Basketball star-turned school choice advocate Lisa Leslie toured three Baton Rouge schools on Tuesday, one public and two private, discussing her newfound cause, as well as the importance of setting goals, hard work and working well with others.
Her visit was sponsored by the Louisiana Federation of Children, the state chapter of the American Federation of Children, a pro-school choice group for which Leslie has made many appearances.
Leslie began speaking in favor of school choice after being disenchanted with the public school choices available to her own children.
Leslie, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time MVP in the WNBA, visited Redemptorist Elementary, then walked next door to Redemptorist High School. They are Catholic schools that accept students transferring from C-, D- and F-rated public schools via publicly financed vouchers, 192 and 30 respectively. At the high school, a pep rally greeted her.
The third and final stop was THRIVE Charter. THRIVE is a charter school — a public school run privately — now in its second year of operation.
It is an inner city public boarding school, a rarity in the school world. It has about 50 students in grades six and seven.
Principal London Moore said Leslie made a strong impression on her teenage students, especially the girls, with the story of her life. One story that impressed was how Leslie told the students that to improve her shooting she would stay after practice every day and shoot 200 additional shots.
“A lot of the kids didn’t expect to enjoy her visit and they were like, ‘We really like her,’” Moore said.
A couple of her students said they are interested in becoming professional basketball players themselves someday, she said.