Journey to Freedom Blog Partner Feature: The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence

For this month’s post, we are featuring one of the Mitchell Center’s partners: The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence (BASSE). We’ve brought on Rahsel Holland, Community Outreach Coordinator at BASSE to talk about the school’s mission, goals, and Bryan Stevenson.

THE BRYAN ALLEN STEVENSON SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE

By Rahsel Holland

When you were in high school, did you notice challenges within your community that you could impact? Were you driven by social change but felt like you were voiceless? Did you wish you could do more than just question the problem, but have the means to solve it? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you would have enjoyed being a student at the Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence (BASSE).

BASSE is an emerging public charter high school preparing for a Fall 2022 opening in Sussex County. The school will be open to all Sussex County students. Our mission is to create pathways, through proximity for our students, their families, and our community. We want to ensure that a free secondary public school is available in Sussex County that will provide countless opportunities for students to learn through a community-focused service-learning lens and academic rigor. Students will be provided with work and service experiences that will bring the students knowledge of their community needs, and help them to innovate in those spaces. BASSE will offer students a unique chance to explore, achieve, and positively impact their school and their community. BASSE is proud to be founded on the life philosophy of Bryan Allen Stevenson, a native Delawarean, renowned lawyer, and social justice advocate.

Bryan Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. They have also created a lynching memorial called the “The National Memorial for Peace and Justice” and started a museum that goes from slavery to mass incarceration called the “Legacy Museum”. Furthermore, the work of the EJI served as the inspiration for the Unequal Justice in Delaware project. Mr. Stevenson is also known for his book Just Mercy that was turned into a film starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Mr. Stevenson has won multiple awards and over 40 honorary doctoral degrees. In 2015, he was the recipient of the Delaware Historical Society’s History Makers Award. This annual award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary and lasting contributions to the quality of life in Delaware, the nation, and the world.  He is currently a professor at New York University School of Law. BASSE’s foundation is reflective of the ideology Bryan Stevenson has taught us.

Mr. Stevenson often talks about the power of proximity as being essential in his journey which is an important philosophy reflected in BASSE’s mission statement. Mr. Stevenson says, “Proximity is a pathway through which we learn the kind of things we need to know to make healthier communities.” Mr. Stevenson explains the power of proximity in Just Mercy when he talks about visiting the prisoners and become face to face with the issues. He says that it wasn’t until he had gone into the prison and seen the issue up close that he was able to understand their parameters and begin solving those issues. Therefore, if our students can move out of the classroom and be able to work in their communities, they will have the opportunity to get proximate, understand the full scoop of the issue, and begin making positive changes in their communities.

Students at BASSE will have the opportunity to make a positive change in their communities. They will be challenged with a rigorous academic and service-learning curriculum where they will learn skills, like networking. While being mindful of the needs of every student, BASSE will prioritize college and career readiness to be sure our students are prepared for any post-secondary experiences they want to pursue. Service-learning is a tool that we plan to use as an academic vehicle. Service will be embedded in the students’ classes and the students will have time to work on their service projects at the end of the school days. Networking is an important skill throughout life, and the sooner students can build a network, the more resources, and support they will have. Students need to have networks to connect with their communities so that they may choose to stay in Delaware and continue using their gifts here.

There are many great things about BASSE, but what truly makes us stand out from the rest? The opportunity to get proximate and engage in service-learning will afford students the opportunity to gain real-world experience and be inspired to create change in their communities. BASSE is determined to bridge the gap between the school and the community for the overall benefit of our students and the community as a whole. 

Learn More: The Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence is providing opportunities for the community to learn more about our school and learning model. Click here to join our mailing list.

Become an official supporter: If you are interested in adding your name or organization to our official list of supporters, please email alonna@basseinc.org 

Register for a Parent Info Session: We are holding parent webinars with the community for prospecting parents to get to know us and learn more. Click here to register.

Donate: We are currently accepting donations. Click here to donate.

Connect: www.basseinc.org OR @BASSEINC on Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn)

Video featuring Alonna Berry, B.A.S.S.E. founder and chairwoman

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