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Tampa micro-school takes unique approach to teaching Black history

Staff sees it as an opportunity for our Black future to make American history.

TAMPA, Fla. — A micro-school in Tampa is taking learning to a new level by looking back at what's sometimes overlooked. 

Pictures of Black excellence line the walls at Manifestations School for Innovation and Learning. They say it's a way to inspire students.

"If he can invent things, then I know in the future, I can invent things or inspire people like he did," 6th grader Riese Singleton said. "I believe everyone should be able to get this information." 

Lessons about lesser-known Black leaders are honored there.  

Students get the core curriculum: math, humanities, sciences and communication. But Principal Tavis Myrick says, in many schools, what they need, is overlooked. 

"That's the cool part about being a private school. We don't have to ascribe to some of the things being taught in mainstream America," Myrick said. "Our ancestors fought for a right for us to be able to sit in a classroom and the opportunity for us to be successful." 

The school opened in August 2022. It serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Right now they have about 30 students and one teacher for every 10. 

"Every child, every day must feel supported," Myrick said.

Some of that comes from something of an open book. Brenda Oshodin, a bookkeeper at the school, grew up in Selma, Alabama. 

"We had to integrate a whole school," Oshodin said. "That was in 3rd grade." 

She remembers the bloody 1960s civil rights marches and shares her stories with students at the micro-school in Tampa.

"I kind of just motivate them to use your brain. Be passionate about something!" Oshodin said.

Singleton says hearing those stories firsthand helps him better understand history. 

"Now that I'm learning about them. I'm learning about what they're really doing," Riese said. "We're all human. There's really no such thing as Black or white. We're all human." 

The bold backdrop for this program: the past is present because the future refuses to forget.

"Our future is brighter by what we do with our kids today. By how we train them, and how we interact with them," Myrick said. "It's not just Black history. It's America's history." 

Currently, there is a wait list for enrollment in the school.

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