Last month, Derrick Lockwood, new headmaster for New City Christian School in Asheville, left with a group of fifth graders for a Civil Rights College and University tour throughout the Southeast. Stops included Georgia Tech, Chick-fil-A headquarters, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered several of his famous speeches on civil rights.
“Many of our kids experience books, but they never get the opportunity to see where things happened,” said Lockwood, who grew up in the projects. “We want them to understand that college isn’t some dream. It is a possibility.”
Lockwood joined New City last summer as the school entered its tenth year of providing a Christian alternative education to low-income children through the fifth grade. Parents pay tuition based on a sliding scale; donors, such as churches and individuals, fill in the financial gaps for scholarships. While many students continue their education at Asheville Christian Academy or other area public schools, Lockwood sees middle school as a gateway to secure the future for the children enrolled at New City. But operating a middle school would almost double the school’s operating costs to offer the extra programs and sports that middle school students enjoy.
“These students are real lives with real dreams,” said Lockwood. “We’re trying to pack a suitcase for them so that when God provides the opportunities, they are prepared wherever they go.”