The Ida B. Wells Community Academy is an independent, public
    educational institution founded by Dr. Edward W. Crosby and
    Mrs. Emma Jean Calhoun and a consortium of community organizations
    based in Akron, Ohio. The Academy is chartered and funded by the
    Ohio State Department of Education.

    semper novi quid ex Afrika!
       "Everything new always comes out of Africa!"  — Pliny

“Building Young Scholars for Their Future¨

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy (hereinafter referred to as "the Academy') was founded in Akron, Ohio, by Dr. Edward W. Crosby and Mrs. Emma Jean Calhoun in association with a consortium of community groups based in Akron, Ohio and chartered by the Ohio State Department of Education on May 4, 1999. It was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation on December 29, 1998. Moreover, the Ida B. Wells Community Academy addresses its curriculum to the needs of all youths who are eligible to attend the Akron Public Schools. The Academy's decision to maintain an average 15 to 1 student to teacher ratio strengthens its efforts to increase these students educational performance while at the same time diversifying educational content. The Academy's intent is to eventually serve students from Kindergarten to High School. In its first year, which began on August 30, 1999, the Academy enrolled only students in Kindergarten through the 2nd grade, and would add on average one grade per year during its initial five years in operation.

           1.  Student Profile

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy's student population during its initial 5-year contract with the state of Ohio will be composed of youngsters 5 to 11 years old and will be enrolled in the following grade levels:

Projected School Enrollment
Program Year
Grade Levels
Year One 
 44 (88%)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd
Year Two 
 64 (91%)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd
Year Three
72 (86%)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Year Four 
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
 Year Five 
150 (projected)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th
Total Certified Teaching Staff during the Five-Year Period
Year 1999-2000   3 Teachers Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd
Year 2000-2001   5 Teachers  Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd
Year 2001-2002   7 Teachers Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Year 2002-2003  10 Teachers Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
Year 2003-2004 13 Teachers Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

              Average Students to Teacher Ratio:  15:1

The Academy's reasons for directing its programmatic energies at the education of all young people, particularly those youths of color who are underserved, and to the development of an innovative educational paradigm is to address pressing contemporary educational and societal problems. Some of these problems are spoken to in the following passage:

Some people are concerned that the reform movement has emphasized job-related skills at the  expense  of promoting social awareness and values. Our research emphasizes that education "must enable [students] to think complexly and creatively, to act responsibly, and – when necessary – to act selflessly . . . education must help the United States meet both economic and moral imperatives." Some researchers argue that school policies, practices, and curricula must prepare students to live in a culturally diverse society, while some religious groups contend that a renewed emphasis on character development is required. Perhaps these concerns should be incorporated into discussions of ways of being "at risk." It may be that young people who leave school with poor behavioral and academic skills are not the only students at risk – pleasant, productive young workers who understand “21st-century" dependence on technology but fail to grasp the significance of social and ethical issues may also place themselves, their communities, and the nation at further risk.
      2.  Educational Program

            Academic Mission Statement

The Academy's mission, as already stated, is to educate youth (5 to 11 years of age) in Kindergarten through the 6th grade in an innovative and holistic, “unidisciplinary” (click here to view for Prof. Fela Sowande’s “Paradigm of Curricular Holism”) and intellectually challenging atmosphere that (1) is personalized, problem-posing and problem-solving; (2) is devoted to the provision of quality instruction in the humanities, mathematics, the physical and natural sciences, citizenship, the arts, the social sciences, and African and world culture studies; (3) emphasizes preparing students to pass at the 75th percentile or better on the fourth and sixth grade proficiency tests; (4) is a fully democratic and participatory educational process; and (5) has a well conceived policy outlining the Roles and Responsibilities of Walimu (Teachers) and Wanafunzi (Students) and also the “Rights and Responsibilities of Parents, Teachers and Administrators.”  Recently, the Board of Governors passed a policy which formalized the Academy’s policy on “Compulsory Attendance and Automatic Withdrawal of Chronically Truant Students” (click here to visit the Academy's Web site.

