“And that’s where the new high school will be.” I gazed out the window at a dirt field as Ralph Bland, CEO of New Paradigm for Education, pointed. Impossible, I thought. In less than five months, he expects to have a school ready for the first day morning bell?
After getting to know him over the past months, I’ve come to realize that with Ralph, nothing that stands in the way of the New Paradigm mission – providing high need students in Detroit a high quality education – is insurmountable. His fierce determination comes naturally. Ralph is a native Detroiter; his own high school is just down the street from one of the three schools in the New Paradigm network.
Ralph started his career in education as a first grade teacher. Since his teaching days, Ralph’s passion for setting students on a trajectory for success has only grown. He went on to lead Detroit Edison Public Schools Academy (DEPSA), which brought a culture of high expectations and rigorous standards to low-income communities in the heart of Detroit. Ralph and the Detroit-grown New Paradigm team are replicating DEPSA’s success by growing the organization into a network of high performing turnaround schools. New Paradigm has already begun creating ripples of reform in the hardest-to-reach parts of the city. They currently operate two PK-5 schools in addition to DEPSA, a PK-11.
Ralph holds a fundamental belief that education is a game-changer, which is why he will stop at nothing – even turning dirt piles into school buildings in a matter of months – to ensure that Detroit students have access to the quality education they deserve.