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Busta’s Persons of the Week: Making a difference and a change in Winston-Salem

Deena Artist Deshazor and Daye Brake, co- founders of B.L.U.E  G.R.E.E.N Academy in Winston-Salem.

Busta’s Persons of the Week: Making a difference and a change in Winston-Salem
June 13
00:20 2019

By Busta Brown

I asked co-founder Daye Brake to explain the acronym. “B.L.U.E. stands for Boys Learning Under Excellence, and G.R.E.E.N. stands for Girls Receiving Every Educational Need. So you have two schools into one.  Boys will take their core contact classes with boys and the same for girls.”

Those classes include English, language arts, math, and S.T.E.A.M. I asked Daye’s partner and co-founder, Deena Deshazor, what will set their charter school apart from the others. “Our motto is: We are the difference. We are the change. Because we want to empower all stakeholders to be change agents in their communities and the world, we have to do something different. What we’re offering are two things. One, we’re single gendered and we have a business acumen and leadership class that really embarks on our entrepreneurship. So when our students leave us, they leave with a plan. Either to start their own business or create a community initiative that they’re implementing in their own community.”

B.L.U.E G.R.E.E.N Academy also offers an extremely important component for African American students. “We’re offering a cultural awareness class, which allows us to introduce the history of the African American Diaspora to our students. That way they really understand where they come from and they can move in a more positive direction, so they deliberately don’t repeat the past history that shouldn’t be repeated,” said Daye Brake. Here’s the best part … wait for it … The charter school is free for all students.

I asked Deena what is the disconnecting wedge between our youth, the school system and church. She didn’t blink an eye, responding with passion and confidence, “Exposure! Our kids and even some of our adults are not exposed. That exposure is a big component of how you view the world, how you interact in the world, and how you go about making change in the world. So you have to see what’s going on in the world in order for you to expand, because you don’t do what you don’t see.”

Deena Deshazor is very passionate about helping those students that are considered the outcasts. Her reason is personal: “It came from my father. He’s a retired pastor and he was the underdog student. He never matriculated out of any part of his life unless he did in summer school. He never had the graduation ceremony with the cap and gown and everything of that sort. It was in 1997 when my younger sister graduated from high school. He finally graduated from the University of the District of Columbia. And that was the first time he ever walked across a stage. So when I see those underdog kids, I see my dad. It was a teacher that turned my dad’s life around, so I want to be that teacher to inspire our students.”

She truly has a heart for people. She loves empowering not only her students, but co-workers as well. Just before Daye Brake’s third birthday, she moved with her mother to Winston-Salem to live with her grandparents. She graduated with honors from Mount Tabor High School in 2004, and moved back to Atlanta to attend Spellman College. She also had a successful career with The Walt Disney Company. After seeing what education looks like in different states and other cities, Brake decided to return to Winston-Salem to share her experience. “When I returned and taught here, I realized that things weren’t quite the way they were in other places. When you leave and come back and it’s not the way that it was, you want to do something about it, especially when you have the capacity to do that. So a lot of my passion comes directly from working in the district and not quite seeing what I wanted to see.”

Instead of complaining about change, these ladies started B.L.U.E G.R.E.E.N Academy, so they are the change they want to see.

My son Cameron plays the bass, electric guitar and produces music. I didn’t feel the school system’s art program nurtured and maximized his talent. I was very impressed with what Deena shared about their arts department. “Daye and I are products of the arts, so we infused that as teachers in our classrooms and will do the same as administrators. Learning by exploring is everything that arts say. It’s exploration, innovation and creativity. When we get to middle school, that creativity has been diminished because sometimes as adults, we impose ourselves on the younger generation, and their imagination and creativity dies. And arts create something great for our kids, an outlet, and our kids need that outlet to share how they see the world.” Both ladies are artists in their own right. Daye and Deena are phenomenal singers.

Enrollment for the new charter school is still open. You can enroll on their website at bluegreenacademy.org.

What else do the ladies need from the Winston-Salem community? “Donations,” said Daye Brake. “We are a public charter school. We receive state, federal and local funding. However, as a new school, we can definitely use some support financially. You can send your donation directly through cash app, $BGA2019.

As we ended the interview, the beautiful ladies smiled at the camera and reminded me of the motto of B.L.U.E G.R.E.E.N Academy: “We are the difference. We are the change.”

Orientation is August 19, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The first day of school is August 25. They’re located in the Family Life Center at St. Peters World Outreach, 3683-D Old Lexington Rd, in Winston-Salem.

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