Kanye West, Who Just Opened a New School, Says He Doesn’t ‘Read Any Books’https://t.co/qkG2cC26r4
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) September 16, 2022
Kanye West has opened a private Christian school in Simi Valley called Donda Academy. The all black school uniforms are from his Yeezy and Gap collections. The basketball team has uniforms by Balenciaga. The academy’s website notes that students’ daily schedule includes “full school worship; core classes of language arts, math, and science; lunch and recess; enrichment courses including World Language, Visual Art, Film, Choir, and Parkour.” Families (meaning the parents) are required to sign NDAs, which a school administrator referred to as “an informal agreement.”
The principal and executive director of the school is 28 year old Brianne Campbell, a woman whose previous education experience was teaching piano, guitar, and voice at her apartment. The previous executive director was a former principal with 22 years of experience whose statement about leaving the school said: “We had philosophical differences about the level of stability that is required to educate students in an effective way. As an educator with over 22 years of experience in the field, I always put children at the forefront of any decision I make. Consequently, I moved on.”
The school is currently unaccredited but has applied for accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (the first visit from WASC is scheduled for December). Accreditation is important because if the school is not accredited, colleges will not accept the students’ credits and diplomas (Deion Sanders’ Dallas-based Prime Prep Academy recruited top high school football and basketball players but the school faced scandals and financial issues which ultimately resulted in the school shutting down – some students who were expecting to play at the college level were told that they weren’t eligible to play due to PPA’s academic issues).
The school opened for the 2021-22 school year with 21 K-8 students and a basketball team. When the 22-23 school year began in August, enrollment was up to 100 students and 16 teachers. Some of the students are the children of Kanye’s collaborators, creatives, and other celebrities. Keyshia Cole posted a picture of her son in a Donda uniform on the first day of school, as did a YouTube family (the article did not specify which YouTube family and I was too lazy to figure out who it was).
Two weeks before school began, Donda Academy was still searching for more staff. They had listings for a transitional kindergarten teacher position that pays $55k-$75k and an assistant position that pays $27-$30/hr. Tuition costs $15,000 and about half of the students receive financial assistance or scholarships.
The basketball team has recruited some of the nation’s top high school players, including ESPN’s No. 8 pick Robert Dillingham and No. 25 selection AJ Johnson. Due to the players hailing from across the country (several from North Carolina), the program put them up in a luxury apartment building with chaperones. It’s believed that West hopes to transform his fledgling team into a fitting opponent of nearby top team Sierra Canyon, where LeBron James’ 17-year-old son Bronny plays (Kanye’s children currently attend Sierra Canyon – he has complained on Instagram about his kids not attending Donda so it seems that Kim is not letting them).
In the spring, the school held auditions for the choir which performs at West’s invite-only Sunday Services.
One person who worked with the school’s culinary team said they were involved in developing “elevated high-concept coffee, tea, and fruit-focused beverages for kids, parents, and faculty.” “Think like distilled chicory coffee shaved ice with milk syrup.”
Malik Yusef, a producer and longtime collaborator of West’s who says he helped shape the school’s concept, said that Kanye’s five-year plan is to have several campuses across the country.