Majid Powell, a rising senior, is one of 27 UNC Charlotte students spending the summer serving as student leader interns with Freedom School Partners. “There is a lot at stake,” says the middle grade education major. “Saying that means we acknowledge that we bear some responsibility to be part of the solution.”
Freedom School Partners is part of the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools, a national initiative that boasts 128 programs. These “schools” are located in major cities that tend to have higher levels of disparities in the quality of education for students in different socio-economic backgrounds. Charlotte is no stranger to this, with only ten percent of low-income CMS students having access to summer learning programs. Freedom School Partners continues to bridge the access gap. The goal is simple; make sure that a student’s background does not exclude them from enriching learning opportunities during summer break.
This is where Majid and his fellow UNC Charlotte student leader interns enter into the picture. “What’s cool about Freedom School is that we have a large footprint in Charlotte with 16 locations, serving 1,200 students,” says Assyria Chambers, a rising senior majoring in psychology. “This summer program is sustained by us student leader interns teaching the student scholars, being site coordinators and making sure things are running smoothly each day.” Student leader interns take pride in the work they do, as they know they were selected to fulfill a specific role and be a positive influence in their students’ lives.
“Today was a rough day and you will have those days,” says Jessica Atkinson, a child and family development major. “However, you stick with it because you have to; you cannot let these students down. Not for one second. Every one of these kids deserves an equal chance to succeed regardless of their family’s financial status. While they are not my brother, sister, niece or nephew; they are my community. They are our family and we will not let them down.”
“As we start to wrap things up this summer, I realize that Freedom School is its own movement and I am proud to be part of that movement,” says Chambers. “When your students start to recognize the magic they have inside of them, it’s something amazing. Truly a humbling experience when you know that as a student leader intern, I contributed to that.”
These UNC Charlotte students believe in Freedom School Partners and their students’. So much so, that they have adopted the Freedom School chant as their theme song. “There's no school like Freedom School, reading books is really cool. Spreading knowledge through the world, I'm down with the Freedom School haven't you heard".