Black Education Pioneer & Charter School
Why did you launch the school?
In 1990, the Tutmose Academy was initially named the Inroads Family and Community Services organization. In the beginning, the mission was to mentor high-risk kids who had been expelled from the traditional education system, however it was illegal for these troubled children to go to charter schools in Colorado at that time. Eventually, the laws changed, and the state provided financial backing to help work with kids who were on probation and to provide life skills training for programs such as anger management and critical thinking. In addition to teachers, we also had paid mentors who were on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All of our clients were young men between the ages of 13 and 18 who were on probation and were sent to our program as an alternative to youth detention facilities. Even though our school was open to all, my focus was really to impact the lives of young African Americans.
What were some accomplishments you are proud of?
We were the first charter school in the Harrison School District in Colorado Springs. In 1999, we were presented with the El Pomar Foundation “Excellence in Education” award, which recognized our unique model that assisted these youth who were in need.
In fact, on the C-SAP test, which was the standardized test for public schools, we beat two local high schools in reading and math. It was a significant accomplishment because these were kids who society had discarded. We were able to demonstrate that through a unique program, we could have students perform at high levels and improve their behavior. Many of them had previously been in trouble with the Juvenile Justice System.
Our students wore uniforms to avoid wearing gang attire. This also gave them a sense of dignity since some of them could not afford nice clothes. Occasionally, I see some of the students from our first graduating class, and I am proud to say, are pursuing productive lives. The most significant achievement was helping teenagers create positive futures despite the odds and challenges of their childhood.
Unfortunately, because of the lack of resources,our charter school closed. However many are grateful for the years we provided this service to our community which changed the trajectory of the lives of so many young people.
Interview By the Editor in Chief, Brandon Bornes