Children at the Freedom School in Georgetown have so much fun they scarcely know they’re enrolled in a structured, evidence-based, integrated curriculum focused on enriching reading and science skills.
This summer program, held at the historic Richard Allen School, is the first of its kind in Sussex County, said First State Community Action Agency Program Director Sandi Hagans-Morris, who coordinates the school.
Freedom Schools were launched in the South in the 1960s to empower and educate African Americans in their fight to achieve social, political and economic equality. They exist today as summer literacy youth programs through the Children’s Defense Fund.
Earlier this year, FSCAA announced that it received an $80,000 grant from United Way of Delaware to implement the Freedom School, which runs through Aug. 5.
Children entering kindergarten through eighth grade were eligible for the free, six-week program focused on science, technology, engineering and math education, and summer reading activities. The school quickly hit its limit of 50 children, Hagans-Morris said; other children await placement on a waiting list.
Each morning opens with Harambee, which means “all pull together” in Swahili, when children and teachers gather for songs, cheers and chants to jump-start their day.
Guest attendees visit the school to read their favorite books to students. Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting stopped by July 8 to read “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
After her reading, children thanked her with chants: “Hey Dr. Bunting, you’re a real cool cat!” and “Rock the Freedom School.”
FSCAA Executive Director Bernice Edwards said the curriculum incorporates cultural history as well. She pressed Bunting about funding for a similar after-school program beginning in the fall.
“The beauty of it all is that they are learning and reading in the summer,” Edwards said. “It keeps them in learning mode after a difficult year.”
Children at the Freedom School are separated into three age groups. Each classroom has a different theme, around which projects, readings and activities are focused. Every week, students bring home a new, culturally relevant book with which to build their own libraries.
To learn more about the Freedom School, go to firststatecaa.org or call Hagans-Morris at 302-856-7761, Ext. 113.