Introducing Washington, D.C.’s newest high school: the roughly $60 million Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, the capital city’s first all-male traditional public school.
The school is designed specifically to meet the needs of its young black male students – who are called “kings.” And for many of the young men, their needs are profound.
Two reporters, Education Week‘s Kavitha Cardoza and NPR’s Cory Turner, spent hundreds of hours with teachers, students, and parents from the school for a three-part audio series on Ron Brown’s first year.
In this episode, we’ll meet Dr. Benjamin Williams, the principal, who personally recruited each of the 100 young men who enrolled as freshmen.
We’ll also meet two of the men at the center of what makes Ron Brown so unusual: Dr. Charles Curtis and Dawaine Cosey, members of the school’s CARE team.
“They feel like it’s a place where they can take chances, where they can grow.” — Benjamin Williams, principal
“I tell the guys here: You’re gonna get love and there’s really nothing you can do about it.” — Dawaine Cosey, director of culture, empowerment, and restorative justice
“When we look at these young people, we’re looking at them from a place of godliness, of kingliness, of royalty.” — Charles Curtis, school psychologist
In the first few months of the academic year, the educators at Ron Brown work with an almost single-minded focus on establishing a school culture and ethos that few of the kings, and in many cases even teachers, have ever experienced.
They spend hours every week in restorative justice circles, putting offenders and their wronged parties together to talk through what’s happened and find ways to set things right. And the students resist. And some parents and school faculty push back too.
Listen to Episode One
This episode originally aired Oct. 18, 2017 on NPR’s Code Switch. It’s introduced by Code Switch’s Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby.
Listen to episode two.