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Elinor Ross Freedom School Underway At Tennessee Tech

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Elinor Ross Freedom School Underway At Tennessee Tech

The Annual Elinor Ross Freedom School began at Tennessee Tech this week.

Executive Director Amber Spears said the six-week program is operated by the Child Defense Fund and is rooted in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She said the goal is to make sure all children get an equal opportunity to receive an education and know they can make a difference in their world.

“We want to make that all the children get an opportunity to bolster their literacy development,” Spears said. “And so we do that not in a way you would think of it like a traditional school model, but more so creating a space where all children in our program who might not have been successful in a traditional school model can be and see themselves as leaders.”

Spears said each week of the program follows a different theme, she said the themes are about different ways children can make a difference in their families and communities.

“We want the kids in our program to know that they have a voice,” Spears said. “That they have the capacity to grow up and they can vote, and they can lobby, they can advocate for things that they care about.”

Spears said three hours every day is dedicated to reading and literacy, and two hours is dedicated to cultural enrichment. She said every day community members are invited to come read to the students and answer questions about their careers. She said the program features socially responsive books that the students can make personal connections with.

“We are also working on teamwork, collaboration, social development, problem-solving, and things like that as we read these books,” Spears said. “So we are really fostering a love of reading for students who are in those morning groups.”

Spears said the school is free for students, with funding coming from grants, and donations from local businesses and citizens. She said students are provided with free books to take home with them from the program.


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