Greetings from Jackson!

Pam Walker (Rutgers) leads a practice lesson

Pam Walker (Rutgers) leads a practice lesson

Dear Friends of FSTF, 

Before we catch you up on everything we're doing, we want to say thank you! When we first reached out to all of you a few months ago, we told you we needed your help. We had a vision, but we needed guidance, encouragement, and resources to see it through. You stepped up, gave us a hand, and helped us make it happen! Thanks to all of you, our pilot summer is fully funded, and all eight of our fellows are here in Mississippi eager to begin their courses! 

Orientation Conference

A seasoned veteran teacher, founder Andy Donnelly has spent the last three days preparing our fellows for the hard, rewarding work ahead. From lesson planning and classroom culture, to keeping students engaged, Andy has walked our fellows through every aspect of successful teaching. His professional development program is designed to get teachers thinking rigorously about not only the content of their courses, but also the practical realities, challenges, and underlying purpose of their work as educators. 


A Panel of Experts

In addition to time for planning, practice, and feedback, we also assembled a group of local experts to help our fellows understand the educational landscape in which they will be working. The panel included Sanford Johnson (Deputy Director of Mississippi First), Vaish Shastry (Former Executive Director of the Sunflower County Freedom Project), Dr. James M. Thomas (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Mississippi), Jody Owens II(Managing Attorney for Juvenile Justice at the Southern Poverty Law Center), and Meghan O'Connor (Advocate at the Southern Poverty Law Center).

Sanford Johnson (second from right) encouraged our fellows to think about long-term careers as educators and advocates for under-resourced communities.

Sanford Johnson (second from right) encouraged our fellows to think about long-term careers as educators and advocates for under-resourced communities.

Professor Thomas (far right) suggested that career academics can think about their teaching and research as forms of activism, regardless of discipline.

Professor Thomas (far right) suggested that career academics can think about their teaching and research as forms of activism, regardless of discipline.

Other Highlights

  • We got a glimpse of the final projects they all have planned for the end of the summer. The students at our MS and AR partner sites will be producing some incredible work. 
  • While in Jackson, we got to sample some of the local fare! We finished out the conference with a celebratory dinner at Hal & Mal's, a Jackson favorite featured on the hit series "Man v. Food Nation"!
From Left to right: Valerie Soon (Duke), Ahnna Beruk (Duke), Porshé Garner (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Monica Hershberger (Harvard), Isaac Weitzhandler (Duke), Rachel Combs-Gonzalez (Harvard), Naima Green (Harvard), and Pam Walker (Rutgers)

From Left to right: Valerie Soon (Duke), Ahnna Beruk (Duke), Porshé Garner (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Monica Hershberger (Harvard), Isaac Weitzhandler (Duke), Rachel Combs-Gonzalez (Harvard), Naima Green (Harvard), and Pam Walker (Rutgers)

What's Next?

Our fellows have all headed off to get settled in the communities where they'll be living and working for the next several weeks. Courses at the Sunflower County Freedom Project, the Rosedale Freedom Project, and the Meridian Freedom Project begin this Monday (6/6), and the courses at the J. Austin White Cultural Center in Eudora, AR will begin the following week. All courses will run for four weeks and will culminate in a final project that showcases each student's progress. 

During the next several weeks, we will be sending periodic updates to give you a glimpse of the magic happening in the classrooms. In between those updates, please check out our facebook and instagram pages! There is lots of great content on both already, and there's so much more to come!

If you are interested in becoming involved in the Freedom Summer Teaching Fellowship, we would love to talk more about ways you can help! Email emtgowen@gmail.com and we can set up a phone call or a meeting!

In the meantime, thank you all again for your support, enthusiasm, and interest in our work! We are so excited to share our stories with you! 

Warmly, 
Emily & Andy

Laura Beth Lott