|Benjamin E. Mays Male Academy, Detroit, Michigan
Our Educational Philosophy
The Benjamin E. Mays Male Academy philosophy of education contains many components. An emphasis on sound academic instruction assures that the students' minds are developed at a level that will allow them to compete in a global, technological society. Christian values are taught in each classroom and reinforced throughout the school day beginning with morning devotions.
Through an Afro-centric emphasis that is imbued within all parts of the curricula, the students' appreciation of their culture and history is heightened. Yet, they are trained in the socialization skills necessary for them to interact - in any setting - with people of varied ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds. Mays Academy teachers expect excellence from each and every student. The teachers nurture and guide the youngsters to reach their fullest potential which, in turn, enhances each student's confidence, leadership skills, and self-esteem.
Because students today must be active learners and develop higher-level critical thinking skills, class sizes are limited to twenty students. This gives Mays Academy teachers the opportunity to develop an intense working relationship with each student in the classroom, thereby encouraging curiosity and inquiry.
Drawing inspiration from its namesake, the Benjamin E. Mays Male Academy was founded in 1993 by the Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins. As pastor of Greater Christ Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan for over twenty years and a noted community activist, Dr. Perkins founded the Mays Academy based upon his experiences within the Detroit community and the crisis he witnessed in the available educational options for young, African American males. Committed to addressing the educational, spiritual, and developmental needs of the young,
African American male student, the Benjamin E. Mays Male Academy is unique in the United States. The school opened in 1993 and currently services students in grades pre-kindergarten through Six. Mays Academy students travel from all parts of Detroit and its suburbs to attend the school; they represent every economic segment of our society.
About the Academy
Benjamin E. Mays Male Academy stands unassumingly in a humble neighborhood on the east side of Detroit. But there is major work taking place on the inside. African-American boys are being groomed into men who value Christian principles, success, and their community.
Each school day starts with uniformed pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade boys standing in military-like formation to pray and recite principles that keep them focused including the importance of neat dress, leadership, scholarship, and citizenship.
Dr. James C. Perkins founded the private school in 1993 after becoming fed up with daunting statistics about African-American males who drop out of school and end up in the criminal justice system. Now more than ever he knows there’s a continued need for his school:
"Since I started my school in August 1993 the black male prison population has tripled in America," said Perkins, also pastor of Greater Christ Baptist Church, Detroit. "So, I wanted to start this school as a mechanism to have a positive impact on the lives of black boys and show them that they can live a productive and fulfilling life through the acquisition of a quality education."
One of their greatest motivations is to live up to the reputation of the school’s namesake. Benjamin Elijah Mays (1894-1984) served as president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia for 27 years. During that time he instilled within a generation of African-American men, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the notion that "one person can make a difference" through community service, academic achievement, and professional contributions that make a positive impact on society.
The world’s next generations of leaders being created at Mays are being taught by mostly African-American male teachers in classes of no more than 20 students.
They are learning social skills that make them confident communicating with any race in any setting. They are also learning a balance of African and western history that sets them beyond students in other schools who are not taught the whole history.
Mays promotes an expectation of success for African-American boys that Perkins said is not as prevalent in many public schools:
"They get labeled early with having learning disabilities or behavior problems," Perkins said. "Those labels stay with them throughout their educational career and they go to the next teacher where it’s reinforced. "A culture exists where to be a male/man means to be tough, and to be educated is considered white behavior. At Mays we’ve created a culture where the boys love learning and know to be smart is a good thing. They’re on par with, if not of ahead of, the students in other schools they matriculate in when they leave us."
Mays’ first batch of graduates completed high school this year and are going on to colleges including Morehouse, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Bowling Green, and Tennessee State.
Graduate Gary Davis-Headd, 18, just began his freshman year at Morehouse, in Atlanta, Georgia. That’s where he plans to major in business finance before later going to Georgia State, also in Atlanta, for a minor in real estate. He confidently stated that his life goals include becoming entrepreneur of his own real estate firm, preaching, and eventually becoming president of the United States.
In addition to crediting his parents for their support and foresight to send him to Mays, he also attributes his success to the teachers he said were like uncles who cared enough to push him toward his potential.
"Mays made me very much aware of not only who I am, but whose I am," Davis-Head said. "The next school I went to (University of Liggett, Grosse Pointe Woods) was overwhelmingly white...but I never felt inferior because I’d spent so much time at Mays where we were proud to be black men and children of God. I don’t think I would have gotten that at another school. If I have sons I already know I’ll send them to Mays Academy. If I live across the country I’ll have to make enough money to fly them back and forth to Mays every day."
His mother, Tracy Green, is definitely pleased with the education her son received at Mays and recommends the school to all mothers looking for quality education for their African-American boys.
"(The students) are held to a standard of expectation and they’re expected to meet that standard," Green said. "If you visit the school on any given day they’re not walking around like robots, but they’re well-behaved, self-controlled, and they’re about learning. They’re walking around with a sense of purpose. It’s important that we support this school. It’s doing a great work in the city."