Ida B. Wells-Barnett

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy

Hosted by Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Akron
1180 Slosson Street
Akron, Ohio   44320-2370

COUNTY: Summit           IRN: 133553

 Part I: Annual Report for 2001-2002

1.   Introduction

The Academy was chartered by the Ohio Department of Education on May 4, 1999, and opened on August 30, 1999 as an independent, nonsectarian and public Community School in Akron, Ohio. It was incorporated as the Ida B. Wells Community Academy, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, on December 29, 1998, and was granted 501(c)3 tax status on May 19, 2000. The Academy’s Learning Center for 1999-2000 was located at 1104 Johnston Street. Its Administrative Offices were at 395 East Tallmadge Avenue. On August 11, 2000, the Academy’s  Learning Center and administrative offices moved to 670 Wooster Avenue, where it was hosted by Antioch Baptist Church. In this facility the Academy enjoyed enough space to adequately house its current academic program. The tele-phone numbers remained unchanged – 330.376.4915 and FAX: 330.376.4912. A separate phone number for the Administrative Office was added in 2001 -- 330.761.1484 – when the office moved to another location on the church’s grounds to make room for the addition of a fourth grade class.

Gwendolyn R. Poole's Kindergarten Class

There are, however, some major and minor disabilities which will be discussed in a later section of this Annual Report (see p. 14). We characterize the fiscal year just ended in Dickensian terms: We have experienced “the best of times and the worst of times.” The most debilitating problem faced was the partial to complete loss of the valued assistance of the Academy’s founder and Board of Governors chair, Dr. Edward W. Crosby. Dr. Crosby recently resigned as the chairman of the Academy’s Board of Governors and as the superintendent because of a flair up in a health condition that has plagued him for the past two years. He has, however, agreed to remain on the board and be a consultant to the Academy’s new administrative leadership. In this way, he will facilitate the leadership’s transition. Other equally debilitating obstacles occurred during the year. A more detailed discussion to these and other favorable and unfavorable happenings will be addressed in the section referenced above.

     1.2 The Academy’s Educational Mission

The Academy’s mission is to educate young people in a year-round educational program. Over the duration of its first 5-year contract, it will educate children in grades K to 6 using a holistic educational program that is personalized, problem-posing and problem-solving, centered in the humanities, natural sciences, language arts, social studies (civics), the performing and graphic arts and African American and world culture studies. This mission is buttressed where possible with electronic technology and emphasizes the establishment of a Learning Community designed to change the traditional educational paradigm and thereby enhance its students’ academic competency (proficiency, if you will) and the reuniting of traditional subject areas and learning activities so that students are better able to understand the relationship of one subject area to another and education to their present and future lives. We again invite the reader to study, ” Rossi and Montgomery’s (l994) “Educational Reforms and Students At Risk: A Review of the Current State of the Art” and Dan Aldridge’s (1970) “Circles of Continuing Development” (see Appendices I and II).

Ms. Molly McCrea's (left) and Ms. Ida Symonette's (right) Team-Taught First Grade

The Academy was founded to serve low- and medium income African American, White, Native American, and Latino American students. The latter two groups did not respond to recruitment posters, advertisements, or fliers. In short, the Academy was open to all school-aged youth residing within the Akron public school district and its surrounding metropolitan areas. The Academy, moreover, addresses its curriculum and educational services to the needs of 
underachieving and underrepresented youths. The Academy’s Board decided to enroll students, who lived outside Akron through an "Interdistrict Transfer Program." Currently, the Academy has enrolled students from Barberton (3), Kent (1) and Woodridge (1). Enrolled and retained student enrollment over 5 years is as follows:

Program Year
Grade Levels
Year One: 1999-2000
44 (88%)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd
Year Two:  2000-2001
64 (91%)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd
Year Three:  2001-2002
72 (86%)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Year Four:  2002-2003
105 (projected)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
Year Five:  2003-2004
180 (projected)
Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

2. Educational Philosophy

Since its inception, the Academy has sought to provide an education that is nurturing, intellectually stimulating and that imbues in its students intellectual curiosity, a mutual respect for learning proficiency, academic competence and the attainment of knowledge of their history, culture, traditions and values. The Academy continues its drive to accomplish these aims and to establish a Learning Community and environment that is supported by a curriculum reliant in part on the learners' life experiences at home, in their neighborhood, in the city, and in the society at large. The Academy’s programming structure has been altered to produce measurable performance outcomes in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and the natural sciences. 

Ms. Janeanne Huber's Second Grade under Mural on Summit County Public Library – Wooster Branch

To meet the Academy’s learning objectives, we introduced a curricular program with commensurate activities based on individual student interests, needs and abilities and that would allow students to grow at their own pace. This program allowed faculty to sharpen their methods for attaining higher achievement expectations for themselves and their students. The Academy’s leadership developed during the 2001-2002 academic year the above referenced curricular delivery strategy that is guided by students’ academic abilities and individual faculty teaching skills and preferences. Students are assessed at the beginning of the school year to determine where they are academically. The faculty no longer taught students exclusively in terms of their age determined grade levels. A child designated as a third grader would, therefore, no longer mean that he or she would only receive instruction based on third grade material. The Academy’s faculty learned through their ability assessment strategy that many of their students were able to do higher or advanced grade level work. It was also discovered that some third graders were actually able to do successfully only lower grade level work. Upon realizing this, the faculty then redesigned the typical school day to allow for an innovative way of taking full advantage of the individual learning potentials of their students or groups of students. Now students got to learn from a variety of faculty teaching various subjects to various ability groups during the course of a learning day. This practice created a true learning community, for now faculty and staff become a teaching-learning community not only in a particular classroom but throughout the Academy.

