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Alchemy of the Soul

An African-centered Education


Joyce Piert

It started with a dream, a dream in the night that challenged the dream of the author’s life. That dream, which evolved through her personal experiences, was to start an African-centered school. The dream in the night ignited the journey that led to this book, which was to discover answers to critical questions such as: What is an African-centered education model? How do former students perceive this experience? And can, or even should, this educational model be effectively adopted in traditional public schools? Joyce Piert offers this book as a critical resource to parents, educators, potential teachers, community leaders, and policymakers who are seriously pondering the question of how to provide all students with a holistic educational experience. In Alchemy of the Soul, the vibrant voices of African American young adults share their stories in robust and candid narratives of their educational experiences at an African-centered school.
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Chapter 6. Gleaning the Mines for Treasure



It’s true that everything has its destiny, but one day that destiny will be realized. So each thing has to transform itself into something better, and to acquire a new destiny, until, someday, the Soul of the World becomes one thing only. (Coelho & Clarke, 1988/1993, p. 105)

As noted earlier, after discovering the Shule, I was able to locate a small sample of participants for this study. These former students graduated from the Shule in 1996 and were members of the first graduating class. They led me to other graduates who agreed with great enthusiasm to be a part of the study. Once I acquired the participants to interview, I decided to include the stories of the parents as a means to triangulate the data collected through the interviews. I believe that the parents’ perspectives of life and success were the guiding motivations for exposing their children to this educational model.

In this chapter, I acquaint the reader with the participants in this study and their parents. The objective is to paint a brief portrait of each person to give the reader a sense of who these people are historically, socially, politically, and culturally. The underlying questions that guided the writing of each narrative of the participants and their parents were as follows:

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