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DISD’s Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy says “Yes We Can”

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Story by Michael Hubbard and Photos by Isaiah Williams


With teacher layoffs looming across the state, the Dallas Independent School District is embarking upon a historic moment in the educational history of the city. The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, an all boy’s school, will open its doors this August for the 2011-2012 school year. The Academy will be located in the heart of Oak Cliff under the leadership of Mr. Nakia Douglas.

Nakia Douglas

A native of Dallas, Mr. Douglas accepted a four year scholarship to Livingstone College Center of Teaching Excellence after graduating from Lincoln High School. The most recent stops on the road to his current position included tenures as Principal of Maynard Jackson Vanguard School and for the last three years, Principal of A. Maceo Smith High School. Mr. Douglas was appointed Principal of the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy in June of 2010 and he hit the ground running.

“I’ve had the opportunity this year to visit and research a lot of the campuses, including KIPP academies, St. Philip’s School and Community Center, Cistercian Preparatory School, Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, St Mark’s School of Texas and Bishop Dunne. I’ve traveled to Baltimore and will be traveling to Chicago and New York looking at best practices.”

The Academy will be considered a magnet school, but according to Mr. Douglas, the focus will be on college preparation. “We will have very strong components of College Prep there at the campus.” said Douglas. “All of the young men will be exposed to an advanced college prep curriculum and will study Latin in middle school and Mandarin and Spanish in upper school. In their 7th grade year we will double block their math and science, so as 8th graders they will take Algebra 1 and Biology.”


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Initially The Academy will serve boys 6th – 9th grades. A grade level will be added each year until students are served through the 12th grade. For Mr. Douglas initially offering Middle School grades makes perfect sense. “Having worked at a middle school myself, those are very influential grade levels. We realize that all young people, whether male or female, go through a lot of physical and emotional changes during the middle school years. This is a perfect time to catch those young men that may have lost their enjoyment of education. “

Being an all boy’s school The Academy will undoubtedly attract some of the city’s best athletes, but Mr. Douglas is confident that a healthy balance will be struck between academics and athletics. “The primary focus on our campus is academics. Yes, we have attracted students who have aspirations athletically, but we will try to help them understand that there is life after their athletic competitions. “ Mr. Douglas went on to say, “We will re-focus those young men on decisions they have to make as students, first and foremost, and help them to realize that they are student-athletes, with all of the emphasis placed on student.”

In order to be considered for acceptance to The Academy, candidates will need to meet specified GPA requirements in their core classes and score in the 40 percentile on their norm reference exams (TAKS, ITBS). After the initial screening potential students will then be given a math and writing assessment. Due to the statewide budget cuts, teacher student ratios may be slightly higher than the 15-1 initially projected. But according to Mr. Douglas the ratios will still be lower than those at traditional public schools.

Mr. Douglas realizes the first year for The Academy will be very important and will set the tone for the schools future success. “This first year with our students we are going to be very intentional. One reason for proposing a small first year incoming class is that we want to build an endearing culture that will allow students to be successful not only this year but in future years.”
When asked what would be the biggest challenge in the first year of The Academy Mr. Douglas said, “I’ve always been an optimist. I always see a glass as half full and never half empty. So I always realize that through hard work and dedication you can achieve any goal that you set in life.” Mr. Douglas added, “So it is my anticipation that we will have a very successful first year with our young men because this work will not only be done by the faculty and staff but also by the parents and the community. “

Developing young leaders has not been the focus of DISD, especially when speaking of male students. Mr. Douglas is committed to changing that. “With the focus on leadership development we are working very diligently on not only helping our young men become future leaders for our communities, but more importantly our families should experience better siblings, better sons and eventually we hope to have better fathers and husbands for our families. “

After speaking with Nakia Douglas It didn’t take long to realize that he shares the same optimism as The Academy’s namesake. He also shares our President’s commitment to change. It’s safe to say that The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy will not be doing business as usual when it comes to educating young men in DISD.

Michael Hubbard is a freelance writer in Dallas, TX and may be contacted at Mhubbard23@aol.com.

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  • Casey Thomas

    Excellent article. I plan to enroll my boys in the academy as soon as they are old enough. Mr. Douglas, you have my support!

  • Keevin Mondy

    Great Article

  • Sandra Curd

    Great article. With high expectations and the support from parents and the community, this school is sure to be a success.

  • Ronald Curd

    The article was very informative. I pray that our Dallas families will embrace this school and become a part of the change that will surely come through hard work and dedication of the students , parents, teachers and administrators at the Barack Obama Male Leadership Acadamey.

  • Michelle Carter

    Yes, we can! Mr. Douglas!

  • Dennis Hase, conn

    The name is Oxymoronic, but what a great Idea for a school.

