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Students at Kanye West’s unaccredited school start the days with a ‘full school worship’ before parkour lessons

  • Kanye West opened a private Christian school in a conservative Los Angeles suburb in November 2021.
  • The unaccredited K-12 school, Donda Academycosts $15,000 per year to attend, Rolling Stone reported.
  • In addition to daily church services, the choir and sports-focused school offer parkour lessons.

Tucked away in a conservative Los Angeles suburb is a small Christian school offering an unaccredited education that the owner says could “turn your kids into geniuses.”

Kanye West, who claimed in September he never read a book because “reading is like eating Brussels sprouts”, open Donda Academy in November 2021. Last month the Hello America, West said the school (which is run by administrators, some of whom have limited education experience) could turn the kids into “geniuses,” but acknowledged that even his own kids aren’t attending.

Since opening in the quiet enclave of Simi Valley, the rapper and designer has answered a few questions from the media about the school, which requires a signed NDA to attend, but he says GMA the academy gives “kids the practical tools they need in a world after the creation of the iPhone.” West added that there are currently 82 students enrolled.

Representatives for West did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Daily worship, choir and parkour

Initially registered with the state of California As a K-8 academy, the school — named after West’s late mother, who worked for decades as an English teacher at Chicago State University — currently offers courses for students from kindergarten to 12th grade, according to his website.

“Using an ethic of integrity and care, Donda Academy prepares students to become the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and innovators by providing a world-class education that includes a rigorous core curriculum and a emphasis on sustainability, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving”, the Donda Academy website bed.

Students are led in daily worship sessions throughout the school before basic language arts, math, and science classes, depending on their website. In the afternoon, after the meals which Slam magazine reports are sometimes served by Ye’s own private chef, students have a choice of “enrichment” classes, including film, choir, and parkour.

Similar religious private schools in the area have tuition similar to a college education, including Chaminade College Prepwhich charges $21,975 per school year, and oak christian with an annual award of $37,500 – although both schools are accredited. In comparison, Donda Academy charges $15,000 per student, Rolling Stone reportedwith about half of students receiving some sort of financial aid.

The price to attend Donda includes opportunities rarely seen among middle and high school students. The choir program is supervised by West. A basketball team playing in the private high school league called Donda Doves is outfitted in Balenciaga uniforms and Yeezys. Celebrities and professional athletes have ties to campus: Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Antonio Brown rented a $2 million suite for students to watch this year’s Superbowl, while Boston Celtics player Jaylen Brown recently posted on Instagram about the school visit and Daniel, the son of R&B singer Keyshia Cole frequent as a student.

The school’s emphasis on athletic performance is similar to other private academies infamous for “reclassification“student athletes by retaining them in class to ensure they are bigger and more powerful athletes in hopes of improving their chances of getting sports-related scholarships in college.

Although the ultimate academic performance of graduate students remains unclear and no widespread evidence of such reclassification has been found, a former Donda student posted on social media that he attended a 5th year of high school at West’s academy, playing as a starting striker.

Unaccredited institution and unknown instructors

As an unaccredited institution, Donda Academy has failed to meet requirements set by the state to ensure it meets teaching standards and staff skills. This makes the school ineligible for public funding, and many colleges and universities do not recognize degrees awarded to students from unaccredited schools. At least one old continued his studies at Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution in Utah, while others have been accepted at DePaul Catholic University in Chicago and the non-religiously affiliated Old Dominion University in Virginia.

The school has applied for accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Rolling Stone reported. Accreditation criteria include qualified administrators and teaching staff.

Donda Academy, its director, Brianne Campbell; assistant director, Allison Tidwell; and athletic director Shayla Scott did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

According his LinkedIn, Campbell previously worked as an actress, choir director and vocal coach before taking on the role of principal in August 2020 – more than a year before the school opened. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Organizational Leadership at Pepperdine University, which is also religiously affiliated.

Tidwell holds degrees in education and has worked as a tutor or teacher since 2012, while Scott lists the experiments as a basketball coach and athletic director before signing at Donda.

There is no publicly available list of the 16 teachers Rolling Stone reported are currently working full-time at Donda Academy and their qualifications are unknown.

Beulah McLoyd, a Chicago educator and former principal, was the executive director of Donda Academy prior to the current school year, although she confirmed rolling stone she is no longer affiliated with the school.

“We had philosophical differences about the level of stability required to effectively educate students,” McLoyd said. rolling stone of his decision to leave the academy. “As an educator with over 22 years of experience in the field, I have always put children first in all the decisions I make. As a result, I have evolved.”

Non-disclosure agreements required

Two sources close to current Donda students said rolling stone those associated with the school must sign confidentiality agreements to attend. Tamar Andrews, Educational Consultant for Donda Academy, confirmed to Rolling Stone that parents are asked to sign an “informal agreement” to register.

Andrews declined Insider’s request for comment.

The air of secrecy surrounding the school is no accident, according to West’s longtime associate and collaborator, producer Malik Yusef, who helped Ye conceptualize the school.

“The Donda School process is for the parishioners, for the participants,” Yusef said. rolling stone. “I don’t think Kanye needs to tell the world what he’s doing, so he can be watched more closely. People choose to bring their kids to Donda Academy for a sense of privacy. A a feeling of caring, a feeling of concern, a feeling of love, an environment of health, and an environment of wealth, an environment of learning, and putting God at the center.”

Representatives for Yusef did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Other Celebrity Schools

West isn’t the first ultra-wealthy celebrity to dabble in opening a school, but it remains to be seen whether Donda Academy will suffer the same fate as similar projects.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith New Village Leadership Academy opened in 2008 and closed five years later – a long life cycle, compared to others. The wife of former WeWork billionaire Adam Neumann, Rebekah Neumann, started a school called WeGrow in 2018, which went on to closed in 2019. Former NFL player Deion Sanders’ Prime Prep Academy, focused on his athletic program, closed within three years of opening in 2012 due to financial issues.

“It’s kind of a ‘buyer beware’ market dynamic,” said Professor Bruce Fuller of the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Education. rolling stone about private and charter schools like West’s.

Although Donda Academy’s financial situation remains uncertain as private institutions are not required to disclose information about their funds, West has floated ideas to expand his academic brand with a hitherto underdeveloped system. Donda University.