The Changing the Game Academy is currently accepting K-8 students. It is funded by a grant that offers children a tuition-free, private-school education.
BY AMBER B. COURTNEY, Contributor
ST. PETERSBURG – Changing the Game for a New Generation, Inc., is preparing to open C(hanging) T(he) G(ame) Academy for the upcoming 2021-22 school year, with a mission to extend the digital platform for education to southside students.
The charter school, directed by Dr. Sydel LeGrande, accepts K-8 students and is funded by a grant that offers children a tuition-free, private-school education.
With an individualized approach to learning, students will be attending the school in person while working online. Each student will receive a learning coach they will share with eight other students, textbooks, supplies, and their own laptop to use while at the school.
With a maximum capacity of 45 students, allowing for nine students per class, Dr. LeGrande said the school’s design enables students to excel at their own pace while providing personalized teaching.
LeGrande, a medical doctor and ordained minister with a 30-plus-year medical practice and history in activism, felt the need to impact the Black community further when she began the afterschool program Project I. A.M. (Inspiring Amazing Minds.)
“Children in our community are disproportionately facing hardships — things like crime, poverty, and criminalization that are causing them to fail. We want our school to flip the script when it comes to educating young Black children,” she noted.
Project I. A.M. was implemented as an afterschool program to instill students’ creativity, self-expression, resilience, and self-love. “I saw a lot of beautiful Black children in F-rated schools,” LeGrande recalled. “I met A-plus students in an environment where the school is overwhelmed and not well-equipped enough to help.”
Project I. A.M. uses a model that allows students’ creative expression and learning about their African heritage. According to Dr. LeGrande, “The curriculum teaches children who they are, whose they are, and what they can become.”
After successfully implementing the afterschool program in St. Pete, she was inspired to incorporate its successes into a full-day school program.
“Project I. A.M. was created to address adverse childhood experiences, and we plan to help with those experiences as a trauma-informed school,” acknowledged Dr. Sybil Rosado, the school’s legal assistant.
The idea to open the school was also inspired by the recent pandemic, during which children were required to learn online instead of in person. Dr. Sybil Johnson, director of the school’s Cultural Center and one of the school’s learning coaches, relayed
“Everybody was learning online, but not everyone could afford to have someone helping them.”
Virtual learning required knowledge of computers and software that left many students and parents at a loss, which negatively impacted students in urban communities who, unlike those in wealthier families, had nowhere to go for help.
“Everyone was just thrown in the water and told to swim,” added Dr. Rosado. “A majority of teachers were never taught how to teach online, and a majority of Black students don’t have access to laptops or parents with the knowledge to help them to use them.”
LeGrande and her team are hoping to change the education system with CTG while being a beacon of hope for Black families and children in the St. Pete area. The school aims to teach children their worth, ways to positively express themselves — and most importantly, that where they come from doesn’t matter…if they know exactly where they’re going.
The CTG Academy is located at 18th Ave. S, for more information, visit ctgforanewgeneration.com.