  • http://baikali.wordpress.com/ Travis Bickle

    Leadership? That’s the best laugh I’ve read all week. Though BHO won us over with his campaign promises of pragmatic reform, he has proved incompetence as a leader, and now lacks the confidence of U.S. Americans. So, I would also have to agree that the name of this school is an oxymoron. But the concept is great one. As an ESL/EFL professional, I’d like to chime in on the curricula design.

    The language curricula seems haphazardly designed, though well-intended, emphasizing classical language in middle school and functional language in high school. If this is the intent, then the middle-school foundation in Latin ought to be supplemented with Greek.
    .
    Choosing Mandarin as a modern language to supplement Spanish is a noble idea, if the goal is to communicate with immigrants. However, starting this course late may be counterproductive, if the goal is communicative competence. Mandarin Chinese, however, is a state language of the People’s Republic of China, not the Chinese language spoken by most immigrants to the U.S.A. Castilian Spanish is not the same as Latin American Spanish, which, for example, is more polite but has slightly different pronunciation of consonants. So is the goal for acceptance by other country’s standards of language, or communication with citizens of our own country?

    Foreing language in U.S. schools has typically taken the foreign-language approach, which is a weakness. Recently, there has been some interest in a second-language approach, which is a strength. I hope that Dr. Douglas and his advisors will carefully consider the language curricula design, and which classes will be foreign-language and which classes will be second-language.

  • Terrence Burley

    Great article! If you read these comments Mr. Douglas, focus on the positives and stay in tune to the tremendous task you have before you. I’m sure there will be more negative comments posted but I know you will succeed at this new leadership academy. It is my prayer that the community you are serving will put forth the full force of their support! It takes a village to raise a child.

  • Travelbug1955

    Will only little black boys be admitted to this school? I would never send my child to any school that has BHO name on it nor would I allow my child to learn the doctrine offered at that school! These children will be taught how to be black panthers and BHO foot army. where did the money come for this school?

  • John Stapephano

    I can’t believe no one is complaining that it is an all boys school. Is this a part of Muslim Sharia segregation. Sure sounds like it.

  • http://www.dallassouthnews.org shawnpwilliams

    John, DISD already has an all girls school. Why would you even suggest something like that with so little to base it on?

  • BLR

    Gender and race apartheid and this is supposed to be a progressive step forward?

  • IrmaRangelStudent

    This is a great idea. I’m also a student at the All Girls school by Fair Park. Nice to know we’re getting a brother school! :D DD

  • Tiffany Davis

    This is a fantastic article and a much needed treasure for the school district as a whole. Travelbug1955 what century are you living in? This school is designed to give ALL young men in grades 6-9 (eventually 6-12) a means of focusing on what matters most, their education. This school already has a sister school in the Fair Park area of Dallas whose focus is the same; their education and the young women there are excelling at a rate like no other. With the support of family and community the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy at B F Darrell will do the same. This school has nothing to do with any political views at all, but is honoring a man who currently holds the title of President of the United States of America. Would you have made the same comment if the school were named George W. Bush? This by the way is already in the building stages as a new school for the district. Kudos goes out to Mr. Nakia Douglas who believes that all things are possible and knows the real value of an education no matter where it comes from.

  • m5kids

    It’s a shame we still have so many negative racist people still in this country. Whatever the curriculum, it can’t be any worst than what they are taught now. We will know these young men will be taught. I have watched as so many of them being looked over, sent to alternative schools, and not expected to achieve in other schools. How do I get information on how to enrolled into the school for next year? I have three boys I want to enroll.

  • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/HeIsYourHusband Linda Johnson

    The appointed time is now. I am proud, excited, and supportive of the Caliber, Culture, and Courage for the young male leaders to run the marathon of life, in education. My god-son is enrolled and I pray for this journey to be equipped with quintessential knowledge, discipline, and endless possibilities to function effectively.

  • Kyle

    I’m willing to bet BOMLA doesn’t have a much of an economics curriculum if they strive to remain true to the school’s namesake.

  • Davier Ross

    I’m a student and it’s great! The teachers are wonderful and the lunch is better than any school lunch that I’ve ever had.

  • Nyles Nielsen

    It’s a great way to educate boys. Our schools were better off educating boys and girls seperately before we “advanced” enough to do away with seperate schools for boys and girls. I am concerned about the reverse descrimination – hispanics and blacks only.

  • http://www.dallassouthnews.org shawnpwilliams

    Nyles you realize DISD is like 95% “hispanics and blacks” right? You also realize that there have been all boys and all girls schools like forever right. I mean, those are two pretty bad observations there.

  • gro

    Blacks cant learn with whites and hispanics or Asians is the message sent

    Obama is for racial segregation is the message sent

    its not just an all male school only, ITS A RACE BASED ONE

    YOU THINK THIS IS DEMOCRAT INSPIRED OR GOP

    DEMOCRATS ARE THE BIGGEST RACISTS ON EARTH

  • http://www.dallassouthnews.org shawnpwilliams

    Gro (is that your name)

    Tell me how it sends a message of racial segregation? Does Highland Park High School send a message of racial segregation? How about White Settlement? Racial segregation is the reality of most cities large and small in America and the number of white families in DISD is low. Your comment shows that people see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe. There is no basis for what you write. None.