            The Academy's Educational Program and Goals

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy introduces its students to a culturally integrative curriculum designed to include content that is at once nurturing, stimulating, intended to engage students' intellectual curiosity, and imbue in them a mutual respect for learning proficiency, competence and self direction not only in traditional learning objectives but also in the attainment of knowledge of their cultures, traditions and values. Students will also learn to appreciate themselves, their fellow students, their families, their community and their nation. The Academy's goals include creating a responsive and innovative learning environment that will instruct students based on these programmatic objectives:

              1.  to prepare all students to function competently and productively in an ever more complex and technological global society;
              2.  to achieve increased academic performance expectations and measured proficiency outcomes,
              3.  to increase students' daily attendance records and to implement creative disciplinary methods to reduce suspensions and dismissals;
              4.  to involve the professional community, parents, retired teachers and students directly in the learning process;
              5.  to design a curriculum that can be partially reliant on the learning potential of the World Wide Web so as to augment children’s success on class assignments and individual student research;
              6.  to assure students and parents that they will be able to transition, with ease, out of the Academy into the Akron Public Schools or an equivalent public educational system;
              7.  to provide students, parents and faculty/staff with a detailed handbook that clearly outlines their rights and responsibilities. The rights of all students, parents and faculty, including those guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Ohio, and by applicable federal, Ohio, and local statutes, and the right to a quality education, are and shall be recognized without regard to race, religion, sex, disability, or intellectual ability. Student responsibilities include regular school attendance, conscientious effort in classroom work, conformance to school rules and regulations, and the responsibility not to interfere with the education of fellow students or the orderly operation of the Academy. These rights and responsibilities, as they pertain to students, begin with kindergarten and extend through the sixth grade; and
              8.  to assure parents and students that the U.S. Department of Education's seven (7) educational priorities are also priorities for the Academy:

These program Imperatives are to inform parents that the Academy is an educational institution wherein administrators, faculty, students, and the community work collectively and in harmony to reach its educational goals (see Professor Sowande’s “Program Harmony Model” on below.

The Academy’s Program Harmony Model

Professor Fela Sowande originally conceptualized this model in 1972 at the University of Pittsburgh. At that time it consisted of only three “Centers of Total Comment.” In 1984, Dr. Edward W. Crosby added to Professor Sowande’s model a fourth Center – “Progam Parents and Community.” With this addition, the model incorporates the four primary constituencies of any well-conceptualized educational program that must be in harmony, en rapport, and exhibit total commitment to each of its four operational Centers.

And as argued by David Matthews of the Kettering Foundation in his Is There a Public for Public Schools (1996), the Academy has as its overriding objective that of effecting a partnership, a Learning Community, composed of strategic constituencies who enjoy a feeling of ownership. On the issue of social control, a team of researchers reported that adults behave as if the locus of social control exists in African American children when in fact it does not. Since teachers and parents rarely lived  in the same community, rarely communicated with each other, the social control mechanism employed in the schools was at variance with the mechanisms employed by the parents' community and certainly at variance with social control as it was used by the parents themselves (Henderson, Donald and Alfonzo Washington (1975). "Cultural Differences and the Education of Black Children," Journal of Negro Education 44:353-60). The point is that the parents, teachers and community must learn to act in concert so as not to be caught out of sync with one another. A consequence of putting emphasis on this communal relationship, will demonstrate to parents and significant others that the Academy is able to provide children with a quality education; that the Academy is an appropriate school of choice, and that parents should avail themselves of the Academy's socio-cultural services and enroll their child(ren). To promote this notion in the public's mind, the Academy's developers have already conducted a community-wide canvass to announce its existence and document the community’s collective choice. We believe our personalized educational program, the student-friendly curricular structure, emphasis on full participation of all constituencies, and our democratic program design and delivery system are major attractions.

            The Academy's Curriculum and Curricular Focus

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy's curriculum provides instructional content that is nurturing, intellectually stimulating and intended to imbue in its students a mutual respect for learning those learning objectives or benchmarks recommended by the Ohio Department of Education's competency-based learning outcomes for mathematics, social studies (citizenship), science (physical and natural), comprehensive arts, language arts and literature, a foreign language, e.g., Kiswahili (a lingua franca, or the most widely spoken language of East and Central Africa). An additional Academy goal includes the establishment of a learning environment supported by a curriculum that relies in part on the learners' experiences at home, in their neighborhoods, in the community, and in the society in general as far as possible and prudent. The Academy strives to instill an awareness and mutual respect for other people(s), their cultures, aspirations, traditions and values. In short, the curriculum will help students recognize how their learning is integrally related to their lives in the present and in the future. The Academy's and the general public's focus on increased academic expectations, moral and social responsibility, and increased proficiency ratings influence parents’ decision to enroll their child(ren) in the Ida B. Wells Community Academy. It is important here to state categorically that the Academy’s educational program relies on the research of scholars in the field. The Academy bases its structure and design in part on the work of Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education, Georgia State University, Dr. Janice E. Hale and many others.

