Part III The Freedom Project
The town of Sunflower is small. It has a population of about 696 people and is home of the Sunflower County Freedom Project (SCFP). There’s a little Post Office, a corner store, a gas station, various housing, and many fields. I’ll drive each day from Cleveland to Ruleville to Doddsville and then make my second right turn of the thirty minute drive into Sunflower.
Here’s a little snippet of the history:
The Freedom Project is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to educational excellence and leadership development in Sunflower County, Mississippi. We use the history and spirit of the 1960s freedom struggle to motivate young people to become capable and compassionate leaders in their communities. Read the rest here.
Next year I’m going to be taking over the as the Program, Health, and Communications Director at the SCFP .I’ll spend time working with students in a garden, publishing a literary magazine, visiting colleges, camping, applying to summer programs and internships, building the character traits a person needs to grow, thrive, and lead - all of that after school. The kids that are this program have a level of dedication that is astounding. They range from sixth to twelfth grade. They’re bound for a future that is chosen by them. My time after school has always brought the most significant growth. The opportunity to mentor and commune one on one without the barrage of classroom constraints inherent in a dysfunctional system directly interfering in the day to day.
I’m choosing the Sunflower County Freedom Project because my work is not finished here.. The control, support, and freedom that the new position offers me will allow me to put students in the situations and experiences that give them the control, give them the power, and give them the growth. It is no longer about Mr. Stevens’ room, but a about what a group of students empowered together can accomplish with and for each other.
My heart is heavy because I know the students I’ve taught at Amanda Elzy deserve such a program. They have an open invitation to drop in one or two days a month a commune with the Freedom Project Fellows as writers and thinkers. The pen will keep us connected and write our futures, one letter at a time.
Next Part IV: The Local TV Station Comes and Watches Me and My Students be Sweaty