Off of Martin Luther King highway in Lansing is Shabazz Public School Academy (SPSA). A charter dedicated to giving students the basic learning skills in reading, writing and math along with so much more.
Shabazz Public School Academy is named after Ell Hajj Malik El Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X. The school’s focus is providing an Afrocentric learning experience to its students and empowering them while they’re getting ready to move on to the next level.
Many of the students are proud to be receiving such a great opportunity from SPSA.
“You can get a great education and learn more than you usually do at different kinds of schools,” said Christopher Isaac, an SPSA student. “They (the teachers ) care about all of us because even though we’re bad sometimes they help us learn how to focus and get through things.”
A majority of the students in SPSA enjoy learning about their heritage and African culture and feel that it is the great thing about the school.
“My favorite thing about Shabazz is the people that are in the school, I get to learn about my history and after-school activities,” sixth-grader Arrissa Fry said.
Although many of the students are eager to learn, there are still behavioral issues that need to be dealt with and that’s where “Mr. Gary” comes in.
Gary Truvillion, Student Support Coordinator, deals with a lot of the students who may have a behavioral issue.
“They just want to know you care about them,” said Truvillion. “A lot of students who may not get attention at home come here hoping to get it.”
This school and the students inspire the educators the same way the educators aim to inspire them.
“The diversity, the people here, it’s like a team,” Truvillion said. “It’s part of my culture and when you learn about your own culture in a place where it’s surrounding it’s just great.”
Sixth-grade teacher Ernest Conerly, better known as Mr. Ernest by his students, said he believes that “learning should be fun.”
Fifth-grade teacher Elex Dean, who went to Jackson State University, said he uses his experience from attending a historically black college to inspire the students in learning.
“Each day I’m inspired by the students in various ways,” Dean said. “When I have students who at the beginning of the year may have been struggling academically or behaviorally, I get to see them throughout the school year make improvements and make growth and do better once we get ready to wrap the school year up.”
The Afrocentric learning experience that SPSA provides is what makes the academy very unique and separates them from other elementary schools in Lansing.
“This is a school that really gives minorities a chance to really learn who they are and where they come from,” said Mr. Ernest. “To learn about their history, culture and why it is important for them to understand it. It also brings together the best curriculum’s possible to ensure that these children are well rounded.”
There are many unique things about SPSA such as Swahili teacher Doc Davis or Baba Kumar as the kids call him.
“It’s always good to know a second language because it enhances your first,” Davis said. “This challenges the kids to think critically and think much deeper.”