A new elementary school in Jacksonville, Florida, doesn’t think students should wait until college to get the best parts of the experience offered at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Becoming Collegiate Academy is opening its doors to kindergarten and first graders this year and plans to add a grade each year until it serves students in grades K-5. The school is a “tuition-free, college preparatory, public charter school that prepares all students in grades kindergarten through 5th grade for success in college and life.”
“Our focus is to create a community for all students to belong by focusing on building positive relationships, uplifting identity and culture, and preparing students for college and life,” Frazieer said.
Though Frazier did not attend an HBCU, he is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, one of the nine historic Black Greek-lettered organizations. He told First Coast News Becoming Collegiate’s emphasis on culture is just as crucial as academics because representation matters.
According to First Coast, reports show two percent of teachers in America are Black men. At Becoming Collegiate, that number skyrockets to 50 percent.
“It’s very important that our students see role models who look just like them standing in front of them every single day,” Frazier said. “It’s extremely important for our students to experience it in elementary school. They need to see Black males teaching them academic content, letting them know that they are smart, building their identity, holding high expectations and surrounding them with love.”
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One of Frazier’s former students, Ahmad Levy, is a teacher at the school. “Mr. Frazier was my first African American male teacher, and that was in seventh grade, so it took all these years just to get one person that looked like me teaching me and I now teach so that I can be that representation for our community,” Levy said.
Focused on literacy and STEM education, the school aims to enroll 120 children in its first year. Among its innovative curriculum are HBCU and Black history-inspired alphabets. For example, “A” stands for Alcorn State University, “C’ stands for Clark Atlanta University and “Z” stands for Zora Neale Hurston.
“I whole-heartily believe that when every child feels seen, safe, and celebrated for the value they bring to the whole community they will develop into the best versions of themselves,” Frazier said.
The school is located at 5258 Norwood Ave Suite 3, off Norwood Avenue in the historic Gateway Town Center. It is currently hiring for teachers and other staff positions, but anyone who applies must be ready and willing to embody the school’s culture.
“We take the best practices from the HBCU experience … So we allow our brown bears to have that experience early on,” Frazier said. “You’ll see the big brown bear and you’ll be surrounded by nothing but love.”
PHOTOS: Teachers interact with students at Becoming Collegiate Academy. (Photos: Facebook / Becoming Collegiate Academy)