its standards and regulations. And here, the staff attends to not just the children’s education, but also the outside factors that might interfere with that education.
The kids received high-fives from the staff. They begged their teachers to know if “Mr. LeBron” was going to visit their classrooms. Some parents who’d lost jobs asked if the school could help them find new ones. A homeless family asked if they could get help, too. The answers were yes, yes and yes.
“We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence,” said Brandi Davis, the principal. “We are letting people know that it is about true wraparound support. True family integration, true compassion.”
It began as an idea inside a monthly brainstorming session between James and Michele Campbell, the executive director of James’ foundation.
Sometimes her job is to manage the expectations of a man who believes, on and off the court, that he can accomplish anything. In this case, she let slip an idea he latched on to right away. Maybe their reach would improve if they created a school, she mused. “Well, why aren’t you doing that?” James asked.
She told him the foundation wasn’t ready for that kind of project. He told her to get started anyway. “There’s nothing that she can’t do,” James said. “If I tell her to go build a rocket and take it to outer space, Michele can make it happen.”
Like the early days of space travel, this was uncharted territory. The school district worked with the foundation. They brought together 120 stakeholders — parents, corporate sponsors, students, teachers, administrators and volunteers — to find out what students in their district really needed. Akron public schools are some of the lowest-performing in Ohio.
They settled on a program that helped teach the skills children need to handle trauma they see in their daily lives, combined with a hard math and science curriculum that would help further their education.
The school’s “wraparound” services help reduce stress kids might feel when their parents are struggling financially. That includes job and family services, a GED program, a food pantry from which they can shop and choose their meals, and help with housing if needed. They have a seven-week summer camp program to help avoid the trouble that comes with too much free time.
Every student gets a bicycle because when James was growing up, he used one to get away from the more dangerous parts of his community. The students also get a Chromebook to complete their homework. “I wanted to keep it as consistent and as authentic to when I was a kid,” James said, while adding generous touches and technology.
The children were randomly selected from a pool of Akron students whose reading levels were a year or two behind where they should be.
“And then we got to make these awesome phone calls to parents to say, ‘Hi, would you like to be a part of something new, something different? The I Promise School,’” said Keith Liechty-Clifford, the coordinator of school improvement for Akron Public Schools.
This renovated, stately brick building sits between a McDonald’s and a convenience store. Inspirational quotes wallpaper the interior and the entrance is decorated with James’ game-worn shoes, which will be sold as a fundraiser. Some walls are painted with murals of such figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson.
To truly provide emotional and psychological services for at-risk children and their families requires well-trained and supported teachers. The I Promise School gives teachers access to psychological services. Every Wednesday afternoon will be reserved for career development. James even hired a personal trainer to work with teachers who want a guided workout.
All their supplies also are provided by the school. That was a pleasant surprise for Angela Whorton, an intervention specialist at the I Promise School. She’s been a teacher for 10 years and almost always had to spend her own money to properly stock the classroom.
She’s spent her own money here, too, but for personal touches. She bought a black rug that functions like a red carpet and put stars on it so the students feel special walking into the room. The writing utensils in her room are topped with white artificial flowers.
From her classroom on the second floor, Whorton pointed out of a window to a neighboring home’s modest backyard. She moved to Akron when she was in eighth grade.
“Through those trees was my backyard,” Whorton said. “And I used to dream big. At the time my mom was struggling as a single parent. She promised us that if we had an education we could be and do anything we needed to be.”
When they didn’t have electricity, Whorton’s mom lit candles so she and her brother could do their homework. When the plant where she worked shut down, Whorton’s mom went back to school and took two jobs to care for her children. She’d stand in line at the food bank to make sure she had something to feed her kids.
Whorton knows just how valuable the school she works in can be in this community. Sunday afternoon her family got a closer look at the school and she couldn’t stop her tears.
“The family wraparound approach is going to help the community,” Whorton said. “Right from my window. Looking at my backyard where I used to dream. There’s nothing more electric than that.”
A two-hour ceremony followed the end of the first day of school. At its conclusion, James spoke to the crowd. He laughed at someone who shouted “wee wee,” his mother’s nickname growing up. He paused for a moment when a man in the back of the audience shouted, “We love you!”
Marian Spencer, a civil rights leader and the first African American woman elected to the city council in Cincinnati, Ohio, is being recognized by having a dormitory on the campus of the University of Cincinnati named in her honor. Ironically, when Spencer was a student at the University of Cincinnati in the 1940s, she was not permitted to live in campus housing because of her race.