In Hilliard's “Alternatives to IQ Testing: An Approach to the Identification of Gifted Minority Children,” Final Report to the California State Department of Education (1976), he stressed, along with others, that schools and schooling must view low-income and underrepresented children through a different set of glasses. That is to say, African American and white students respond differently to standard and nonstandard intellectual stimuli. This position is underlined in Janice Hale's Black Children, Their Roots, Culture, and Learning Styles (1986), in which she reports the findings of Laura Lein's research (1975) on speech behavior and linguistic styles of African American migrant children as follows: "Demanding examples of good speech from students in tests or in the usual classroom situations is not necessarily an effective way of finding out what students know. Listening to exchanges between peers and peer evaluations of such exchanges is an important part of discovering how children speak. Also, it is a reasonable mechanism for learning how children interpret and react to speech. Teaching teachers the skills of [cultural] anthropological observation and analysis may be one helpful way of enlarging their understanding of what is happening in the classroom."

Even though these references to educational research are directly related to African American children, the Academy understands that there is a commonality of educational experiences and barriers that obtain for all classes of Americans. And that it is the Academy's job to see that every child – black or white, poor or disabled – receives a quality education and learns what it means to strive to be excellent in all their endeavors in school, at home, in the neighborhood, in sports, in art, in music and dance, in reading, writing and arithmetic.

The Academy's curricular content at each grade level will be structured to produce the following expected and measurable performance outcomes as cited in the Ohio Board of Education's mandated learning objectives. Broadly speaking, these learning objectives include modes for reading, writing, mathematics, science, and civics (citizenship) and social studies. It must be emphasized here, however, that these performance objectives represent only the minimum curricular focuses of the Ida B. Wells Community Academy. It should also be emphasized that since the Academy will design structured learning activities based on individual student interests and needs, the performance outcomes enumerated do not and cannot reflect all of the faculty's anticipated performance expectations. To be sure, they are no more than indications of the comprehensiveness of the Academy's curriculum. At the risk of redundancy, given the Academy's emphasis on allowing its students to grow at their own pace, we expect over time a number of students will show even higher levels of performance.

            At the End of Kindergarten Students Should Be Able . . .

            At the End of First Grade Students Should Be Able . . .             At the End of Second Grade Students Should Be Able . . .             At the End of Third Grade . . .

                In Language Arts, the Student Should Be Able . . .

               In Mathematics, the Student Should be Able . . .               In Science, the Student Should Be Able . . .               In Social Studies, the Student Should Be Able . . .             At the End of Fourth Grade . . .

                In the Language Arts, the Student Should Be Able . . .

              In Mathematics, the Student Should Be Able . . .              In Science, the Student Should Be Able . . .                 In Social Studies, the Student Should Be Able . . .             At the End of Fifth Grade . . .

               In Language Arts, the Student Should Be Able . . .

              In Mathematics, the Student Should Be Able . . .               In Science, the Student Should Be Able . . .               In Social Studies, the Student Should Be Able  . . . The above minimal Board of Governors and teacher determined learning objectives will prepare students to exhibit in the early years learning that correlates well with those proficiencies needed to demonstrate competence on the 4th and 6th grade OPTs as summarized more extensively below. The Academy's Principal provides all instructors, particularly those teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grade students with sample copies of previous years' proficiency tests. Faculty can use these tests to familiarize themselves with their content structure and to guide the development of their lesson and unit plans. The Academy's intentions here are not to have the faculty teach the test but rather to apprise them of the type and style of test questions their students will be confronted with. As a consequence, they will be able to develop in their individual students appropriate test taking skills as well as similar styles and types of test questions.

End of Part I

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Ms. Angela M. Anderson, MBA
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Mrs. Michelle C. Rumrill, MEd

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy
1180 Slosson Street
Akron, Ohio   44320-2730

Office: 330.867.1085    FAX: 330.867.1074


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