Social progress is Oklahoma City school’s goal

BY WENDY K. KLEINMAN Published: November 23, 2008
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photo - Kevin McPherson speaks to children during an assembly last month at the Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School, which he started in northeast Oklahoma City. By Paul Hellstern
Kevin McPherson speaks to children during an assembly last month at the Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School, which he started in northeast Oklahoma City. By Paul Hellstern
Kevin McPherson bears a lot of social responsibility. He initiated a drug treatment program called CARE for Change in northeast Oklahoma City with the help of a fellow graduate student. He started and became principal of the Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School for kindergarten through sixth-grade students to reach kids before they become delinquents. Now he’s planning to take a group of 25 students to The Gambia in Africa for two weeks in June to inspire them to help others.

The Perry native is trying to turn around a northeast Oklahoma City neighborhood about a mile east of the Capitol with a school focusing on discipline, pride and respect.

"The problem with our community is not our children; it’s the values that we’ve let them inherit from the larger society,” said McPherson, 42. Not only does he believe change is occurring, but he also believes his model can work in other places.

Q: Why did you start the charter school?

A: Marcus Garvey actually is the outgrowth of 15 years ago (when) we started a drug treatment center in our community. I actually got a 12-year-old one time who had 12 felonies — at 12. The question became what happens to you when you first get in trouble in the system? They send you home. We realized that there was no form of prevention, and that’s how we came up with the concept of doing a charter school.

Q: Can the school have an impact beyond this neighborhood?

A: What I’m hoping that we’re doing, as a younger person, is that instead of focusing on all the bad things that are going on, why don’t we set together a specific plan in place that can be duplicated .


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