His father had died of a heroin overdose when he was 9. His mother, raising three children on her own, hoped that the new charter school in West Englewood could teach her son how to be a man.
"Please pick my son. We need you," Angela Russell scribbled several times in the margins of his school application.Urban Prep, Chicago's only public all-boys high school, opened last fall against the backdrop of nationwide concern over the widening achievement gap between African-American boys and other students.
On the first day of school, the average freshman at Urban Prep was reading at a 6th-grade level.As the academy completes the first year of its experiment to reverse the abysmal high school graduation rate among black male students -- the lowest of any group in [Chicago] -- administrators say they are getting some traction in the classroom.
...Angela Russell, sees [her son] evolving into the young man she wants him to be, in big and small ways. He's less "D'Lo," the boy from the neighborhood, and more "Mr. Gardner."
"I knew I couldn't teach him how to be a man," she said. "That was my whole point of sending him to Urban Prep, so that they could show my son what real men do: They get up, they go to work -- not what you see on the videos or the corner..."
This from the Chicago Tribune:
Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men
* Founded by Tim King, former head of Hales Franciscan High School, a South Side Catholic school for black boys
* Opened Sept. 5, 2006, with 160 freshmen selected by lottery
* Mission: To provide a college-preparatory education
* By 2010 the school will house freshmen through seniors
* 22 employees, most of whom are African-American men: 10 full-time teachers, 12 full-time administrators and staff members
* $2.25 million annual budget; nearly $1 million from fundraisingStudent demographics
* 90 percent come from single-parent households
* 92 percent daily attendance rate.* 95 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch
Urban Prep CreedWe believe.
We are the young men of Urban Prep.
We are college bound.
We are exceptional -- not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.
We will not falter in the face of any obstacle placed before us.
We are dedicated, committed and focused.
We never succumb to mediocrity, uncertainty or fear.
We never fail because we never give up.
We make no excuses.
We choose to live honestly, nonviolently and honorably.