Pharrell Williams has plans to open private schools designated for low-income families in his home state of Virginia. Students who qualify to attend will be selected through a lottery system. The musician revealed the news in a press release to The Virginian-Pilot.
“If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken,” Williams said in a statement. “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 school, Yellowhab, will begin instruction for elementary-aged students this fall in the Ghent area of Norfolk, VA, according to the website. Described as “future-forward education,” the school is the first in a planned network of micro-schools offering individualized learning aligned to the future of work. Yellowhab will focus on “an immersive educational environment that sparks imagination in a story-filled space where children transcend the [every day] on a journey for deeper learning.”
Students eligible to enter the lottery system must meet certain standards. 40-50 students in grades 3-5 who live in Norfolk will be qualified based on need, including being qualified for the Federal Free and Reduced-price Lunch program or meets the family income requirement with verifiable proof.
Yellowhab shared more details about its approach to education via social media. On the Yellow Instagram page, the youth-centric model was described for interested viewers.
“Our educational programs are culturally responsive and develop a child’s identity and self-efficacy. Working with diverse educators locally and globally, we are creating and curating educational materials and experiences that empower students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically,” the account shared.
“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,” said Executive Director Mike McGalliard. “It’s very important that we not disrupt that revenue stream.”