NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A run-down elementary school will soon breathe new life into a North Little Rock community. Rose City Elementary has been closed for decades but was recently purchased by two people who want to turn it into a community center. It’s part of a larger push to bring the area out of poverty and crime.
As Pastor Ryan Summons walks through the halls of his elementary school, the doors are a portal to when he was staring at the chalkboard.
“Kindergarten wing right here. Mrs. Vancleave was my teacher. This is my heart. This is where I learned how to be me,” Summons said.
Summons and his business partner now own the old school.
“I actually came into this building over 20 years ago and received my G.E.D.,” The C.E.N.T.E.R. Founder Kesha Cobb said.
Cobb said that moment shifted her life in a new direction.
“I’m proud to say that,” Cobb said.
Both Cobb and Summons want this building to serve the same purpose for the next generation.
“This place can be a benefit to those who are left out in the cold, who need food, who are struggling, or even need someone just to talk to,” Summons said.
They plan to turn the cafeteria into a restaurant and food kitchen.
“We will be giving away food for those who are less fortunate,” Summons said.
The classrooms will be used to teach kids life skills.
“Provide them with some training and some resources to where they can go get jobs,” Cobb said.
They see the potential of this school house even through the chipped paint and rotted wood.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Summons said.
They hope to make it a place that not only changes lives, but the community.
“I think that if we band together and start changing the narrative of how the stigma is now our children can take pride in growing up in a place called Rose City,” Summons said.
They’ve had several work days where volunteers come help paint and do repairs. They hope to have everything done and be open by November.