Spencer was born in 1920 in Gallipolis, Ohio. She lived with her grandfather who was a born a slave. As a child, she remembers watching the Ku Klux Klan parade in the street in front of her house.
Spencer joined the NAACP at the age of 13. She was the valedictorian of her high school class and earned a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Cincinnati in 1942.
Spencer became active in the civil rights movement and was a major figure in the fight to desegregate the city schools and parks. She was the first woman to chair the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP and in 1983 was elected to the city council. Spencer also served on the board of trustees of the University of Cincinnati.
The board of trustees recently announced that the university’s new high-rise residence hall on Campus Green will be known as Marian Spencer Hall.
NBA star LeBron James is using his platform to advocate for education. Through his organization—The LeBron James Family Foundation—he will open up a public school in his hometown Akron, Ohio, USA Todayreported.
The educational institution—dubbed the “I Promise” school—was recently approved by the city’s board, the news outlet writes. It’s specifically designed for students who have faced obstacles and setbacks when it comes to excelling in school. In efforts to get students who have fallen behind in their studies on the right track, the new school will have extended school days and start classes during the summer season to ensure that learning and education becomes a priority in the lives of its students. The school is an extension of his foundation’s “I Promise” program that was created to prevent kids from dropping out of school. According to the news outlet, the school is slated to accept third and fourth graders next fall and other grades will subsequently be added in the coming years.
James said that his experiences while coming of age in Akron inspired him to open the school. Through his organization’s initiatives, he wants to provide the youth in his hometown with a sense of hope. “I walked those streets, and it was just like there’s no way I’m going to be able to get out of this situation. I just thought about that every day. I had dreams and I had mentors, and they allowed my dreams to become who I am today,” said James, according to the source. “The basketball thing, I love it and I enjoy it, but to give back and open up a school, that’s something that will last way beyond my years.”
USA Today reports that James’ company SpringHill Entertainment and the production company Warrior Poets will team up to work on a documentary about the creation of the school.
In an age where activism and sports are intertwined now more than ever, James has continually used his platform to speak out about social and political issues. This summer he called out Donald Trump for his failure to condemn White supremacists who were involved in the Charlottesville chaos, he’s been outspoken about the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick, and during the Cavaliers’ season-opener against the Celtics this season he wore sneakers that read “equality.”
Sonny Rollins, the legendary jazz saxophonist, has made a generous contribution to establish the Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble Fund at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.
Beginning in spring 2018, Oberlin College jazz studies majors may audition for the Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble. Each student’s candidacy will be considered on the basis of four criteria: an audition for Oberlin’s jazz faculty, evidence of academic achievement, thoughtful response to a question about the place of jazz in the world, and service to humanity.
“Sonny Scholars” must dedicate at least two semesters to performing in the ensemble. They must also complete a winter-term project that embodies Rollins’ spirit of giving.
In explaining the rationale for this aspect of the program, Sonny Rollins said “people are hungry for a reason to live and to be happy. We’re asking these young musicians to look at the big picture, to tap into the universal power of a higher spirit, so they can give people what they need. Giving back to others teaches inner peace and inner spirituality. Everything is going to be open for them if they devote themselves in this way.”
Rollins gift to Oberlin grew out of his friendship with author and musician James McBride, a 1979 graduate of Oberlin College. The gift was made in recognition of the institution’s long legacy of access and social justice advocacy. In particular, Rollins was moved by Oberlin’s place as the first institution of higher learning to adopt a policy to admit students of color and the first to confer degrees to women, and by the contributions of alumni such as Will Marion Cook, a black violinist and composer who graduated in 1888 and who went on to become an important teacher and mentor to Duke Ellington.
Andrea Kalyn, dean of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, stated “that the legendary Sonny Rollins — an artist of truly extraordinary accomplishment, soulfulness, and character — would entrust Oberlin to steward his legacy is the highest honor, and deeply humbling.”
Basketball superstar LeBron James plans to open a public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, for students at risk of falling behind in academics. The I Promise School will open for elementary students in the fall of 2018 with support from James’ family foundation, according to plans revealed on Tuesday.
It plans classes for students in third and fourth grades during its first year, and will expand to include grades 1 though 8 by 2022. The school will draw students who “are at-risk in reading and who are in need of additional academic intervention before falling further behind their peers,” the LeBron James Family Foundation said in a statement. James, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star forward, was raised by a single mother. He entered the NBA in 2003 after emerging as a basketball phenom at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron.
