From left are Evan Winfield, Riley Richmond, Herschel Lott, Jaxon Citrin, Mason Gurley, Arlan Smith, Thor Williams, London Flight, Naila Gaston, Khepri Mabson, Camille Guillemet, Laila Zellars, and Zari Barrientos. (George Nowlin)

In the midst of the denigration of Black history in many places across the country, Escuela Plus Elementary in Baldwin Hills continues its long-standing imperative of ensuring that our African American youth well know and are proud of their roots.

Escuela Plus is Dr. Sandra Roussell’s iteration of her prior schools, Escuela de Montessori, that were staples of Westchester, Redondo Beach and Long Beach for over 30 years.  In 2011, she established Escuela Plus, as she saw an ongoing need for a nurturing environment with advanced academics for today’s elementary-age children.

A critical component of Escuela Plus’s curriculum is American history, recognizing that Black history is an integral part of that.  Students are taught Black history throughout the school year and, in February, all students participate in the annual Black History Program, one of the school’s marquee events.

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The Black History Program this past February did not disappoint.  The TK through 1st Grade students focused on civil rights, social justice, and equality, including reciting poetry about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ruby Bridges, as well as the poems “The Undefeated” by Kwame Alexander and “Hey, Black Child” by Useni Eugene Perkins.

From left are Laxmi Relan, Cairo Paysinger, Luna Flight, Phoenix Burch, Dimeji Phillips, Miles Cleveland, Koty Diop, Mason Lewis, Meron Robinson, Sasha Ward, and Sabrina Willis. (George Nowlin)

The 2nd through 5th Grade students honored this year’s Black History Month theme focusing on the arts by recognizing notable musical arts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, including dressing in costumes and crowd-pleasing performances.  The performance was coordinated by Escuela’s Music instructor Jacqueline Tringov, Dance instructor Michael Tomlin, and the classroom teachers.

Escuela parent Walter Millsap and his band provided the musical accompaniment for the students throughout the program.  The evening had numerous standing ovations and cheers from the audience filled with current parents and other family members, alumni students and parents, and staff.

Escuela de Montessori was known for its success with educating primarily students of color who matriculated to many of the best secondary schools in the Los Angeles area and, ultimately, the colleges and universities in the nation.  With Escuela Plus, Dr. Roussell has maintained her commitment to excellence with an accelerated curriculum designed for TK through 5th Grade students to perform 1 to 2 years above public-school grade level in all subjects.

In addition to exceptional academics, great emphasis is placed on developing the whole child.  Integrity, honesty, self-esteem, development, and character building are at the core of Escuela’s program.  Students also receive auxiliary instruction in various areas, including physical education, dance, meditation, music, visual art, and yoga.

These classes are taught by specialists on a weekly basis to enhance the students’ educational experience.  It has become an Escuela tradition for students and their families to embark on an international excursion during Spring Break.

Thus far, Escuela Plus families have visited China, France, England, Spain, Africa, Cuba, and Mexico.  This year’s Spring trip will be to Rome and Athens.

Escuela Plus has an enduring and essential mission to educate young minds and to prepare children to be leaders in our community, our nation and our world.

For more information about Escuela Plus, visit