1) Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of the the Iovine and Young Center. 2) Dr. Danielle Battle, Eshé P. Collins, Dallas Austin, Forrestella Taylor, Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Lisa Herring, Jared Dupree, and Dione Simon. Photos: Allison M. Slocum
Students at Frederick Douglass High School will soon become some of the most sought-after graduates in the country due to the implementation of an innovative learning pathway that combines technology, the arts and design.
Through a collaborative education model, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and the Iovine and Young Education Group will launch the Iovine and Young Center (IYC) at Frederick Douglass High School.
The idea for the IYC began over a decade ago with entrepreneur and former record executive Jimmy Iovine and rapper and recording producer Dr. Dre. After partnering on Beats By Dre Headphones, Beats Music (now Apple Music), and other successful business ventures, the pair noticed a deficit in employee talent with the skillset to collaborate and innovate concurrently. Desiring to meet that need, they created the Iovine and Young Academy at the University of Southern California (USC) to give students a non-traditional, challenge-based learning education.
Although highly successful, the USC program lacked an ethnically diverse pool of graduates, which inspired them to give the same opportunity to black and brown high school students.
Jimmy Iovine and Dallas Austin are led on a tour of Frederick Douglass High School by principal Forrestella Taylor. Photo: Allison M. Slocum
Implementation is currently in progress, and recently the initiative was formally announced to the public through a press conference and tour of Douglass High School.
“The idea of the [center] is to give these kids an advantage because it’s a very unique way of learning,” Iovine said. “It’s very, very new. It is the only one really like it in the country.”
The challenge-based learning subject matter will be taught and refined throughout a semester. Similar to a capstone project that runs the duration of a semester, the types of challenges and problems students learn about and work in the classroom will be real issues plaguing today’s marketplace.
Douglass High School principal Forrestella Taylor shared remarks regarding her excitement about the venture and the school’s readiness for the new curriculum.
“We have been charged to feed our students such that they can be all that they possibly can [be] and reach their full potential,” Taylor said. “We know the only way we can do that is by making sure we think differently about our approaches to learning and making certain that we are meeting all of [our student’s] needs.”
Douglass teachers at IYC will collaborate when planning and teaching lessons and will provide ongoing feedback to reinforce the lessons. Additionally, industry partners provide professionals who will bring real scenarios to the classroom for students to find ways to enhance and improve their business. The goal is for the knowledge to extend beyond the school bells.
Frederick Douglass High School senior, Toya Weaver, and sophomore, Caleb Mitchell. Photo: Allison M. Slocum
Even though some upperclassmen like senior Toya Weaver will not be able to experience the program, she is proud younger classmates will have the opportunity.
“I’m just amazed and I’m ready for everything to happen so [everyone] can see what the kids at The Frederick Douglass High School have to offer,” Weaver said. “This is really big, and for us to be the first ones, [people] have to understand how big and one step ahead Douglass will be over all the other schools that doubted us and made us feel like we were less fortunate.”
Sophomore Caleb Mitchell is hopeful the IYC will spark a newfound interest in class participation among fellow Douglass students.
“I think this will help us to engage more in our work,” Mitchell said. “I think this will also lower student skipping since there is actually something to entertain and help [us] engage in class.”
American musician and songwriter Dallas Austin spoke at the press conference and shared his experience with incorporating a music studio at 10 schools, including Douglass and the positive impact it had on the students.
“I would go back to the schools and the teachers would say, ‘Man, I can’t believe this bad kid. How he just changed, and now he’s making A’s and going to this college’,” Austin said.
In addition to the tour and press conference, an innovation roundtable took place, as well as a program planning session where Douglass faculty, APS staff, and key stakeholders met to develop a curriculum.
The IYC at Douglass is slated to begin next school year.
Program planning session participants (from l to r): Monique O’Bryant, Dietra Hazelwood, Kevin Maxwell, Farod Brooks, Kaywana Stewart, Forrestella Taylor, Leslie White, Warren Edwards, Ashley Garner, Jared Dupree, Dione Simon, and Aleigha Henderson-Rosser. Photo: Allison M. Slocum