"My mother who is partner to my dad, had long been concerned about the plight of children in our school system, the tendency of children to not succeed in school, to drop out before high school graduation, and she was especially concerned about African American boys who have the highest drop out rate in the nation."
She says her mother wanted to create a program for boys that gave them -- in their middle school years -- the example and resource to move toward academic excellence. Parents are involved in the children's learning.
"Another component that is unique for us, is that we have a very strong mentorship program. We use mentors throughout the professional community, whether they're members of black fraternities, or whether they're employees of large corporations to come in and provide educational support and community support to our boys."
In addition to bringing in adult role models both for assembly instruction, guidance and mentoring, Lawson says Walipp's goals are aligned with goals of the parents of the students, so that they are partners with faculty in their development away from home.
"We've got graduates that are now high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen, and they are telling us that every day that the things they learned at Walipp and the ways that they learned to learn have allowed them to be more successful as high schoolers or as young college students."
Joseph Jackson says the school made him a better student.
"When I went there, I wasn't so good at my work in school.Î¾Î¾So then, they would teach us more and more, and let us focus on that subject and, I got better and better."
Robin Mullins is ecstatic about her son's growth after attending Walipp.
"Everything I thought it would be has exceeded that because I'm telling you, my kids are very well behaved. I mean, everywhere we go, everyone notices that they are young men and speak very well.Î¾ And they actually are a little bit more focused on what they want to do now -- in high school --Î¾even in their careers when they get out of college.Î¾Î¾So, it's really a positive thing."
Enrollment information for Walipp-TSU Preparatory Academy can be found at WALIPP Academy-dot-org.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.