The H.L. Neblett Center announced today their intention to open a Saturday education
academy to help close the achievement gap among black males in the Owensboro community. The pilot program will be known as Western Academy at the Neblett and will be a collaborative effort with Owensboro Public Schools.
Western Academy at the Neblett will host Saturday classes for black males in grades three through six in the Owensboro Public Schools district. Western Academy will add a grade level each year through the 12th grade to provide a long-term solution to closing the achievement gap in our community. Currently, approximately 60 percent of black males in Owensboro perform well below grade level and Western Academy hopes to reduce that number.
“Statistics reinforce the theory that the school-to-prison pipeline begins in the third grade based on low test scores in reading and math,” said Olga McKissic, Executive Director of the H.L. Neblett Center. “Our hope is that Western Academy will bring major change in the abilities of African-American students to accomplish academic objectives and these efforts will have a long-term positive impact on not only our public schools, but our community as a whole.”
Although similar programs exist in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, Western Academy will be the first pilot program of its kind in the Owensboro area and will expand on an already-existing partnership between the H.L. Neblett Center and Owensboro Public Schools. Currently, the H.L. Neblett Center is home to a preschool classroom as an extension of Hager Preschool.
“The Neblett Center has a long-standing history of helping Owensboro,” said Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake. “This pilot program and expanded partnership is the perfect way of expanding on our mission of engaging all students with innovative teaching and learning and their mission of empowering the lives of children, youth and adults in our community. This is a wonderful solution to accomplishing those missions.”
The pilot program will officially be introduced Saturday, August 24 at 6 p.m. at the H.L. Neblett Center during a fundraising banquet. The keynote speaker for the event will be Roszalyn Akins, a renowned educator and Dean of Students at Carter G. Woodson Academy in Lexington, Kentucky. Akins was instrumental in launching the Black Male Working (BMW) Academy in Lexington, a program similar to what Western Academy is launching in Owensboro.
Western Academy at the Neblett plans to begin classes in mid-October, although no official date has been set.