3. Why are parents considered a key to success? Give three examples of ways the school involves parents.
4. According to the author, the school produced extraordinary results in the first set of district assessments. What did those tests measure? How did those results compare with schools nationally?
5. How were students selected for I Promise? Why are the students called the “Chosen Ones”?
6. Why did Mr. James open the I Promise School? How was that choice influenced by his previous philanthropic work in his hometown? How did these experiences affect the design of the school?
7. The article says:
The students have a long way to go to even join the middle of the pack. And time will tell whether the gains are sustainable and how they stack up against rigorous state standardized tests at the end of the year. To some extent, the excitement surrounding the students’ progress illustrates a somber reality in urban education, where big hopes hinge on small victories.
How does the I Promise School illustrate the realities of urban education? Do you think that the first year of the school has already been a small victory?
Finally, tell us more about what you think:
— What’s your reaction to the story of the I Promise School? Why do you think the school has been effective in reaching students who previously had unsuccessful experiences in school? Which aspects of I Promise would you like to see incorporated at your own school? Would you want to attend Mr. James’s school? Why or why not?
— Brandi Davis, the school’s principal, said, “We are reigniting dreams that were extinguished.” What’s your reaction to reading that children as young as 8 years old have already had their dreams extinguished and have been viewed as “irredeemable”? What role do expectations — high or low — play in a child’s success? How do you think your own school experience has been affected by teachers’ and administrators’ expectations?
— Does the article change how you feel about Mr. James or athletes in general? Should more athletes and celebrities open schools, or do you think the success of the I Promise School is unique, based on Mr. James’s character and vision?
— The article doesn’t explain why the school is named I Promise. Based on what you have read, or perhaps even on what you know already about Mr. James and his life, why do you think the school was given its name?
— Return to the activity above. How similar are your ideas for the ideal school to the innovations at the I Promise School? Is there anything you would add or remove from your previous list after reading the article?
— Create a 60-second pitch to potential students and parents to recruit them for your ideal school. For your elevator pitch, come up with a school name and a slogan or catchphrase. Make sure your pitch is succinct, vivid and persuasive: Why should students make the choice to attend your school?