Before the inaugural class members of the newest school in Columbus entered their classrooms Monday, the founder gave them their first history lesson.
Carlos Coleman, senior pastor of New Birth Outreach Church, told the students and approximately 80 supporters about the namesake for Emanuel Preparatory School of Math and Science, the city’s only school exclusively for boys.
His paternal grandfather, Emanuel, was a World War II veteran who became one of the first entrepreneurs of color in Demopolis, Ala. Coleman hopes the boys will live up to “the work ethic and determination and never-quit attitude that he instilled in my father and my father instilled in me and now the entire staff of Emanuel Prep will instill in your son along with your help.”
Emanuel died two years ago, when the project that produced this school started. Monday’s opening celebration culminated 24 months of planning, construction, curriculum development, marketing and recruiting, Coleman said.
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“I’m so excited that it’s finally come and so excited that you could be part of it,” he said. “Amen?”
The audience replied, “Amen!”
Emanuel Prep begins with 13 4-year-old boys divided into two pre-kindergarten classrooms. The staff comprises two teachers, two paraprofessionals, a headmaster and a receptionist. The plan is to add one grade each year through eighth grade.
Coleman said the school will provide “another alternative for education in a county already enriched in education. We have a curriculum and a plan that’s specific for boys and how boys learn. It’s specific on developing leaders and what God says about young men in the Bible. He says men should be head of the household as Christ is head of the church. If we don’t instill in them their rightful place in His church and in God’s world, how will they know what they are capable of?”
The school will prepare boys for not only standardized testing but also leadership of their family, their company, their church and their community, Coleman said.
Last week, Coleman told the Ledger-Enquirer the curriculum will emphasize math and science because “the U.S. as well as the state of Georgia continues to fall behind internationally on the math and science tests. We’re such a global society now, if we continue to fall behind, we’ll never be leaders. So we want to focus in that area.”
Coleman’s father, Farnsworth, founded New Birth in 2002. Coleman succeeded his father as senior pastor of the Midland church on Veterans Parkway in 2014. Emanuel Prep is part of the $3.2 million, 22,000-square-foot Future Life Center that opened in 2015 on the church’s 42.5 acres.
Farnsworth Coleman told the parents, “I know you’ve heard the not-so wise proverb that ‘All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy.’ But I heard my wise father say something to this effect: ‘All play and no work will make Johnny a very poor man.’”
The retired pastor alluded to the effort that makes fine wine — the constant pressing of grapes — and he advised the parents to “keep pressing” as they partner with Emanuel Prep to produce fine scholars and gentlemen.
Two of Emanuel Prep’s board members also spoke during the ceremony: Rodney Mahone, president and publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer, and Audrey Tillman, executive vice president and general counsel for Aflac.
Mahone quoted Proverbs 29:18, which says, “Where there is no vision, people will perish.” He said Emanuel Prep’s vision is for its students to “compete with the best on a local, regional, national and global level. But most importantly, it includes these young boys being told on a daily basis, several times a day, how special they are, that we expect the best from them, because there is absolutely nothing they can’t accomplish or do.”
Adding a twist to that proverb, Mahone said he heard someone say, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” So the Emanuel Prep board is “committed to doing the work,” he said. “I’m saying to the parents today, there is a team of stakeholders behind the scenes working tirelessly to make this vision a reality.”
Tillman said, as a mother of two boys, her biggest concern for them was whether their school would “really get them. Are they going to love them? Are they going to honor them?”
Then she answered that question for Emanuel Prep.
“At this school, we will get them, we will love them, and we will honor them. And they will learn how to get each other and how to love each other and how to honor each other. When you have that provided with outstanding academics and leadership skills, that’s a recipe for success. You made the right choice.”
Emanuel Prep headmaster David Hughes thanked the parents for “entrusting your precious gift to us.” Ten years from now, he promised, “we will be celebrating these boys as they graduate from the eighth grade.”
Before the students walked to their classrooms along a line of supporters cheering for them during the Scholar Walk, the crowd read aloud the school’s Scholar Excellence Chant:
“Today is Monday.
“This is the day that the Lord has made.
“I will rejoice and be glad in it!
“With God’s help, I am strong, I am smart, I am important, and I am a leader in this community!
“I know God loves me!
“I know my family loves me!
“I know my teachers love me!
“I know my classmates love me!
“And I know I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me!”
Emanuel Prep has room for 11 more 4-year-old boys this school year. Tuition is $6,000 per year, payable in 10 monthly installments. Most of the students are receiving financial aid, and scholarships are available, Coleman said. Call 706-662-8437 for information.