“Meeting students where they are socially, culturally, physically and academically and then moving them to higher and to more advanced academic levels” is one of the essential curricular and procedural elements imbedded in the Academy’s ODE contract’s Exhibit 1 – Educational Program (see pp. 3, 13-16). We have addressed this by placing students in ability groups which allow students to progress through the curricular standards according to their own learning rates. In addition, the faculty have developed four learning themes which allow for or direct the holistic integration of subject matters areas, e.g., “We Are Family,” “Looking Back to Move Forward,” “It Takes a Village,” and “Building Positive Structures.” As the faculty and their students gain familiarity with the themes’ educational potential and how they can best incorporate state mandated learning objectives, they, the faculty, are better able to introduce into their learning plans “the avoidance of threat, meaningful and relevant content, learning style choices, sufficient time to assimilate content, enriched learning environment, student-to-student collaboration, and immediate feedback. Of especial importance in this context is the programmatic notion that all children can learn. It is incumbent on the Academy to devise the means and to design the appropriate strategies to "lead that learning out," i.e., to make it happen.” Since some students were more proficient in math, say, than writing or reading, this caused these students to change classrooms and be taught by instructors who were teaching, say, reading at their ability level. Not only did this allow the student to engage a subject at his or her ability level it also broke the monotony of having to stay in the same classroom with the same teacher and students all day long.

Ms. Kenya L. McKinnie's Third Grade Class – Assistant Teacher Ms. Doni Burrus-Brooks is on the right.
Ms. McKinnie replaced Mr. Pringle, the Principal, who was temporarily substituting.

In addition to this curricular innovation, faculty continued to take advantage of “looping” [1] with their students. The faculty followed their students to the next higher grade and/or ability levels at the close of the academic year. The faculty, even though some would not be around for 2002-2003 academic year, had correctly  seen that their ability to further the learning of their students would be accelerated. For looping with their students to a higher grade or ability levels, they could use their familiarity with their students’ curricular competence to move students ever upward and onward. This was particularly so in the several ability groups the faculty established and subsequently taught.

The Academy's adjusted educational philosophy and curricular structure were effective additions to its program
structure and instructional design. Ability grouping and teachers moving with their students to higher grade levels made essential programmatic mandates more realizable.

  • A required 6-week extended academic year requiring students and faculty to be at the Learning Center for 210 days rather than the 180-day standard. This extension allowed for more curricular infusion and increased learning. It also made more intellectually profitable use of a usually unproductive and long summer break that in many instances tended to retard students’ previous learning; 
  • Small classes (a 15 to 1 student-teacher ratio) that are holistic and culturally integrative; these classes are designed to increase at all grade levels the amount students learn; 
  • Team-teaching emphasis that stressed, where appropriate, using parents, interns, student teachers, retired teachers, and professionals as part-time or auxiliary teachers;
  • Individualized instruction, learning through doing (an active vs. passive instructional design);
  • Meeting students where they are culturally, socially and academically and then moving them to more advanced educational levels;
  • Self learning projects that were student or teacher initiated and conducted first in-school and later, based on student maturity, assigned as out-of-school projects; 

  • Ms. Berrenda Love-Lewis' Fourth Grade Class

  • A “unidisciplinary,” i.e., holistic curricular model that allowed students to experience how one set of basic skills directly related to other basic skills, i.e., reading to mathematics, geography to social sciences, mathematics to science, culture to history, and how all these related to being educated from a more culturally relevant point of view (see Professor Fela Sowande’s “Africentric Paradigm of Curricular Holism,” at


    See also the following Web site at When this Web page opens, under the “For what purpose are you seeking ideas or information,” choose the theme: Teaching Styles for Holistic Classrooms. Here you will find 52 articles on holism. This site is good for searching out information on other creative issues and practices in education. Check out the other search possibilities.) 

Even though we are convinced our curricular process is correct, the process must be carefully and rigorously evaluated. Such an evaluation, therefore, will be conducted during the 2002-2003 academic year.


     1.  "Looping," as is generally known, is the practice of advancing a teacher from one grade level to the next along with his or her class. At the end of a "loop" of two or more years, the teacher begins the cycle again with a new group of students. See

End of Part I

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Go to The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Biography

For More Information Call

Ms. Angela M. Anderson, MBA
Chief Administrative Officer
Mrs. Michelle C. Rumrill, MEd
Faculty and Curriculum Manager
Dr. Edward W. Crosby, PhD
Founder and Program Consultant

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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