Freedom Summer Every May, we have six to nine college interns come to Sunflower to help teach reading, rhetoric and math to 50 7th, 8th and 9th grade students. Fellows read civil rights-based novels; they take drama, dance, or art; and they participate in fitness every day! Fellows run the mile every Monday during the summer. Students also go on camping trips to Selma and Birmingham (7th + 8th graders) and Little Rock and Memphis (9th graders). We end our summer with a week-long immersive experience at the University of Mississippi and our Ole Miss interns highlight their college campus.
Core Academic Support Our program is rooted in the belief that "education is the seed of freedom" and our students deserve the best education. Each day our staff tutors students during study session. Our Fellows participate in Novel Studies, where middle school students read four extra novels, and high school students read two more novels, than their peers each year. Our high school students begin preparing for college in 9th grade: applying to summer opportunities at Yale, Phillips Exeter and Phillips Andover and working with staff to take challenging courses. We also provide ACT Prep classes for students both in the school year and summer.
Character Development Throughout the year, our Freedom Fellows work on developing into socially-conscious leaders. From maintaining eye contact, to having a firm handshake, our Fellows know how important it is to make a good impression and to continuously work on being a strong leader. We also have a Student Council where members are elected leaders that help students with conflict resolution through peer mediation and restorative justice techniques.
Health Training Being healthy in the Mississippi Delta is extremely difficult - access to fresh foods is limited and sidewalks almost nonexistent. We work with students at least once a week doing fitness or working in the Freedom Garden. We have a Food Club that is rooted in healthy eating and food justice. Freedom Fellows also know that only "LEAD foods" - or healthy foods - are acceptable to eat in building. That means no soda, candy or junk food!
Educational Travel If you ask Freedom Fellows what they're favorite part of the program is, most are likely to say "the trips!" You will find our vans travelling across the mid-south to provide students with rich and meaningful experiences wherever we go. Each year, we visit area colleges. In the fall, we have a girls’ lock-in and a boys’ camping trip. We reverse these trips in the spring – the girls go camping and the boys have a lock-in. Our Thanksgiving Trip has taken us to Atlanta, Urbana-Champaign, IL, and Berea, KY, and we visit Texas each year during spring break.
Arts Enrichment Although public schools have been forced to cut enrichment programs, we fully believe that arts are integral to a young person’s development. Our Fellows can participate in Drama, which culminates in a week-long drama tour to Houston, Dallas and Austin, TX in the spring. We also offer Hip-Hop, speech & debate, and visual arts. Our students write and publish a Literary Magazine every year.