Maxwell hopes Genius Academy will thrive

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

After 50 years of attempts, William Maxwell said Selma is his last chance to make his idea for a genius academy work.

On Sunday, Genius Discovery Academy held a meeting at the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center to raise awareness about the program. At the meeting, children had the opportunity to take a Genius Finder test and potentially earn a free scholarship to one of the program’s courses.

“I am succeeding here in Selma,” Maxwell said.

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Maxwell said he has tried to establish academies in Korea, Fiji, Albania, Liberia and Arkansas without permanent success.

From the meeting on Sunday, two children, ages 9 and 14, have enrolled in a course taught by Dorothea Martin.

Martin is believed to be the first blind-from-birth person to earn a Ph.D. In her course, children are being trained to love reading for future careers.

According to the program’s website, the idea for the genius academy began at Harvard in 1964. The goal of the school is to find and nourish untapped talent in children, with the hopes of them being thriving members of society.

Maxwell believes finding this talent in Selma will help the community overall.

“The founder of economics, Adam Smith, predicted that the wealth of nations will increase 60 fold, not because the resources changed, but because we tapped into human talent,” Maxwell said. “Talent creates wealth.”

The reasons for failure in previous attempts vary, Maxwell said.

In Arkansas, Maxwell said people weren’t accepting to a program so different from what they were used to, but he has had a different experience in Selma.

“Here in Selma, I have been warmly welcomed,” Maxwell said. “I am excited that we are getting started properly here.”

Maxwell said he was compelled by a higher power in April 2015 to come to Selma as his final attempt.

“I believe that the Holy Spirit has decided to do some special things in Selma,” Maxwell said. “I think there’s a special spirit here that only a few people realize.”

A pair of academy team members will be moving to Selma in January: Japanese mathematician Satoshi Takashi and Arizona artist Paul Andrus. Maxwell said the team members plan to spend the remainder of their lives in Selma.

Other team members will travel into town on weekends and for short courses as needed.

The courses and camps require tuition and fees ranging anywhere from $50 to $1,000, according to the summer 2016 catalog.

With the understanding that families in Dallas County may already be under financial stress, Maxwell said the school is working on obtaining grants to help with expenses.

After investing many years into the program, Maxwell continues his momentum in Selma.

“I’m 87 years old,” Maxwell said. “This is our last chance.”