For many years, the preparation of African American students in our schools has left them less than adequately prepared to compete for desirable jobs and equitable compensation. Many have experienced the effects of generational poverty. Others have been steered to inferior schools or placed in less challenging curricula. Nearly all have been subjected to lower expectations by society and by themselves. Although some are not influenced by these factors, many still under-achieve in spite of their ability
Henry and Lindsay Cherry, both committed educators, saw the impact of these factors on their students and even on their own children. They reached out to individual students with various aid, but soon realized that more help was needed. They developed a plan to help more students and to address many of the root causes. Soon, it became apparent that students needed personal attention and that mentors would be needed to meet that need. While not neglecting the needs of poverty, hunger, and societal inequities, they began recruiting and training mentors, many of whom were minority students from Hope College and other post-secondary education backgrounds. They developed a model for I AM ACADEMY, which continues to expand in scope each year.
Lindsay continues to work as an Assistant Principal for West Ottawa Public Schools, while Henry devotes his time to directing I AM full time, in addition to his Master of Arts in Theology studies at Western Theological Seminary.