Founder of Eagle Academy schools compiles library with role models for students of color

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Courtesy of Eagle Academy

The founder of The Eagle Academy for Young Men, which operates one of its schools in St. Albans, knows how important it is to present positive role models to his students.

David Banks, the president and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation has curated — in collaboration with with Scholastic — a new collection of books for kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms containing high-interest, authentic texts that celebrate the stories of Black and Latino boys, some of the most historically most underrepresented people in children’s literature.

The “Rising Voices Library” features nonfiction, biographical and fiction titles paired with teaching materials designed to help foster rich classroom communities through deep discussions about social justice and identity development, helping students grow as leaders and independent thinkers.

“The success of the Eagle Academy Foundation model demonstrates that young men of color thrive in academic environments where their identities are uplifted. When I worked with Scholastic to curate the ‘Rising Voices Library’ collection, I wanted to expand the reach of our educational philosophy to classrooms across America,” Banks said. “Positioning young men of color to succeed means teaching them that they can dream as big as the protagonists in their favorite novels. We owe it to all students to provide them with literature that can elevate their confidence, love of reading and curiosity of the world.”

The complete “Rising Voices Library” for grades K-5 features 300 books, including two copies of 25 different titles per grade level, in addition to storage bins and book stickers for organization. Teachers guides which outline instructional support for educators of each grade level with implementation strategies for integrating the texts into book clubs, whole class, small group and independent reading and teaching cards paired with each anchor text, including suggestions for exploring the text as an interactive read-aloud, building vocabulary, practicing reading strategies, and extending learning through writing, discussion and art.

“Classroom libraries set the tone for the types of learning experiences and conversations about books students will have throughout the school year,” Scholastic Education Chief Academic Officer Michael Haggen said. “It’s essential that every child’s classroom library contains a wide breadth of stories, characters and formats so that children see themselves reflected in the books they’re surrounded by and have opportunities to learn from the lives and experiences of others. We’re proud to collaborate with David C. Banks to curate the ‘Rising Voices Library’ and change the scope of education by bringing positive role models into classrooms everywhere.”

For the 2018-2019 school year, 98 percent of seniors graduated from the Eagle Academies and 100 percent of the class of 2019 was accepted to college. Eagle Academies have an overall 86 percent graduation rate for black students, 27 percent higher than the national average.

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