Raquel Alexander is a 20 year old senior at Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy Humboldt Park, and is from the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. She has been in the program for two years, and is now focused on graduating in June and continuing her education.
In order to save money, Raquel plans to attend Truman College and study Criminal Justice. Her goal is to then transfer to Loyola University and major in law. Raquel will then apply to Law School at DePaul University and hopes to eventually practice law in the city of Chicago. Raquel plans to contribute directly to the change she wants to see in her community.
In addition to her studies, Raquel enjoys both music and the arts. Her specific interests are Pop Rock and drawing as she grew up learning about both from her father. She also believes music and art are relatable to her life, and serve a therapeutic purpose.
The Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Durham, North Carolina celebrated Winter Graduation on January 19, with 14 new graduates. While the students came from many different backgrounds, they all had the same story -- they had disengaged from high school and saw the importance of earing their high school diploma.
Among the graduates: Heather wants to go on to Wake Technical Community College, while Diamond plans to go to school to pursue a career in medicine. Demetrius started the semester 16 credits shy of graduation and earned EVERY credit he needed in one semester. Jennifer is a wife and mother of 3; her little girls cheered for their mom as she walked across the stage. All of students were grateful for MJBA and the staff who pushed them, cheered them, and coached them to the finish line.
Since the inception of the program, more than 1,100 non-graduates have earned their high school diplomas from Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. Eight-six percent of the graduates from the Class of 2015 are attending college, trade school, are employed, or are serving their country in the military.
Seventy-five percent of the people living in the United States today – were not even born when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken at the age of 39.
While he was certainly the leader of the most significant social movement in America’s history, and a great orator whose eloquence and inspirational quality advanced the cause he dedicated his life to – he most certainly was more than a historic figure, or a statue in a park, or the namesake for a federal holiday.
Martin Luther King, Jr. at his essence – was a teacher.
Six months before his death, Dr. King spoke to students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia – which years later would become an EdisonLearning partnership school. His message nearly half a century ago, still rings true today:
“I urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil; and I say to you, don't drop out of school. I understand all the sociological reasons, but I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you're forced to live in – stay in school.
And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn't do it any better.”
Dr. King’s insightful understanding of the paramount role education plays in society would today label him as an advocate of “disruptive learning.” Just as we seek to change the conversation about education, he published his thoughts in the Morehouse College student newspaper in 1947:
“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.
We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.”
As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend, let us also embrace his call to action together as an organization, and as individuals:
“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”
After completing 8th grade, Titochie Figures dropped out of school. For more than a year, his educational future looked bleak, and it was more than likely that he would never earn his high school diploma.
However, in September of 2014, Titochie enrolled at the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Starting out with zero credits towards graduation, and initially struggling to become acclimated to the school’s culture and learning environment, Titochie finally hit his stride.
With the guidance and encouragement of the MJBA Englewood academic team, Titochie successfully advanced through his course work to the point that on January 12 – Titochie Figures became a high school graduate, and will be joining the Work Training Program at the Chicago Urban League.
On January 8, students at Kingsthorpe College in Northampton, UK were privileged and honoured to meet with Matthew Barzun, United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom and the Court of St James. Ambassador Barzun (center in the above photo), joined school leaders and EdisonLearning UK’s Managing Director Tim (far right).
Along with Michael Ellis, Member of Parliament, Ambassador Barzun visited the College to listen to the views of students about international relations with the USA and to discuss global issues that are important to them. The Ambassador explained to students that their feedback would be collated and shared directly with the U.S. President, Barack Obama. Students had the opportunity for real dialogue with the U.S. Ambassador and they were able to express their views at the very highest level.
The session began with students sharing their perceptions of the U.S. The Ambassador also asked students for their opinions on which foreign policy issues were most important to them and was keen to know what concerns they had about the U.S; students came up with a varied and thought-provoking list. Topics included: Middle East peace, the UK in the EU, the military, gun laws, the involvement of the US in international relations, healthcare, foreign policy, the U.S. Constitution, and international trade. The Ambassador was impressed with the students’ knowledge about US history and politics and thanked them for their feedback.
Kingsthorpe College, a member of The Collaborative Academies Trust with EdisonLearning UK, has a strong partnership with a number of schools in the USA, especially the Magic Johnson Academy in Bridgeton, New Jersey.
Commenting on the visit, Principal Debbie Morrison said: “We are truly privileged to have had a visit from the U.S. Ambassador, Matthew Barzun, who was keen to engage with our students and to reinforce for them the ethos of Kingsthorpe College– that every student has the potential to make a really positive difference in the world.”