  • jj

    So where are the liberal feminist women protesting an all Male academy? Because it says Barack Obama Male Academy it is acceptable? Because it is a black minority school for all males, homosexuals, etc, etc.. feminists aren’t protesting it? Heaven for bid if we want to have an all male traditional, conservative, christian or catholic academy…….Like most Ivy League institutions used to be.

  • jj

    GRO: You are absolutly right. We can now get rid of affirmative action. It is officially not required with a reverse-racist school for blacks only. It’s a double standard on top of a double standard. A.A. is and always has been an insult to minorites. If they can’t suceed with it, then really, how stupid are they?

  • jj

    It says they are forced to call each other brother. Why don’t they just shorten it and say brotha.’

  • jj

    Most will fail anyways with the curriculum they are setting for them. Mandarin before 8th grade AND Spanish? Chinese is the second hardest language to learn for adults, let alone Mandarin. They will never learn that and Spanish at the same time. How are they going to learn proper english coming from an ebonics background, first of all? Then they want to give them Algebra one at 8th grade too. They will not get through Biology the way liberals want to teach it. This is truly a set up for failure. But what do you expect coming from a liberal, communist educational system.

  • BOMLA PARENT

    Mr. JJ, have you been inside the school to see the curriculum. Before you trash the school, go see what it is all about. All the courses are Pre-AP and AP. Don’t pass judgment on something until you see it first hand. My wife and I decided to send our son to the BOMLA because it is all boys and we believe in the goals set by Principal Douglas and rest of the faculty. Its just so unfortunate that others want to see this school fail, not because of what is being taught, but because of the man the school is named after.

  • Laughable!

    Leadership? Obama? In the same sentence?!?

    BWAAAAAAAAAHAHAHA!!!

  • Enjoy2

    “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain.. and most fools do.” — Dale Carnegie

    I applaud Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy and the young leaders of tomorrow who are in attendance today!

  • Robert Ward

    It is easy to critcize someone elses work. I know Mr. Douglas. He is an excellent leader. I applaud the DISD for it’s courage in doing what needs to be done. This school will rise above it’s critics and our children will proper. As a 30+ year educator I know first hand the impact sex has on our students, especially boys. Go Barak Obama!

  • Aunt Linda

    The article was enlighting. I have a friend who’s son is attending this great educational institution. He loves the school and I am so proud of his parents for selecting this school for him. Dallas ISD has finally done something correct by opening this education institution for our young boys and having the programs in place from the students. I’m so proud to have a school named after President B. H. Obama!

  • Joe Hayes

    Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy is the greatest thing that has happen in Dallas in years. I serve as the Scoutmaster the Barack Obama Male leadership Academy and the first ten minutes on campus I met young men that has a very different demeanor about themselves.

    They would speak to you, look you in the eyes when talking to you. And would converse with pride.The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy mission, purpose, and motto has the Boy Scouts America Scout Oath and law written all through it.

    Mr. Douglas is a great Leader and from all the DISD principles I have met, he is the best man to make the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy the greatest path for educating and building future leaders in our city, state and country. Thank you LORD this is solutions for some of our problems.

  • Monica Jordan

    I think the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy is a God-send for our community. Our young men have needed an opportunity like this one for a long time. Kudos to the Dallas ISD for starting this trend in public schools in Texas and for having the courage to name it after our excellent and worthy President of these United States. We will see great things from these young men! Gotta love it! Mr. Douglass, we’re with you, your staff and the young men of the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy at B.F. Darrell. Have a great and successful first year!

  • Inez Gilbert

    I have been so greatly inspired by the this great school. This is an awesome opportunity for the young men involved. I am so proud of Mr. Douglas and the entire staff. The staff is so dedicated to making this school a great success story. And I believe that they are going to achieve their goal. The students are so motivated, it is refreshing to behold. Keep up the good work!!!

  • anabel

    i feel like this school is just a waste of money DISD can use for Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School! i hate the way he coppied Irma Lerma’s idea of an all gender school!

  • Scwright108

    Awesome! I believe that Mr. Douglas has just what it takes to set the tone for success at BOMLA & I look forward to great things from the young men who cross paths with a staff focused on instilling “intentional leadership skills!”

  • James

    It is an extraordinary mission that has begun its process! The BOMLA leadership academy will play an essential role in developing future leaders. I have had the pleasure to work with Mr. Douglas and this young man truly is a visionary.

    I am quite sure Mr. Douglas along with his staff members were carefully selected and each member of the BOMLA team shares a strong passion for student accountability and success.

    Overall, great job Mr. Douglas and team please keep up the great work!

    James F

  • Spectre30075

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1QiSi0_kTo

    Yeah, such a wonderful place.

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