Pharrell is known for giving back to his community in major ways, and for his latest initiative, he is helping to better the education for low-income families.
According to The Virginian Pilot, Pharrell is working to open small private schools for students, with the first school scheduled to open in Norfolk. The school will open this fall on September 7th in Ghent and will consist of grades three through five.
Pharrell spoke about the schools and said, “If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken. We don’t want lockstep learning where so many kids fall behind; we want bespoke learning designed for each child, where the things that make a child different are the same things that will make a child rise up and take flight.”
The schools will be known as “Yellowhab,” which is named after Pharrell’s non-profit “Yellow,” and “hab” derives from the name of the Mars habitat in the movie “The Martian.”
The school will place focus on the STEM curriculum, and will enroll at least 40-50 students. However, although enrollment is open to students in the third, fourth and fifth grade, the school will place focus on the students’ skill level, and they will group them as such, opposed to their grade levels.
Executive Director Mike McGalliard said, “The challenge is that if you’re progressing too slow relative to some benchmark, then you’re tagged with that title ‘remedial’ or something like it. And that’s detrimental to your evolving self concept, to your sense of what you can achieve. It’s oppressive, and it’s a weight kids carry.”
The cost of the school will remain tuition-free for at least the first year and will be funded through the support of philanthropists.
McGalliard also noted that the school has no plans to look for local approval or funding to make the school a public charter.
“We are very clear here that we’re not taking away from the city or the district. We want to be additive and not put any kind of onerous, intrusive impact on those institutions. It’s very important that we not disrupt that revenue stream,” he said.
When it comes to Norfolk being the location for the first school, the Virginian Piolt notes that the decision was made due to the “deeply entrenched housing segregation and the city’s plans to redevelop three public housing communities through its billion-dollar St. Paul’s redevelopment.”
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TSR STAFF: Jade Ashley @Jade_Ashley94