Bessie Allen Prep School teaches more than the 3 'R's - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Bessie Allen Prep School teaches more than the 3 'R's

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Hazel Green, AL (WAFF) -

It may look like the little red school house of old, and in some ways, it is old fashioned.

Every school day, the Bessie Allen Preparatory School begins with God's word and praising God through song. The schools namesake and creator said this is part of the foundation she believed children needed for good learning habits.

She should know, she's been teaching for decades. Some of the children are third generation students.  

"We start off with worship and that is giving respect to the creator, God, and also giving respect to teachers," said Bessie Allen.

Most of the students come from financially challenged homes, and many would be in trouble on the streets. Some also come from alternative schools.  This is a modern day mission school with an old theme.

The 89-year-old matriarch is semi-retired but still pitches in from time to time. She is a strict disciplinarian, and now daughter, Marvella Allen Burton is carrying on those traditions.

 "With the idea that they have unlimited abilities that can be developed to be productive people, even in their youth. Also that they have gifts that can be used to deter other people from following the wrong path," said Burton.

The children get one on one attention with advanced math classes and tough subjects, but the students said they take away much more.  

"Prayer is just always the first thing you do to get your day started," said Porter Glass. "I mean, you know what you will (…) That you don't have a bad day. That's why we get on our knees every day and pray before we start."

"I've learned more about the bible," said Keunta Watts. "It tells me that there is a risen savior that believes in me and helps me more to have a relationship with God."

Manners are mandated and respect for elders and others is expected. Even good eating habits are stressed, eliminating sugar and salt. Teachers here said the body must be ready for learning.  

"If I don't teach you math, I will teach you how to cook," said Allen. "I will teach you how to keep you alive a little longer."

Although many students will face tough odds, about 80 percent of these graduates beat the odds by going college.

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