Pharrell is known for giving back to his community on a massive scale, and his latest initiative is helping improve education for low-income families.
According to The Virginian Pilot, Pharrell is working to open small private schools for students, with the first school to open in Norfolk. The school opens in Ghent on September 7th this autumn and consists of grades three to five.
Pharrell spoke of the schools and said, “If the system is solid and unfair, then it has to be broken. We don’t want lock-step learning that leaves so many children behind; We want tailor-made learning for every child, where the things that a child do differently are the same things that make a child stand up and fly. “
The schools will be known as “Yellowhab,” which is named after Pharrell’s nonprofit “Yellow,” and “hab” is derived from the name of the Martian habitat in The Martian.
The school will focus on the STEM curriculum and enroll at least 40-50 students. Although enrollment is available for third, fourth, and fifth grade students, the school places emphasis on students’ proficiency levels and groups them as such, as opposed to their grade levels.
Executive Director Mike McGalliard said, “The challenge is that if you are moving too slowly against a benchmark, you will be labeled ‘Remedial’ or something similar. And that’s detrimental to your developing self-concept, to your sense of what you can achieve. It’s oppressive and it’s a weight that children carry. “
The costs of the school remain free of charge for at least the first year and are financed through the support of philanthropists.
McGalliard also noted that the school has no plans to seek local approval or funding to make the school a public charter.
“We are very clear here that we are not taking anything away from the city or the district. We want to be additive and not exert any burdensome, intrusive influence on these institutions. It is very important that we do not interfere with this source of income, ”he said.
Regarding Norfolk as the location of the first school, the Virginian Piolt notes that the decision was made because of “deeply ingrained apartment separation and the city’s plans to redevelop three public housing communities through the multi-billion dollar redevelopment of St. Paul’s”. ”
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TSR STAFF: Jade Ashley @ Jade_Ashley94