James spoke about the school at an event Tuesday in a historic Akron theater. “Even though I was underprivileged,” he said, he was lucky to grow up with mentors, his mother and close friends.“They would not let me get off course,” he said. ”A lot of the kids I see today in the community and all over the world are not lucky enough to have the same mentors and the same people around that can help their dreams become reality.” The I Promise School aims to provide a supportive environment for students who lack guidance, James said.
“We definitely understand how important it is to create an environment where our most challenged and at risk students feel safe, supported an cared for,” said Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James at the event as a wall of adults in “We are family” T-shirts stood on stage. A formal proposal for the school will be submitted for school board approval in October. James has previously offered Akron kids educational opportunities. He created 1,100 full-tuition scholarships in 2015 to the University of Akron for teens who completed an “I Promise” program that included goals for attendance and grades.
Nick Wade was at track practice late one afternoon last week when he found out. The 18-year-old checked his phone and learned that he had made it into the Ivy League. “One by one,” he said. “I found out I had gotten into my schools.”
Wade is a quadruplet, though, with three brothers on his high school track team who had also applied to Ivy schools. So about that time on Thursday, they were learning their fates, too. There was Aaron, who was in the locker room when he logged on. And Nigel, who was stretching when his brothers told him to check. Zach was going to wait until practice was over, but his brothers weren’t having it.
“It would have taken like 20 more minutes,” said Zach, whose siblings checked for him. “But they couldn’t wait that long.”That is how the Wade quadruplets, of Liberty Township, Ohio, learned that all four had been accepted at Harvard and Yale universities — offers that added to a pretty impressive pile of potential college destinations.
“We’re still in shock, honestly,” Aaron said this week. “I don’t think it has sunk in yet.”“I just felt blessed at that moment,” Nigel said. “It was an unreal feeling, I guess.”“Honestly, to have one child from a family be accepted to a school like this is amazing,” Zach said. “But for all four to be accepted — I just don’t, I don’t know how it happened.”
Besides Harvard and Yale, the Wade brothers have loads of options for the next four years. Nick got into Duke, Georgetown and Stanford. Aaron is in at Stanford, too. Nigel made the cut with Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt, and Zach with Cornell. That list does not cover all the schools that offered them admission. But you get the idea.
These seniors at Lakota East High School are in high demand.“The outcome has shocked us,” Aaron said. “We didn’t go into this thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to apply to all these schools and get into all of them.’ It wasn’t so much about the prestige or so much about the name as it was — it was important that we each find a school where we think that we’ll thrive and where we think that we’ll contribute.”
An Ohio man who was beaten by a drunk cop and left locked in a closet for four days without food, water or access to a bathroom was awarded $22 million in court.
Arnold Black sued East Cleveland police over his 2012 detainment, saying a pair of officers mixed up his car with that of a suspected drug dealer and wrongfully took him into custody. One of the cops reeked of alcohol — and punched Black for “messing up” his night at the bar, according to the lawsuit.
“The officer … grabbed me like this,” Black told Fox 8 while motioning with his hands. “And he held me up, and — Boom! — I just remember getting hit.”
Black said he was driving through the city in his green pickup truck in April 2012 when officers Jonathan O’Leary and Randy Hicks pulled him over and asked him where they could find drug dealers in East Cleveland. The pair said they were hunting for a green truck carrying a load of cocaine — and Hicks, who was slurring his speech and reeked of booze, seemed upset that Black wasn’t the suspected drug dealer, the lawsuit alleged. “I was at a bar with friends. You messed up my night,” Hicks told the driver.
The cop with the blood-shot eyes and cloudy coordination punched Black in the head, handcuffed him and then punched him again, the lawsuit alleged. O’Leary, who did not appear to be drunk, stood back and did nothing to atop the attack.
“The Birth of a Nation” filmmaker Nate Parker will write the movie adaptation of the inspirational wrestling story “Carry On.” Walden Media will develop, finance and produce “Carry On,” based on Lisa Fenn’s memoir that’s due to be published by HarperCollins in August.
Fenn is an ESPN producer who went back to her hometown of Cleveland in 2009 to pursue a story about two disabled wrestlers who attended an impoverished public high school. Dartanyon Crockett, legally blind yet the best wrestler on the team, would carry Leroy Sutton, who had lost both his legs in a train accident when he was 11, to practices and meets.
Fenn formed a connection with the two young men and dedicated the next six years of her life to ensuring their success. Sutton graduated from college and Crockett won a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games.